- By Mark Savage
- BBC music reporter
Loreen of Sweden won the second Eurovision Song Contest with her soaring pop song Tattoo.
The star, who most recently won the competition in 2012, overcame competition from Finland’s Käärijä in a fierce vote.
The UK’s Mae Muller was unable to repeat the success of Sam Ryder last year, coming in at 25th – one above and below.
And the Princess of Wales had a surprise cameo, playing piano with last year’s winners Kalush Orchestra.
Loreen is the second – and first woman – two-time Eurovision champion, after Johnny Logan of Ireland.
“This is overwhelming,” she said as she accepted the trophy. “I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful.”
“Even in my wildest dreams, I didn’t think this would happen.”
Sweden’s victory means it will host the competition next year – on the 50th anniversary of Abba’s historic victory with Waterloo in 1974.
It now has ties to Ireland as the country with the most Eurovision wins of all time: They have seven each.
But Ireland was eliminated from this year’s competition in the semi-finals for the fifth consecutive year.
Ireland’s Chief of Mission Michael Kealy told RTÉ News after the results: “It feels like an annual Snake Day.”
“It’s a lot of emotion for our Eurovision effort every year. It’s too bad we didn’t make it to the final.”
This year’s top three acts are:
- Sweden: Loreen – Tattoo (583 points)
- Finland: Wrapper – Cha Cha Cha (526 points)
- Israeli: Noa Kirel – Unicorn (362 points)
Liverpool hosted this year’s competition on behalf of war-torn Ukraine, which won in 2022.
Appropriately, the show began with last year’s winners, the Kalush Orchestra, playing an extended version of their song Stefania in a pre-recorded segment from war-torn Kyiv.
Stars including Joss Stone, Sam Ryder and Andrew Lloyd Webber added a British flavor to the song, as the band boarded a train from the iconic Maidan Nezalezhnosti metro station and onto the stage of Liverpool Arena.
Princess Kate accompanies the piano, in a brief segment recorded in the crimson drawing room of Windsor Castle earlier this month.
Back in the arena, Kalush performed their new single Changes, sending a defiant message to Russia: “Give it all to me / Let me be free.”
This was the first of many mentions of war, in a show more political in tone than most versions of Eurovision.
Croatia let 3! performed a song calling Russia’s Vladimir Putin a “crocodile psychopath”, while Czech band Vesna sang in Ukrainian, “We are with you in our hearts”.
Ukrainian entry, Tvorchi, whose home rehearsal was interrupted by air raid sirens, played a powerful song inspired by the siege of Mariupol.
They ended up taking sixth place, with a total of 243 points.
Russia was suspended from the competition due to the invasion, but the organizers refused to allow Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky to speak on the programme.
Elsewhere, Eurovision is Eurovision. There are 80s-inspired tributes to Miami Vice, a ghost story about Edgar Allen Poe and of course a ripped dress.
But the music component of the competition continued to improve.
Spain’s Blanca Paloma combined traditional flamenco rhythms with pulsating electric pulses on the vibrant, fast-paced EAEA; and France’s La Zarra tie together decades of Gallic music history in the Piaf-meet-Daft-Punk Évidemment.
Artists from Armenia, Poland and Israel – especially Israel – have incorporated lithe dance into their performances; while Italy’s Marco Mengoni accompanied two gymnasts on a trampoline.
There are also countless commonly tortured ballads, both good (Lithuania) and dull (Albania); and a never-ending parade of lyrics about getting together and being nice to your neighbors (Belgium, Switzerland, Australia).
Finnish rapper Käärijä is the public’s favorite: He received more than double Loreen’s votes in a telephone vote. But his tumultuous mix of thrash metal, hardcore techno and K-pop tunes failed to impress the jury, who included music experts.
With a post-modern twist, the contest ended with two songs about the composing process.
Austrian duo Teya & Salena kicked off the show with the quirky pop song Who The Hell Is Edgar, in which they are haunted by the spirit of US poet Edgar Allen Poe, who prompted them to write a song. sing.
An hour and a half later, Mae Muller ended the contest with I Wrote A Song – in which she avenged her ex-boyfriend by writing a song listing his misdeeds.
It means the contest opens with the lyrics, “Oh my god, you’re such a good writer,” and ends with Muller singing, “I wrote a song instead.”
And if that’s not synchronicity, I don’t know what is.
The contest was presented by Alesha Dixon, Hannah Waddingham and Ukrainian singer Julia Sanina, with the participation of Graham Norton during the voting period.
The “Liverpool Songbook” period featured music by John Lennon, Melanie C and Gerry and the Pacemakers performed by former Eurovision contestants.
And Sam Ryder, who finished second in the UK last year, performed an emotional version of his new single, Mountains, with Queen’s Roger Taylor on drums.
Ryder, whose song is about overcoming adversity, is accompanied on stage by dancers who have lost limbs.
How the votes come
Loreen easily won the jury vote, picking up a maximum of 12 points from Ireland, Estonia, Spain, Albania, Cyprus and Ukraine, among others.
She finished the judges’ sequence with a score of 340, giving her a comfortable 163-point lead over Italy’s Marco Mengoni.
The public preferred Finnish rapper Käärijä, giving him 526 points, temporarily putting him in the lead.
After a tense pause, Loreen regained the crown at the last minute, receiving a public score of 243, returning her to the top spot.
The UK languished at the bottom of the table, picking up just 9 points from the public and 15 from the judges.
Only Germany is worse. Their glam-rock track Blood And Glitter scored only 18 points.
The compliment comes from the BBC, which organized the contest in cooperation with the European Broadcasting Union.
The broadcaster’s official Twitter account posted: “Mae, we are so proud of you and everything you’ve achieved at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.”