Dima Bilan wins the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest for Russia

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dima Bilan has won the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest, the 53rd, for Russia with his song Believe. The song was developed by US R&B artist Timbaland. The song won the competition with 272 points; 42 points ahead of Ukraine's Ani Lorak in second place with 230 points for the song Shady Lady. Third was Kalomira for Greece with Secret Combination The voting for the competition came from 43 countries across Europe, but with 25 countries competing, the others having failed to get through the semi finals. Russia has never won the contest before, Bilan having come second in 2006, losing out to Finnish hard rock band Lordi with Hard Rock Halellujah.

Dima Bilan (centre) performing in the first semi final of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest
Image: Daniel Aragay.

Furtherdown the scale Germany's No Angels with Disapear, Poland's Isis Gee with For Life and the United Kingdom's Andy Abraham with Even If came joint last with 14 points. Fourth last was Teräsbetoni, a Finnish heavy metal band performing in their native language with Missä Mihet Ratsastaa (Where Men Ride). Sweden's Charlotte Perrelli had been predicted to repeat her 1999 victory, this time with Hero, but also received a low score.

There was an estimated 100 million television viewers from across Europe.

UK commentator Terry Wogan has garnered significant media attention for criticising the contest live towards the end of the broadcast for being overly political. "It's a disappointment, considering that Andy Abraham gave, I think, the performance of his life with a song that certainly deserved more marks than it got when you look at the points that Spain got, that Bosnia-Herzegovina got - some really ridiculous songs," he said. "You have to say that this is no longer a music contest... I have to decide whether we (himself and his producer, who already announced he wanted to leave) want to do this again. Western European participants have to decide whether they want to take part from here on in, because their prospects are poor." He called the contest "political".

Spain was represented by Rodolfo Chikilicuatre with Baila el Chiki Chiki (Dance the Chiki Chiki) and Bosnia and Herzegovina by Elvir Laković Laka with Pokušaj (try).

Bilan, who received the maximum 12 points from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Armenia, all of which are former Soviet countries, was sent a telegram from Putin to congratulate him after his victory. Mevedev also contacted him later by phone to congratulate him. "Russia is the favorite now, it's just tearing everybody up — in basketball, football, hockey, and Eurovision!" commented champion figure skater Evgeni Plushenko, who had joined Bilan onstage to skate as part of the winning performance. He is now also a politician.

Next year's contest will be held in Russia.


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