During the press conference after the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest late on May 9, contestants who made it to the final thanked their supporters, shared their feelings and some artists’ tips.

The countries that have qualified for the grand final are Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Moldova, Portugal, Poland, and Sweden.

“I’m really lucky and I’m really happy with all the support today,” Demy from Greece said, later revealing that she cried when she first heard the idea of the concept of her Eurovision performance.

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Dihaj from Azerbaijan defined her own performance as “theatrical” and said she was very satisfied with it. She also noted the new starting trends of the Eurovision, which see the contestants shifting from “very pop” music to “alternative or instrumental pop,” like her own entry song “Skeletons.”

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“Maybe it will be a theater in 10 years, nobody knows,” Dihaj said.

Sweden’s Robin Bengtsson, who had probably both a blessing and a curse to open the whole Eurovision Song Contest by being the first one to perform in the first semi-final, described the experience as “nerve-wracking.”

“So I would like to not be the first one out in the final, thank you,” he said making the journalists at the press conference laugh.

The singer proved he can, in fact, go on after his first semi-final “cardio performance” of the song “I Can’t Go On,” which involved walking on actual treadmills.

Blanche from Belgium had another distressing experience: she was the last one announced to go through to the final, the experience she described as “horrible.”

“It was like ‘ok, it’s not so bad if we don’t qualify for the final’ and then ‘Belgium!’” the 17-year-old talent shared, “It was crazy.”

Humanitarian agenda

Two Eurovision artists used the international spotlight to draw attention to important issues. Animal lover Kasia Moś from Poland said she dedicates her song and show to animal rights and people who fight for them.

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“I just hope that after this in Poland we’re going to change the law and we will not have dogs on chains,” she said firmly manifesting her point.

One of the bookies’ favorites, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral, drew attention to the refugee problems by turning up to the press conference wearing an “S.O.S. Refugees” shirt.

“If I’m here and I have European exposure, the least thing I can do is a humanitarian message,” Sobral said, “People come to Europe in plastic boats and are being asked to show their birth certificates in order to enter a country. These people are not immigrants, they’re refugees running from death. Make no mistake.”

“There is so much bureaucratic stuff happening in the refugee camps in Greece, Turkey, and Italy and we should help create legal and safe pathways from these countries to their destiny countries,” Sobral added earning a round of applause.

Surprising finalists

Two more surprising finalists were Cyprus and Moldova. Moldova’s Sunstroke Project already took part in Eurovision 2010, which saw one of the band members Sergey Stepanov, due to his dance moves, become a living internet meme as an “Epic Sax Guy.” Cyprus wowed the public with their gravity-defying performance of the song “Gravity.” The performance had some memorable choreography, where Hovig and his dancers froze in different difficult positions.

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Hovig also humbly shared the importance of the contest for his country.

“This is the third time in a row Cyprus has qualified for the final in Eurovision and I think it’s a huge thing for a small country like we are,” he said.

‘Work hard’

Some contestants also gave tips to rising stars hoping to make it big in the musical industry.

“Work hard, be yourself, be honest, do your music and you have to have a good heart, for me it’s the most important thing,” Moś said. Hovig seemed to agree: “The secret of being a Eurovision qualifier is believing in your dreams and being yourself on that stage.”

The newly determined finalists also drew the part of the final they will be performing in. In that way, the first half of the grand final on May 13 will see Moldova, Azerbaijan, Portugal, Poland and Armenia. Greece, Sweden, Australia, Cyprus, and Belgium will do their best to woo the public in the second half of the final.

The second semi-final, that will define the remaining 10 acts that will go through to the final, will take place on May 11. Serbia, Austria, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Romania, The Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Ireland, San Marino, Croatia, Norway, Switzerland, Belarus, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, and Israel will be all singing to win their place in the final.

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