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For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, two Semi-Finals were held to decide which 25 countries would be represented in the Final. The Final of the contest took place on the 24th of May, just like the first ever Eurovision Song Contest in 1956.

Serbia hosted the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest in the Belgrade Arena. A record 43 countries participated including San Marino and Azerbaijan who made their respective debuts. Austria withdrew and did not return to the competition until 2011. 

France was represented by a major star, Sébastien Tellier, however he failed to impress the voters of Europe and finished in 19th place. Ukraine's Ani Lorak, who was in the running to represent her country in 2005, finished in second place with her song Shady Lady. Charlotte Perrelli (Nilsson), who won the contest in 1999 for Sweden returned to the competition but finished 18th in the Grand Final.

About the winner

Russia had been close to winning the contest several times but Dima Bilan brought it home with his second attempt with the song Believe written by American Jim Beanz and Bilan himself. Dima was accompanied by Russian figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko as well as Hungarian violinist Edvin Marton. 

Facts and figures

  • Ukraine was runner up for the second year running, with third place going to Greece, and 4th to Armenia, it's best result so far. Norway finished in 5th place.
  • Sweden qualified for the Grand Final thanks to the jury vote introduced that year.
  • The slogan for 2008 was Confluence of Sound