Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands won the 64th Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv with his doleful piano ballad “Arcade.”
Laurence was tapped as an early front-runner before Saturday’s Grand Final. But he had to rely on the fan vote to secure the country’s fifth win in the competition. Italy finished second، followed by Russia، Switzerland and Norway.
Israeli singer Kobi Marimi finished a disappointing 23rd place.
Israel’s Netta Barzilai، winner of last year’s contest، presented the trophy to Laurence.
“This is to dreaming big، this is to music first، always،” Laurence said.
It was Holland’s first win since 1975. The contest in 1976 was held in The Hague.
With Barzilai’s win last year، Israel secured the right to host Europe’s annual music extravaganza. The night featured a rollicking collection of glitzy performances awash in kitsch، soul and spectacle، and a controversial show by Madonna.
Some 200 million people around the world watched as 26 countries competed to be crowned Europe’s top pop act and follow in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish icons ABBA and Celine Dion، who once represented Switzerland.
Participants wrapped up their performances shortly after midnight، kicking off the voting process across Europe. To maximize onscreen tension، performers are picked by a mix of fan votes and professional juries from the 41 participating countries. Spectators cannot vote for their own country، but like-minded countries tend to fall into blocs that back their regional favorites.
The Eurovision debuted in the wake of World War II to heal a divided continent. Over the years، the earnest show of European unity has ballooned into a campy، over-the-top، gay-friendly spectacle that brings together acts from across the continent، including those with little or no connection to Europe، such as Australia.
Barzilai won last year’s competition with her catchy، defiant pop anthem “Toy.”