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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
Eurovision falls for folk fashion
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter

Albanian Eurovision singer Ledina Celo
Albania's entry comes complete with folksy drums and violins

The stage at this year's Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev will play host to a large array of fiddles, big drums, exotic flourishes and eye-catching displays.

The success of last year's victor Ruslana, with her fur-clad, whip-cracking display of Carpathian mountain music, is making folk fashionable for the 50th contest.

An array of entrants have decided this is the winning musical formula, including the United Kingdom's Javine, whose pacy pop number is infused with the sound of the east.

Adding a dash of the traditional to the modern is a ploy adopted by Greece, with a tune highly fancied by Eurovision pundits.

Bouzouki-laced

Neighbours Albania are pinning their hopes on a rousing song from Ledina Celo.

With a chorus of "dip-di-dae" and some soaring violins, it has that folksy touch.

Hungarian entry Nox
Hungary's entry promises a visual spectacle

Constandinos Christoforou from Cyprus mirrors this formula - his bouzouki-laced pop could emulate the 2004 success of Greece's Sakis Rouvas, who finished third.

Serbia and Montenegro's debut in Istanbul last year was a haunting, spine-tingling folk tune which struck a chord with Eurovision voters, gaining the runners-up spot.

The Balkan country is not straying far this year, with an uplifting tune filled with rolling drums and a weeping violin - performed by a six-strong boy band.

Medieval

Some countries are sending full-on, feverish displays of folk to Kiev in the hope of capturing that prestigious 50th Eurovision crown.

Leading the pack are Hungary, who have been absent from the contest since 1998.

Javine
Javine's UK song is full of eastern influences

Their song Forogi Vilag is a heady mix of gypsy, Jewish and almost medieval influences.

With an eye-dazzling performance to match, this offering is probably has the most parallels with last year's athletic Xena: Warrior Princess winner.

Also pinning their hopes on folk roots are Croatia - their uplifting tune has powerful drums, throat-style singers and Balkan bagpipes borrowed from the musical heritage of Bulgaria.

2003 victors Turkey gave us punk ska last year, but have returned to the exotic roots of Anatolia in what will be a drum-banging, almost Bollywood-style display of colour.

Austria's song, which will open the semi-final on Thursday, will either delight or prompt groans with its unusual mix of Alpine brass, yodelling - and salsa.

Maudlin pop

But there are Eurovision songs with no folk tinges, which could storm to glory if there is a backlash.

Iceland and Malta's singers make a comeback to the contest, with an uptempo number and gentle ballad respectively.

Disco lives again with Belarus's entry, while glam rock makes a stand courtesy of Norway's entrants Wig Wam.

And with a slice of chirpy Latin pop from Spain and dramatic, maudlin rock from Switzerland, this year's Eurovision will not be without its contrasts.

The Eurovision Song Contest semi-final on Thursday will be screened on BBC Three at 2000 BST.

The grand final on Saturday will be shown on BBC One at 2000 BST.


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