MALMO, Sweden (AP) — Denmark's Emmelie de Forest has won this year's Eurovision Song Contest with her ethno-inspired flute and drum tune "Only Teardrops," despite tough competition from spectacular stage shows by performers from Azerbaijan and Ukraine.
Juries and television viewers across Europe awarded the barefoot, hippie-chic 20-year-old for the catchy love song that is driven by her deep, Shakira-like voice. She received a total of 281 points in the glitzy music battle, which also featured a bizarre opera pop number from Romania, the comeback of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" star Bonnie Tyler and an Armenian rock song written by the guitarist of Black Sabbath.
"It was overwhelming and I could really feel the fans and the audience and the people in the arena," de Forest told reporters after the winners were announced early Sunday.
"Of course I believed in the song and I thought we had a great song, but that's the exciting thing with Eurovision, you never know what's going to happen," she added.
De Forest grew up in northern Denmark and has been singing since she was 14, touring around Denmark with the Scottish musician Fraser Neill. She said it is important to be persistent to succeed as a young musician.
"I just called and emailed like a lot of festivals, music places and a lot of times I got no, but you just have to believe in yourself and keep trying, trying, trying — be outgoing and talk to new people, just call them and don't be afraid," she said.
De Forest was followed by second-place winner Farid Mammadov of Azerbaijan, who got 234 points for the song "Hold Me," which he performed on top of a glass cubicle containing a male dancer. The Ukraine's Zlata Ognevich and her song "Gravity" finished third with 214 points.
Ognevich was carried onstage in Saturday night's finals by the tallest man in the U.S. — Ukrainian-born Igor Vovkovinskiy. Vovkovinskiy — who stands 7 feet, 8 inches (234 centimeters) — wobbled onstage in a fur and feathers, placing the fairy-like Ognevich on a rock where she stood for the rest of the performance.
The televised extravaganza, with an audience of 125 million worldwide, is now in its 58th year. Once again without fail, it produced a mix of bubble-gum pop songs, somber ballads, bagpipes, accordions and bizarrely kitsch musical productions.
In an opening video, soccer great Zlatan Ibrahimovic welcomed the viewers to the competition in his hometown Malmo, in southern Sweden. The Nordic country hosted the event because its contestant Loreen won last year with "Euphoria."
This year's event also saw the return to the international stage of two seasoned European stars. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" singer Bonnie Tyler represented Britain with the sleepy love ballad "Believe In Me," while Anouk, whose song "Nobody's Wife" was a big hit in Europe in the 1990s, performed the song "Birds" for The Netherlands. Tyler ended in 19th place, while Anouk finished in the 9th spot.
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