Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest with the folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra.
The act has been at the forefront since the Russian invasion – which prompted organizers to ban the country from attending.
The country joined the competition in 2003 and its three wins make it one of the most successful of the newer competitive countries – having triumphed in 2004 and 2016.
Upon accepting the coveted trophy, the Kalush Orchestra said, “Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraini.”
During their performance, which combined rap and Ukrainian folklore, the group wore elaborate outfits including long, multicolored fringe ensembles.
Among the well-wishers, former Doctor Who star John Barrowman said: “Congratulations #Ukraine on your #Eurovision victory!
“Stay where the sun doesn’t shine #VladimirPutin.”
Brit Sam Ryder took second place with his uplifting pop song Space Man, marking the first time the UK has finished in the top three in 20 years.
Graham Norton, who hosted the competition on BBC One, said: “This is a red moment. I’m so happy for him, for the UK and for the BBC who have worked so hard to turn our fortunes around.”
The 32-year-old Tik-Tok star wowed the crowd and stunned in a pearl and beaded one-piece suit.
After topping the national jury’s vote with 283 points, beating favorites Spain and Sweden, Ryder said: “There’s so much gratitude, what an experience.”
Ryder was the 22nd act to perform during the grand finale in Turin, Italy, playing a guitar mid-show in front of 7,000 fans at the Arena Pala Olympica who sang along.
He rose to fame by covering songs on TikTok during lockdown, amassing 12 million followers and attracting the attention of global stars like Justin Bieber and Alicia Keys.
Paul Hourican, Head of Music Operations EU at TikTok, said: “From Sam’s very first TikTok to his amazing Eurovision result, we’ve been fans at every turn. Our community has always known of his star power, artistic talent, and phenomenal voice, and we’re excited for the world to see it too.
“Congratulations to Sam and his entire team on his excellent result and of course to Ukraine as a very worthy winner.”
Radio 1’s DJ Scott Mills, who was commentating on the song contest semifinals, released a video featuring Ryder shortly after the announcement, along with TV presenter Rylan Clark singing “UK, UK, UK”.
Ryder said, “Thank you everyone for the support, this has been an incredible, incredibly rewarding journey.”
The singer-songwriter defeated favorites Spain, whose contestant Chanel SloMo gave a jazzy performance while the entire crowd sang along with Mahmood from Italy and Blanco singing Brividi, which included a powerful rap, behind a backdrop of twinkling lights.
The grand finale opened with a high-energy performance of strobe lights and projections of the David sculpture by Michelangelo from We Are Domi from the Czech Republic singing Lights Off.
During the show, Icelandic folk band Systur, performing the ballad Meo Haekkandi Sol, ended their performance by saying, “This is for Ukraine, we love you.”
Finnish rock group The Rasmus opened the first performances with a powerful version of Jezebel and ripped their shirts off mid-show.
Switzerland’s Marius Bear provided a raw rendition of his track Boys Do Cry with simple background lighting, while French Alvan and Ahez had fire on stage to perform their track Fulenn.
Norway’s subwoolfer 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 of her song Snap on a stage with a bed, lamp and chair all seemingly wrapped in white toilet paper rolls.
Estonia closed the show with Stefan performing a catchy rendition of Hope, adding at the end of his performance, “Don’t lose hope for a better tomorrow.”
Reigning Eurovision Song Contest winners, Italian rock band Maneskin, performed during the live show, along with singer-songwriter Mika, who sang a medley that included Grace Kelly and Happy Ending.
The Eurovision final featured the 20 winning nations from the week’s two semi-finals, as well as the so-called Big Five of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Eurovision Executive Supervisor Martin Osterdahl said in a statement that the organization’s attention was focused on next year’s competition and its “unique challenges”.
“The Eurovision Song Contest is the only cultural event that truly unites Europe. This year, it was more important than ever to bring millions of people together through our shared values and love of music.
“Now we begin planning for 2023 with winning channel UA:PBC.
“Clearly, there are unique challenges associated with hosting the competition next year.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ukraine-sam-ryder-john-barrowman-scott-mills-mahmood-b2079268.html Ukraine triumphs at the Eurovision Song Contest, Britain’s Sam Ryder comes second