Move over sequins, disco beats and power ballads. A four-piece band of Italian rockers has won the Eurovision Song Contest.
The music festival was cancelled last year amid the global pandemic but the event in Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena with its regime of testing and strict hygiene protocols was seen as a step toward a post-COVID-19 return to live entertainment.
Maneskin’s win with the song Zitti E Buoni early on Sunday was only Italy’s third victory in the immensely popular contest and the first since Toto Cutugno took the honour in 1990.
Maneskin is also the first group to win the competition since Lordi won for Finland in 2006.
Italy, the bookmakers’ favourite, trailed Switzerland, France and Malta after the national juries delivered their votes but were propelled to victory by votes from the viewing public.
A crowd of 3500 fans, who all tested negative for the coronavirus, watched the finalists perform live.
Maneskin is Danish for ‘moonlight’, a tribute to the home country of bassist Victoria. The band won with a total of 529 points from second-placed France. Switzerland, which led after national juries had voted, finished third.
— harry ☆ bravo barbara!!! (@kthejutokes) May 22, 2021
United Kingdom singer James Newman’s song, “Embers”, failed to ignite any love at all and did not score a single point, finishing last, just as the UK did at the previous Eurovision two years ago.
US rapper Flo Rida did not manage to translate his star power into points for tiny San Marino’s entry that was sung by Senhit. They finished with just 50 points.
For lovers of kitsch, German singer Jendrik played a sparkling ukulele and danced with a woman dressed in a giant hand costume optimistically showing the victory sign. He finished close to last.
Lithuanian band The Roop danced in bright yellow costumes in a tongue-in-cheek homage to 1980s synth pop.
Pravi’s song, “Voila”, was a restrained ballad, but there was still plenty of the over-the-top spectacle that has become Eurovision’s trademark.
Norwegian singer Andreas Haukeland, whose stage name TIX is a reference to growing up with Tourette syndrome, sang “Fallen Angel” in a pair of giant white wings while chained to four prancing devils.
At the other end of the spectrum – Finland’s hard-rocking Blind Channel played their song “Dark Side” amid bursts of pyrotechnics and Ukraine’s Go-A performed surrounded by skeletal white trees.
The popular Icelandic band Dadi og Gagnamagnid, known for its kitsch dance moves and green leisurewear costumes, could not perform live because one member tested positive for the virus earlier in the week.
Instead, viewers saw a recording of one of the band’s dress rehearsals.
While the entertainment world has changed in the pandemic, the Eurovision final formula familiar to its worldwide legion of fans has not. The event was hosted as usual by the last winner, the Netherlands, except that it won in 2019.