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Singers prepare for Eurovision Song Contest May 11, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.

A Slovenian mock-opera artist, a Hungarian blues singer and a Ukrainian drag queen in a glitzy silver outfit were among 24 competitors in the Eurovision Song Contest, an annual extravaganza of colliding musical tastes.

The showdown in Finland on Saturday will have an Eastern European flavor after former communist bloc countries scored a near clean-sweep in the semifinal that ended in the early hours on Friday. Some 3,000 enthusiasts braved near-freezing temperatures to watch the acts, including pyrotechnic flares and skimpily clad dancers, on giant screens in Helsinki’s central square, broadcast live from the concert arena a few miles away.

The competition, with a record 42 entries, is being held for the 52nd time in an unparalleled show in the Nordic country, which shocked fellow Europeans last year when its latex-masked monster band Lordi stole the show in the Greek capital, Athens.

On Saturday, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, FYROM, Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey join last year’s top 10, as well as the traditional “Big Four”, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which are given automatic participation as the show’s biggest sponsors. The 10 from last year are Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Romania and Finland, which as the 2006 winner hosts this year’s contest.

In the semifinal, Bulgaria’s folklorist entry “Water”, featuring thumping, monotonous drumbeats, surprised many by qualifying for a place on the big night. Others, considered by many Eurovision watchers as favorites, dropped out, including Norway’s Latin-beat dance number and Swiss DJ Bobo’s neo-Gothic vampire song. Israel’s entry, “Push the Button” by the group Teapacks, which fueled controversy months before the competition for purported allusions to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, also failed to make the grade.

Saturday’s winner will be picked by millions of European viewers voting by phone and text messages. Last year, Lordi’s victory with the growling hard rock number “Hard Rock Hallelujah” shocked many traditional fans of the contest, which is known for bland pop songs, camp acts and over-the-top performances. Finns, acutely aware of their image, reacted with horror to the performance, but then welcomed the victory after 40 years of failures, with accolades coming even from President Tarja Halonen. This year’s Finnish entry, a pop song bylocal “Idol” winner Hanna Pakarinen, is seen by many as an unlikely winner.


Related Links > http://www.eurovision.tv

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