The European Broadcasting Union’s annual Eurovision Song Contest has a well-deserved reputation for over-the-top costumes, extravagant lighting and showy set designs. This year’s final, held Saturday night in Oslo, was no exception.
Lithuania’s five-man InCulto group performed “Eastern European Funk” in matching sequined silver shorts.
On a stage full of burning flames, Romania’s Paula Seling and Ovi sang “Playing with Fire.”
Telephone voters in 39 participating countries and a panel of judges determined the point totals. The two bodies’ votes are weighted equally.
German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut’s performance of “Satellite” decisively finished
first, receiving 246 points from European voters. Turkish runner-up MaNga finished with 170 points, trailed close behind by Romanian Paula Selling with 162 points. Meyer-Landrut belted out an encore performance of her upbeat, catchy pop song.
In a less flashy performance, Israeli Harel Skaat sang a heartfelt ballad, “Milim” (Words), written by Noam Levy and composed by Tomer Hadadi.
Skaat, who finished a disappointing 14 out of 34, remained upbeat after the results were final.
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“I’m proud and happy over the performance and for representing [Israel],” Skaat said. “We brought Israel artistic accolades. It was a fun experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.
“After all, it’s just sports,” he added in an allusion to Dafna Dekel’s song “Ze Rak Sport,” which placed fourth in the 1992 Eurovision.
Skaat noted that despite its failure to win the popular vote, his performance had garnered prizes awarded outside the official competition. “This was the first time that a delegation received the three prizes – I find that very exciting.”
UPON HER victory, Meyer-Landrut demanded a kiss from last year’s Norwegian champion Alexander Rybak. Her first response was to hand off her trophy, which she said she wasn’t strong enough to carry.
“I’m so happy and so thankful and so grateful, and I never thought we could do this,” said an almost speechless Meyer-Landrut, covering her face with a German flag.
Meyer-Landrut, who celebrated her 19th birthday during the competition, is Germany’s second winner in the contest’s 55-year history. Germany’s victory guarantees the country will host next year’s contest.
“This is unbelievable. I’m totally shocked. I never thought that Germany could get any points from anybody, but this time it was Lena, she’s incredible and I’m totally shocked,” Stefan Raab, Meyer-Landrut’s mentor, told television reporters following Lena’s victory.
As several European states are amid economic turmoil, many countries did not welcome the German supremacy. Several countries including the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Andorra and Hungary withdrew from the competition citing financial strains.
An announcer on Russian state television said, “Clearly everyone knows where to turn when they need money.”
SKAAT, 28, achieved national celebrity during his appearance on the second series of Kochav Nolad
. He ultimately finished second in the Israeli equivalent of American Idol
, which sparked controversy as he’d been the predicted victor.
Skaat’s Eurovision finish was an improvement on Israel’s 16th-place finish last year by Achinoam Nini a.k.a Noa and Mira Awad.
In December, Skaat unanimously beat out the three other Israeli
finalists: Sahar Hagay and Eyal Shahar’s “Le’an” (Where), Ohad Chitman
and Noam Horev’s “Elaich” (To You) and Nitzan Keikov and Sahar Hagay’s
“Lehitkarev” (To Get Close).
Skaat’s entry, “Milim,” has already been recorded in French and English, and a Spanish version is in the works.
Israel is with Norway for winning the seventh most Eurovision titles,
with three first-place finishes. Israel’s last Eurovision win was Dana
International’s 1998 hit “Diva.” Prior to that performance, Israel took
home two consecutive triumphs in 1978 and 1979. AP contributed to this report
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