The 2019 Eurovision Song Contest culminated in triumph for the Netherlands on Saturday night, 18 May. Duncan Laurence, the bookies’ favourite from the Netherlands, justified his pre-contest hype after the public voted his ballad ‘Arcade’ the winner with 492 points. The singer’s victory marks the first time the Dutch have won since 1975.
In one of the closest competitions in recent years, the battle for top spot in the Eurovision song contest was a tight fight between Sweden, Russia, Switzerland the Netherlands, Italy and North Macedonia.
Duncan Laurence’s haunting track has already become a big hit on streaming services since its release earlier this year.
Sweden’s entry John Lundvik had looked like adding to the Scandinavian country’s illustrious record of six wins, beginning back in 1974 when ABBA topped the poll. Sweden has such a surplus of Eurovision talent it also furnished the song for the UK’s entry, as well as Estonia’s – Victor Crone is Swedish.
The Eurovision show brought together acts from 41 countries. The contest was staged in Israel, a country that had played host twice before, in Jerusalem in 1979 and in Tel Aviv 20 years later.
The surprise of the night was North Macedonia, the newly renamed country in the Balkans. Their performer, Tamara Todevska, had previously appeared twice before in the competition but Saturday night’s entry, ‘Proud’, proved their most popular entry ever.
The coveted 12 points from the UK’s jury panel of industry professionals also went to North Macedonia. The UK’s entrant, Michael Rice, delivered a rousing performance earlier in the evening singing ‘Bigger Than Us’ against a backdrop of a starry night sky and racing comets.
Rice had said before the contest that he hoped to improve the UK’s reputation at Eurovision, as the UK had not won in 22 years or been in the top 10 in a decade. However, it was not to be – the UK finished last in the final with just 16 points. Unusually, however, none of the performers went home with zero points.
Madonna was dressed for her special guest performance by the designer Jean-Paul Gaultier, who said he had been channelling Joan of Arc. Madonna’s show featured as many as 30 dancers dressed as monks.
“You’re all winners,” Madonna told the Eurovision finalists before her appearance. “Let’s not underestimate the power of music to bring people together. That’s the most important thing. Music makes the people come together.”