Photo: AP
Mauda. Top 10
Photo: AP

Eurovision: Israel comes in 9th

Russia wins European song contest with Dima Bilan beating 24 contestants to clinch his country's first victory in event with impassioned rock ballad 'Believe'

Russia won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, with Dima Bilan beating 24 contestants to clinch his country's first victory in the event with the impassioned rock ballad "Believe".


Israel's Boaz Mauda came in ninth with his song 'The Fire in Your Eyes' with 124 points. 


Bilan received 272 points from telephone voters in 43 countries. Ukraine came second with 230 points and Greece third with 218 points.


In 2007, Bilan took part in the "From Russia with Love" concert in Tel Aviv, and he has many fans in Israel.


"Thank you Belgrade, see you in Moscow," said Bilan, an established pop star at home who came second in the 2006 contest held in Athens and hopes to launch an international career with an English-language album this year.

Russia. The big winner (Photo: Reuters)


His performance also featured figure skating from Russian Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Plushenko and a head-banging violin accompaniment from Hungarian Edvin Marton on his centuries-old Stradivarius.


The contest, held in Belgrade after Marija Serifovic's ballad clinched victory for Serbia in its debut as a solo nation in 2007, was broadcast live across Europe to an estimated audience of 100 million people.


Most of the songs sounded dated and lacking in energy, but the accompanying performances more than made up for it with richly imaginative visual components.


Highlights included writhing angels and devils from Azerbaijan, a band of swashbuckling pirates from Latvia, a robot zombie dance routine from Georgia and several contestants who appeared to be entering a Mariah Carey-lookalike contest.


Ukraine's second-placed Ani Lorak was a crowd favourite for her energetic disco-fuelled dance track and shiny Las Vegas showgirl outfit, as was Greece's Kalomira with a song that blended oriental, hip-shaking rhythms with Britney Spears-like vocals.


'I gave it all I had'

The beginning was promising: Members of the Belgrade media center named the Israeli delegation to the Eurovision as "the most charming delegation." Boaz Mauda's performance was impressive and respectable, but that was not enough to earn him a victory.


However, after two years of embarrassing results for Israel, Mauda restored the national respect of the Eurovision's Israeli fans. He got on the stage in a silver vest and sang his song, written by Dana International and Shai Kerem, with great confidence.

Mauda with his backup singers. 'A respectable place' (Photo: AFP)


He was cheered by some 200 Israelis wrapped in blue and white flags, who managed to get very close to the stage despite the tight security arrangements.


Mauda, a 20-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier from the town of Elyakim, broke into the limelight after winning last year's "A Star is Born" (the Israeli version of 'American Idol') reality TV show. During the Eurovision rehearsals he was lauded by members of the other delegations, as well as European music industry officials who arrived in Belgrade.


"I am keeping a good perspective and just want to enjoy the song and the performance. As for what happens with my career later, let's wait and see," he said earlier in Saturday evening.


During the exhausting voting stage, Mauda maintained his composure.


"I feel I gave it all I had," he said. "I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement. After reaching the final this was just a bonus. I reached a respectable place."


"Boaz's performances were perfect and he contributed to Israel's reputation," former Israeli Eurovision winner Dana International said at the end of the evening.


Reuters and Meirav Crystal contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.25.08, 07:20
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