One of the biggest TV events of the year happened on Saturday night (May 14). Nope, not Benedict Cumberbatch making his first appearance as Richard III in The Hollow Crown; not Beyoncé‘s barnstorming surprise performance at this year’s Super Bowl; bigger even than #Hiddlesbum.
That’s right: an estimated 200 million viewers around the world put away their differences and watched as 26 countries competed live in Stockholm, Sweden to be named the winner of the annual Eurovision Song Contest.
Okay, *some* of their differences. In the run-up to Saturday’s grand final, Russia had been the favorite to win with their visually inventive track “You Are the Only One”:
On the night, however, the surprise winner was Ukraine, whose politically charged song “1944” was a direct reference to the deportation of Crimean Tartars by the Soviet Union at the end of the Second World War:
Awks. Accepting her Eurovision trophy, Ukrainian singer Jamala, herself a Crimean Tartar who has not been home since shortly after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula, had this to say: “I know that you sing a song about peace and love, but actually, I really want peace and love to everyone.”
This year was the first time the song contest was broadcast in the U.S., with Justin Timberlake providing the half-time entertainment with a rendition of his hit “Rock Your Body” and new single “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
And in a move that has been interpreted by many as the start of the contest becoming more global, it was also the second year running that a country outside of Europe has competed. Australia came second with their track “Sound of Silence”:
We’ve done our best in the past to explain what on earth this annual kitsch fest is, but in the meantime, here are British knights of the realm Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi with a good summary.
In a reprise of their characters Freddie Thornhill and Stuart Bixby from sitcom Vicious, they interrupted proceedings as a sort of modern-day Statler and Waldorf to express their disdain at Eurovision’s seemingly never-ending length.
Needless to say, the final results were announced at quarter to one in the morning, almost four hours after the show began.Read More