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article imageUkraine wins the Eurovision Song Contest 2016

By Mathew Wace Peck     May 14, 2016 in Music
Ukraine has won the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest — held in Stockholm, Sweden — the 61st contest of the world’s most popular musical competition, which was first staged in 1956.
The winner was announced in a nail-biting finish, brought about by a new voting system that saw jury votes awarded first, country by country — putting Australia at the top of the leader board with 320 points — followed by a Top 40-style rundown of countries, giving the combined popular televotes.
The winning entry, “1944”, was performed by Jamala. She scored 534 points.
Australia finished in second place (511); Russia, third (491); Bulgaria, fourth (307); and Sweden, fifth (261).
This year’s Grand Final saw 26 countries take part in the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC), broadcast live from the Ericsson Globe in the Swedish capital.
It was co-presented by last year’s winner Måns Zelmerlöw and ESC fan favourite Petra Mede — who did so single-handedly to great acclaim four years ago, too — and followed by in excess of a staggering 200 million people worldwide. Lynda Woodruff was also on hand throughout the whole event, dispensing her peculiarly idiosyncratic take on all things Swedish and Eurovisual.
Sweden is a musical powerhouse within Eurovision, having made it’s debut in 1958 and participating 55 times since then, missing only three contests: 1964, 1970 and 1976.
The Swedes have won the Eurovision Song Contest on six occasions: 1974 (Abba: “Waterloo”), 1984 (Herreys: “Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley”), 1991 (Carola: “Fångad av en stormvind”), 1999 (Charlotte Nilsson: “Take Me To Your Heaven”), 2012 (Loreen: “Euphoria”) and 2015 (Måns Zelmerlöw: “Heroes”).
This year, the Swedish entry, “If I Were Sorry”, was performed by Frans, who, at just 17 years old, is one of the youngest singers ever to perform in the contest. Frans's fifth placing brings to 23, Sweden's Top 5 placings!
Ireland — who failed to reach the final again this year — was once seen as an all-conquering force at Eurovision, having held the record number of seven wins for many years.
Prior to the event, Russia’s entry — “You Are The Only One”, performed by one of the country’s best-known stars, Sergey Lazarev — was favourite to win the contest; with the host country, Sweden, as well as Australia, France and Ukraine also tipped as favourites.
Having taken part 20 times since it joined in 1994, Russia – with one notable exception, in 1995 — always does well at Eurovision: with no fewer than seven Top 3 placings, Dima Bilan secured the country’s first win in 2008 with “Believe”; Bilan having already reached Number 2 in 2006 with “Never Let You Go”.
This is the first time in two years that Russia and Ukraine have faced each other in the contest, Ukraine having withdrawn from the event in 2015, following the ongoing crisis with Russia over Crimea. It’s song this year, “1944”, was sung partly in Crimean Tatar by Jamala.
Although this is the third time Australia has performed at Eurovision, this year marks their first as a permanent eligible member. In 2014, they provided the well-established interval act (Jessica Mauboy: “Sea of Flags”); then, in 2015, to mark the 60th anniversary of the contest, Australia was given a “once-only” invitation to compete in the event (Guy Sebastian: “Tonight Again”). However, their success last year (Sebastian came fifth) ensured their return (Dami Im: “Sound of Silence”.)
This year, Justin Timberlake provided the interval act, performing his Number 1 single “Can’t Stop the Feeling” — helping to mark the first time that the contest was broadcast live on television in the United States. Eurovision 2009 winner Alexander Rybak (“Fairytale”) also made a surprise appearance during the interval section.
In total, 42 countries entered the competition, 16 having been voted out during two semi-finals, which were also broadcast live from Stockholm on Tuesday, May 10, and Thursday, May 12, respectively.
Six further countries had an automatic place in the final — the Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, who contribute the bulk of the finance for the competition) and last year’s winner, Sweden.
Romania was disqualified from the competition last month, after having failed to pay outstanding seven year’s worth of outstanding membership dues to the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organisation that runs the annual event.
For a number of years, the United Kingdom has languished at the bottom of the voting chart, despite previously having performed very well in the contest, with five wins to date; though the last one (Katrina and the Waves: "Love Shine A Light") was almost two decades ago! This year, the UK was represented by Joe & Jake: "You're Not Alone".
This year, for the second time in four years, the Eurovision Song Contest was staged by the Swedish state broadcaster, Sveriges Television AB (SVT).
More about Eurovision song contest, Eurovision 2016, Petra Mede, Justin timberlake, Frans Jeppsson Wall
 
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