Denmark has won Eurovision 2013 in a glittering finale with the typical kitsch and glitz for which the contest is renowned. Highlights included Finland's lesbian kiss, Romanian falsetto and '80s singer Bonnie Tyler.
Twenty-six countries battled it out in the 58th Eurovision Song Contest finale, held on Saturday in Malmö, in southern Sweden. Ahead of the competition, bookmakers had tipped Denmark would take out the competition comfortably. 20-year-old Emmelie De Forest won with her song "Only Teardrops".
The evening began with a special Eurovision anthem penned by ABBA's Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, with Swedish DJ Avicii. ABBA won Eurovision in 1974 with "Waterloo," in what was the beginning of one of the most successful pop careers of all time.
France kicked off the 2013 competition with singer Amandine Bourgeois, who performed a rock song, "L'enfer et moi" (Hell and I). Shortly afterwards, there was a first of sorts for a Eurovision final, with an onstage lesbian kiss featuring Finland's entry, Krista Siegfrids with "Marry Me." The singer drew international media attention during Friday's second semifinal when she kissed one of her female dancers onstage at the end of her act.
Germany ended up in 21st place with its dance and song act Cascada from Bonn. Having sold millions of albums worldwide, the group had earlier fended off allegations that its entry, 'Glorious,' had plagiarized last year's Swedish winner, Loreen.
The night was not without its bizarre moments. Greece's entry in the competition, Koza Mostra, performed 'Alcohol is Free' - a metaphor-laden piece describing the predicament of the crisis-stricken eurozone nation. Greece had initially said it would be unable to send an entry to this year's competition, citing budget cuts.
Romania raised eyebrows with Dracula-lookalike Cezar, who surprised with a high-pitch falsetto crossover complete with techno beats and pyrotechnics.
The '80s legend Bonnie Tyler represented the United Kingdom, receiving loud cheers from the 11,000-strong crowd for her laid-back power ballad "Believe in Me."
Voting via telephone and SMS
During Saturday's final, viewers across Europe were able to vote for their favorite act via telephone or SMS. Fans are unable to vote for their own country's entry. Professional judges votes account for 50-percent of the performer's final score.
Two semis were held this week, with 20 countries chosen to partake in the final. Britain, Italy, Spain, France and Germany are automatic entries in the final as they contribute the most to Europe's broadcasting union. Host Sweden also automatically qualified.
The 26 countries that competed in Saturday's final were Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Ukraine and Britain.
jr/ipj (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)