Ukraine was crowned the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022 after massive public voting.
n one of the most tense finals in a long time, the public vote rocked and the Kalush Orchestra of Ukraine triumphed with the song “Stefania”.
The act has been a pioneer since the invasion of Russia – prompting organizers to ban the country from competing.
The country joined the contest in 2003 and its three wins make it one of the most successful of the newest competing countries – having triumphed in 2004 and 2016.
Upon receiving the coveted trophy, the Kalush Orchestra said: “Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory is for all Ukrainians. Slava Ukraine.”
During their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, the group was dressed in elaborate attire, including long sets of multicolored fringes.
The band made an appeal straight from the stage to “Help Mariupol”.
And in their victory speech, they said they would be back on the front lines on Monday in the war since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
President Zelensky congratulated the Kalush Orchestra on the victory for Ukraine.
“Our courage impresses the world, our music conquers Europe,” he wrote on Telegram.
“We will do our best to one day welcome Eurovision participants and guests to Ukrainian Mariupol. Free, peaceful, rebuilt,” he added.
Brit Sam Ryder came in second with his inspirational pop song Space Man, marking the first time in 20 years that the UK has been in the top three.
Graham Norton, who commented on the contest on BBC One, said: “This is a red letter moment. I am so happy for him, the UK and the BBC who have worked so hard to change our fortunes.”
The 32-year-old Tik Tok star won over the crowd, stunning in a beaded and pearl-encrusted suit.
After leading the national jury vote with 283 points, beating favorites Spain and Sweden, Ryder said: “There’s so much gratitude, what an experience.”
The singer-songwriter defeated favorites Spain, whose contestant Chanel gave a jazzy performance to SloMo as the entire crowd sang along with Italians Mahmood and Blanco who sang Brividi, who performed a powerful rap, behind a backdrop of twinkling lights.
The grand finale opened with an energetic performance with strobe lighting and projections of Michelangelo’s David sculpture from the Czech Republic’s We Are Domi singing Lights Off.
During the show, the Icelandic folk band Systur, who played the ballad Meo Haekkandi Sol, ended their performance by saying: “This is for Ukraine, we love you”.
Finnish rock group The Rasmus kicked off the first few performances with a powerful version of Jezebel, ripping off their shirts mid-show.
Marius Bear from Switzerland did a raw version of his track Boys Do Cry with simple lighting, while Frenchmen Alvan and Ahez had fire on stage to perform their track Fulenn.
The Subwoolfer from Norway dressed up in yellow wolf costumes while performing a synchronized dance number and singing Give That Wolf A Banana.
Armenia’s representative Rosa Linn gave an emotional performance with her song Snap on a stage with a bed, lamp and chair, all apparently wrapped in white toilet paper.
Estonia closed the show with Stefan performing a captivating rendition of Hope, adding at the end of her performance: “Don’t lose hope for a better tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, the lead singer of last year’s winning band, Maneskin, advised Eurovision contestants to “don’t get too close to the table”, referring to allegations he was caught on camera using drugs in the competition last year.
The Italian rock band “strongly refuted allegations of drug use” that surfaced on social media after Damiano David appeared hunched over a table in the contest’s green room as he was filmed.
After Maneskin’s victory last year, David denied he used drugs and said he bowed down because another band member broke a glass at his feet.
The European Broadcasting Union later confirmed that the singer had returned a negative drug test result since the event.
During the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2022, the reigning champions took the stage to present their new single Supermodel.
After his powerful performance, a limping David was asked to give advice to this year’s contestants, to which he joked, “Two things. Have fun and stay away from the table, folks.”
Singer-songwriter Mika also took the stage performing an amazing medley of songs including Love Today, Grace Kelly and Happy Ending surrounded by heart flags, a floating heart balloon as he danced on the piano.
Martin Osterdahl, Eurovision’s executive supervisor, said in a statement that the organization’s attention had turned to next year’s competition and its “unique challenges”.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is the only cultural event that truly unites Europe. This year has been more important than ever to bring millions of people together through our common values and love of music.
“Now let’s start planning for 2023 with winning broadcaster UA:PBC.
“Obviously, there are unique challenges involved in hosting next year’s competition.”
Ireland were not competing in last night’s grand final following disappointment when Brooke Scullion’s “That’s Rich” entry failed to advance from Thursday night’s semi-final.
Brooke later tweeted that she was “beyond proud of this experience,” adding, “thank you to my wonderful team. I will never forget @eurovision.”