Israeli transsexual pop diva Dana International has been denied her second Eurovision Song Contest crown after being knocked out in the semi-finals, organisers said.
The flamboyant 1998 winner of the contest, which this year is being held in Duesseldorf, Germany, failed to convince televoters and judges that her song "Ding Dong" was good enough to be among the 25 finalists competing on Saturday.
Her victory 13 years ago riled Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, several of whose leaders denounced sex changes as "worse than sodomy." They then had to contend with the 1999 competition being held in the holy city of Jerusalem.
Bookmakers indicate that this year, France's Amaury Vassili is the favourite to win with his opera-pop effort "Sognu" ("I Would Dream About Her"), sung in the Corsican language.
France automatically qualifies for the grand final, expected to be watched on television by 125 million people around the world, along with Germany, Britain, Spain and Italy, since they pay the lion's share of the costs.
The other finalists are Finland, Bosnia Herzegovina, Denmark, Lithuania, Hungary, Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Greece, Russia, Switzerland, Moldova, Romania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Slovenia, Iceland, Ukraine, Serbia and Georgia.
Ireland, who have won Eurovision a record seven times, are also seen as strong contenders, with the Emerald Isle's hopes resting on quiffed twins Jedward and their song "Lipstick".
Also having another go is Germany's homegrown Lena Meyer-Landrut, who won last year in Oslo with her ueber-catchy ditty "Satellite", this time performing the darker "Taken by a Stranger", still in her slightly Bjork-esque English accent.
It is because of Lena's victory that the competition is being held in Germany this year, since the winner's country automatically becomes host for the next Eurovision, one of the world's longest-running TV shows.
The competition is broadcast live throughout Europe, but also in Australia, Canada, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Jordan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States, even though these countries do not participate.
All the entries can be seen on the Eurovision website, www.eurovision.tv, where the final can also be watched live.Reuse content