Moscow ready to pop with Eurovision

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2009 could well be the year of the wind machine, if the First Semi Final of the Eurovision Song Contest is anything to go by. It makes a frequent appearance in the songs of the song contest best known for its campery, spectacle, car-crash performances and ABBA.

Eighteen acts compete in two Semi Finals with just 10 proceeding through to the Final. There is disco numbers, rockabilly, diva ballads, popera, Britpop bands and big, big hair. If you catch the Semi Finals you'll see semi-naked stilt walkers, fire jugglers, a few dance moves borrowed from Saturday Night Fever and loads of Middle-Eastern-influenced songs that sound like Holly Valance doing "Kiss, Kiss" (you remember that one, right?).

There are plenty of strings this year plus instruments including tin drums, balalaika, double bass, ukulele and flute.

Moscow has turned on a stunning show with colour and music bursting off the screen.

In the middle of it all are the traditional over-the-top Semi-Final hosts whose English skills (and some questionable French) are as much a part of the entertainment as the acts themselves. Two other hosts will front the Final.

Aussie viewers will be getting behind the Greek entry, with Sakis Rouvas' "This Is Our Night" co-written by two Australians. It's second favourite according to the bookies, behind Norway's cute kid with a violin.

Look out too for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber playing piano for the United Kingdom's Jade Ewen. He co-wrote their schmaltzy ballad with US songwriter Diane Warren.

Politics is never far away from Eurovision either. This year Israel has sent a duo singing in Hebrew and Arabic with the aptly titled "There Must Be Another Way". A singer in the Dutch entry, The Toppers, has said he will refuse to sing if Moscow authorities stop a Gay Pride march scheduled to take place on the day of the Final.

And jury voting is back once more, comprising 50 per cent of the vote alongside 50 per cent televoting -- as a way to thwart political bloc voting. Also missing this year is legendary commentator Terry Wogan.

But Eurovision stops for no one. Get ready to pop.

Eurovision Song Contest Semi Finals 7:30pm Friday and Saturday on SBS.
Eurovision Song Contest Final 7:30pm Sunday on SBS.

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