Eurovision: Finally, Finland Finishes First

It's something most Eurovision fans never thought they would live to see: Finland has won the Eurovision Song Contest.

It's something most Eurovision fans never thought they would live to see: Finland has won the Eurovision Song Contest. Heavy-metal monster-attired rock group Lordi collected a record-setting number of points to claim victory with "Hard Rock Hallelujah." It's the first win for Finland after competing in the annual affair for 45 years.

Finland has never even ranked in the top five before. The country's highest placing was in 1973, when "Tom Tom Tom" by Marion Rung finished in sixth place. In 2004 and 2005, the Finnish entries didn't make it out of the semi-final into the final, and on three occasions, Finland has scored "nul points," finishing last with a score of zero.

Lordi's victory was almost a complete sweep of the 38 countries voting. Viewers vote for their favorite song by telephone during a 10-minute window in the live broadcast. Each country then reports its votes during the last hour of the show, awarding 12 points to the top vote-getter, 10 to second place, eight to third place, seven to fourth place and so on, down to one point for 10th place.

Every country gave Finland points, except for Albania and Monaco. Eight countries gave Finland the top mark of 12, six countries awarded 10 points and six more contributed eight points each to the final score of 292, the highest total in the history of the competition.

Lordi, signed to Sony BMG, entered the contest to promote its latest album, released in February. The band was hoping for a top 10 placement with the first heavy metal song to compete in Eurovision, an event usually filled with pop songs and ballads. In the press center after the telecast, lead singer "Mr. Lordi" said, "All varieties of music can be in the Eurovision Song Contest. We hope more rock and metal groups are encouraged to join, and maybe over the next few years different kinds of styles can enter the contest."

This is the fifth year in a row that a country has won Eurovision for the first time. The previous debutantes: Estonia (2001), Latvia (2002), Turkey (2003), Ukraine (2004) and Greece (2005). The contest was held in Athens this year and Helsinki should be the location for next year's Eurovision, scheduled for May 12, 2007.

Lordi's win breaks a four-year winning streak by solo female artists: Marie N for Latvia, Sertab for Turkey, Ruslana for Ukraine and Helena Paparizou for Greece. Lordi is the first co-ed group to win since 1997, when Katrina and the Waves brought victory to the United Kingdom with "Love Shine a Light."

This year, Finland moved into first place early in the night and never gave up its lead. Russia came second with Dima Bilan's "Never Let You Go." Bosnia and Herzegovina had its best placing ever, finishing third with a gorgeous ethnic ballad, "Lejla" by Hari Mata Hari. Romania was fourth with Mihai Traistariu's "Tornero" and Sweden came fifth with Carola's "Invincible."