BLOG: Stockholm glitters for Eurovision Song Contest

The Local
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BLOG: Stockholm glitters for Eurovision Song Contest

The Local reported live from the Eurovision Song Contest at Stockholm's Globe Arena.


01.07 Good night!

Right, after live blogging for five hours straight and with cheesy Euro pop pouring out of our ears, we're ready to call it a night. Thanks for following us, we hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did!

Here's our round-up article about the winner Jamala. Bye from Stockholm! /Maddy and Emma

01.04 Happy Ukrainians

Ukrainian cameraman Tkachov Stanislav told The Local he was almost lost for words about his home country's win. 

"It's just great. We can show our culture and our warmth to all of Europe and all of the world."

Asked how he felt about beating Russia he added: "I don't know, it's just a music contest. But it's amazing!"

00.57 Did your favourite win?

Here are some of the immediate reactions.

00.37 And the winner is...

... Ukraine!

00.30am It's getting exciting

We're getting ready to announce the winner... apparently. But who knows. Stay tuned.

00.25am Making a point of it

Here are a couple of fun facts. The entry to score the most points in the competition's history so far was Norwegian hobbit pop fiddler Alexander Rybak with 387 points, a record he took in 2009 with the song 'Fairytale'. Behind him, Swedish Loreen in 2012 with 372 for 'Euphoria' and Måns Zelmerlöw last year with 365 points for 'Heroes'. As we mentioned, however, the voting and scoring system is a bit different this year.

00.17am Neighbour voting

The Swedes are not happy about Norway just giving them the infamous 'nul points'.

00.07am How many kangaroo jokes can I come up with...?

Hey, if Australia wins, let's just all go to Australia next year!

00.01am Midnight and it just keeps going...

So, Australia is in the lead, followed by Ukraine and Sweden. It had been said before the final that Sweden, as the only Nordic country still standing in the contest, would benefit from its neighbours Denmark, Norway, Finland and Iceland being kicked out in the semis. But Denmark just gave four points to Sweden and its 12 to Ukraine. Cue half-hearted boos from the Swedish reporters in the press centre.

11.56pm Who's the favourite?

11.55pm Voting presentation begins

The voting presentation has been given an overhaul this year. It's explained in the video below.

11.49pm More from the fans

We've reached the bit where last year's winner (in this case, co-presenter Måns Zelmerlöw) gets to sing their new hit that nobody really wants to hear, so let's take a break to talk to Borodin Alexander, Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of Melodifestivalen Club, Sweden’s fan club for Eurovision and the contest’s prequel selection competiton, Melodifestivalen.

"I feel I have to support Sweden and I hope they will finish in the top 10. You never know! I am also supporting Australia because that’s my favourite. And I also want to give an extra thought to the Czech Republic because I think they need it and they have not so many fans here unfortunately," he told The Local's Maddy Savage.

"We try to cover this from the fans’ perspective and do a lot of interviews and talk about nerdy things and also what’s going on behind the scenes."

He said most reporters had been impressed with Stockholm, especially as many arrived last weekend during a heatwave, and argued that Sweden was living up to its reputation for efficiency: "We have got a lot of good remarks about how the organisation has been for fans, and I think they’ve also managed well in the press centre. It’s a very compact event with not long to walk between the arena and the press centre. The only thing I heard complaints about is the steep stairs."

Borodin Alexander. Photo: Maddy Savage/The Local

11.40pm If Brexit happens, do we have to do this again next year?

The questions many of our British readers seem to be asking themselves is: what impact will this have on the United Kingdom's upcoming Brexit referendum? (Never mind the fact that you clearly don't have to be a member of the European Union to sing your heart out at Eurovision. We're trying not to look at you here, Australia.)

11.30pm Unlucky number for the Netherlands?

Dutch journalist Sampon Michel (right) said he had joined fellow Netherlands supporters in the fan zone in order to take a break from the rammed press centre. Despite plenty of hype for his country ahead of the contest he said he and his bosses weren’t convinced of a win.

"I think we had bad luck starting as third (...) it’s a little bit of a slow song and I don’t know if people will remember it after 23 more walls of sound."

He said Poland was his least favourite entry so far and Sweden had impressed him most.

"It could be a big hit all over Europe. I don’t know if he will win because it's a bit mainstream, but top three, if possible."

Who do you think will win? Don't forget to tweet us here, or tweet our journalists Maddy Savage and Emma Löfgren, who are running this blog live from the press centre right next to Stockholm's Globe Arena.

Photo: Maddy Savage/The Local

11.20pm Swedes and music

Justin Timberlake is right now showing all those Eurovision acts how it's done. The song he's performing was produced by Swedes Max Martin and Shellback. Did you know that Sweden is the world's third biggest music exporter in the world? Not bad for a nation just shy of ten million people. In fact, Max Martin is behind pretty much every pop song you've heard on the radio in the past few years. Incredible.

11.15pm Justin Timberlake...

... has entered the building. The former US boy band star is performing at Eurovision tonight (not as a contestant) and just outed himself as a fan, revealing he has watched it two years in a row. He is probably the most famous guest artist to grace Eurovision yet. The only thing that can top this would be if Abba reunited tonight. Oh, wow, speaking of... nah, just kidding.

11.10pm Who's your favourite?

The singing is now over and it's time to have a think about who you're going to vote for. Italy was another entrant who got a lot of applause by the international press here (or maybe just a very vocal Italian minority). 

The Local spoke to Battiato Gabriella, reporter for Radio Due Laghi, a network based near Milan in the north of Italy. It’s her first Eurovision and after almost a week in Stockholm she’s a huge fan of the city following a week of mostly sunny weather.

“It’s beautiful. We were prepared to have colder weather than in Italy – instead we were hotter than Italy!”

She hopes Italians won’t be disappointed with their score.

“Surely the top 10 but it’s quite hard to beat some countries – Russia, Australia, Ukraine. I personally like Cyprus because I am a bit of a rock fan. And I think I am one of the few people here who likes Georgia!”

Battiato Gabriella. Photo: The Local

10.50pm Austrian fans

10.45pm Fans out and about in Stockholm

Stockholm resident Rebecca Knutsson (left) who is originally from the UK emailed The Local Sweden this snap of her and her mum, who is visiting for the weekend. They are watching the competition on a big screen at Eurovision Village in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården park in the city centre, close to the royal palace, where Rebecca described the atmosphere as "crazy".

Rebecca Knutsson and her mum Jane Osborn. Photo: Private

10.30pm Hola, Spain!

Spain just got a big round of applause in the Eurovision press centre. Here's what Barei says about her song: "'Say Yay!' is a battle cry for fighters and a personal drive. It's powerful and with emotional vibes."

"This is the biggest opportunity to cross borders and share my music with everyone in Eurppe. I love to meet different people and learn from everyone. Eurovision Contest means discipline, hard work and self-learning. It will make me grow professionally and personally."

10.25pm Does Russia deserve to win?

Russia is one of the most popular and controversial entries tonight. Bookies are tipping Russia to take home this year's Eurovision Song Contest, but could what is perceived as the country's anti-gay stance and Vladimir Putin's tougher talk on European security cost them votes? 

However, contestant Sergey Lazarev's sympathy for the LGBT cause has drawn admiration from gay rights campaigners. This month he told Sweden's QX gay magazine that he was happy for fans to wave rainbow flags at his performance, saying he respects his gay fans and they respect him.

He also appeared at a British gay pride event in 2008, at a time when Moscow's then-mayor openly called such demonstrations "Satanic."

The song just drew applause in the press centre, anyway. If that means anything.

10.20pm A Hungarian fan

Dimeter Tibor is cheering for Hungary but admits it's a big "maybe" that they'll score a top place. Just in case, he's also rooting for Latvia's entry Justs whose track is called 'Heartbeat' "because he is the best! His voice is very strong!"

Tibor also said he was having a wonderful time in Stockholm: "The buildings and the water are so beautiful."

Dimeter Tibor. Photo: Maddy Savage/TT

10.15pm Your thoughts?

What do you think of the contestants, the presenters and the competition so far? Tweet us your thoughts!

10.05pm G'day, Australia!

If you're new to Eurovision (indeed, even experienced fans ask themselves this question), you may wonder why it thinks Australia is in Europe. As if Azerbaijan wasn't enough of a stretch of the imagination.

The land down under was allowed to compete as a wildcard entry last year, to recognize the 60th anniversary, as the Aussies love the competition. They did so well and were so popular that they've somehow become a permanent addition to the glitz and glam. If they win (and they actually might) the contest will still be hosted in an actual European country next year.

9.58pm The Eurovision fan zone

Want to know what it looks like behind the scenes? The Local's Maddy Savage knows:

9.56pm Bonjour, France!

France's Amir is one of the favourites to win tonight and it is a very cheerful, catchy pop anthem. And it's (partly) in English, which is fairly unusual for the French entry. Amir says this about his song: "J'ai cherché speaks about the change music brought to my life. I never thought it could take me so."

9.52pm Guten abend, Germany!

The Local's Maddy Savage spoke to Markus Herrman earlier, who runs Germany's Eurovision fan club.

"I have been here for a week and I was really surprised to see so much sunshine in Stockholm. It’s a beautiful city and I especially loved visiting the palace Drottningholm. Sweden’s Queen Silvia is German after all."

"I don’t think Germany will do very well as we have a calm song and there are a lot of action songs this year. But hopefully we won’t be outside the top-20," he said.

9.48pm Hejsan, Sverige!

That was Sweden's 17-year-old Frans Jeppsson Wall and 'If I Were Sorry' and the press centre went wild. Jeppsson Wall has a British-Nigerian dad and has spent time in London, hence his very British accent. 

But Sweden has already won the contest six times. Could it afford to win a second year in a row? And, as one member of The Local's team who shall remain unnamed said, it would just be "unsportsmanlike".

9.40pm Hello, American readers!

This is the first time Eurovision is being shown live in the US. Sweden's own Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who is currently in Washington DC, is one of those watching the competition from across the pond.

Sweden-based American comedian Greg Poehler is also live tweeting the competition tonight. 

9.30pm Inside the Eurovision venue

UK-born fans Scott Lynch, John Ashton, Dan Murray and Stephen King are in the Globe Arena and tweeted us this photo. Dan and Stephen flew back to Europe from Hong Kong especially.

9.20pm Hup Holland!

The Netherlands' modern country tune is one of the other favourites to win tonight. Here's what one of the Dutch fans told us earlier this evening.

"I personally always enjoyed watching the Eurovision and was thrilled this year Stockholm is the place to be. I love the Eurovision Song Contest as it's a fantastic competition for the European community, with non-European countries in the mix as well. It really shows the strengths of each country, but also the togetherness that is Europe," said Florentine Jenster, 26, a Dutch expat in Stockholm.

"This year Douwe Bob and his team are promoting his song and the Netherlands in a great way! Team Douwe turned a bar in Södermalm [Stockholm's hipster area] in to a Dutch get together for Radio broadcasting with live performances in the evenings. His team has put the Netherlands back on track with a possible winner for this year's event. It stands out from the rest and the message is one we all should remember to slow down."

"Go Team Douwe! And Go Netherlands!"

Florentine Jenster and the Netherlands' Douwe Bob. Photo: Private

9.18pm And we're off!

The journalists in the press centre actually clapped their hands and danced along during Belgium's performance. So much for journalistic integrity! Then again, I really shouldn't judge.

9.10pm Who's who on stage?

The co-presenters Måns Zelmerlöw and Petra Mede have taken the stage following an opening celebrating the best of Swedish music, including Swedish House Mafia and Avicii (but no Abba?!). Zelmerlöw, as we mentioned earlier, won the competition last year and is one of Sweden's most famous... well, hunks. Mede is a comedian who presented Eurovision when it was held in Sweden last time around, in 2013.

9.05pm Send us your pictures

Are you watching Eurovision? Tweet us your pictures @thelocalsweden from wherever you are in the world and we'll try to embed them in the live blog or retweet them.

9pm Du-du-du-du-du-du-DU-du...

... and the show is officially on the road! Welcome to the 61st Eurovision Song Contest!

8.58pm Countdown begins...

With just two minutes to go they just turned the TV screens on in the press centre and all the journalists cheered: "Wo-hoooo!" Right, then.

8.50pm The world's biggest Eurovision fan?

Then of course, there are some fans that just can't get enough, and travel to the competition every year, wherever it is held. Ali Durgut from Turkey is in Stockholm tonight for his 21st Eurovision Song Contest. Asked why he loves it so much, he told The Local's Maddy Savage: "I just can't explain it. It's a feeling."

"I love all the gays, I love all the songs, I love visiting countries, that's why."

He said his favourite place to visit so far was Birmingham in the UK in 1998, because at the time the city had a restaurant with female topless waiters.

"I took lots of pictures!" he said with a chuckle.

The superfan said he was convinced Russia would win, with Australia in second place.

"My favourite is Russia, second Poland and then Bulgaria. For Russia, first I love that guy, second it's a good song and third, it's a good feeling, I feel good."

Ali Durgut from Turkey. Photo: Maddy Savage/TT

8.36pm Eurovision mania

The competition is being hosted in one of the most Eurovision crazy countries on earth: Sweden. It has won the contest six times (beaten only by Ireland at seven wins) and the Swedes take it pretty seriously. With Eurovision clubs and venues set up at the Royal Palace and Stockholm's parks, and restaurants and pubs going all in, international fans have helped transform the Swedish capital into a giant disco ball this week.

But it is not to everyone's liking. Swedish The Local reader David Grevér Bergelin says the city has been so crowded with tourists it has felt like the middle of the summer season.

"I have actually had to stand in line to get down into the tube station two times this week. It's like we're hosting the World Cup of Football or the Olympics. But this is the worst it has ever got. The whole of central Stockholm is covered with shit about it and it's been going on for three weeks now," he told The Local.

"I used to like it. But not crazy-like it like my countrymen. But I used to watch it. But nowadays it's too much. It used to be one Saturday like three to four hours on TV. Now it's all year long."

READ ALSO: Six signs Sweden takes Eurovision too seriously

Eurovision fans, one would assume. Photo: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

8.20pm We'll always have Vienna

This is the 61st Eurovision Song Contest in the order and it is held in Stockholm because it was won by Swede Måns Zelmerlöw in Vienna last year. If you think that name sounds more familiar than the name of last year's winner usually does, it is because he is also presenting the contest this year.

This is how happy Måns Zelmerlöw was when he won last year. Photo: AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson

8.10pm The countdown begins

We're reporting live from the media centre right next to the Globe Arena (Globen) in Stockholm where the whole event is taking place. It is buzzing with excitement and international and Swedish journalists have already started lining up for the complimentary cake and coffee stand (or as the Swedes call it, fika time!)

8.00pm It's Eurovision time!

Good evening everyone and welcome to a night full of glitz, kitsch, pompous ballads, dubious Euro techno, geopolitics disguised as glittery pop... and The Local's live Eurovision blog!

Keeping you company in front of your smartphones and laptops tonight is our Deputy Editor Emma Löfgren, who's manning the blog, and Editor Maddy Savage, who will be chatting to fans for all the latest gossip. Got any burning questions or comments or generally just want to praise our effort? Tweet us!

The show is set to kick off at 9pm Stockholm time, with Russia, France and Australia (get ready for some mind-bending European geography that you never learned at school) among the favourites to win.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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