Italy’s entry, glam rock band Måneskin, 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.
Before their performance Victoria de Angelis of Maneskin told Reuters the contest would send “a message of hope for the rest of Europe.”
Måneskin are the first group to win the competition since 2006, The Guardian reports. The high-kicking lederhosen and eyeliner-wearing Italians, who were favorites for victory, held off stiff competition from France and Switzerland to record Italy’s third victory in the competition.
On stage after the band’s victory, frontman Damiano David shouted into the microphone: “We just wanted to say to the whole of Europe, to the whole world, rock and roll never dies.”
The Italians lit up the stage with their bare-chested, punk-funk rock which they sang in their native language. In a nailbiting finish, they lay in fourth place after a vote by national juries that left Switzerland in the lead, before a huge public vote sent them soaring into the lead with 524 points.
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.
A limited audience of 3,500 attended the concert venue in Rotterdam to watch the performances after undergoing stringent testing for the virus.
Because of the travel restrictions most fans present were Dutch and they missed the usually international ambiance of the festival.
“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 infections were reported during rehearsals and the semi-finals.
Iceland’s Dadi og Gagnamagnid were not able to perform live during the finals, after a band member tested positive. The 2019 winner Duncan 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.