Saturday marked the triumphant return of the 65th Eurovision Song Contest after being postponed last year due to COVID-19. This year the contest was held in the Netherlands’ Rotterdam Ahoy arena in front of a live audience of 3,500 fans.
The 2021 winner was Italy’s leather-dressed rock band, Måneskin, with their single ‘Zitti E Buoni’.
The annual extravaganza, cancelled last year due to coronavirus, was relentlessly upbeat, with the focus on where it should be—the weird and wonderful songs, cheesy lyrics, and outrageous costumes.
Here are all the highlights of the night.
Rock ‘n’ roll will never die!
Måneskin’s victory was the first time that a rock band has won Eurovision since Finland’s Lordi in 2006—and they did it in style.
The Italians lit up the stage with their leather outfits and bare-chested, punk-rock performance, which they sang in their native language.
In a nerve-racking finish, they lay in fourth place after a vote by national juries that left Switzerland in pole position, before an incredible 316 points from the public televote led them to victory with 524 points. Switzerland, the last country to be called, fell 92 points short.
On stage after the band’s victory, front man Damiano David enjoyed the moment, yelling: “We just want to say to the whole Europe, to the whole world—rock ‘n’ will never die!”
Måneskin’s bassist, Victoria De Angelis, said their victory “could be a message of hope” to Italy, which has suffered recently due to COVID-19.
After pouring a bottle of champagne over his bandmates during the winners’ press conference, David said the win would be good for Italy and Europe.
After the deaths, pain, and restrictions to normal life from Coronavirus, David told reporters, “We think that the whole event was a relief”
A controversial moment occurred when David appeared to snort cocaine while partying in the audience – which quickly went viral. However, David denied the claim, saying he never uses drugs and that he was leaning over because his guitarist had broken a glass. David has since taken a drug test held by Eurovision Song Contest organisers and gave a negative reading.
A night to forget for the UK
The UK’s entry, ‘Embers’, sung by James Newman, received an unwanted Eurovision first after not receiving a single point from either the professional juries or televoters.
The UK has had some tough moments at Eurovision in recent years, with the country last winning the contest in 1997, with Katrina and the Waves.
Newman took the defeat in good humour, drinking a beer and standing up to applause from the live audience in the arena.
Of the so-called “Big Five” nations—Italy, France, Germany, the UK, and Spain—who automatically qualify for the final, the latter three failed to score from the public.
Heartbreak for Iceland
Cult favorites, Daði & Gagnamagnið, were stuck on the sidelines after a member of the band tested positive to COVID-19 forcing them to isolate in a hotel rather than attend the contest. This meant they could only appear in the finals via video.
Being one of the favourites to take the Eurovision title, this was an unfortunate turn of events baring them the opportunity to perform at the last minute.
Despite not being able to perform in the final, Iceland still pocketed 4th place. Front man Daði Freyr didn’t seem too disappointed with the results according to his post-final tweet: “4th place! I like!”
Iceland weren’t the only nation affected by coronavirus, with Dutch 2019 winner, Duncan Laurence, also unable to take the stage after coming down with symptoms of the disease during rehearsals.
Norway’s Tix, who takes his stage name from his Tourette’s syndrome tics, impressively took the stage in huge white angel wings and iron chains.
Cyprus’s entry El Diablo—Spanish for The Devil—was meanwhile accused of blasphemy and satanism by the Cyprus Orthodox Church and religious groups.
Flo Rida randomly made an appearance as a featured artist on San Marino’s song, Adrenaline, for unknown reasons. Britain’s BBC commenter, Graham Norton, even seemed confused stating “That is Flo Rida… I don’t know why he’s here”. However, it didn’t seem to help San Marino who finished in 22nd place with only 50 points.
As per tradition, Eurovision Song Contest ceremony takes place in the country that won the previous year. Måneskin’s win means Italy will host the 2022 Eurovision competition – a boost for the country who were hit hard by the pandemic.