If you have friends and family in Europe, time to check their pulse to see if they survived the madness of Eurovision 2016.
Eurovision 2016 had everything: A politically-charged battle for first place, a near-upset by Australia (which is in Europe now?) and then a surprise half-time show by Justin Timberlake.
Ukraine’s Jamala won Saturday night’s song competition with 534 points by singing the politically-charged song “1944,” a song about the deportation of Crimea’s Tartars under Joseph Stalin. Jamala, whose birth name is Susana Jamaladynov, is a Crimean Tartar who has not been able to return home since 2014, when Russia annexed the peninsula.
Accepting her trophy, Jamala told viewers “I know that you sing a song about peace and love, but actually, I really want peace and love to everyone. Thank you, Europe – welcome to Ukraine!”
“Of course it’s about 2014 as well. These two years have added so much sadness to my life,” Jamala told the Guardian. “Imagine – you’re a creative person, a singer, but you can’t go home for two years. You see your grandfather on Skype, who is 90 years old and ill, but you can’t visit him. What am I supposed to do: just sing nice songs and forget about it? Of course I can’t do that.”
Guest-nation Australia took home second place, and Russia, which had been the favorite to win, took home third. Sweden, which won in 2015 and hosted this year’s competition, came in fifth.
There was a new voting system this year that combined the judges and phone voters. Australia’s Dami Im’s Sound of Silence led ahead of the phone competition, but phone voters swung things toward Jamala.
Even though the United States does not participate in the competition, they did get some representation: Justin Timberlake performed “Dance With Me” and his new single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” at halftime. Just like the Super Bowl, only without football.
The total viewers are not in yet, but it is expected to exceed the 200 million who watched last year (and the over 100 million in 2014 who saw bearded Austria's Conchita Wurst take home the top prize). The show was broadcast live in Europe, China, Kazakhstan, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. There were five million tweets sent during the competition, with a peak of 65,000 per minute when Ukraine was announced the winner.
According to Google Trends, question about Ukraine and Jamala were the top five trending questions about the song competition.