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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Finnish monsters rock Eurovision
Finnish act Lordi

A Finnish "horror rock" group who dress in monster costumes have pulled off a surprise win at the 51st Eurovision Song Contest in Athens.

European viewers voted for Lordi's song Hard Rock Hallelujah in a show that is normally associated with catchy pop and big ballads.

Russia was second with Dima Bilan's Never Let You Go.

But UK rapper Daz Sampson could only manage to come 19th out of 24 countries with his song Teenage Life.

"There were some very good songs in it this year," he said. "I thought mine was one of them - obviously Europe didn't agree."

EUROVISION RESULTS
1. Finland - 292 points
2. Russia - 248
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina - 229
4. Romania - 172
5. Sweden - 170
6. Lithuania - 162
Lordi's masks, armour and jets of flame attracted widespread attention before the contest - but many thought they were too outlandish to win.

"We are a rock band and we just won Eurovision - that's weird," their lead singer, also called Lordi, said.

"This was a victory for rock music and also a victory for open-mindedness."

The result would open the doors for a wider range of musical styles at Eurovision in the future, he predicted.

"This is proof that from now on there will be more rock bands who will have the courage to join in," he said.

The UK's Eurovision entrant Daz Sampson
UK rapper Daz Sampson was not a hit with Eurovision viewers
"This is proof that there are rock fans who watch Eurovision."

The band had been accused by some conservative Greek organisations of promoting Satanism but said they had no connection with the occult.

"We have nothing to do with satan worshipping or anything like that - this is entertainment," Lordi said.

Lordi amassed 292 points after a public vote - 44 ahead of Russia, whose performance featured a ballerina emerging from a grand piano.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's entrant Hari Mata Hari was in third place, followed by Romania's Mihai Traistariu.

Carola, from Sweden, who was the bookmakers' favourite before the contest and won in 1991, came fifth.

Russia's Dima Bilan, who came second

Sixth place went to Lithuania's LT United, six men in suits singing: "We are the winners of Eurovision."

Hosts Greece came ninth with Anna Vissi, who had also been hotly tipped.

She was followed by Ireland's Brian Kennedy, who rounded off the top 10 with Every Song Is A Cry For Love.

Daz Sampson - one half of dance duo Uniting Nations - only gathered 25 points from the 35 countries that took part in the vote.

No country failed to get off the mark - Malta's Fabrizio Faniello came last with one point.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It was the best Eurovision in years
Jason Ranford, Woolwich

The other contenders included a German country and western singer, and a Latvian a capella group.

Some 18,500 fans packed the arena in the Olympic stadium complex, with 2,000 journalists and 3,000 police officers on duty.

The result means Finland will host the competition next year.


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