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Boos for Russia

May 7, 2014

Two first-time-ever qualifiers for the finale, boos for a controversial competitor and a green light for this year's favorite - the first semi-final for the Eurovision Song Contest served up its share of drama.

The first 10 finalists on stage in Copenhagen at the ESC
Image: EBU

It's goodbye for Albania, Belgium, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova and Portugal, but onward for 10 others, including Russia - to the audible disappointment of some - as well as first-time qualifiers Montenegro and San Marino.

That's big news for the latter's Valentina Monetta, in particular. Not only is it San Marino's first time in the finals since joining the contest in 2008, it puts an end to singer Monetta's losing streak after failing to get beyond the semi-finals for the last two years. Her 2014 song, "Maybe," was produced by German Eurovision veteran Ralph Siegel.

Armenia's Aram Mp3, tipped by many as the favorite to win the 2014 contest, breezed on to the finale to be held Saturday (10.05.2014) with his dubstep-infused ballad. He'll face tight competition from seasoned Swedish songstress Sanna Nielsen, also billed as a favorite, who qualified Tuesday night.

Russia's twin sister ESC contestants perform on stage
Cheers during Russia's performance, but boos once the country qualified for the finaleImage: BAX LINDHARDT/AFP/Getty Images

All eyes to the east

While Russia and its 17-year-old Tolmachevy twins, the youngest competitors in this year's ESC, are hardly the most musically interesting entry, the eastern giant is at the center of contest buzz.

Some were predicting an easy slide to the finals for Russia, thanks to its singers' cherubic charm and elaborate stage show in which the twins deliver their tune on a swaying seesaw. Others said Russia's new anti-gay laws and stance on Ukraine would make it a pariah in this year's contest. When announcement of Russia's advancement to the finals met with boos from the crowd, both camps were shown to be at least somewhat right.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's Mariya Yaremchuk also qualified for the finale with her danceable "Tick-Tock," which she performs alongside a male dancer spinning in a hamster wheel.

Another ten finalists will be selected in the next semi-finals round to be broadcast Thursday night. All eyes are sure to be on Austria's gender-bending Conchita Wurst, while everybody will be rising to their feet with Greece's Freaky Fortune.