Sweden has won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, with singer Loreen making history as the first woman to win more than once after first taking the crown back in 2012.
The 39-year-old’s win for dance-pop anthem Tattoo also means Sweden has drawn level with Ireland for the country with the most Eurovision wins – seven apiece.
Finland were the runners up with quirky singer Kaarija’s hyper-pop-rap tune Cha Cha Cha.
The 29-year-old Finn has been a popular act in the build up to the grand final, arriving in his own customised sauna van and posing up a storm on the red carpet in his trademark neon green sleeves-only puffer jacket and bowl haircut.
Israel’s entry, sung by Noa Kirel and which featured the most energetic dance routine of the night came third.
UK’s act, Mae Muller with I Wrote A Song, came a disappointing second to last in the competition.
It will be a blow to the 25-year-old from North London, who had been widely tipped to make it into the top 10 with her catchy pop track, especially after the UK’s success in the contest last year.
While Ukrainian act Tvorchi sang their entry Heart Of Steel, the duo’s university hometown Ternopil came under fire from Russian missiles.
The night also had a surprise up it’s sleeve, with the Princess of Wales giving a pre-recorded piano performance in the opening of the show.
Other guest appearances on the night included TikTok star Sam Ryder performing Mountain with Queen legend Roger Taylor accompanying him on the drums, Liverpool songstress Sonia and Abba’s Bjorn Ulvaeus giving advice to future winners of the show.
And of course, Eurovision isn’t just about winning, it’s about something much bigger. This year more than ever, the contest was proof of music’s power to unite.
Zelenskyy would have only wanted to thank UK, Kalush Orchestra say
Ukraine’s Tvorchi on Eurovision, the war, and their message for Russia
The first time two countries have jointly hosted Eurovision, Liverpool put on the event on behalf of Ukraine, because the war-torn nation was unable to do so.
Eleven Ukrainian artists performed in the ceremony itself, with Ukrainian motifs and the Ukrainian identity playing a central role throughout the night.
However, there was controversy ahead of the competition, after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was banned from making an address at the grand final.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called the European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) decision to ban his appearance “disappointing“.
The EBU, who are the group of national public broadcasters that produce Eurovision, said they feared his message would “politicise” the contest.
Despite the ban, inevitably Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was referenced by other performers during the night.
Nods to the ongoing war included the Ukrainian act Tvorchi whose song Heart Of Steel was inspired by the siege of Mariupol, Croatia’s Let 3 who performed anti-war song Mama SC! in front of giant nuclear warheads and Czechia’s Vesna singing part of their song My Sister’s Crown in Ukrainian.
A powerful opening performance by Kalush Orchestra performing Voices of a New Generation followed by their winning hit Stefania – a song that has become an unofficial anthem for Ukraine since the start of the war – also bought a sharp focus to the night’s proceedings.
In more light-hearted fare, Eurovision’s love of novelty acts shone through with some real corkers on offer this year.
One of the most talked about acts of the night – Austria’s We Need To Talk About Edgar Allen Poe – opened the competition, with singers Teya and Salena channelling the ghost of the literary great to take a swipe at music streamers.
And while not all of the wackier performances saw their ingenuity rewarded on the leaderboard, acts that particularly got the auditorium buzzing included Germany’s pop-metal act Lord Of The Lost singing Blood And Glitter; Australia’s Voyager belting out Promise while rocking out on the bonnet of a vintage Toyota and Croatia’s Let 3 stripping off to their pants and vests mid-way through Mama SC!
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While it may all be over for another year, fans of the world’s most-watched live non-sporting event will already be getting excited over next year’s performance in the reigning champion’s city.
Meanwhile, Eurovision fans arriving from all over the world faced travel disruption due to a walk out by rail staff in a long-running dispute over pay.
ASLEF members in more than a dozen train operators went on strike on Friday, affecting anyone with tickets for the second dress rehearsal, and members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union walked out on Saturday – the day of the grand final.