Chaotic build-up to Eurovision as thousands protest

28 days ago

Nemo representing Switzerland with the song 'The Code' has won the 68th Eurovision Song Contest. Photo: AFP

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Swiss singer Nemo has won the Eurovision Song Contest in Sweden, with their song 'The Code'.

A compelling hybrid of opera and hip-hop, it topped both the public and the jury vote, giving the 24-year-old an impressive score of 591 points.

The singer becomes the first non-binary artist to win Eurovision. Fittingly, they wrote the song to explain how they came to terms with their identity.

Croatia came second with the raucous party anthem 'Rim Tim Tagi Dim', while the UK's Olly Alexander was consigned to 18th place, out of 25.

The Years and Years singer received the dreaded "nul points" from the public, but was saved from last place by the jury vote.

They awarded his song, 'Dizzy', 46 points.

This year's contest was overshadowed by protests over Israel's participation, amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Eden Golan representing Israel with the song 'Hurricane' during the second semi-final of the 68th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) at the Malmö Arena, in Malmö, Sweden. Photo: JESSICA GOW / TT News Agency via AFP

Israel's entrant, the 20-year-old singer Eden Golan, received a mixture of boos and cheers as she performed on stage in Malmö.

In their victory speech on stage, Nemo said: "I hope this contest can live up to its promise and continue to stand for peace and dignity for every person in this world."

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They later broke the contest's infamous crystal microphone trophy, which appeared to fall to the stage as they waved it around in triumph.

Eurovision 2024: The top five contestants 1. Switzerland: Nemo - 'The Code' 2. Croatia: Baby Lasagna - 'Rim Tim Tagi Dim' 3. Ukraine: Alyona Alyona & Jerry Heil - 'Teresa and Maria' 4. France: Slimane - 'Mon Amour' Israel: Eden Golan - 'Hurricane'

Other artists voiced similar sentiments.

Bambie Thug, representing Ireland, screamed "love will triumph hate" as they finished their song, 'Doomsday Blue'; while Portugal's contestant, Iolanda, told the crowd: "Peace will prevail."

Two former contestants, Alessandra Mele and Käärijä, pulled out of announcing their countries' jury scores; Mele cited Israel's participation as a factor, while Käärijä said "it doesn't feel right" (to give out points).

Adding to the drama, Dutch contestant Joost Klein was disqualified from the contest on Saturday, after he was accused of making "unlawful threats" to a female member of the production crew.

The singer was reported to police after the incident occurred backstage on Thursday. Organisers subsequently decided to exclude him from the contest, saying they had a "zero-tolerance policy towards inappropriate behaviour".

In a statement, Dutch broadcaster Avrotros called the decision "disproportionate" and said Klein had been filmed backstage when he had "repeatedly indicated" that he did not want to be.

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Elsewhere, Eurovision was Eurovision.

Finnish artist Windows95Man performed a 1990s house banger with his trousers off, and Croatia's Baby Lasagna sang about a country boy who sells his cow and moves to the big city.

Bambie Thug gave one of the night's most memorable performances.

The self-described "goth gremlin goblin witch" appeared on stage in a circle of candles, summoning a demon then dancing ballet with it, before screaming at the top of their lungs.

A hit with viewers, it ultimately took sixth place, with 278 points.

That makes it Ireland's best result in a quarter of a century.

Bambie Thug gave one of the night's most memorable performances. Photo: AFP

Abba tribute

The contest was held in Sweden, exactly 50 years after Abba gave the country its first Eurovision win in 1974.

Rumours flew around Malmö that they would appear to mark their golden anniversary - even though the band themselves denied it.

In the end, they only appeared in a short video, in the form of their "abbatars" from the virtual Abba Voyage concerts in London.

The quartet briefly reminisced about the success of their song 'Waterloo', which was then performed by three other Eurovision winners: Charlotte Perelli (1999), Conchita Wurst (2014), and Carola (1992).

It was a bit of a let-down.

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Swedish singers Charlotte Perrelli and Carola Häggkvist and Austrian singer Conchita Wurst perform a tribute to Abba at the end of the final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest 2024. Photo: AFP

A more dynamic interval performance came from two-time Eurovision winner Loreen, who played her new single 'Forever' in a futuristic, Barbarella-inspired set.

And Blue Swede frontman Björn Skifs opened the show with 'Hooked On A Feeling', the first ever Swedish song to reach number one in America.

Nemo wowed audiences with their lithe and athletic performance, singing an operatic falsetto while balancing perilously on a spinning turntable.

Their song, 'The Code', was a deeply personal account of the struggle to accept their non-binary identity.

In the lyrics, they sang: "Somewhere between the zeroes and the ones / That's where I found my kingdom come."

The victory represents a big moment for the LGBTQ community which has, for a long time, treated Eurovision as a safe haven.

Last year's winner Loreen, who handed the crystal trophy to Nemo on Saturday, recently told the BBC how important that support had been to her.

"Eurovision is a community that has an acceptance for diversity [and] different ways of being.

"It's a very accepting and loving space. And it's us who are creating it, through creativity."

Bambie Thug, who is also non-binary, rushed over to Nemo after their victory and handed over a hand-crafted crown, which they wore for their final performance.

The UK improved on its performance last year, when Mae Muller came second-from-last, but was still relegated to the bottom half of the leaderboard.

Singer Olly Alexander, a chart-topping pop star with the band Years and Years, put on a spectacular performance, full of scantily-clad men dancing in a dystopian shower room.

But his live vocals were wobbly, and suffered by comparison to stronger performers from France, Portugal and Greece.

The star laughed off his zero-point score from the public, pretending to embrace television cameras as the results were announced.


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