Madonna, Gal Gadot, Netta Barzilai and more appear during live broadcast, Iceland unveils ‘Palestine’ sign in Green Room.
Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands won the 64th Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv early Sunday morning.
“This is to dreaming big, this is to music first, always, thank you!” Laurence told viewers shortly after he won.
A week of Eurovision festivities came to a close on Saturday night with the live broadcast of the grand finale of the song contest.
After all the votes – from the juries and the televoters – were counted, Laurence was crowned the winner, beating out the 25 other finalists for the top prize. The Netherlands is expected to host the 2020 competition after winning for the first time in 44 years. Kobi Marimi, who represented Israel with the song “Home” finished in 23rd place out of the 26 acts.
Among the jury votes, Israel received the highest number of points possible – 12 – from Belarus, and not a single point from any of the other 39 voting juries.
Hatari of Iceland, the controversial act which was heavily critical of the Israeli government, celebrated the announcement of its public votes by unveiling signs reading “Palestine” and featuring the Palestinian flag as they sat in the Green Room.
In addition to the 26 competing performances, the extravagant, flashy and impeccable event included a live performance from Madonna, a video message from Gal Gadot, a musical homage to past Eurovision legends and much, much more.
Just like the first semi-final on Tuesday night, Saturday’s show kicked off with Netta Barzilai, this time in the cockpit of a plane, with Eurovision executive supervisor Jon Ola Sand situated at ground control. Sand OK’d Barzilai’s simulated landing with a hearty: “Kapara alaich!” – the untranslatable Hebrew term of endearment the singer made famous after winning last year.
“Welcome to the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019,” Barzilai proclaimed, kicking off a air travel-themed musical number welcoming each country to the show. The flashy opening act brought together a colorful mix of Israeli Eurovision performers; Israel’s 1998 winner, Dana International, returned with a musical mashup that included both Omer Adam’s “Tel Aviv” as well as her Eurovision-winning song Diva. Ilanit performed “Ey Sham,” the song she sang the very first time that Israel participated in the Eurovision in 1973. Nadav Guedj also showed up for a few bars of “Golden Boy,” his 2015 Eurovision song.
Kicking off the grand finale, hosts Erez Tal, Lucy Ayoub, Bar Refael and Assi Azar waltzed on to the stage once again.
Tal said he was thrilled to see a diverse crowd of people in the Expo Tel Aviv, “and this is a reflection of our own story here in Israel,” he told the millions watching around the world. “We’re a country of people from all over the world who dared to dream and followed that dream to make it come true.”
Azar said it was a “dream come true for us all of us to be hosting
this event here in Tel Aviv,” thanking Barzilai for the opportunity to
Early in the show Refaeli conducted a short interview with legendary designer Jean Paul Gaultier, who flew in to Tel Aviv to dress both Madonna and Dana International, two women he has worked with in the past.
Once all 26 acts performed, the interval show began, including Madonna, who performed both “Like a Prayer” and “Future.” During her performance, two figures dressed in white were shown on stage holding hands; one had a Palestinian flag on their back, and the other an Israeli flag.
Idan Raichel performed his song “Boee,” and Barzilai returned to sing her newest single, “Nana Banana.”
One of the highlights of the night for diehard Eurovision fans was the “switch song” performance, featuring four Eurovision legends performing each other’s songs: Austria’s Conchita Wurst sang “Heroes” by Mans Zelmerlow of Sweden, Zelmerlow performed “Fuego” by Eleni Foureira of Cyprus, Foureira belted out “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” by Verka Serduchka of Ukraine and Serduchka sang Barzilai’s “Toy.”
Then Israel’s Gali Atari came out with her 1979 winning song “Hallelujah,” and was joined by all four past performers.
After being announced the winner, Laurence returned to the Eurovision stage to perform his song, “Arcade,” and close out the contest.