Germany wins second Eurovision title


Germany won the Eurovision Song Contest tonight for ony the second time in its history – an unexpected and historic result on several counts.

Satellite written by Julie Frost and John Gordon and sung by 19-year-old Lena took top Eurovision honours with a total of 246 points. Ireland, which at been tipped to finish in the top ten, finished at a disappointing 22nd – third from last, with 25 points.

Ireland’s singer Niamh Kavanagh was gracious in defeat: “I’m proud of the performance,” she said soon after the votes were announced. “Everyone did a great job. I wish Lena all the very best.” RTÉ offered a statement via a spokeswoman: “Niamh did RTÉ and Ireland proud.”

Germany had consistently figured in the bookmakers’ top five, but Lena’s victory was far from a foregone conclusion. Satellite is a quirky uptempo pop ditty and Lena has a winning, unpretentious onstage quality.

Her simply-presented act contrasted strongly wtih styles usually associated with contemporary Eurovison: elaborate stagings and power ballads.

Following on from the victories of two other young performers, Russia’s Dima Bilan and Norway’s Alexander Rybak, Lena’s win appears to extend a trend of younger people voting for Eurovision – surely good news for a contest that is broadly considered unfashionable in Western Europe and whose fanbase is aging.

Lena’s unpredictabiliity was confirmed when she exclaimed “Oh my God, this is so crazy” while singing her winner’s reprise, which she performed while clutching a German flag.

She has become a major star in Germany in the run-up to the Contest, as evidenced by the considerable number of German press and fans who traveled to Oslo for the contest.

This also marks the first time that one of the “Big Four” countries - the UK, Germany, France, and Spain, so named because they provide the lion’s share of the funding for the contest - has won Eurovision since 1997.

In 2000, the Big Four (along with the previous year’s winning country) were granted an automatic place in the contest final. It has been widely believed that this puts these countries at a disadvantage since voters only hear their song once.

Lena’s decisive victory with an unusual song indicates that these suppositions may be off-base.

Germany’s only other Eurovision victory was also by a teenage girl: in 1982, 17-year-old Nicole won with Ein Bisschen Frieden (A Little Peace).

Turkey came second in last night’s contest with 170 points, followed by Romania with 162 points. The United Kingdom finished last with 10 points.

There was unexpected excitment in the contest’s first minutes when Spain’s performance was disrupted by a spectator who jumped on stage and was quickly removed by guards.

The European Broadcasting Union, which produces Eurovision, quickly ruled that Spain should have the right to sing again, so Daniel Diges sang “Algo Pequeñito” for a second time after the other performances had finished. Spain ended up finishing 15th, with 68 points.