During these five years, further modification was tried out by the EBU. After a nightmare of a semifinal in 2007 (with twenty-eight songs in the running), the qualification system was completely re-vamped in 2008.
Now, only the host country and the big four were guaranteed a place in the final - everyone else had to go through the two semi finals. This has resulted in way stronger final line-ups than before.
Not only stronger line-ups - it is in general much harder to predict the result this way. The final changes everything: the draw, the odds, the chances, the favourites. In short, the two semis contribute to way stronger television than before.
Also, the juries have been forgiven and are back in the game gradually since 2008, where they got to select the tenth finalist in each semi final. In 2009, they did that too but also had a fifty percent say in the final result. And from 2010, they have half the power already in the semi finals.
To tell you the truth, I am not convinced that this was a good move. It could have been, but I still see the same old countries voting extensively for neighbours and friends, the juries obviously joining the game rather than doing anything to prevent it. Also, as from 2011, the juries seem to have favoured strong voices over pop songs. They would need a reminder that this is a song contest - not a singing contest - and that we do not want to return to the old hit-less days of the 90's again.
2006 - Russia
Dima Bilan - Never Let You Go (Russia 2006)
Of course I am deeply happy that Finland won, that's beside the point, but in my book Russia was by far the best. A lavish stage show, slick presentation and one of the best pop compositions to grace a eurovision stage in the last ten years.
The whole production is classical and modern at the same time, and for some reason I find the slow drum loop a tiny bit Beatles-esque.
How sad to see that in only two years, the lovely Dima Bilan would grow into a pompously arrogant nobody. And even sadder to see him win, when he clearly no longer deserved it.
Lordi - Hard Rock Hallelujah (Finland)
2007 - Georgia
Sopho - Visionary Dream (Georgia 2007)
Ever wondered what "Ray Of Light" would have sounded like had Madonna been born in Tbilisi? Wonder no more.
Georgia's debut entry in Helsinki is a real knockout of an entry, it doesn't sound like anything that was ever heard at the ESC before. A wild mix between etno, ballad, aggressive beats, sword dancing and, in the middle of the storm, the wonderful Sopho Khalvashi, queen-like and supreme, keeping the whole thing together.
Too demanding for the average voter, perhaps, but it gives me serious goose bumps.
Marija Šerifović - Molitva (Serbia)
2008 - Bosnia-Herzegovina
Laka - Pokušaj (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2008)
As eurovision has filled up with more and more quality pop songs, modern and chart-friendly, it just gets harder to decide which one is my favourite each year. Often something quirky makes the top of my bill, I've noticed.
Calling this entry quirky would be something of an understatement, though.
It is artistic, experimental, edgy, boundbreaking, melodic, fun and Wogan hated it. Laka is a real artist (and his sister too) who uses his three minutes in full to present himself to a potential audience, not caring the slightest for the people who won't understand. When eurovision allows something as demanding as this to make top ten, that's when I really love my old contest.
Dima Bilan - Belive (Russia)
2009 - Bosnia-Herzegovina
Regina - Bistra voda (Bosnia-Herzegovina 2009)
If there is one national that truly emerged like a real quality engine since the semi finals were introduced, then it is Bosnia-Herzegovina. Once they got their machinery running, after the civial war and some hopeless attempts at staging fair national finals, few others can match the Bosnians when it comes to personable performers, strong melodies and memorable performances.
Rock band Regina, who possibly heard a track or two by Coldplay through the years, deliver a tender, delicate melody line, demanding and inviting and the same time, and how this song didn't reach higher than ninth place remains a real mystery for me.
Alexander Rybak - Fairytale (Norway)
2010 - Germany
Lena - Satellite (Germany 2010)
When there are forty-something entries in the line-up, the chance that your personal favourite will be the winner in the end diminishes quite clearly. My joy was immense as my big pre-contest favourite made it all the way in 2010.
Even more so since I had been hoping for Germany for a few years already. They had been trying to deliver quality entries for quite some time without really getting it right, ending in failure year after year in spite of creating quite a few domestic hit singles.
Lena was a bull's eye in many aspects: young, appealing, hit friendly, equipped with a bubbly personality. A dream winner for Eurovision in many ways. And the importance of one of the Big Four countries winning can hardly be over-estimated.
Lena - Satellite (Germany)