Sweden's Loreen tattoos her name on Eurovision history

·3-min read

Sweden's Loreen has won Eurovision 2023 with the song Tattoo, becoming the first woman to triumph twice in the contest.

Finland's Käärijä, a green-bolero-sleeved rapper, came second in Liverpool, northern England, on Saturday.

He won the viewer vote with Cha Cha Cha, but it was not enough to overtake Loreen's lead after the result from the juries in the 37 participating countries.

Australia finished a creditable ninth with rockers Voyager's performance of Promise.

"I am seriously overwhelmed," Loreen told reporters.

Comparing her win to 2012, she said: "It's like coming back to a family."

Loreen is the only person after Ireland's Johnny Logan to win the contest twice, and her victory puts Sweden level with Ireland as the most successful Eurovision countries, 49 years after Abba's famous victory.

The 67th edition of the musical festival was held in the "City of Pop" on behalf of Ukraine, last year's winner, which was unable to host this year because of Russia's invasion.

Organisers had to walk a tightrope between putting Ukraine centre stage and steering clear of any overt political messages, which are not allowed in the contest.

They largely succeeded.

Kalush Orchestra, 2022's winner, mixed video recorded in Ukraine with live performance in Liverpool in an opening sequence that included a cameo appearance from Britain's Kate, Princess of Wales, playing the piano.

But as the contest was underway, Russian missiles hit the western Ukrainian city of Ternopil, home to electro-pop duo Tvorchi, this year's entry from the country.

Local authorities, writing on Telegram, said the strike had injured two people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was barred from addressing worldwide viewers - who numbered 160 million last year - by contest organiser the European Broadcasting Union.

It said that granting his request, which was made with "laudable intentions", would be against the non-political nature of the event and its rules prohibiting making political statements.

Nonetheless, the show, watched by thousands in person on the banks of the River Mersey and by millions on TV, was infused with the spirit of Ukraine, notably in a rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone jointly sung in the arena and in Ukraine and which brought many in the audience to tears.

The 26 acts in the final spanned musical styles from ballads to heavy rock to rap, and included a handful of bizarre performances that the contest is renowned for.

Under spring sunshine, fans flocked in their thousands to city's dockside area near the contest venue ahead of the contest. Many were draped in flags or dressed as their favourite acts.

"Just to come down and see people from all different nationalities, all different cultures - it's good fun," said Australia fan Martin Troedel, sporting a kangaroo on his hat.

"Frankly there's some quite odd acts, which is what I love about it. You never know what to expect."

Germany finished bottom of the table, just behind Britain, but no country received the dreaded "nul points".

Founded in 1956, Eurovision is a European cultural institution that has produced breakout stars - ABBA and Celine Dion are past winners - alongside performers whose careers sank without a trace.

with AP