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Eurovision Song Contest 2007 > 24 finalists to compete May 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Greek.

Bosnia-Herzegovina crooned its way through a gentle ballad to open this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, an annual extravaganza of pop, rock and circus acts featuring bare flesh and fiery pyrotechnics.

Millions of TV viewers across the continent will pick the winner from 24 finalists during the three-hour event, hosted by Finland, which unexpectedly stole the show in 2006 with its heavy rock entry, the latex-masked monster band Lordi. The contest, held since 1956, has a record 42 entries this year. It is broadcast live to an estimated TV audience of 100 million, who choose the winner by phone and text messages.

The contestants, most of whom are from Eastern Europe, include a Ukrainian drag act in glitzy silver outfits, a Russian female trio with a racy pop number and a British spoof about flying on Eurovision airways.

More than 9,000 admirers of kitschy acts and bubble-gum music packed Helsinki’s largest ice hockey stadium, while a few miles away up to 20,000 people watched the event live on giant screens in the city’s central square. The mad bash has put the Finns into carnival mood with 350 events organized during what has been dubbed “Eurovision Week.”

On “Helsinki Party” day Friday, police closed off central streets for military parades, samba shows and band performances in bright, cold sunshine. Temperatures dipped to near-freezing when 3,000 enthusiasts watched the semifinals of the contest in the main square on Thursday. “We are here to party, and this is the best European party ever,” said Joonas Liukko, 25, waving a Finnish flag and shivering in the early morning.

Ten countries advanced in the semifinals; Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, FYROM, Moldova, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. They join last year’s top 10 – Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and Finland. Also, the traditional “Big Four”, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, automatically go through to the final as they are the biggest sponsors of the event.

Some favorites among Eurovision watchers dropped out in the early round, including Norway’s Latin-beat dance number, Swiss DJ Bobo’s neo-Gothic vampire song and Denmark’s brightly plumed drag artist Drama Queen. Israel’s entry, “Push the Button” by the Teapacks, which fueled controversy months before the competition for purported allusions to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, also failed to make the grade.

Last year, Lordi’s victory with the growling rock number “Hard Rock Hallelujah” shocked many traditional fans of the contest, known for bland pop songs, camp acts and over-the-top performances. Lordi’s lead singer, Tomi Putaansuu, said at the time that the monster band had “changed the face of the Eurovision Song Contest forever.” Now, he is not so sure. “The glitz and kitsch are back,” he said before Saturday night’s competition.

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

See related pictures > Eurovision Photos

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