Spain participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 with an entry selected through a MySpace project called Salvemos Eurovisión (Let's Save Eurovision). The Spanish Final was held at TVE's Estudios Buñuel in Madrid on March 8, hosted by popular Italian actress and singer Raffaella Carrà. 10 songs participated in this televised final - 5 chosen by an "expert" jury and 5 chosen via internet voting between February 11-25th. The comedic act Rodolfo Chikilicuatre won the final by a landslide getting the highest possible amount of points, and thus participated for Spain in the Eurovision final in Belgrade. The winner was decided by televoting.
More than 530 songs were uploaded to the Salvemos EurovisiónMySpace platform to participate in the Spanish selection process. Out of these, ten acts proceeded to the televised final. The five acts qualified by online voting were comedic character Rodolfo Chikilicuatre (109,995 votes), indie-pop band La Casa Azul (67,706 votes), Latin-pop singer Arkaitz (63,460 votes), pop singer Coral (58,339 votes) and pop-rock band Bizarre (54,842 votes). The five acts chosen by the jury were pop duo Ell*as, metal band Null System, rap artist Marzok Mangui, R&B band D-Vine and pop singer Innata. Null System was later disqualified as their song, "Mourning", did not fulfill the rules, and they were replaced by electro-pop duo Lorena C.
The national final took place on March 8, 2008 at TVE's Buñuel Studios in Madrid, hosted by popular Italian actress and singer Raffaella Carrà. The ultimate winner was decided solely by televoting.
TVE decided to make the selection process "more democratic", so they created a Myspace platform where the general public could vote for any of the artists who was interested in participating, with the idea of discovering new talents. However, the online voting process was accused of being easily distorted, and the participation of comedic acts like Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, the eventual winner, who was promoted by a late night TV show, was also disputed.
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre is a fictional character played by David Fernández, a comedian who collaborates on the late night TV showBuenafuente hosted by popular comedian Andreu Buenafuente on private channel laSexta, where his entry was repeatedly promoted. He presented the song "Baila el Chiki-chiki" ("Dance the Chiki-chiki"), which is a parody of reggaeton music and has a joke reference to the world-famous ¿Por qué no te callas? incident. Some Eurovision fans accused this song of containing political content, which is not allowed in the Eurovision contest. An example of the song's political content would be "Lo baila Rajoy, lo baila Hugo Chávez, lo baila Zapatero, mi amor ya tú sabes." ("Rajoy dances it, Hugo Chávez dances it, Zapatero dances it; my love, you already know it"). Supporters of the song claimed that this is only a mention of Spanish political figures, and does not constitute political content. In any case, the most controversial lines were changed to fit the rules after the Spanish national final.
"Baila el Chiki-chiki" was the song with most online votes until El Gato rocketed from barely 300 votes to 80,000 in two days. However El Gato's song "La bicicletera" got most of its votes deleted by TVE after they allegedly discovered they were fraudulent. Users of Internet forums such as Mediavida.com claimed they first supported Rodolfo Chikilicuatre fraudulently until Andreu Buenafuente himself refused to recognize their help, so, in protest, they decided to rise another contestant, "El Gato", to the first places of the competition. TVE, cancelled most of the votes of El Gato but Rodolfo Chikilicuatre's votes remained untouched.
As a member of the "Big 4", Spain automatically qualified for the Eurovision final, held on 24 May 2008.
Rodolfo Chikilicuatre was accompanied on stage by Disco and Gráfica, two comedic dancers that also accompanied him in the national final. One of them, Gráfica, played by comedian and actress Silvia Abril, dances clumsily without knowing the basic dance steps. Another three dancers (Leticia Martín, María Ángeles Mas and Cecilia López) were chosen through the special casting show Dansin Chiki Chiki, organized by TVE, to join them in Belgrade.
TVE's commentator for the event was José Luis Uribarri, regarded as the voice of Eurovision in Spain after doing the job 16 times between 1969 and 2003. He first hinted that he would be back in the special show Dansin Chiki Chiki. This caused some trouble among some journalists and Eurovision fans, as in the national final he appeared outraged by the election of a comedic act.
TVE host Ainhoa Arbizu was Spain's spokesperson, as in the 2005 and 2007 contests.