Running orders are particularly hard to draw, not just in Eurovision but in any competition. Organisers need to balance variety with style, while also considering that there is a show to run. In the context of Eurovision, running orders can also help or hinder you and your competition.
Why are running orders so important?
As mentioned, running orders can put you in good stead or ruin your chances depending on where you fall and what the songs on either side of you. If a song requires a big bombastic moment, putting it next to other high-energy songs will do little to make the impact the delegation hoped for. Similarly, if a song is stripped back, having a string of emotional ballads will make it harder to stand out. This was prominent in the Grand Final of Eurovision 2022, when the stretch from Lithuania to Iceland was a string of slow to midtempo songs. This allowed Moldova to make a big impression and eventually finish second in the televote.
But it isn’t just the delegations that should be kept in focus – the viewer also takes precedence. Think back to 2012, when Englebert Humperdinck kicked off the grand final -with a pared back and intimate love song. Eurovision is a collection of music, by all means, but many switch off the first song if it’s deemed to be tiring or a “buzzkiller”. For a television producer, it’s a logistical nightmare – which in part – helped to inform the change to a producer-led running order from 2013.
Semi-Final One: A potential running order
With this in mind, this is my (personal) attempt to create a running order for the first semi-final for Eurovision 2023. Semi-final 1 is a textbook way of implementing the so-called “sawtooth method”. This means that in a running order, an upbeat track is usually followed by a more downbeat offering, alternating until the end of the show. So, how would I go about it?
#1 – Malta – “Dance (Our Own Party)”
Starting us off is Malta’s The Busker, witht their midtempo song “Dance (Our Own Party)”. The iconic sax motif as would be a perfect show opener. Perhaps not exactly the best song to open with in terms of lyrics, but the colourful performance (inspired from MESC) would be a great way to kick the show off. It also means producers have the option to follow it with a ballad or an up-tempo song to set the sawtooth tone for the rest of the night.
#2 – Latvia – “Aijā””
Following on from the colour of Malta, I believe Latvia’s Sudden Lights would fit the running order perfectly. The first half of Semi-Final One consists of four male bands, two solo women and a solo male. As a result, bands will clash and have to be put next to each other. However, the diversity in genre from Malta to Latvia would work well in both country’s favours. The contrast in staging will also play into their hands, as Sudden Lights’ Supernova performance was minimal and used lighting to tell the story. This could really help it to stand out and maybe get Latvia back into the final.
#3 – Portugal – “Ai, coração””
Traditionally, #3 in a semi-final is rocky territory, with songs placed here often being the more risky entries such as “Sentimentai”, “Russian Woman” and “Rhythm Inside”. Therefore, I think this is a perfect place for Portugal to take to the stage. Mimicat‘s entry is entirely different from any song in the competition and, factoring in any large props that make it to Liverpool, Portugal can capitalise on her daring entry. Also, they can stand out for Mimicat being the first female act onstage of the night. It also reminds the viewers of the diverse range of song genres that are on show, making it a more entertaining show on the whole.
#4 – Croatia – “Mama ŠČ!”
Following on the diverse trend we’ve built so far, Croatia’s band Let 3 would fit in well here. “Mama ŠČ!” is a song that will grab your attention – for either the right or wrong reasons. We know that Croatia are planning something bombastic for Liverpool, so this placement would give the breathing space to bring the performance to life. As well as this, their song would be the third full non-English song in the ordeer, which can show off the linguistic diversity of the show. Who knows how chaotic the band will be on the night!
#5 – Ireland – “We Are One”
After a string of daring and diverse (and maybe a little messy entries), putting Ireland here would offer a vital respite for viewers who could be tired out. It also means that stylistically, we can return to a form of pop that is more universal and doesn’t alienate itself from the audience, which might befall Croatia. This can give Ireland the upper-hand and improve its chances of qualification. Usually, commercial breaks take place after song 5 and as a result, it can create a good opportunity to calm down and prepare for what else is on offer.
#6 – Norway – “Queen of Kings”
After the commercial break, viewers could be ready for a more hyped performance. Step forward Alessandra – who has shown intense choreography and an intricate act. The song is also a perfect blend of commerciality and authenticity that would be great to bring the audience back to the competitive aspect of the show. Also, staging potential is a factor to consider, and with an in-your-face arrangement, it could very easily be used to contrast with Ireland’s potentially more pared-back offering.
#7 – Serbia – “Samo mi se spava”
Closing out the first half of Semi-Final One would be Luke Black’s “Samo mi se spava”. The entry is a perfect contrast from preceding Norway, taking the electronic motifs in “Queen of Kings” and dialling it up to 11 for Serbia. This would also make both entries stand out for their distinct vocal deliveries. If the staging from Pesma za Evroviziju is anything to go by as well, it means there could be the potential for some innovative stage ideas, which would good to keep the audience interested in the midway point of the show.
#8 – The Netherlands – “Burning Daylight”
Moving into the second half of Semi-Final One takes us into a lot of heavy hitters in musicality and popularity. To take us into the bloodbath is the mid-tempo “Burning Daylight” from Mia and Dion. This song is more accessible to the public than the likes of Serbia, Portugal and Moldova, and putting it after Luke Blakc will help return the audience to something more familiar. Not to mention, after a number of more abstract performances, it’s nice to balance it out with something more calming, which Mia and Dion execute perfectly.
#9 – Israel – “Unicorn”
Following on from the Netherlands, Israel would be a great entry to carry on and build momentum with the BPM. Noa is a performer and coming after Mia and Dion, the performance for “Unicorn” would be a real shift in tone during the proceedings thus far. The added traditional instrumentation in this would help to remind the audience of the musical diversity, as well as showing off the phenomenal (not feminine-al) power of the women performing in the competition.
#11 – Moldova – “Soarele și luna”
Carrying on the motif of cultural diversity in the second half, Moldova’s Pasha Parfeni would be a great follow-on from Noa Kirel. Basing off his performance at Etapa Națională, the performance is set to pack a punch. This would be a good contrast of the relative pop from Israel, as Moldova’s storytelling onstage is usually really well executed. Not to mention, this is also the second solo male of the competition, and it helps to diversify the performing artists of the evening.
#11 – Czechia – “My Sister’s Crown”
Time for another band, but this time it’s up to Czechia and Vesna. While ‘Soarele și luna’ is just as high-impact as ‘My Sister’s Crown’, the more anthemic vibe of Vesna’s song would help it to stand out from the competition. As well as this, Czechia is spaced just far away from the other bands of the night to not cancel each other out. The build-up and structure of the song could additionally help to reach a real climax and offer a big moment onstage, depending on staging ideas.
#12 – Switzerland – “Watergun”
It would seem like a real fit to follow on from the anthemic Vesna to another track that calls everyone to action. There are several reasons for putting Switzerland in the midst of the second half. Firstly, it would be a real visual shakeup of what we would have already seen in the show so far. Secondly, the sentiment of being against war is carried on nicely from Czechia, which would put Switzerland in good stead. To finish it off, typically commercial breaks are also taken after song #12 – leaving the viewer a moment to gather their thoughts.
#13 – Sweden – “Tattoo”
Back after commercials, it would be time to create another intimate moment on stage. The perfect candidate would be Sweden, with its controlled explosive performance and potential for a visual treat. Should Loreen decide to bring her staging concept from Melodifestivalen to Liverpool, the ad break would help to set the stage up in time. Not to mention, the ad break to build up the anticipation for her performance would really benefit her chances of making it to the final (as if she needs a boost!).
#14 – Azerbaijan – “Tell Me More”
After the epic performance from Sweden, it would be good to keep the audience in control with a more down-tempo song. Azerbaijan would be an ideal candidate for this position, as the more acoustic sound of the song would help it to stand out from both Sweden and Finland surrounding it. The last group of the night would also provide nice break for more minimal staging which can reflect “Tell Me More”. It also privdes a great springboard for the final act of the night, with the audience getting ready to cast their votes.
#15 – Finland – “Cha Cha Cha”
Closing out the show requires a fast paced song to end the competition in style. Enter Käärijä – a man with as much energy as a human can physically have. His song “Cha Cha Cha” is the perfect song to close the show, with its driving beat and massive potential for staging. Any energy that the audience has will be used in moshpitting during the song, and with a final chorus in a major key, the song ends the competition on a satisfactory note, with viewers at home ready to start casting their votes!
Of course, this is just a prediction and not the official running order. Predictions could be wildly off or exact, but any exact placements are just a coincidence.
What do you think of our attempt to pitch a running order for Semi-Final One? Do you agree with our reasonings? If not, how would you put the running order for the events? As always, let us know what you think by commenting below. As well as this, be sure to follow ‘That Eurovision Site’ on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tiktok for more editorials!
News Source: That Eurovision Site
Photo Source: EBU