Swedish singer Loreen wins Eurovision Song Contest for second time.webp

Swedish singer Loreen wins Eurovision Song Contest for second time at event honoring Ukraine

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) – Swedish singer Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night with her power ballad “Tattoo” in a colourful, eclectic music competition that has been overshadowed by the war in Ukraine for the second straight year.

The Stockholm diva beat acts from 25 other countries in the final of the competition in Liverpool to take the continent’s pop crown. Finnish singer Käärijä finished second in a tough battle between the Nordic neighbors.

Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2012 and is only the second artist, after Irishman Johnny Logan in the 1980s, to win the award twice. It is Sweden’s seventh win at the Eurovision Song Contest, equaling Ireland’s record.

Loreen said the second win was “stunning”.

Britain hosted the Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine, who won last year but were unable to exercise their right to host the competition due to the war. Air raid sirens rang out across Ukraine during the competition and Ukrainian media reported a strike in Ternopil, the hometown of Ukrainian Eurovision entrant Tvorchi.

Under the motto “United by Music”, the Eurovision final fused the soul of the English port city where the Beatles were born with the spirit of war-torn Ukraine.

The sights and sounds of Ukraine shaped the show, beginning with an opening film featuring the Kalush Orchestra, winners of the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest, singing and dancing on the Kiev Metro, with the tune picked up by musicians in the UK – including also Kate, Princess of Wales play the piano.

The folk-rap band themselves then appeared on stage at the Liverpool Arena with huge hands outstretched, accompanied by numerous drummers.

Competitors from the 26 finalist nations entered the arena in an Olympic-style parade of flags, accompanied by live performances by Ukrainian acts such as Go A, Jamala, Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka – all former Eurovision contestants.

In its 67th year, the Eurovision Song Contest bills itself as the world’s biggest music competition – an Olympiad for party pop. The contestants each have three minutes to combine catchy tunes and breathtaking spectacle in performances that can capture the hearts of millions of viewers.

Loreen was the bookmakers’ favorite and won by far the most votes from specialist juries in the complex voting system of the Eurovision Song Contest. She faced a strong challenge from Käärijä, a highly energetic artist whose rap-pop party anthem “Cha Cha Cha” won the public vote.

Israeli Noa Kirel was third with the power pop anthem “Unicorn,” while Italian Marco Mengoni was fourth with his ballad “Due Vite” (Two Lives).

The diverse tastes of the continent were showcased in a competition for the cabaret-like singing of Portuguese mimicat; Polish singer Blanka’s Britney-esque power pop; echoes of Edith Piaf from La Zarra for France; and simmering ballads by Cyprus contributor Andrew Lambrou.

From Australia – a Eurovision Song Contest contender despite its distant location – guitar band Voyager conjured up rousing ’80s stadium rock. Croatia’s Let 3 delivered a surreal anti-war rock opera and Austrian duo Teya & Salena rocked the music industry with Poe-referencing song Who the Hell is Edgar?

Electronica duo Tvorchi paid tribute to Ukraine’s resilience with “Heart of Steel” and took sixth place.

Briton Mae Muller secured the unenviable last spot of the evening with her snappy breakup anthem “I Wrote a Song”. She finished second to last – but at least avoided the humiliation of getting “zero points” – meaning zero points.

While the votes were cast and tallied, Sam Ryder, last year’s UK runner-up, performed his new single ‘Mountain’, accompanied by Queen drummer Roger Taylor. A ‘Liverpool Songbook’ segment saw former Eurovision stars perform songs from the city including John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, Dead or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’ and the unofficial citizens’ anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk alone”. ” – involving the audience as a tribute to Liverpool and Ukraine.

Around 6,000 fans watched the show in the arena and tens of thousands more in a Liverpool fan zone and at big screen events across the UK. The global television audience is estimated at 160 million.

Under the spring sunshine, thousands of fans flocked to the city’s port area – now a massive party zone – near the competition site ahead of the competition. Many were draped in the flags of their favorite nations or dressed up as their favorite performers.

“Just coming down and seeing people of all nationalities and cultures – it’s great fun,” said Australia fan Martin Troedel, who wore a kangaroo on his hat. “Honestly, there are some pretty weird performances, and that’s what I love about it. You never know what to expect.”

Liverpool welcomed the Eurovision Song Contest and Ukraine, with businesses across the city raising Ukrainian flags and a program of cultural events bringing locals closer to the Eastern European country’s art, music and food.

But organizers said they turned down a request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to deliver a video address. The European Broadcasting Union said this would violate “the non-political nature of the event”.

Founded in 1956, Eurovision is a European cultural institution that has produced outstanding stars – ABBA and Celine Dion are both past winners – and artists whose careers have disappeared without a trace.

In recent years it has once again developed into a platform on which stars can start. Italian rock band Måneskin, who won in 2021, have played major US festivals and toured as the support act for The Rolling Stones. Ryder had a #1 album and performed at the Glastonbury Festival.

“ABBA did it in the 1970s, then it went quiet and it wasn’t quite seen as the launch pad it is today,” said Steve Holden, host of the official Eurovision Song Contest podcast. “Now the music industry, the world knows that if you perform in the Eurovision Song Contest, something big is in store for you.”


Follow AP coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest at https://apnews.com/hub/eurovision-song-contest and the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine