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Music > All tuned up for Eurovision 2006 May 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life.
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The 51st Eurovision Song Contest opened in Athens with 37 countries and more than 200 artists participating in a festival famed for over-the-top music, gaudy outfits, and a die-hard TV viewership of tens of millions.

Balanced on a 13-metre stage with floating waves and an ancient Greek theatre design, this year’s programme offers a mix of ballads, pop, country and hard rock in an annual contest which organisers pitch as “the greatest music entertainment on earth”.

A continental tradition since 1956, the Eurovision contest has both fanatical fans – who point to the global success of past winners such as Abba and Celine Dion – and bitter foes, who say that participants at times seem to be competing in eccentricity as well as vocals or dancing ability.

This year’s festival is no exception, with attention focusing on Finnish rock group Lordi, a hard rock quintet kitted out in monster masks and mediaeval armour straight out of J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

Hosted in 2006 by Greek national broadcaster ERT, the contest consists of a semi-final last night and a final on Saturday, with audiences in Europe, Turkey and Israel registering their votes by calling or sending an SMS message to a central database.

Twenty-three countries are registered to compete for 10 places in the Saturday final, where 14 countries have already secured a berth – hosts Greece, the festival’s four largest countries (France, Germany, Spain and the UK), and the nine top scoring nations from last year’s event.  

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