Favourites Sweden, Ukraine through to Eurovision final
Saturday, 24 May 2008

AFP, BELGRADE - Sweden and Ukraine, among the main contenders in the 53rd Eurovision song contest, have claimed a place in the glitzy finale of the competition to be staged in the Serbian capital this weekend.

Charlotte Perrelli, the Swedish diva who won the contest in 1999, wowed the audience on Thursday evening with her upbeat song "Hero," which is expected to get strong backing from the Scandinavian bloc in the final.

The other main favourite in the second semi-final at the near-capacity Belgrade Arena was Ukraine's Ani Lorak, who put in an energetic performance with the driving disco number "Shady Lady."

Joining them for the Arena showdown with 15 other qualifiers on Saturday will be Albania, Croatia, Denmark, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia, Portugal and Turkey.
Among those eliminated in the second semi-final were Malta and Switzerland, which some had tipped as outside favourites. The others that failed to make the cut were Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania and Macedonia.

The elimination at the first semi-final earlier this week of controversial Irish entry Dustin the Turkey, a purple-beaked glove puppet, has deprived the event of its tradition of oddball pop.

One entry that made it through in the second semi-final, Croatia, will provide amusement for some, however.

Croatian entrants Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents feature Eurovision 2008's oldest performer Ladislav Demeterfi Laci, whose stage name is a take on that of US rap star 50 Cent.
Armed with a walking stick, the 75-year-old struts the stage rapping, "I was the first Internet in the world, on ships with music I networked the planet," before going over to an old gramophone for a bit of record scratching.

Another contestant set to take the stage in Saturday's final is French electro-pop star Sebastien Tellier, who triggered a wave of outrage in France after he announced plans to sing in English.

The final will also feature Britain, Germany, Spain and Serbia, which is hosting the Eurovision 2008 thanks to the victory last year of Marija Serifovic with the ballad "Molitva."

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