51º Eurovision Song Contest
Hard Rock Hallelujah (Lordi) - Finland
The 51st Eurovision Song Contest was held at the Olympic Indoor Hall in Athens, Greece on the 18 May 2006 (for the semi-final) and 20 May 2006 (for the final). The hosting national broadcaster of the contest was ERT. The Finnish band Lordi won the contest with the song "Hard Rock Hallelujah" with a record 292 points. "Hard Rock Hallelujah" was the first ever hard rock song to win the contest (Eurovision is normally associated with softer pop music and schlager). This was also Finland's first victory in Eurovision after 40 years of participation.
The hosts of the Eurovision Song Contest in Athens were popular Greek singer Sakis Rouvas (the Greek representative at Eurovision in 2004) and the Greek-American television presenter and actress, Maria Menounos. In the semi-final, both the hosts sang Katrina and the Waves' contest-winning "Love Shine A Light". For one of the intervals, Sakis Rouvas sang an English version of his Greek hit "S' exo Erotefti" called "I'm in love with you". Helena Paparizou, who performed the winning song in Kiev, returned to the Eurovision stage in Athens.
Following the examples of Sertab Erener and Ruslana in the last two years, Helena Paparizou sang in the interval acts for the final. An official CD and DVD was released and a new introduction was an official fan book released from this year, and every year to come with detailed information of every country.
To save time in the final, the voting process was changed: points 1-7 were shown immediately on a live scoreboard. The spokespersons only announced the countries scoring 8, 10 and 12 points. Despite this being intended to speed proceedings up, there were some problems during voting and some scoreboards were slow to load. The 2006 contest saw the 1,000th song to be performed in the contest, when "Every Song Is A Cry For Love" by Ireland's Brian Kennedy was first sung in the semi-final. Armenia also entered for the first time in the contest. A number of fans were also shocked by the success of the Lithuanian entry and the failure of both the Belgian and Estonian entries to qualify from the Semi-Final.