Serifovic sang a heart-wrenching power ballad to win the
2007 Eurovision song contest early Sunday, an annual
extravaganza of pop, rock, and circus acts featuring
bare flesh and fiery pyrotechnics.
ballad ''Molitva,'' or ''A Prayer,'' beat a glitzy drag show
act from Ukraine and a Russian girl band to win the annual
event. Voters from an estimated television viewing
audience of 100 million across the continent picked
their favorite performance by phone and text message.
''All my life I
have been singing and tonight this [victory] makes me
very proud,'' said Serifovic, 22, who sang about love and
pain in Serbo-Croatian, flanked by five other women
dressed in black suits and ties.
It was Serbia's
first appearance in the competition as an independent
nation after Serbia-Montenegro split last year. Eastern
European countries took 14 of the top 16 spots in the
thousands took to the streets of Belgrade and other cities
to celebrate Serifovic's victory. Massive sing-alongs
to the winning tune and car-honking echoed through the
''Congratulations, Marija! Serbia is very proud tonight and
celebrates your success,'' Prime Minister Vojislav
Kostunica said in a statement.
known for its camp acts and over-the-top performances,
is maligned by some as an exhibition in bad taste. But more
than 9,000 admirers of the kitschy acts and bubble-gum
music packed Helsinki's largest ice hockey stadium to
watch the event, while a few miles away up to 20,000
people viewed it live on giant screens in the city's central
this year's contest because Finnish latex-masked monster
band Lordi won it in 2006. The mad bash had put the Finns in
a carnival mood with 350 events organized during what
was dubbed ''Eurovision Week.''
Party'' day Friday, police closed off central streets for
military parades, samba shows, and band performances in
bright, cold sunshine. Temperatures dipped to
near-freezing when 3,000 enthusiasts watched the
semifinals of the contest in the main square on Thursday
advanced to reach Saturday night's finals--Belarus,
Bulgaria, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Macedonia, Moldova,
Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey. They joined last year's
top 10--Armenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece,
Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, and
traditional ''Big Four''--Britain, France, Germany,
and Spain--automatically went to the finals as
they are the biggest sponsors of the event.
among Eurovision watchers dropped out in the early round,
including Norway's Latin-beat dance number, Swiss DJ Bobo's
neo-Gothic vampire song and Denmark's brightly plumed
drag artist Drama Queen.
''Push the Button'' by the Teapacks, which fueled
controversy months before the competition for purported
allusions to Iran's nuclear ambitions, also failed to
make the grade.
Lordi's victory with the growling rock number ''Hard Rock
Hallelujah'' shocked many traditional fans of the contest.
The band's lead singer, Tomi Putaansuu, said at the
time it had ''changed the face of the Eurovision [song
Now, he is not so
sure. ''The glitz and kitsch are back,'' he said before
Saturday night's competition. (AP)