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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 May 2006, 00:58 GMT 01:58 UK
Eurovision's frights and delights
By Caroline Briggs
BBC News entertainment reporter in Athens

Finnish "horror rock" band Lordi grabbed the points and the headlines at the Eurovision Song Contest - but there were plenty of other weird and wonderful moments in the Greek capital.

Lordi came. They rocked. They conquered.

It was a refreshing change for a contest more used to rewarding catchy pop songs and power ballads with douze points.

Greece's Anna Vissi
Greece's Anna Vissi went down well with the home crowd
Lordi's theatrical display and Halloween personas helped make Eurovision 2006 one of the most memorable in years.

More than 18,000 Eurovision fans had filled the Olympic arena to capacity, waving their flags in anticipation of a flamboyant night.

But patriotic leanings were largely put aside when the music started and everyone was just as happy to cheer songs from other countries.

Greece's Anna Vissi was naturally a huge hit with the home crowd, who whooped and hollered before she even opened her mouth.

In their eyes she was a winner.

Another big crowd-pleaser was Romania's Mihai Traistariou, whose high-octane show was rewarded with the most audience participation during the chorus.

Romania's Mihai Traistariou
Romania's Mihai Traistariou got the audience going
Lithuania's We Are The Winners was less of a song and more of an energetic party political broadcast, and drew boos from some quarters.

Germany's Texas Lightning got the crowd clapping along to their country-style song No No Never.

Their fans had pulled out the stops by accessorising themselves with cowboy hats, while Daz Sampson's supporters donned school ties and badges in support of their man.

Latvia's seventh member of the band - a metallic puppet - was one of the night's stranger on-stage moments.

The half-woman-half-piano who appeared during Russia's Never Going To Let You Go gave the performance a surreal quality.

Germany's Texas Lightning
Fans of Germany's Texas Lightning dressed in country garb
The outfits, or in Moldova's case lack of them, was another talking point.

Israel, Latvia, Norway, Bosnia and France showed white was the new black, while Croatia's Severina had a Bucks Fizz moment when she lost her skirt.

But it was Lordi who stole the costume crown.

Eurovision has never seen anything like it as they strode on the stage looking like extras from a horror B-movie.

But they were greeted with chants of "Lordi, Lordi" and they rewarded their fans with a spectacular performance, complete with a co-ordinated pyrotechnic display.

They set the stage for a lively second half of the contest, which also saw Croatia and Sweden bring the house down.

Slicker end

By the time the show ended, the crowd was ready to find out who would triumph.

This year was the first outing for a new voting system, which had caused mutterings among some journalists.

They were concerned it would take away some of the tension at the end of the contest, but their fears proved largely unfounded.

The result was a slicker, less bumbling end to Eurovision.

But arguably it did take away a little of the contest's enduring charm.

Political votes

And it did little to disguise the usual political back-scratching by some countries.

Cyprus's annual award of full marks to Greece was the least surprising score of the evening.

The Scandinavians showed proximity was still a determining factor in deciding the best song, while the mighty Balkan block and former Soviet countries were almost as predictable.

Cries of political voting will still haunt the contest as none of the "big four" countries of the UK, France, Germany and Spain made the top 10.

Daz Sampson had been confident that Teenage Life would turn the tide for the UK.

But despite being well received in the arena, it was a case of Teenage Strife for the Mancunian rapper.

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