Eurovisions of the Past: A Retrospective of Eurovision 2008

Editorial – In this series, we will be looking back on the past ten years of the Eurovision Song Contest and in this article we will be looking at the year 2008. This was the 53rd edition of the show and was the first time two semi finals were used to determine the Grand Final Line-Up

Confluence of Sound


Belgrade, Serbia (RTS)


Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia


San Marino







Last Place:

United Kingdom


Eurovision 2008 saw 43 participating countries perform in Serbia, two of which making their debut to the contest. For the first time, two semi finals were used to determine the full line-up of the Grand Final. The 2008 contest almost didn’t take place in Belgrade due to riots that took place in regards to Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia. Ukraine, as the came 2nd in 2007 were considered along with Finland and Greece but the EBU decided to keep it in Belgrade. This lead to the delegations of Albania, Israel and Croatia being given special security.


Semi Finals

A draw took place that determined which semi-final the artists would compete in. Only the public of the competing countries were allowed to vote for each semi final and their top 9 would make the final. The 10th qualifier was put through by a Jury and two of the big four were allowed to vote also.

Semi Final One

Germany and Spain were allowed to vote in the first semi final as well as the competing semi finalists that are listed below… (Qualifiers in Blue):

01 Montenegro Stefan Filipović “Zauvijek volim te”
02 Israel Boaz Ma’uda “The Fire in Your Eyes”
03 Estonia Kreisiraadio “Leto svet”
04 Moldova Geta Burlacu “A Century of Love”
05 San Marino Miodio “Complice”
06 Belgium Ishtar “O Julissi”
07 Azerbaijan Elnur and Samir “Day After Day”
08 Slovenia Rebeka Dremelj “Vrag naj vzame”
09 Norway Maria Haukaas Storeng “Hold On Be Strong”
10 Poland Isis Gee “For Life” *
11 Ireland Dustin the Turkey “Irelande Douze Pointe”
12 Andorra Gisela “Casanova”
13 Bosnia and Herzegovina Laka “Pokušaj”
14 Armenia Sirusho “Qélé, Qélé”
15 Netherlands Hind “Your Heart Belongs to Me”
16 Finland Teräsbetoni “Missä miehet ratsastaa”
17 Romania Nico and Vlad “Pe-o margine de lume”
18 Russia Dima Bilan “Believe”
19 Greece Kalomira “Secret Combination”

*Poland was the Jury choice for qualifying

Semi Final Two

The United Kingdom, Serbia and France were allowed to vote in the first semi final as well as the competing semi finalists that are listed below… (Qualifiers in Blue):

01 Iceland Euroband “This Is My Life”
02 Sweden Charlotte Perrelli “Hero” *
03 Turkey Mor ve Ötesi “Deli”
04 Ukraine Ani Lorak “Shady Lady”
05 Lithuania Jeronimas Milius “Nomads in the Night”
06 Albania Olta Boka “Zemrën e lamë peng”
07 Switzerland Paolo Meneguzzi “Era stupendo”
08 Czech Republic Tereza Kerndlová “Have Some Fun”
09 Belarus Ruslan Alekhno “Hasta la Vista”
10 Latvia Pirates of the Sea “Wolves of the Sea”
11 Croatia Kraljevi ulice and 75 cents “Romanca”
12 Bulgaria Deep Zone and Balthazar “DJ, Take Me Away”
13 Denmark Simon Mathew “All Night Long”
14 Georgia Diana Gurtskaya “Peace Will Come”
15 Hungary Csézy “Candlelight”
16 Malta Morena “Vodka”
17 Cyprus Evdokia Kadi “Femme Fatale”
18 Macedonia Tamara, Vrčak & Adrian “Let Me Love You”
19 Portugal Vânia Fernandes “Senhora do mar (Negras águas)”

*Sweden was the Jury choice for qualifying (The start of the Jury / Sweden Love Affair)

The Grand Final

The Grand Final had a total of 25 finalists. Russia won the contest for the first and only time (so far) when represented by Dima Bilan with his song “Believe”. Dima was joined by Russian Olympic Figure Skater Evgeni Plushenko on stage.
Three nations finsihed at the bottom end of the table with 14 points* however it was the United Kingdom who would finish last due to recieving votes from fewer countries. This was the 2nd time in contest history that the United Kingdom came last (the last being 2003 when Jemini recieved the dreaded nil points). The UK’s last placing would cause long time Commentator Terry Wogan to quit his Eurovision duties to be replaced by fellow Irishman Graham Norton.

* Poland and Germany were the other countries to get 14pts

The Big Four

Neither of the Big Four Countries made the Top 10 in 2008, two of which (Germany and the UK) were bottom of the pile. France were represented with one of the countries biggest artists but did not fair well with Europe after finishing 19th. Spain did the best out of the Big Four coming in at 16th place.

France  Sébastien Tellier “Divine”
Germany No Angels “Disappear”
Spain  Rodolfo Chikilicuatre “Baila el Chiki-chiki”
United Kingdom Andy Abraham “Even If”

The Top 10

01 Russia Dima Bilan “Believe”
02 Ukraine Ani Lorak “Shady Lady”
03 Greece Kalomira “Secret Combination”
04 Armenia Sirusho “Qélé, Qélé”
05 Norway Maria Haukaas Storeng “Hold On Be Strong”
06 Serbia Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugić “Oro”
07 Turkey Mor ve Ötesi “Deli”
08 Azerbaijan Elnur and Samir “Day After Day”
09 Israel Boaz Ma’uda “The Fire in Your Eyes”
10 Bosnia and Herzegovina Laka “Pokušaj”

Marcel Bezençon Awards

Artists Award: Ukraine“Shady Lady” performed by Ani Lorak
Composer Award: Romania“Pe-o margine de lume” performed by Nico and Vlad
Press Award: Portugal “Senhora do mar (Negras águas)” Performed by Vânia Fernandes


The Barbara Dex

The annual contest where fans can vote for the worst dressed of the year. This year the award went to Andorra’s Gisela who came 16th int he first semi final, failing to qualify with “Casanova”

60 thoughts on “Eurovisions of the Past: A Retrospective of Eurovision 2008

  1. Portugal is my absolute favourite of the 2008 contest, followed by Turkey (for me, their greatest song that decade along with 2003) and Armenia (my favourite armenian entry and one of my favourite shake-shakes ever). The top5 is rounded up by Israel and the delightfuly theatrical and silly song from Bosnia. France also had a great song in 2008 that did not work that well live (partly because of awful camera work and partly because of his hipsterish mannerisms).

    When it comes to the winner, I recognise it was a rather a current R&B-pop fusion in the “american” style that Russia preferred back then (indeed they recruited one of the best-known american hitmakers of the time to write it). I also recognise Dima has a good voice. However I can’t get over the total lameness of the “russian Michael Jackson” performance and the whole throwing-the-kitchen-sink approach to the show…

    As for the slut battle of Ukraine vs. Greece, as I have said before I much prefer Kalomira’s Lolitta show and her bhangra-tinged american-sounding hit to Ani Lorak’s basic eurodisco and balkan strip-show aesthetics. To be fai to them, in terms of top10 entries, Azerbaijan’s debut was much, much worse than both of them. As for Serbia, a lot of people like it here but for me it doesn’t hold a candle to their entries of 2004, 2007 or 2012.

    • Couldn’t disagree more regarding France and the camera shots. They were excellent imho.
      Kinda disagree about Serbia too: As much as I love all three you mention (04, 07, 12),I think “Oro” tops them :)

      • When it comes to France, the whole part between 1:10 and 1:20 in the official video always seemed to me a mistake. Surely it couldn’t be deliberately shot this way?

        Anyway the basic problem of that song was probably that Bosnia did the whole hipster comedy schtick much better…

    • Just a little correction 😃
      Believe is written by Dima Bilan and Jim Beanz. Beanz is famous vocal producer, not a famous songwriter. His only remarkable writing co credit is for Nelly Furtado’s Man Eater.
      Big gun here is Timbaland, producer, who’s imperial phase on pop charts was just about to fade away.

      • True. He did co-write songs for Britney as well as songs for the Empire show, but you are right. Timbaland was the one whose services they probably paid most dearly :)

        • As they should! He must have been the most expensive producer back then. Meddling with Russian pop star in sing competion probably wasn’t his ideal kind of job. Luckily money talks 😃
          I think it’s mainly written by Dima. The melody is so him and so slavic over all. They don’t write songs like that in US. Jim Beanz is great secondant, that was his role on those great Britney tracks.
          Without Timbaland it would have been another slavic schlager, he cooked up fantastic fusion of elements world apart.

  2. One of the strongest editions of the last 15 years, imo. Many songs I love.
    My top 10:

    10. Armenia
    09. Ukraine
    08. Finland
    07. San Marino
    06. Albania
    05. Bosnia & Herzegovina
    04. Turkey
    03. Portugal
    02. France
    01. Serbia

      • Ahahah it must be that! :)
        Let’s go to the beach. Bad weather. I was not lucky this time. Water at 19 degrees … That’s very cold!

        • I just came back from the Ionian Sea. Surprised at how cold the water is there compared to the Aegean! But apart from a day of rain, the weather was always sunny and rather cool and breezy compared to Athens (where it alternates between sizzling heat and afternoon thunderstorms).

          If the water temperature is only 19 there, only thing you can do is wait by the seaside and cry for your man or woman :-P

  3. I loved France in 2008. He was right up my street. The Czech Republic had a good song that year too. A song I still listen to today. I also liked Spain (Que Surprise).
    The 2008 winner is one of my least favourite winners ever and I don’t think the UK deserved that last placing at all.

  4. I am totally split on the 2008 contest. I really like both the stage and the hosts but the line-up was a hot mess. No other edition has so many songs that are still in my playlist (SRB, TUR, PRT, ISR, ALB, ISL, FRA, MAK, NOR, UKR, HRV and SMR): I also like watching BiH and CYP which do not work in studio version for me. On the other hand, 2008 provided so many songs I totally dislike: DEU, LTU, IRl, LVA, CZE and EST.
    The winning song was ok but Dima’s melodramatic vocal performance and the tacky staging ruined RUS08 for me. :(

  5. This year belongs to

    Ukraine – still one of the most powerful ESC spectacles ever. Sexy, sassy, energetic and I’m still happy to watch it. How lame she made shoddy baby doll Kalomira and especially alien baby Charlotte look and sound.

    Russia – Dima, fantastic song, and unforgettable WTF performance, that goes to eleven as they wanted to win. Whatca promise. 2009 Russia staged WTF final in Moscow. And WTF was for the brilliance of it all. It took ESC finals to next level in good and bad.

    France – Sebastien Tellier’s hipsterism was from a planet far away from ESC. One of the best France ever. They bloody hell played it in repeat in Helsinki’s most fashionable record store!

    All three still very dear to me.

  6. Overall I enjoy ESC 2008 much more than the last 3-4 contests, and I think many of the songs are musically much richer. There is also quite a wide range of genres. There is a handful of rather embarrassing acts (Ireland and Latvia in particular), but many really good songs too. No masterpieces though.

    Personal favourites: Portugal, Ukraine (only the music!), Serbia and Norway. I also really like United Kingdom, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Turkey and France.

    UK, btw, is one of the least deserved last places, I never understood why it didn’t do better. It’s a great soul track with a touch of Tamla Motown.

    On the other hand, “Believe” is one of my least favourite winners. The song itself is just so-so, but I really can’t stand Dima Bilan’s performance. He is over-acting vocally, sometimes on the expence of intonation, and his “hey”s and “ouw”s in particular get on my nerves.

  7. I have such a love-hate relationship with this year. No doubt that there were some excellent entries. Serbia is my #1 and its’ one of the best songs in the 2000’s in ESC. Turkey, Portugal, Croatia, and Albania round out my Top 5. FYROM was also really good and robbed out of a place in the Final because the juries (in their first year) somehow liked the dated schlager from Sweden better. I also think the hosts were solid; Jovana’s voice annoyed me but Zejlko was great. The stage is meh to me.

    Now with the bad: This is probably the worst Top 5 since I started watching. I don’t really enjoy any of them. Norway was highly overrated imo. Russia as a winner; look its’ not the best winner or even near it, but I prefer it to any of the songs that finished 2-5. And at least they got to host what was the best edition I’ve ever seen the very next year.

    I also despised the high amount of joke entries. Latvia, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, and especially Estonia. I also never understood the love for Bosnia among some. The good thing is that this was the last year that we saw so many joke entries. The introduction of 50-50 juries (in 2009) and 2 semis made countries take it much more seriously in 2009 and beyond.

  8. One of the great thought exercises is how the results would have been if juries were 50-50 in 2008. I really think they would have lowered Dima much like they did to Sergey in 2016. I think Serbia and Norway probably finish 1-2 in the jury vote. Does Ukraine win by finishing 2nd in both sets of votes, just like in 2016?

  9. 2008 was a strong year for me and led to an overall stronger year(2009).I have a very strong top-4 of songs i love and always go back to:


    and then:
    5.San Marino
    Just missing out: Sweden,B&H,Russia,Greece,Armenia

  10. LOVE :

    Like very much :

    Just missing :

    HORROR :

    Moto :
    Don’t put the blame on Eastern countries. They simply tried harder ;)

  11. Production-wise: OK I guess. I really like Željko Joksimović as a host: natural, calm and to the point. No hysteria. This is how it should be done.

    On the other hand, the green room reporters mad me want to throw something at the TV set…

  12. An interesting thing about the Russian entry btw: They tried an over-the-top approach to the presentation with a violinist and an ice skater, but in the end you don’t really pay much attention to them (well I didn’t) – probbly as a result of Dima Bilan’s over-performance.

  13. Serbia, Israel abd Turkey were the best that year.
    Ukraine was sexiest that year though if I had to chose between Lorak and Loboda I’d chose Loboda :)
    Sweden – remains my guilty pleasure of all times and just like Ukraine Charlotte was hot as well (MILF category)

  14. My average grade for 2008 was 5,84 (lowest in the decade), but I actually remember it as being one of my favourite contests of the decade, with many good songs which became my personal all time evergreens.

    Unfortunately, there were some horriffic songs, and that probably lowered my overall average.
    For the first time ever, I awarded 2 songs with 1/10 (EST and IRL).

    My overall favorite was FYR Macedonia, followed by newcomer San Marino (both with 8/10).
    MKD 2008 is my best placed MKD entry, but not my favourite one (which is MKD 2012).

    SMR 2008 was imo by far their best entry ever.

    I very much liked Israel and Hungary (latter unfortunately being a good entry with a very weak vocalist).

    On their debut, I gave Azerbaijan 5/10 (29. place), which is by far my lowest grade for AZE (later became one of my favourite ESC nations).

    I will remember 2008 for the beautifull stage (one of my favourites of all times), and for very good hosts.
    I didn’t like some of the postcards, as I recognized subtle political propaganda.

    My “guilty pleasure” of the year was Andorra. :-)

    This is my top 15:

    01. FYR MACEDONIA — 8/10 — (Let me love you – Tamara, Vrčak & Adrian)
    02. SAN MARINO — 8/10 — (Complice – Miodio)
    03. ISRAEL — 8/10 — (The fire in your eyes – Boaz Ma’uda)
    04. HUNGARY — 8/10 — (Candlelight – Csézy)
    05. SWEDEN — 8/10 — (Hero – Charlotte Perrelli)
    06. ROMANIA — 8/10 — (Pe-o margine de lume – Nico & Vlad)
    07. ALBANIA — 8/10 — (Zemrën e lamë peng – Olta Boka)
    08. PORTUGAL — 8/10 — (Senhora do mar – Vânia Fernandes)
    09. POLAND — 8/10 — (For life – Isis Gee)
    10. CROATIA — 7/10 — (Romanca – Kraljevi Ulice feat. 75 cents)
    11. SWITZERLAND — 7/10 — (Era stupendo – Paolo Meneguzzi)
    12. ANDORRA — 7/10 — (Casanova – Gisela)
    13. GREECE — 7/10 — (Secret combination – Kalomira)
    14. BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA — 7/10 — (Pokušaj – Laka)
    15. RUSSIA — 7/10 — (Believe – Dima Bilan)

  15. off topic:
    watching Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” on tv atm (actually I haven’t watched it since 2004). Such bad acting by both Colin Farell and Angelina Jolie :P
    Not Stone’s best directing achievement either.

  16. I returned from performing in Icmeler, Turkey for my first stint as a jury member for the first semi final of the 2008 contest which was a weak edition imo.
    This was of course Ireland’s nadir in the competition with that hideous monstrosity of an entry.
    An awful winner (his previous entry was so much better). My personal favourites were Norway, Serbia and I too loved Portugal.

  17. Finally home to discuss properly and sitting down 2008 after buying so many things to go on the trip!

    Of course 2008 had the hard task to compete, in our minds, at the time, with YLE’s superb 2007 production. Of course, the comparison was very harsh to Belgrade. Plus, back then, the LGBT+ groups were very harsh on the Serbian politics on the subject (and it was worse with Moscow and Baku). So, the overall feeling was rather poor when it all happened. SVT complained about the stage being too small, and like Lisbon this year, most countries that did very well completely scrapped it to bring their own material (Russia, Ukraine, Greece…) However, looking back to it, and especially since I redid the naughties (not rankingwise, I didn’t have the courage, but with my boyfriend so that he could check them), the stage is nice, the hosts were very nice and I like the idea being the postcards, even though the execution is debatable for some of them.

    Musicwise, since we were barely out of the 2004-2006 years of horror (2006 being the absolute lowest reached in the contest), 2007 and then 2008 felt much stronger, though the 100% televote results still meant many joke entries, many countries (especially from the West) not taking the contest seriously at all, and absolutely awfum and unfair results (Azerbaijan top 10, Norway top 5, Greece slut-&-heart top 3, Russian campfest winning…) Who can forget that no other years managed to have all of: Spain, Czech Rep, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Lithuania…

    My winner is the most obvious of the pack imo, Serbia. Much better than 2007 to my personal ears, and better than 2004 and 2012 as well. Only “Lejla” beats it, but I totally believe Hari Mata Hari was the best Balkan performer ever in the contest, so, yeah… I absolutely love Bosnia, Turkey, Finland and Portugal who complete the Top 5, and then San Marino, Iceland, France, Albania, Croatia and Israel are all interesting and competent. UK was definitely cute but too lame and the draw killed it.

    As for the top entries, I love Dima’s song in 2006 and while already a campfest, it felt coherent as a whole, and only had ONE gimmick that still enlightened Dima’s performance (and his bending over the piano, hmm) but 2008 felt like a subpar song with an awful gimmickfull performance… Ukraine is one of the best shaky entries ever in the contest, and I love the gimmick (that blonde dancer…) Ani Lorak is the sexiest “leg” shaky entry… Greece and Armenia were weaker and having all three Top 4 is lame and irrelevant… I still prefer Armenia (except that boob shake), at least it was catchy. Greece was the one I hated, it felt like the same entry over and over from them that year, with prostituting a very young girl to be slutty, and the heart managed to top all of Russia’s gimmick. I genuinely hate it more than “Yassou Maria” which people tend to hate more! But then Sakis and “Opa” will be even worse! I’m glad those years of Greece are over (I think… though Foureira’s success might mean a return, but Foureira was on par with Ukraine 2008 not Greece 2008 imo.)

    2009 will see a huge jump in quality and between France, Estonia and Bosnia we have songs that all would easily top my winners in 2007 or 2008!

    • Even though some Greek entries have a lower score than Kalomira on my list … if anyone asked me which Greek entry I detested most, I would instantly reply ‘My Secret Combination’. That unpleasant nasal voice, the dull composition, the awful staging …
      I will always remember 2008 as the worst year result-wise … Those top 4 and the silly Latvian pirates beating Portugal, San Marino last in the semi etc … :(
      Juries had to be reintroduced after this travesty.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.