Russia lived up to the hype and was selected late Tuesday as one of 10 countries from the first semi-final for the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest grand finale this week in Stockholm.
Singer Sergey Lazarev’s entry You Are The Only One has been tipped as one of the favourites to win the final round on Saturday.
Also through to the final were Armenia's Iveta Mukuchyan, who co-wrote her song LoveWave, along with Austria, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta and the Netherlands.
Viewers and professional juries in 21 countries selected the qualifiers from 18 countries ranging from Iceland to Azerbaijan, vying for one of the 10 spots from the semi-final that was staged at the landmark Globen arena.
Malta's entry Walk On Water, performed by Ira Losco, rounded off the semi-final. She finished second in the 2002 Eurovision final.
Musical styles in the semi-final ranged from ballads, pop, rock and even country as represented by Dutch entry Douwe Bob's song Slow Down.
Entries that fell short included Finland's entry Sing It Away, performed by Sandhja, who opened the semi-final competition. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Greece, Iceland, Moldova, Montenegro and San Marino also failed to reach the final.
The second semi-final on Thursday fields 18 other entries. Ten will be selected to complete the final line-up of 26 acts from as many countries.
Six countries already have a berth to the final. These include Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain - all were automatically qualified as major funders of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) that organizes the event - and host Sweden that won last year.
In all, 42 countries are entered this year.
Last year’s Eurovision winner, Swedish singer Mans Zelmerlow, opened Tuesday's show with a rendition of his winning song Heroes along with a large children’s choir. He co-hosted the event with comedian Petra Mede.
It is the 61st edition of the contest, which draws millions of viewers and has seen the likes of Abba and Celine Dion launch their international careers.
Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 12:36
Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 21:30