Italy's Raucous Glam Rock Takes Eurovision by Storm

Israel's Eden Alene comes in 17th place at the song contest that was held in the Netherlands after being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Stressful voting: The United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands received zero points from the televoting

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Maneskin of Italy pose with the trophy following a news conference after winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Italy's Maneskin pose with the trophy following a news conference after winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.Credit: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/ REUTERS

Italy's entry, glam rock band Maneskin, won the Eurovision song contest, as the world's most popular live music event was held in the Netherlands after being canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Italian's raucous "Zitti E Buoni" beat out professional jury favourites Switzerland and France, sweeping the public vote which counts for half the points.

Victoria de Angelis of Maneskin told a press conference the win was an important boost for Italy, one of the European countries worst hit by COVID-19.

"This is a message of hope after this hard year we've been through," she said.

Maneskin's rock song is unlike the kitschy pop Eurovision is known for, but their singer said their popularity showed the contest also looks at musical quality.

Eurovision 2021's final scoreboard.Credit: Wikipedia / EBU

"That prize shows that this is not (a) cheesy event. This is a musical event," Damiano David told journalists.

Italy was the favorite with bookmakers and fans before the contest. Eurovision blogger William Lee Adams said its "punch in your face" song seemed the perfect anthem for European fans who have been stuck in lockdown.

"After this past year where we've been trapped at home I think a lot of people want that feeling of being at a party and that's what they're giving," he said.

France, Switzerland and Malta rounded out the top four.

Too good a song and a band for Eurovision: Hooverphonic (with Geike Arnaert) from Belgium performs The Wrong Place at the Grand Final. Credit: Peter Dejong,AP

Eden Alene, who represented Israel, came in 17th place. "I'm grateful for the massive privilege to represent the State of Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest," Alene said immediately after the competition.

"Despite the difficult times, the complicated period the nation is experiences, the pressure, the thoughts, the tensions and moments of joy, this was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I feel that I left my heart and soul on the stage. Together with my amazing dancers, we did our best to honor our country," Alene said. "I've heard that Eurovision is saying I broke the record for highest note in the competition's history. That's just wow. I'm very proud, I worked on that pitch for a long time."

A limited audience of 3,500 attended the concert venue in Rotterdam to watch the performances after undergoing stringent testing for COVID-19.

Because of the travel restrictions most fans present were Dutch and they missed the usually international ambiance of the festival.

A superb performance: Gjon's Tears from Switzerland singing Tout l'Univers.Credit: Peter Dejong,AP

"What I don't really like is that there are no international persons here. Because it's really the once in the year that you meet up with all your international friends," Dutch fan Patrick, who did not give his last name, told Reuters outside the venue.

Despite the precautions, several COVID-19 infections were reported during rehearsals and the semi-finals.

Iceland's entry Dadi og Gagnamagnid were not able to perform live during the finals, after a band member tested positive for COVID-19. The 2019 winner Duncan Laurence also tested positive. For both performances the organization used pre-recorded back-up versions of the songs.

Most Eurovision fans outside the Netherlands watched from home, and many reached out to friends and online communities to celebrate the event.

The Netherlands is hosted the 65th edition of the contest, which draws a television audience of about 200 million, after Dutch singer-songwriter Duncan Laurence won the 2019 contest in Tel Aviv with the song "Arcade".

Maneskin of Italy appear on stage after winning the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest in Rotterdam.Credit: PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/ REUTERS

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