Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Sunday, 25 May 2008 13:43 UK

Eurovision vote 2008: Top 10

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

One fan from each of the 43 countries taking part in this year's Eurovision Song Contest chose the 10 songs from this year's line-up that impressed them the most.

The fans' choices were awarded points and then combined to determine who they hoped would succeed in Belgrade - and who would come bottom of the heap.

Sweden's former winner Charlotte Perrelli swept to an emphatic victory with her song Hero, followed by Ukraine and Switzerland. The UK was joint 33rd.

You can see the full top 10 listed below - click on the links to read more about them and watch their performances.

1. SWEDEN - 245 points

The song: Hero is an earnest but very upbeat slice of Scandinavian pop - and contains the most extravagant key change at this year's contest.

Charlotte Pirrelli must qualify from the second semi-final

The performer: Charlotte Pirrelli shot to fame as Charlotte Nilsson, winning Sweden's Melodifestivalen competition in 1999 and following it up with Eurovision victory. She has since performed in stage musicals and hosted the Swedish song contest.

Lyrical pick: "Heroes can live on their own, but heroes never die alone..."

Track record: Sweden has notched up four victories, the first being Abba's landmark win with Waterloo in 1974, the most recent Charlotte Nilsson's Take Me To Your Heaven.

Odds: 8/1

On the night: Charlotte Perrelli's dream of a double Eurovision win was shattered as she limped home in 18th place.

2. UKRAINE - 183 points

The song: Shady Lady is a rich, brooding disco number with a killer chorus penned by Russian musician Phillip Kirkorov, the man behind Belarus's sixth-placed song in 2007.

The Ukrainians are promising an impressive stage show

The performer: Ani Lorak is one of Ukraine's best-known singing stars, who settled on her stage name in 1995, which is her real name - Karolina - backwards.

Lyrical pick: "I've just turned one more page, I belong to the stage, baby, don't call me baby..."

Track record: Ukraine joined the Eurovision family in 2003, scoring victory a year later with Ruslana's Wild Dances. The country came second in 2007 with comedy drag queen Verka Serduchka.

Odds: 7/2

On the night: Spot on. Ukraine was runner-up for the second successive year.

3. SWITZERLAND - 159 points

The song: Era Stupendo (It Was Wonderful) starts life as a gentle, piano-led ballad, bursting into life halfway through its three minutes.

Paolo Meneguzzi takes part in the more competitive second semi-final

The performer: Paolo Meneguzzi is well-known in the Italian part of Switzerland and Italy, where he has participated in the San Remo Festival - the original inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest in the 1950s.

Lyrical pick: "It was wonderful to fly away, to challenge the wind, the imagination..."

Track record: Switzerland secured the first Eurovision win back in 1956, with a second triumph in 1988 thanks to Celine Dion. Last year, their pre-contest favourite crashed and burned in the semi-final.

For the second year running, fan favourite Switzerland failed to make the final.

4. SERBIA - 152 points

The song: Oro is a Serbian language folk song with orchestral notes and a lilting chorus. The title refers to a traditional dance. It is composed by contest co-host Zeljko Joksimovic, who performed for Serbia and Montenegro in 2004 and came second. He also composed Bosnia's 2006 entry, which finished third.

Can the soaring folk ode make it two in a row for Serbia?

The performer: Jelena Tomasevic began her musical career as a child and finished second at Serbia and Montenegro's song contest in 2005, performing another Joksimovic composition.

Lyrical pick: "My dear cornstalks, don't sleep, kiss him, and put me asleep..."

Track record: Serbia participated in its own right for the first time in 2007 after its split with Montenegro a year earlier. Marija Serifovic's ballad Molitva (Prayer) swept to victory.

Odds: 8/1

On the night: The host nation fell a little short of the fans' estimation, coming sixth.

5. RUSSIA - 122 points

The song: Believe is a heartfelt ballad with a distinct R&B tip, and has been produced by Timbaland, whose host of credits includes Madonna's latest album.

Dima Bilan hopes to go one better in Belgrade

The performer: Dima Bilan is a well-known performer throughout Russia and beyond, being a winner at the country's MTV awards. In 2006 he took part in Eurovision, finishing second behind Finnish rock monsters Lordi.

Lyrical pick: "The courage that's inside is gonna break my fall, nothing's gonna dim my light within..."

Track record: Russia first graced the Eurovision stage in 1994 and have scored two second and two third places, including in 2006 and 2007.

Odds: 11/4

On the night: Dima Bilan's emphatic victory will take us further east for next year's contest.

6. PORTUGAL - 117 points

Can the maritime ballad put Portugal into its first final since 2003?

The song: Senhora Do Mar (Lady of the Sea) is a dramatic, mournful tune complete with crashing waves and Portuguese instruments. It was composed by Croatian Andrej Babic, so also has that Balkan touch.

The performer: Vania Fernandes comes from the island of Madeira and shot to prominence after winning Operacao Triunfo - Portugal's version of The X Factor - earlier this year.

Lyrical pick: "Ah, black waters, waves of sorrow, they froze the fire in my eyes... salty wounds, prayers in vain..."

Track record: Portugal has the dubious distinction to be the country with the longest participation without a win. This is its 42nd attempt at victory.

Odds: 25/1

On the night: Vania Fernandes' soaring performance was not enough for the top 10 - she came 13th.

7. ARMENIA - 105 points

The song: Qele, Qele (Let's Go, Let's Go) kicks off with a spine-tingling Armenian language vocal, leading into an English pop song rich with drums and local instrumentation.

Sirusho is charged with maintaining her country's good contest record

The performer: Sirusho has a film director father and mother who is also a singer. She is well-known in Armenia and throughout the Armenian disapora throughout the world and becomes the first female to represent her country at Eurovision.

Lyrical pick: "Time is here tonight, you should make it right, to end our fight, just hold me tight..."

Track record: Armenia has taken part in two Eurovision Song Contests (2006/7), scoring a top 10 finish on both occasions.

Odds: 12/1

On the night: A healthy smattering of diaspora votes pushed Sirusho's effort into fourth place.

8. ICELAND - 99 points

Iceland last made into the final in 2004

The song: This Is My Life is a full-on dance anthem with a pounding beat and some soaring vocals, with life-affirming lyrics from well-known Icelandic singer and former Eurovision performer Paul Oscar.

The performers: Euroband is a male-female duo consisting of Fridrik Omar and Regina Osk. The pair battled through one of the longest selection processes which began last September to win their ticket to Belgrade.

Lyrical pick: "I found the key, to set myself free, you'll be amazed, 'cause I have the power to change my ways..."

Track record: Iceland made its Eurovision debut in 1986 and has yet to capture a win. Its best showing was second in 1999.

Odds: 80/1

On the night: Euroband's barnstorming song failed to capture enough votes and came 14th.

9. NORWAY - 87 points

The song: Hold On Be Strong is a bluesy Motown-tinged song about the potential pitfalls of love, composed and written by Norwegian-American singer Mira Craig.

Maria is bidding for a third Norwegian victory

The performer: Maria Haukaas Storeng took part in Norway's Pop Idol in 2004. She came sixth and went on to record an album. Her formative years were spent on the stage in productions including The Wizard of Oz and Annie.

Lyrical pick: "Love can be hard sometimes, yes, it can catch you off-guard like bad crimes, yes, it can make you depressed and angry..."

Track record: Norway was for a long time associated with Eurovision failure until it won in 1985 and again a decade later.

Odds: 20/1

On the night: In the only Scandinavian success of the night, Maria exceeded expectations and finished fifth.

10. GREECE - 84 points

The song: Secret Combination is a perky pop song with a definite Greek flavour.

Kalomira is a familiar face to Greek television viewers

The performer: Kalomira was born in the US to Greek parents and left her native New York and won Greek reality show Fame Story 2. The 23-year-old is a daytime TV host and actress as well as singer.

Lyrical pick: "My secret combination, boy you have to try it hard, to win a destination in the centre of my heart..."

Track record: After decades in the song contest wilderness, Greece's fortunes picked up with the introduction of the semi-final in 2004. They have finished in the top 10 every year, including a win for Helena Paparizou in 2005.

Odds: 9/1

On the night: Kalomira looked like she might secure victory at one stage, but ended the contest in an impressive third place.


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