Iceland’s Eurovision Song Contest entry made a shocking semi-final debut as they performed in leather and latex against a backdrop of pyrotechnics.
Techno-punk group Hatari attracted much attention in the lead-up to this year’s contest on Tel Aviv, Israel, with their darkly energetic track Hatrio Mun Sigra (Hatred Will Prevail).
They received the night’s loudest cheer, combining dance music, heavy rock and pop in front of an international audience at the Expo Tel Aviv.
Iceland have participated in Eurovision 31 times since its debut in 1986, missing two years and finishing twice second but never earning the top spot.
Hatari’s performance came after Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke, another favourite to win.
The vocalist’s operatic rendition of Zero Gravity, a song about her experience of postnatal depression, saw her flying through the air atop a pole, flanked by two backing vocalists.
🇦🇺 Has @kmillerheidke done enough for your vote? The Australian singer has performed Zero Gravity, but will you be sending her to the Grand Final? #DareToDream #Eurovision #AUS pic.twitter.com/9mfFx2eL2J— Eurovision Song Contest (@Eurovision) May 14, 2019
Australia joined the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 and have scored consistently well each year but never won.
Since rehearsals began in Tel Aviv last week, Miller-Heidke’s performance has been the subject of increasing interest.
Along with Sweden’s Darude and Iceland’s Hatari, she is favourite to move through to the grand final on Saturday.
Earlier, Netta Barzilai – last year’s winner – kicked off the event in her home nation with a rousing rendition of Toy, her Me Too anthem featuring bizarre chicken noises.
Seventeen international acts will take to the stage on Tuesday night but only 10 will make it to the 26-strong grand final on Saturday.
Cyprus’ Tamta, Montenegro’s D Mol and Hungary’s Joci Papai were also among the first acts to perform.
Rylan Clark-Neal and Scott Mills are commentating on the event on BBC Four and will be joined by the UK’s entry Michael Rice.
The UK, as one of the “big five” countries, along with France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are already assured of a place in the grand final. Last year’s winners Israel also do not have to qualify via the semi-finals.
UK residents cannot vote in this round and should save their votes for the 18-act second semi-final on Thursday and the grand final on Saturday, where Rice will perform during the second half.