Eurovision Song Contest: Sweden Beats Out Russia
Australia came in fifth in its first-ever appearance and Russia drew boos at the 60th edition, under the motto "Building Bridges."
Sweden won its sixth Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night as Mans Zelmerlow, with his pop song "Heroes," beat out Russia's Polina Gagarina, who performed an English-language song called "A Million Voices."
Zelmerlow's performance during the event's 60th anniversary edition, in Vienna, included animated visuals.
Austria hosted the event under the motto "Building Bridges" after drag queen Conchita Wurst won last year's competition.
Overall, a record 27 countries participated in the finals. Among them was Australia, which was invited to compete despite being nowhere near Europe. The country had in the past asked if it could participate, citing the competition's popularity in Australia.
Zelmerlow had been a favorite of bookies. He ended up with 365 points from the 40 voting countries, which each handing out a smaller amount of points along with 8, 10 and 12 points each for their favorite. No country is allowed to give its own performer any points.
Sweden had won five previous times, its first win coming in 1974 with ABBA's "Waterloo." Ireland has won the Eurovision Song Contest a record seven times.
Russia, which had led the standings at the halfway mark, ended up with 303 points for its ballad. Italy, which sent opera trio Il Volo to the competition, got 292 points, followed by Belgium (217) and Australia (196). Il Volo has previously performed on The Tonight Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and American Idol.
Russia's result drew mixed reactions. The live audience appeared to boo at times when a country gave Russia points, especially in the case of former members of the Soviet Union, leading one of the show's hosts to say, "Please remember that our motto is 'Building Bridges,' and that music should stand over politics tonight."
Wurst, after the first half of the votes had come in, interviewed the Russian singer and said she deserved to be in the lead.
When the show hosts in Vienna checked in with the Russian representative on the country's top three votes, the rep said hello from "Mother Russia." He announced eight points for Sweden and 10 for Belgium before joking that Russia had given itself 12 points. He then announced Italy as the recipient of the highest score from Russia.
Australia's performer was Guy Sebastian, who presented the soulful song "Tonight Again."
Host nation Austria and Germany ended up at the bottom of the final ranking with zero points each.
Zelmerlow returned to the stage at the end of the night to perform his winning song again, as is tradition. But before he started, he told the crowd: "We are all heroes, no matter who we love, who we are or what we believe in."
Sweden's win means it will stage next year's edition of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Said Jonas Siljemark, president of Warner Music Nordics: “Måns is a truly exceptional talent, and his performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. We are very pleased to congratulate him on another impressive win for Sweden.”
The competition, which aired live in China this year for the first time, is the most watched non-sporting event on European television. Organizers said last year's edition of the semifinals and final saw more than 195 million viewers tune in for at least one minute. At any given moment, an average of 61 million people were watching the 2014 final, they said.