Eurovision 2008: First semi-final held in Belgrade

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A unique behind the camera view of performer Isis Gee at the first semifinal of the ESC 2008.

Last night saw the first semi final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Belgrade, Serbia. The entries from Israel, Azerbaijan, Norway, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia, Finland, Romania, Russia and Greece are through to the final, leaving the representatives from Montenegro, Estonia, Moldova, San Marino, Belgium, Slovenia, Ireland, Andorra and the Netherlands failing to qualify for this weekend's final.

The aforementioned countries join host nation Serbia, automatically through as is last year's winner, and the 'big four' - the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain. The other entries will compete in the second semi final tomorrow. Below is a summary of each entry in running order:


Montenegro was represented by Stefan Filipović with the Montenegrin-language song Zauvijek Volim Te (Never Forget I Love You), which was written by Grigor Koprov and Ognen Nedelkovski. He failed to qualify.


Comedy act Kreisiraadio (crazy radio) represented Estonia with Leto Svet. One member of the trio is a former politician, and a second is a current one. The song was the first Estonian entry to be in neither the Estonian or English languages. Instead, the song was mostly in Serbo-Croatian with sections in German and Finnish. They failed to qualify for the final.


Geta Burlacu performed A Century Of Love to represent Moldova. The song, written by Oleg Baraliuc and Viorica Demici, failed to qualify.

San Marino

San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italy and has a population of 31,000, debuted at the contest this year. The nation's first representative was Miodio with Complice. Described as "a melodic song from our tradition" by Sanmarinese Eurovision delegation head Alessandro Capicchioni, failed to qualify.


Ishtar represented Belgium with O Julissi. The song, composed by band member Michel Vangheluwe, bears the unusual distincton of being sung entirely in a language which does not actually exist. Sung by frontwoman Soetkin Baptist the words "kolosali krokodili" bear a resemblance to English, while the rest are designed to resemble Ukrainian and Serbian. It was hoped this would appeal to those in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union, but the song failed to qualify.


Israel was represented by Bo'az Ma'uda performing The Fire in Your Eyes. He sang alongside five backing singers whilst wearing a silvery-blue vest. Many members of the live audience could be seen waving Israeli flags. He won a place in the final with his song, which was written by Dana International and Shai Kerem.


Elnur Huseynov and Samir Javadzadeh represented Azerbaijan with Day After Day, which was written by Govhar Hasanzadeh and lyrics by Zahra Badalbeyli. The performance featured backing performers clad in large 'angel' wings, as was one of the performers. The song has won a place in the final.


Norway was represented by Maria Haukaas Storeng singing Hold On Be Strong, which was written by Mira Craig. Almost a million Norwegian viewers tuned in to watch the singer win a place in the final. Both her and songwriter Craig expressed delight at being chosen to go through to the final.


Isis Gee represented Poland with For Life, which she wrote herself. A simple performance was all that was required to secure a place in the final.


Dustin the Turkey represented Ireland with a controversial performance that garnered some boos from the crowd. The comedy puppet sang Irelande Douze Pointe (Ireland 12 points) which despite the mock-French title is actually in English. A number of Irish news organisations were highly critical of the performance, but the bird told Irish state TV he was "disgusted" by the fact that the song failed to get into the final.


Gisela represented Andorra with Casanova, composed by Jordi Cubino. She failed to qualify.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Elvir Laković Laka sang Pokušaj to represent Bosnia and Herzegovina. The song was selected to proceed to the final.


Sirusho was able to earn Armenia a spot in the final with Qele, the lyrics for which she wrote herself while the music was written by H.A. Der-Hovagimian.

The Netherlands

Hind Laroussi represented Holland with Your Heart Belongs To Me but failed to qualify. She later said she found this anoying "especially when you see that a country like Azerbaijan makes it".


Finland was represented by heavy metal band Teräsbetoni with the song Missä Miehet Ratsastaa, Finland having earned their only win in 2006 with a similar entrant, hard rock band Lordi. The song, which was written by the band's frontman Jarkko Ahola, was accompanied by large amounts of pyrotechnics and the band were in their self-described "leather and skin" look. Despite Eurovision fans placing them outside the top ten in an advance poll and 62% of responders in a Helsingin Sanomat poll also doubting the band would qualify, the song earned a place in the final.


Nico and Vlad Mirita were the Romanian representatives with Pe-o Margine De Lume. The song went through to the final.


Dima Bilan, who came second in the final in 2006, represented Russia again, this time with Believe. He was joined by champion figure skater Evgenii Plushenko, who has never performed at a song contest before. The song qualified for the final.


Kalomira was the Greek entrant with Secret Combination, written by Konstantinos Pantzis and Poseidon Yannopoulos. She qualified for the final.