What to Read Next

Denmark favorite to win Eurovision Song Contest

18 May 2013
Emmelie de Forest of Denmark performs her song "Only Teardrops" during a rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Friday, May 17, 2013. The contest is run by European television broadcasters with the event being held in Sweden as they won the competition in 2012, the final will be held in Malmo on May 18. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
View photos
Emmelie de Forest of Denmark performs her song "Only Teardrops" during a rehearsal for the final of the Eurovision Song Contest at the Malmo Arena in Malmo, Sweden, Friday, May 17, 2013. The contest is run by European television broadcasters with the event being held in Sweden as they won the competition in 2012, the final will be held in Malmo on May 18. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

MALMO, Sweden (AP) — An ethno-inspired flute and drum tune from Denmark is the bookmakers' favorite to win this year's Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday, which also features a bizarre opera pop number from Romania and an Armenian rock song written by the guitarist of Black Sabbath.

Yes, it's that time of the year again.

The televised pan-European extravaganza, known for its kitschy shows, bad taste and bizarre offerings, is still expected to be seen by about 125 million television viewers worldwide.

This year's contest is being hosted in Malmo, southern Sweden, following the victory of the Nordic country's contestant Loreen with "Euphoria" last year.

According to bookmakers, the hippie-chic Emmelie De Forest of Denmark is the favorite to win, driving the song "Only Teardrops" with her deep, Shakira-like voice. Her main challenge comes from the clean-cut techno pop tune "I Feed You My Love" by Norway's Margaret Berger, who rose to fame at home after becoming the runner-up in Norway's version of Pop Idol in 2004.

"I will be nervous before going on stage," De Forest said Friday. "I think we have a really good song that can take us far, but let's see, anything can happen."

Finland's Krista Siegfrid provided this year's controversy, ending her bouncy bubble-gum pop number "Marry Me" with a girl-on-girl kiss that some have interpreted as a stance promoting gay marriage. While the show will not raise eyebrows in most parts of Western Europe — where Eurovision has long been a bastion of gay culture — the act may jar sensitivities in parts of eastern and southern Europe.

"The fact is that Finland is the only country in the Nordic countries where gay marriage is not allowed, and I think that's wrong," Siegfrid told The Associated Press. "It's 2013 now and ... I can kiss anyone I want to. It shouldn't be a problem."

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who arrived in Malmo to watch the competition Saturday, said it is a unique event that unites Europe.

"We see the old Yugoslavia, now independent states, after a decade of war they always vote for each other in Eurovision, " Bildt said. "That I think is fun."

This year's competition also sees the return to the international stage of two seasoned European stars. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" singer Bonnie Tyler is representing Britain with "Believe In Me" while Anouk, whose song "Nobody's Wife" was a big hit in Europe in the 1990s, is singing the song "Birds" for The Netherlands.

Among the more notable performances is the Ukraine's Zlata Ognevich with her song "Gravity." Ognevich is carried onstage by the tallest man in the U.S. — Ukrainian-born Igor Vovkovinskiy. Vovkovinskiy — who stands 7 feet, 8 inches (234 centimeters) —wobbles onstage in a fur and feathers, placing the fairy-like Ognevich on a rock where she stands for the rest of the performance.

There is also Armenian rock group Dorians, whose gloomy song "Lonely Planet" has been written by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi.

Romania's Cezar, who resembles a Dracula reborn as a high-pitched vocalist, is apparently a reputable opera singer, but is attempting a crossover opera pop number with techno beats and pyrotechnics. Three muscular male dancers in red body paint are delivered out of a large red cape.

Two semifinals this week have whittled down the contestants from 40 to 26. The winner is picked by juries and television viewers across the continent, and the winning nation will stage next year's event.

Having won five times, most famously with ABBA's Waterloo in 1974, Sweden is a veteran of Eurovision. This weekend it is taking the opportunity to showcase some of its big music acts. The opening of the competition is set to feature a song especially composed by Swedish super DJ Aviici, together with ABBA members Bjorn Ulveaus and Benny Andersson.

Yet the event — with a price tag of around 153.5 million Swedish kronor ($23 million) — won't measure up to last year's lavish competition hosted by oil-rich Azerbaijan in its capital, Baku.

"We have attempted to host Eurovision with less money to show that it is possible to do this without it being too painful for the host country," said Jan-Erik Westman, a spokesman of host broadcaster SVT.

The festive atmosphere was visible throughout the city of Malmo on Saturday, where residents and visitors blended on the streets waving the flags of their favorite countries.


Associated Press television producer David MacDougall and Associated Press reporter Jan Olsen contributed to this report.


Follow Malin Rising on Twitter: https://twitter.com/malinrising

Do NOT pay your insurance until you try this.

If you drive less than 55 miles/day OR have no DUI's you can get auto insurance for as low as $29/ Month! See if you qualify.

Heartburn Facts

Read About Heartburn Facts From TUMS. Check Out Heartburn History, Who Gets Heartburn and More.

How Older Men Tighten Their Skin

Men, reduce the look of wrinkles, sagging skin and fine lines with this affordable and effective skin tightening treatment without leaving your home.

Attn Home Owners Who Never Miss a Payment.

Home Owners who have not missed a payment in 3 years or more need to read this. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home there is a solution.

An Overlooked Method To Pay Off Your Credit Card

If you're paying credit card interest, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars by transferring your balance to this no-fee card.

VA Mortgage Rates In 2016

VA Rates as Low as 2.75% (3.028% APR) 15 Year Fixed. Exclusive For Veteran & Military Takes 1 Min!

Read This Before You Buy Medigap Plan F

Medicare Supplement Plan F is the most popular plan option, but there's another Medigap option you should consider.

Men: Tighter Looking Skin In One Easy Step

How older men tighten their skin and reduce the look of wrinkles without cosmetic procedures.

Banks Are Worried Homeowners Will Do This.

Homeowners are surprised and furious. If you owe less than $625,000 on your home, you better read this.

Medicare Supplement Plans For Those Aged 65 And Up

New rates for Medicare supplement plans have arrived. Click here for a free price quote and learn how to improve your current coverage plan.

Powerful Tactical Flashlight Flying Off Shelves!

This new tactical flashlight was just released to the public and is flying off shelves in the United States. Limited supplies left, act quick!

10 Cards for People Who Have Great Credit

What card offers up to 5% cash back? And which one offers 24/7 concierge service? See the best credit cards of 2016. Apply online, quickly & easily.

The Platinum Card®

Earn Premium Travel Rewards With Your American Express® Card. Apply!

Kid sleep troubles email series for moms

We get it. We’ve been there. Sign up for our email track to learn how to handle kids who won’t go to sleep or won’t stay in bed.