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Eleni Foureira, Eric Saade and Chanel to open the first semi-final

Three days before the first semi-final, Swedish broadcaster SVT finally revealed the opening act of the first semi-final of Eurovision 2024 in Malmö.

After learning about the interval acts of both semi-finals earlier this week, we now know more about who will open the first semi-final, and as such, the entire Eurovision week. Described as a “top-tier trinity of Eurovision fan faves“, Eleni Foureira (Cyprus 2018), Eric Saade (Sweden 2011) and Chanel (Spain 2022) will sing an original act entitled “United By Music“.

United by Music – a slogan and an opening act

Last November, “United By Musicbecame the permanent slogan of the Eurovision Song Contest. It will also be the title of the introduction act. With 24 dancers and three Eurovision superstars, this number aims to unite fans and people from accross Europe and the world through the power of music.

These three singers were chosen in part because of their results in the contest: none of them actually won the contest. Yet, as described by SVT, they showcase “the message that you don’t have to actually win the Contest to be a winner at Eurovision”. All three of them are extremely popular within the Eurovision community, and are enjoying successful careers as singers and performers in their respective country and in Europe.

This is also a change from the last two Sweden-hosted Eurovisions, where the first semi-finals were opened by the reigning champion (Loreen in 2013, Mans Zelmerlow in 2016).

Three act that changed Eurovision

But these acts are not only popular non-winners. They are iconic songs that changed the musical landscape fo the contests in the last decade.

Eric Saade – “Popular”

Eric Saade represented Sweden in 2011, in Düsseldorf, the year after Sweden’s first and only non-qualification to the final. This result, for a country which takes the contest so seriously, was akin to a national tragedy. This meant that SVT was under pressure to find the right process to select their new act. Christer Björkman, the Melodifestivalen producer, found the formula which would end up giving Sweden three victories and seven other “Top 10” finishes in the last 14 years.

Eric Saade’s “Popular” was the first product of this winning formula, and finished 3rd in the Grand Final, after winning its semi-final.

Eleni Foureira – “Fuego”

Eleni Foureira represented Cyprus in 2018, in Lisbon, and ended up as the runner up, behind Israel’s “Toy”. Two months before the show, only hardcore fans of Eleni would have predicted it, though. “Fuego” was seen as an efficient pop song with ethnic vibes, and enjoyed commercial success, but only with the first rehearsals did it become a contender for victory.

Entering the live shows week as the most serious contender to Netta, from Israel (who was the main season favourite), Eleni Foureira and her dancer offered viewers a masterclass in performance, giving new breath to the trope of the “Female pop hit with a striking dance break”. Despite finishing second, Eleni won a massive number of fans, outclassing “Toy” in the annual ESC250 contest ever since, and performed in the Eurovision 2019 Grand Final interval act.

Chanel – “Slomo”

Chanel represented Spain in 2022, in Turin. Like “Fuego”, “Slomo” truly took off with its live performance, in the first revived Benidorm Festival, which is now used as the Spanish national selection. Suddenly, Chanel became the favorite to represent Spain, and a strong contender for the final trophy.

“Slomo” is often compared to Fuego, and opinions differ on wether the Spanish hit is a more accomplished version of what was (re)started by “Fuego”, or if it’s just the best of imitations that could never reach the same level. In any case, “Slomo” became the clear dance track of Eurovision 2022, finishing third not only overall, but also in the televote and the jury vote. It was also the best result for Spain since 1995, and it enjoyed popularity all over Spain and Europe in the summer that followed.

Slomo is now often seen as a trendmaker, with songs like Israel’s “Unicorn” in 2023, or this year’s Maltese entry “Loop” described as “Slomo-like” acts.

What do you think about this opening act? Did you expect Loreen to open? Which is your favourite song between “Popular”, “Fuego” and “Slomo”? Tell us more in the comments below or on social media at @escxtra!

News : SVTImages: AnnCatrin Blyckerts, Chanel, EBU

One Comment

  1. Well, what a great choice! I hope these Stars won’t outshine the ESC Participants! 😉

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