The shocks and surprises are beginning to settle in amongst the fans and journalists at Hartwall, as the ten finalists from tonight's contest gather together at the press centre for the winners' press conference.
This event was bound to be one of the most hotly anticipated and well attended of the whole contest, and journalists were ready with some burning questions to ask the newly qualified finalists. Top of the agenda for many people was the Eastern European question: how would the finalists explain the complete absence of Western Europe in the top ten this year (not counting Latvia's Italian contingent!)?
Two by two, representatives from each of the countries filed onto the podium to take their seats and get ready for questions. They spent some time posing for photographs, while chants of Sopho, Latvijaand Türkiye were amongst those ringing in the air. Finally, things settled down to business.
"I am very happy to be here. This is a great night for Bulgaria. I hope people will vote for Bulgarian rhythms, for Bulgarian grooves, for Bulgarian music" said Elitsa. Stoyan added "this is our music, this is Bulgarian music. All over the World, music is a big positive energy and a success everywhere" to which there was general applause from the audience.
"I want to thanks from the international team. It's our first entry in the final, and it's a great moment for Belarussian culture. Our team is the most international of all the teams; I'm Belarussian, Phillip is Russian… Guys from Ukraine, Sweden, Estonia… I feel good! So good!" Koldun told the hall in his very good English.
So was the song inspired by Bond? "It's great that we have such a great performer like Koldun. He creates in my mind this kind of song, a magic, movie song. I'd be happy if this track became a Hollywood movie track. At the moment, I'll be the happiest man in the World if it becomes the track for the whole of the Eurovision!" said the composer, Phillip Kirkorov.
"I'm so happy, I want to thank all ofEurope. I'm full of feelings at the moment" said Sopho, through her translator, before giving the audience a chorus of My Story to rousing applause. Then she added "I've already spoken to the speaker of parliament and the minister of culture in Georgia since the envelope was opened, and the whole country is overjoyed. The president's wife also called to congratulate me!"
"I think it'll be a holiday in my country until the final!" Natalia joked. "I'm a happy person as I'm supported by my family, my boyfriend… I repeat, I'm a happy person." But Natalia was the first to be asked about the Eastern European question. "I think we need a chance. Just a chance to be heard!" she replied simply.
Marija was grateful to everyone: "Thank you for coming tonight, because these are all beautiful musicians! And thank you in my name also. It is a big honour for me tonight to sit here speaking with you. It's a great honour to represent my country in the final. We've passed the worst. I want to say that the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 is amongst us here."
"For me, that was one of the best performances of my life" she added before thanking the audience again.
Karolina shared her feelings with the audience: "I feel very happy, very excited like all of us here. This is a dream come true, as it was the dream of the entire Macedonian team. We tried hard to make our performance look good and get into the final. We're so happy about it! Thanks a lot. Of course, afterwards we're going to celebrate somewhere… In the Euroclub, I think!"
But will FYR Macedonia get knocked back to the semi yet again? "I'm not psychic, I don't know!"she retorted."We'll try and repeat the performance on Saturday, and hope we get to the top ten, but who knows?"
"I think if someone has a nice voice, that can also reflect the soul" Magdi mused. "I hope that I get substatial joy on Saturday. I hope people will listen to the music and enjoy it on Saturday."
"First of all, THANK YOU, GRAZIE, DANKE, HVALA!" Alenka told the audience. "At first I thought – who would vote for opera? And now, all of Europe has voted for me – thank you! But I want to thank my team… They worked like crazy to work this miracle that happened to Slovenia today. Thank you!"
"It's true we changed the high note" explained Alenka, talking of the first version of the song. "This is the first time she's sung with a microphone" said the composer. "She is an opera singer, singing in a theatre! If she wins, I promise she will sing that high note in the press conference!"
Kenan was invited to sing a song rather than answer a question first of all, which he readily complied with, but then askedall the other artistson the winners' podium to hold hands.Everyone did so, standing up, while Kenan said "this is how it should be. These talented people really deserve applause and cheers. They all deserve good things, and I want to thank all of them for making me feel great. Thanks to them all."
"I want to try my best. It's already been a great experience, and I want to thank all my fans around the World. My song Shake It Up Shekerim is going to be one of the good songs in the competition, and I want to thank you all."
It transpired that it is the birthday of band member Andris tonight, and one of the journalists led the hall in singing Happy Birthday to him. Roberto responded with a line sung in Italian too.
But why was the rose white instead of the expected red? "We couldn't find any other colours in the shop today, that was the problem!" admitted Roberto.
"I am very proud that singing as an Italian for Latvia will provoke Italy to return. I hope they will come back to Eurovision… Thank Latvia for helping Italy to come back!" he added triumphantly.
After Latvia had spoken, the finalists moved on to celebrate at the aftershow party, before launching straight into the Eurovision Song Contest final dress rehearsals tomorrow. The countdown has begun.