The audience vote dramatically changed the rankings with Ukraine crowned the winner of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Ukrainian band Kalush Orchestra won with the song ‘Stefania’!
Accepting the award on stage to strong applause, the band thanked supporters.
“Thank you so much, Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraini!,” the group said.
The band scored the largest number of public votes for a winning total of 631 points.
After the pandemic forced the cancellation of the competition in 2020, this year’s 66th edition ran for four hours, featuring 25 finalist performances in 12 languages.
Australia’s Sheldon Riley finished in 15th place after an enthusiastic audience response to his ballad ‘Not the Same’.
Sheldon Riley from Australia singing ‘Not The Same’ during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy on 14 May 2022. Source: AAP / Luca Bruno/AP
The 23-year-old singer, who grew up on the Gold Coast, said his song was inspired by his experience of being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, growing up in public housing and battling with his sexuality in a religious household.
“It is the story I never thought I’d ever feel I’d be able to tell,” the singer told the competition’s organisers.
The United Kingdom finished second in the country’s best result in 20 years on 466 votes, followed by Spain, Sweden and Serbia.
‘Please help Ukraine’
Ukrainian folk-rap band Kalush Orchestra was heavily tipped to win by bookmakers, who gave the group a 60 per cent chance of winning.
The band mixes traditional Ukrainian rhythms, costumes and dance moves with contemporary hip hop.
It is the third time Ukraine has won Eurovision – last time was just six years ago at Eurovision Song Contest 2016 where Jamala won with ‘1944’.
The group made an impassioned plea to free people still trapped in a besieged steel mill in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
“I ask all of you, please help Ukraine, Mariupol. Help Avostal, right now,” the band’s frontman, Oleh Psiuk, said to the live crowd of some 7,500 and a global television audience of millions.
The plea to free the remaining Ukrainian fighters trapped beneath the sprawling Avostal plant by Russians served as a sombre reminder that the hugely popular and at times flamboyant Eurovision song contest was being played out against the backdrop of war.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gave signs he was watching from Kyiv and rooting for the Ukrainian band.
“Indeed, this is not a war, but nevertheless, for us today, any victory is very important,” Zelenskyy said, according to a presidential statement.
“So, let’s cheer for ours. Glory be to Ukraine!”
The winner usually hosts the competition the following year, although this may be hard to achieve in war-torn Ukraine.
Russia and Belarus ruled out
Russia and Belarus did not compete. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organises Eurovision, ruled that no Russian act would be able to participate this year, after Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
In 2021, the EBU rejected Belarus’s entry, which mocked protesters against the Lukashenko regime, and has since suspended Belarus’s broadcaster BTRC from the EBU.
The contest winner was chosen in equal parts by panels of music experts in each competing nation and votes from the global audience.
Australia has not won the Eurovision competition, which has steadily expanded its borders beyond continental Europe, but has been a fan favourite in recent years scoring a top-10 finish four times.
The winner takes home a glass microphone trophy and a potential career boost.
Twenty bands were chosen in two semifinals this week, and were competing along with the Big Five of Italy, Britain, France, Germany and Spain, which have permanent berths due to their financial support of the contest.
Catch the prime-time broadcast of the show tonight at 8:30pm AEST on SBS and at SBS On Demand. There will also be a replay of the Grand Final tomorrow (Monday 15 May from noon) on SBS VICELAND.