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Swedish Singer Loreen Wins Eurovision Song Contest With 'Tattoo'

Loreen of Sweden performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, May 13, 2023.
Loreen of Sweden performs during the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, England, May 13, 2023.

Swedish singer Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night with her power ballad "Tattoo," at a colorful, eclectic music competition clouded for a second year running by the war in Ukraine.

The diva from Stockholm beat acts from 25 other countries to take the continent's pop crown at the competition in Liverpool. Finnish singer Käärijä was second in a close-fought battle of the Nordic neighbors.

Loreen also won Eurovision in 2012 and is the second performer to take the prize twice, after Ireland's Johnny Logan in the 1980s.

Sounds of Ukraine throughout show

Britain hosted Eurovision this year on behalf of Ukraine, which won last year but couldn't take up its right to hold the contest because of the war. Air raid sirens sounded across Ukraine as the contest was underway.

Under the slogan "united by music," Eurovision fused the soul of English port city that birthed The Beatles with the spirit of war-battered Ukraine.

The sights and sounds of Ukraine ran through the show, starting with an opening film that showed 2022 Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra singing and dancing in the Kyiv subway, with the tune picked up by musicians in the U.K. — including Kate, Princess of Wales, shown playing the piano.

The folk-rap band itself then emerged onstage in the Liverpool Arena on a giant pair of outstretched hands, accompanied by massed drummers.

Contestants from the 26 finalist nations entered the arena in an Olympics-style flag parade, accompanied by live performances from Ukrainian acts including Go A, Jamala, Tina Karol and Verka Serduchka — all past Eurovision competitors.

Three-minute performances

Now in its 67th year, Eurovision bills itself as the world's biggest music contest — an Olympiad of party-friendly pop. Competitors each have three minutes to meld catchy tunes and eye-popping spectacle into performances capable of winning the hearts of millions of viewers.

Loreen had been the bookies' favorite and won by far the most votes from professional juries in Eurovision's complex voting system. She faced a close challenge from Kaarija, who won the public vote.

He is a performer with Energizer bunny energy and a lurid green bolero top who goes from metal growler to sweet crooner on party anthem "Cha Cha Cha." The infectious song got one of the biggest singalong crowd reactions of the night.

Italy's Marco Mengoni also had a strong following for "Due Vite" (Two Lives), a seductive ballad with enigmatic lyrics.

Austrian duo Teya & Salena was first to perform with "Who the Hell is Edgar?" — a daffy satirical ode to Edgar Allen Poe that also slams the meagre royalties musicians earn from streaming services.

After that, the varied tastes of the continent were on display: the cabaret-style singing of Portugal's Mimicat; the Britney-esque power pop of Poland's Blanka; echoes of Edith Piaf from La Zarra for France; smoldering balladry from Cyprus' entry, Andrew Lambrou.

Rock was unusually well represented this year at a contest that tends to favor perky pop. Australia's Voyager evoked head-banging '80s stadium rock on "Promise," while Slovenia's Joker Out, Germany's Lord of the Lost were also guitar-crunching entries.