05/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Gearing Up For Eurovision 2009 (VIDEO)

The Eurovision Song Contest has been the premier international song festival for the past 53 years featuring such well-known artists such as ABBA, Julio Iglesias and Celine Dion. This year 42 countries are participating in the May event taking place in Moscow. Audiences all over the world will tune in to the international broadcast of the finals, even though many have seen the entrant's videos on the web.

While Russia has always taken the Eurovision contest very seriously, this year as hosts, the Russians are reportedly demonstrating even stronger assertiveness and aggression while planning for this big event. The New York Times explains:

But the competition in Moscow this year takes place against a backdrop of growing Russian assertiveness -- in political and military affairs, as well as in athletic and music competitions -- that has prompted a skittishness in European capitals that extends from the political arena to the disco floor.

That assertiveness, for reasons that remain elusive, has extended to Eurovision. Russia has reportedly pumped huge resources into its quest, attained last year, to produce a Eurovision champion. Last year's winning act featured Dima Bilan, a Russian pop singer with a mullet hairdo, gyrating on stage as Yevgeny Plyushchenko, the Olympic champion figure skater, pirouetted on a patch of artificial ice. The American rap artist Timbaland helped write the winning song, "Believe."

That victory in Belgrade, Serbia, which gave Russia the right to host this year's event, prompted an outpouring of patriotic fervor. Mr. Putin called the win "yet another triumph for all of Russia" and personally ordered one of his top deputies to organize the 2009 event.

With internet videos of the competitors going viral, websites have already started polls and rankings for the favorites this year. published the latest poll results this morning with the top 10 as follows:

  1. Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bistra Voda
  2. Norway, Fairytale
  3. Sweden, La Voix
  4. Portugal, Todas As Ruas Do Amor
  5. United Kingdom, It's My Time
  6. Spain, La Noche Es Para Mi
  7. Finland, Lose Control
  8. Azerbaijan, Always
  9. Turkey, Dum Tek Tek
  10. Denmark, Believe Again

Norway's submission to the Eurovision is causing quite a stir with 22-year-old Alexander Rybak known as the Wonder Kid. His entry has been featured not just in Norway, but on television stations all over Europe. Watch his performance below: