Loreen from Sweden wins Eurovision with Ukrainian symbolism on display

Loreen from Sweden appears on stage after winning the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, United Kingdom, on May 14, 2023. (Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters)

Swedish vocalist Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest with her power ballad "Tattoo" at a colorful, eclectic music competition that was once again overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine.

On Saturday evening in Liverpool, United Kingdom, the pop diva from Stockholm triumphed over acts from 25 other nations to win the competition's continental title.

The Finnish vocalist Kaarija placed second in a fierce competition between Nordic neighbors.

Loreen received 583 points after combining public and jury ballots, narrowly edging out Kaarija, who received 526.

Loreen won Eurovision in 2012 and is only the second performer to win the competition twice, after Johnny Logan of Ireland in the 1980s. The victory also rivals Sweden and Ireland for the most victories with seven apiece.

This year, the United Kingdom hosted Eurovision on behalf of Ukraine, which won last year but could not host due to Russia's invasion and ongoing civil conflict.

While Eurovision was in progress, Russian missiles struck the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil, home to the Ukrainian electro-pop duet Tvorchi, this year's contestants. Local authorities wrote on Telegram that two people were injured after an attack on facilities belonging to commercial enterprises and a religious organization.

This week, Tvorchi stated that they would perform their song "Heart of Steel," inspired by the Ukrainian forces who defended the destroyed city of Mariupol against an overwhelming Russian onslaught in an effort to bring attention to their country's struggle for freedom.

The Ukrainian submission finished sixth in the competition.

Last year's winner, Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra, rode a massive surge of support from across Europe to victory.

Under the slogan "united by music," this year's song contest united the souls of Liverpool – the English port city that gave birth to The Beatles – and war-ravaged Ukraine.

The show featured the sights and sounds of Ukraine, beginning with an opening film that depicted the 2022 winners Kalush Orchestra singing and dancing in the Kyiv subway, with the melody being picked up by musicians in the United Kingdom, including Kate, Princess of Wales, who was shown playing the piano.

The folk-rap band emerged onstage at the Liverpool Arena atop a massive pair of outstretched hands, accompanied by many drummers.

Businesses across the city flew Ukrainian flags, and a series of cultural events introduced residents to the Eastern European nation's art, music, and cuisine.

However, organizers stated that they denied Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's request to make a video address to the song contest, citing the non-political character of the event.

Eurovision, founded in 1956, is a European cultural institution that has produced both breakout stars — ABBA and Celine Dion are former victors — and artists whose careers vanished without a trace.

Contestants from the 26 finalist nations entered the arena on Saturday in a flag parade reminiscent of the Olympics, accompanied by live performances by Ukrainian acts, including Go A, Jamala, Tina Karol, and Verka Serduchka, who are all former Eurovision competitors.

Eurovision, now in its 67th year, promotes itself as the world's largest music contest, an Olympic Games of party-friendly pop. Each contestant has three minutes to combine catchy songs and eye-popping spectacles into a performance that can capture the hearts of millions of viewers.

Loreen was the odds-on favorite and received the most ballots from Eurovision's professional juries.

Approximately 6,000 fans witnessed the performance inside the arena, while tens of thousands more did so in a Liverpool fan zone and at large-screen events across the United Kingdom.

The global television audience is estimated to number 160 million people.

Publish : 2023-05-14 10:40:00

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