2008 Logo ©  EBU

Basic information

Date: 
20 May 2008
Venue: 
Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia
Broadcaster: 
RTS
Presenter(s): 
Jovana Janković & Željko Joksimović
Other shows this year: 
About the contest: 

Had the results of the semi-final voting been released before the final, then few would have predicted Dima Bilan’s victory. Finishing third was not a positive sign, but Dima managed to defy the odds to win the contest at his second attempt. How much the presentation of the song help is a matter for debate. In his first appearance in the contest, a dancer emerged from the piano on stage. This time, he used the talents of international ice-skater, Evgeni Plushenko, in his performance. Those interested in statistics would have noted with interest that Russia’s victory was the eighth time in a row that a country had won for the first time.

Due to the number of countries now taking part in the contest, holding one semi-final was no longer viable. To avoid the all nighter that would have been one semi-final, the EBU decided that there should be two. Press and delegates attending the contest now faced a marathon. In the days before there were semi-finals, rehearsals and preparations lasted one week. Now, with three shows to prepare for, a full two weeks was required to be ready.

The 2008 contest was the year of the novelty song. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, , Ireland, Latvia and Spain all entered songs that were meant for entertainment rather than musical integrity, while some would argue that the Azeri and French songs were in that direction. Bosnia singer, Laka, had a performance that included his sister hanging out the washing and backing singers knitting. The Estonians had three dirty old men dancing in a manner worse than your uncle at a wedding, singing lyrics that made no sense, even to those who spoke any of the three languages used in the song. Ireland was represented by a turkey that was a big star in Irish TV begging Europe to vote for him. Latvia sent a gang of pirates and the Spanish elected a specially created character with his own dance to represent them.

Romanian singers, Nico and Vlad, won their national final, but not the hearts and good wishes of a lot of the public and press. Accusations of plagiarism abounded and there were also claims that Pe-o Margine De Lume had a public performance before the date permitted by the rules laid down by the EBU. Neither accusation could be proved and so no change was necessary or was made by national broadcaster, TVR. 

Austria kept its promise of withdrawing from the contest, but debuts by Azerbaijan and San Marino boosted the number of countries to a new record 43.

In addition to Dima Bilan, Sweden’s Charlotte Perrilli, a former winner herself, was singing her second Eurovision entry.

In each semi-final, only the countries participating in that semi-final were allowed to vote. The five countries already in the final (the Big 4 plus hosts Serbia) were each allowed to vote in one of the semi-finals. The points system remained as it had been for over 30 years, 1-8, then 10 and 12 to the ten most popular songs in each country.

Results

Pos.CountryParticipant(s)SongtitlePointsRank
1
Montenegro
Stefan Filipović
Zauvijek Volim Te
23
14th
2
Israel
Boaz
The Fire In Your Eyes
104
5th
3
Estonia
Kreisiraadio
Leto Svet
8
18th
4
Moldova
Geta Burlacu
A Century Of Love
36
12th
5
San Marino
Miodio
Complice
5
19th
6
Belgium
Ishtar
O Julissi
16
17th
7
Azerbaijan
Elnur & Samir
Day After Day
96
6th
8
Slovenia
Rebeka Dremelj
Vrag Naj Vzame
36
11th
9
Norway
Maria
Hold On Be Strong
106
4th
10
Poland
Isis Gee
For Life
42
10th
11
Ireland
Dustin the Turkey
Irelande Douze Pointes
22
=15th
12
Andorra
Gisela
Casanova
22
=15th
13
Bosnia and Herzigovina
Laka
Pokušaj
72
9th
14
Armenia
Sirusho
Qele, Qele
139
2nd
15
The Netherlands
Hind
Your Heart Belongs To Me
27
13th
16
Finland
Teräsbetoni
Missä Miehet Ratsastaa
79
8th
17
Romania
Nico & Vlad
Pe-o Margine De Lume
94
7th
18
Russia
Dima Bilan
Believe
135
3rd
19
Greece
Kalomira
Secret Combination
156
1st
About the songs: 
Stefan FilipovićStefan Filipović Montenegro - Stefan Filipović - Zauvijek Volim Te (Montenegrin)

Music/Lyrics: Grigor Koprov/Ognen Nedelkovski

Zauvijek Volim Te has all the characteristics of Montenegro’s entry from 2007. That didn’t escape the semi-final either.

 BoazBoaz Israel - Boaz - The Fire In Your Eyes (Hebrew/English)

Music/Lyrics: Dana International/Dana International, Shai Kerem

The distinctive sound of Hebrew may lead to feelings of déjà-vu, but that should not take anything away from Boaz’s very strong vocal and strong, anthemic ballad.

 KreisiraadioKreisiraadio Estonia - Kreisiraadio - Leto Svet (Serbian, Estonian, German)

Music/Lyrics: Priit Pajusaar, Glen Pilvre, Peeter Oja, Hannes Võrno, Tarmo Leinatamm/ Priit Pajusaar, Glen Pilvre, Peeter Oja, Hannes Võrno, Tarmo Leinatamm

The multi language song included lyrics in the language of the host nation. Three dodgy looking characters (including one straight out of a Harry Enfield ‘Scousers’ sketch) tried and failed to produce comedy. They just looked ridiculous as they marched around the stage. Even the introduction of ladies bearing little more than the flags they were holding couldn’t improve the appeal of this sub reggae number.

 Geta BurlacuGeta Burlacu Moldova - Geta Burlacu - A Century Of Love (English)

Music/Lyrics: Oleg Baraliuc/Viorica Demici

Laid back jazz was the order of the day for Moldova. Perhaps for moral support, perhaps to add a bit extra to the romantic style, Geta was joined on stage by her boyfriend. 

 MiodioMiodio San Marino - Miodio - Complice (Italian)

Music/Lyrics: Francesco Sancisi/Nicola della Valle

It must have been tempting for the San Marinese to play safe and opt for an Italian style big ballad. Perhaps wanting to have their own identity, they sent a fine rock ballad.

 IshtarIshtar Belgium - Ishtar - O Julissi

Music/Lyrics: Michel Vangheluwe/Michel Vangheluwe

For the second time, Belgium’s was in a made up language. It’s a cheerful little ditty which could have been sung by a medieval minstrel in the court of a king.

 Elnur & SamirElnur & Samir Azerbaijan - Elnur & Samir - Day After Day (English)

Music/Lyrics: Govher Hasanzadeh/Zahra Badalbeyli

Azerbaijan debuted with something out of the Rocky Horror Show. There is more drama and over the top acting than a Christmas episode of Eastenders, and more shouting too. 

 Rebeka DremeljRebeka Dremelj Slovenia - Rebeka Dremelj - Vrag Naj Vzame (Slovenian)

Music/Lyrics: Josip Miani-Pipi/Amon

If ever presentation could be blamed for a song failing, this is it! Rebeka’s hugely enjoyable, up-tempo pop song was ruined by the bondage style stage show. A run-of-the-mill presentation would have seen Slovenia in the final. Finishing only one place out of the qualifying places, the phrase ‘if only’ comes to mind.

 MariaMaria Norway - Maria - Hold On Be Strong (English)

Music/Lyrics: Mira Craig/Mira Craig

Maria was one of the favourites, but after nine of the qualifiers had been announced ‘at random’ at the end of the semi-final, there was no sign of Norway. Cheers all round then, when the last computerised envelope said Norway, and Maria’s ballad about waiting for ‘the one’ rightly made it to the final.

 Isis GeeIsis Gee Poland - Isis Gee - For Life (English)

Music/Lyrics: Isis Gee/Isis Gee

Isis was striking to look at, although not necessarily for the right reasons! Her performance of a gentle ballad was competent, although a little automatic. Poland making it into the final was, strangely, both surprising and not unexpected. 

 Dustin the TurkeyDustin the Turkey Ireland - Dustin the Turkey - Irelande Douze Pointes (English)

Music/Lyrics: Darren Smith, Simon Fine, Dustin The Turkey/Darren Smith, Simon Fine, Dustin The Turkey

Could the nation that gave us Johnny Logan, Linda Martin and Niamh Kavanagh really have sunk this low? Dustin was a very popular character on Irish TV, but the joke was never going to translate well as he gave reasons why everyone should vote for Ireland (“We’re sorry for Riverdance”). Funny if you are a native speaker, but childish to a foreigner. 

 GiselaGisela Andorra - Gisela - Casanova (English)

Music/Lyrics: Jordi Cubino/Jordi Cubino

A first appearance in the final for Andorra seemed unlikely, especially given the daft wasp antennae type headwear Gisela was sporting. As a song in its own right, it’s likeable; however, it has nothing about it to make it the favourite of enough people to give it sufficient points. 

 LakaLaka

Bosnia and Herzigovina - Laka - Pokušaj (Bosnian)

Music/Lyrics: Elvir Lakovic Laka/Elvir Lakovic Laka

Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Laka household while he was growing up! He was joined on stage by his equally mad sister, who hung out the washing while he sang. The song goes where it wants to and is an acquired taste.   

 SirushoSirusho Armenia - Sirusho - Qele, Qele (Armenian)

Music/Lyrics: H A der -Hovagimian/Sirusho

Despite a ropey performance in the semi-final, Sirusho, one of the big favourites going into the contest, made it into the final easily. The vocals in the final were much better and her very strong, up-tempo pop song deserved to do well.

 HindHind The Netherlands - Hind - Your Heart Belongs To Me (English)

Music/Lyrics: Hind Laroussi Tahiri, Tjeerd van Zanen & Bas van den Heuvel/Hind Laroussi Tahiri, Tjeerd van Zanen

Finally, it looked as if one of the contests longest serving participants might reach the final. It was one of the strongest songs in what was considered to be the weaker of the semi-finals. It didn’t quite happen for Hind and her African tinged, lively effort.

 TeräsbetoniTeräsbetoni Finland - Teräsbetoni - Missä Miehet Ratsastaa (Finnish)

Music/Lyrics: J. Ahola/J. Ahola

Perhaps not wanting to fix something that wasn’t broken, the Finns stuck to the rock formula that had proved successful for them two years previously. It was good, but maybe a bit laboured to have mass appeal.  

 Nico & VladNico & Vlad Romania - Nico & Vlad - Pe-o Margine De Lume (Romanian)

Music/Lyrics: Andrei Tudor/Andreea Andrei, Adina Şuteu

Having survived the plagiarism controversy when they won the Romanian final, Nico and Vlad took to the Belgrade stage with a rather dreary, lifeless and, at times, untidy ballad.

 Dima Bilan 2008Dima Bilan Russia - Dima Bilan - Believe (English)

Music/Lyrics: Dima Bilan, Jim Beanz/Dima Bilan, Jim Beanz

Dima’s second entry was favourite with the bookies almost from the start. Like his first effort, Believe is very contemporary pop’ like his first effort, the presentation was much too gimmicky!  

 KalomiraKalomira Greece - Kalomira - Secret Combination (English)

Music/Lyrics: Konstantinos Pantzis/Poseidon Yannopoulos

The modern Greek pop sound was starting to become predictable as it was very much the style of most Greek entries at that time. Kalomira’s version is no more than acceptable.