Ukraine were crowned the champions of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday night (14May16), with Australia finishing a close second.
The Eastern European country scored 534 points with its song 1944, sung by Jamala, real name Susana Jamaladinova, which was about the deportation of Crimean Tatars under former Soviet Union leader Josef Stalin.
The winning song caused controversy because of its political overtones as it refers to the year Stalin deported almost all of the Tatar ethnic group from Crimea, in what was then known as the Soviet Union. Tensions between the two countries have grown in recent years, after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
After being announced as the winner, Jamala told the audience: “I know that you sing songs about peace and love but actually, I really want peace and love to everyone. Thank you Europe.”
Australia finished second with 511 points in the contest held at the Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm, Sweden, while Russia – which had been the bookmakers’ favourite to win thanks to Sergey Lazarev’s You Are the Only One – came in third with 491 points.
Justin Timberlake was also at the ceremony, as the annual singing contest was broadcast live in the U.S. for the first time. The singer performed a medley of hits to the wild crowd, starting his set with Rock Your Body before performing his new single, Can’t Stop The Feeling, which features in the new animated movie Trolls.
Before the contest began, Timberlake posted a photo of himself backstage onwith the caption, “It’s an honor to share the #Eurovision stage tonight with so many talented artists from all over Europe…”
He later congratulated winner Jamala, and thanked Eurovision for letting him perform during the event, writing: “Thank you and goodnight!! #Eurovision #CantStopTheFeeling”. The singer has been on a whirlwind tour of Europe as he promotes Trolls, which is due for release in October (16).
Joe and Jake, who represented the U.K. with their song You’re Not Alone, finished in 24th place with 62 points. Despite finishing in the bottom half of the leaderboard, the U.K. scored the most total points it has done since 2011.
The duo posted on Twitter after the ceremony, “Two best friends, just had the night of their lives. Thank you all so much. Regardless of the result, our main aim was to make the UK proud. We hope we did that.”
Germany’s Jamie-Lee finished in last place, after her song Ghost received just 11 points.
Graham Norton, who provided the commentary for U.K. viewers, paid tribute to his predecessor Sir Terry Wogan during the contest, and asked viewers to raise a glass to the late TV host, who died in January (16).
Recalling a story in which Wogan had told him to not have a drink until the ninth song had been performed, Norton explained, “I would urge you at home to raise a cup, a mug, a glass and give thanks to the man who was, and always will be, the voice of Eurovision,” just as the ninth competitor began their performance.