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Eurovision Final: All of the Moments From This Year’s Eurovision Song Contest

May 12, 2023

Sweden's Loreen was named the winner for her song "Tattoo" at a contest that showed solidarity with Ukraine. Here's how the world's most-watched song competition unfolded.

Alex Marshall

Sweden's Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with her song "Tattoo," bringing the prize home again to a country that has been one of the competition's most successful, after a show marked both by glitter and by statements of solidarity with Ukraine.

Loreen was the bookmaker's favorite for the competition, thanks to both her catchy track and Eurovision pedigree, having won once before, in 2012. Her victory means that Sweden, a Eurovision-obsessed Scandinavian nation, will host next year's contest, and has now matched Ireland's seven victories since the contest began in 1956.

Eurovision's grand final is the world's most watched cultural event. Last year, over 160 million people tuned in to watch the spectacle. For the event's fans, it's the only singing competition that matters. To more casual observers, it's simply a fun — and occasionally bewildering — extravaganza. For the first time, viewers from nonparticipating countries could vote, meaning American fans helped decide the outcome.

This year, there were serious undertones to the event.

As the winner of last year's competition, Ukraine should be hosting the 2023 event. But with Russia's assault on the country showing no sign of ending, Eurovision was moved to Liverpool, England. The Eastern European country has a strong presence on Liverpool's streets and some back in Ukraine turned to the event as a moment of cheer.

European solidarity with Ukraine was clear throughout Saturday's spectacle in Liverpool. It opened with a video of Kalush Orchestra, last year's winner, performing on a subway train in Kyiv, before the band appeared onstage to almost deafening cheers, in person inside the Liverpool arena.

Although overt political statements are banned during the show, the war was hinted at onstage, with several entrants, including Ukraine's own Tvorchi, obliquely referring to the conflict in its lyrics.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

That's a wrap for the 67th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. In a way there was not much suspense: Loreen was a heavy favorite with "Tattoo" and she ended up winning — making it a total of seven victories for Sweden, tied with Ireland for most ever. This was her second win, after a success in 2012, and she has become only the second person to win Eurovision twice (the first was Johnny Logan, from Ireland).

Loreen scored huge amounts of points from national juries but it quickly became obvious that Finland's Kaarija had turned into a popular favorite — would public voters propel him to the top, as happened with Ukraine last year?

They almost did, but Loreen had built up such a lead that she prevailed and Kaarija was runner-up — a good day's work for Nordic countries, with Norway's Alessandra also ending in the top five.

Loreen's victory means that Eurovision will be hosted by Sweden in 2024, coincidentally on the 50th anniversary of ABBA's triumph at the contest.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

I have to admit that I find "Tattoo" to be an inferior retread of Loreen's previous Eurovision hit, "Euphoria." It never really builds and just … hovers. The performance is also so controlled that it made me enjoy Kaarija's expansive energy even more.

Scott Bryan

This was a battle between two very different Eurovision music styles. Loreen's "Tattoo" is a classic, powerful bit of storytelling, compared with Kaarija's "Cha Cha Cha," a ridiculous anthem that leans into the surreal nonsense the competition has favored in recent years.

In the end Loreen won, narrowly, because she appealed to the public and jury votes. But with Kaarija receiving so much support from viewers, especially from the crowd, you can't help but wonder whether he’ll be a Eurovision fixture for years to come.

Scott Bryan

This means that Sweden is now joint a winner of the most Eurovisions ever — matching Ireland — with seven.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Loreen has won — Eurovision will be back in its spiritual home of Sweden next year. Let's start preparing the ABBA reunion right now since it’ll be the 50th anniversary of that band's historic Eurovision win.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

It's hard to overstate Sweden's passion for Eurovision. The national selection process, Melodifestivalen, draws even bigger ratings than Eurovision itself: Close to 3.5 million people watched the Melodifestivalen final in March (in a country of 10.5 million), as opposed to 2.4 million viewers for Eurovision 2022. But viewership for the contest should be higher this year as Sweden has been an early favorite and could match Ireland's seven victories. In addition, Swedish songwriters often pen entries for contestants from other countries.

Alex Marshall

Sweden wins Eurovision! Again!

Scott Bryan

Sweden only needs 186 points to win. Achievable.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

We are seeing some huge discrepancies in the public voting — people went for all or nothing. You either cleaned up or you got crushed, no in between.

Alex Marshall

Loreen will trump that. She's a dead cert, surely?

Scott Bryan

Finland receives 376 public votes, throwing it into the lead. But Loreen could claw it back.

Scott Bryan

216 public points for Norway — a huge lift from the near bottom of the table.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

We now have to watch closeups of crushed entrants, trying to look stoic as they hear the pathetically low number of points the public has awarded them.

Alex Marshall

Germany and Britain once again performing poorly in the public vote. Eurovision voters really don't like Europe's more populous nations.

Scott Bryan

It is now the most confusing part of the evening, in which the lowest ranking countries from the jury vote receive their public votes. It means that if these countries have performed poorly, they have nowhere to hide.

In 2021, three countries received zero points from the public in quick succession, including Britain.

Scott Bryan

This is television adrenaline. We won't know the winner until the last possible moment.

Scott Bryan

At the end of the jury vote, Sweden is leading with 328 points. Israel has 177, and Italy is just behind with 176.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

The public voting can be starkly different from the jury voting. Last year, for example, Britain was ahead of Ukraine by 91 points at the end of the jury votes, placing Ukraine in fourth position. But Ukraine scored a whopping 439 points from the popular votes, compared to 183 for Britain, vaulting Ukraine to victory.

Scott Bryan

Suddenly a surge of votes for Belgium, which takes it to nearly triple digits. One thing is clear, though: it has not been a good night for Britain, with Mae Muller currently floating fourth from bottom.

Alex Marshall

It's a sign of a great Eurovision when the votes are thrown all over the board like this.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Like millions of viewers, I am now Team Hannah Waddingham until the end of time. She has cemented her "national treasure" status today.

Scott Bryan

Finally a 12 to Finland, and a HUGE reaction in the room.

Scott Bryan

The awkward satellite delay between the hosts at the arena and some of the announcers is a Eurovision tradition all in itself. Never change.

Alex Marshall

On the streets of Liverpool today, I heard one prediction: Sweden will ace the jury vote, Finland's chance of victory depends on the public. This is going to be tense!

Scott Bryan

In case you are wondering why there are so many awkward interviews, it is because a lot of European broadcasts have just gone to a commercial break.

Scott Bryan

Now, just over halfway through the jury votes, Sweden is leading with 184 points, with Finland, another bookmakers' favorite, currently in fifth place with 75 points. An uphill climb for Finland.

Scott Bryan

Now Israel is climbing the chart. Noa Kirel's song has performed incredibly well with the public, and a winner needs success with both the jury and public. One to look out for.

Scott Bryan

These results are proving to be fascinating. Sweden ahead by far, as we expected, but Estonia, which has hardly been talked about as a contender, is also up there.

France, meanwhile, has hardly registered any votes at all. Still, lots of voting to go.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Hannah Waddingham's facial expressions are so GIF-ready. She always looks as if she's desperately trying not to laugh.

Scott Bryan

Here we go. So far no clear front runner from the jury vote. This is proving rather interesting.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Each of the competing countries, including the ones that did not make it out of the semifinals earlier this week, are now going to announce their votes. Bonus: more of Hannah Waddingham speaking French — which is good, because this will take a while.

Scott Bryan

With Martin Österdahl, the head of the European Broadcasting Union, which organizes the competition, appearing to confirm that the jury votes have been verified, it appears there is no surprise interval act after all.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

If you are new to the Eurovision telecast, you might not be aware that it goes on for about four hours. The reason is that the 26 competing songs are followed by a voting window, and then a painstakingly detailed announcement of the results — which are obtained by combining points allocated by voters at home and by national juries made up of music-industry professionals.

Voting started after the last performance and lasts about 40 minutes. At the end, the participating countries take turns announcing how many points their jury allocated to the contestants — a process that takes a while, since all 37 participants are included, not just the 26 in the final. Each country allocates a total of 58 points in installments of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 or 12 points. (Why they don't give out 9 or 11 points is one of the universe's great mysteries.)

Once the 37 jury votes have been reported, we switch over to the results of the popular vote, which are announced by the final's hosts. Each country's audience gets 58 points, just like the juries, and these are allocated to its 10 most popular acts.

For the first time this year, viewers outside participating countries — and that includes the United States — have cast votes. Those will be tallied up into a single "Rest of the World" total, with 58 points for this group. Although it includes more than 7 billion potential voters, the Rest of the World will have the same weight in the competition as the tiny principality of San Marino, population 34,000.

The public vote can dramatically change the ranking: Last year, Britain was leading after the jury votes, but Ukraine earned the most public vote points ever and vaulted to the top spot. The same thing happened to Italy in 2021.

In other words: It's not over until it's over.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

The Eurovision legend Björn Ulvaeus, of ABBA, has turned up (albeit remotely). If Sweden wins, the contest will be held there in 2024, the 50th anniversary of ABBA winning Eurovision (in Brighton, England, in 1974).

Alex Marshall

The whole arena is singing "You’ll Never Walk Alone." This is beautiful and the perfect way to show solidarity with Ukraine. (If completely obliquely.)

Vanessa Friedman

By the way, Italy's entry, Marco Mengoni, is wearing custom Atelier Versace. That's some national creative cooperation.

Scott Bryan

The sequence ends with Duncan Laurence, who won for the Netherlands with "Arcade" in 2019, covering Gerry and the Pacemakers’ "You’ll Never Walk Alone." This song is associated with Liverpool F.C. soccer club and concludes with all of the acts, and the hosts, walking out to the front of the stage. That last sequence is deeply moving.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Sonia was — what else, since we’re talking about perennial runner-up Britain? — 2nd in 1993 with this retro-minded track, "Better the Devil You Know." That song should not be confused with the vastly superior Kylie Minogue hit that had come out three years earlier.

Scott Bryan

Sonia, an English pop singer from Liverpool who represented Britain in 1993, is now performing the entry she took to that competition, "Better the Devil You Know." She came second, to Ireland, and has since become a local celebrity here.

Scott Bryan

This is surreal and utterly delightful.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

In past editions of Eurovision, voting was limited to viewers in participating countries, which meant American fans couldn't cast a vote during the live broadcast.

But, in a change that's indicative of Eurovision's world-spanning ambition, this year nonparticipating countries can vote for the first time, via an official website. And that includes viewers in the United States.

There has been another change this year to Eurovision's notoriously complicated voting rules.

Previously, each country was awarded points based on a combination of votes from viewers and the decisions of juries in each competing country. After the contest's organizers found "voting irregularities" among six juries in last year's semifinals — many of whom seemed to be voting for one another — the rules were tweaked, so that the semifinals are now decided exclusively by viewers. The grand final results on Saturday, however, will still be determined by viewers and juries.

Oh, and all this voting happens live, which helps explain why the grand final broadcast takes so long.

Scott Bryan

In 2021, Britain's Eurovision entrant James Newman received the dreaded "nul points," or zero points, and finished last. The country's lack of success in the competition had become a national joke, despite Britain being one of the top financial contributors to the competition, with an automatic place in every grand final.

But then came Sam Ryder, Britain's 2022 entry.

The singer-songwriter's uplifting "Space Man" topped the jury vote. Ukraine's Kalush Orchestra was the overall winner once viewer votes were factored in, but Ryder's second place was his country's best Eurovision result since 1998.

So what caused this reversal of fortunes? Last year, the BBC, which selects Britain's entry, worked with TaP Music, a global management company representing artists like Lana Del Rey and Christine and the Queens. After years of British entries that aimed for a "Eurovision-style" sound, Ryder's "Space Man" was more commercially mainstream.

This year, the BBC and TaP Music used the same approach to select Mae Muller, an established pop artist who has had U.S. Billboard chart success and toured with the British band Little Mix. Muller is performing "I Wrote a Song," a catchy record about channeling the rage of a heartbreak into a pop track.

Derrick Bryson Taylor

At least three entries in this year's Eurovision are testing the boundaries of contest rules banning political songs.

All participating broadcasters are responsible for safeguarding the interests and integrity of the competition, the rules state, to avoid the event becoming politicized.

While Ukraine's official song entry, "Heart of Steel" by the electronic music duo Tvorchi, may not feature explicit lyrics about Russia's invasion, the duo has said the song was inspired by the courage of Ukrainian defenders in the Azovstal steel plant during the siege of the southern city of Mariupol.

"Sometimes you just gotta know/ When to stick your middle finger up in the air," the vocalist Jimoh Augustus Kehinde sings at the top of the song.

Last December, Tvorchi performed the song in Kyiv with background dancers wearing gas masks while images of nuclear hazard signs played on large screens behind the stage.

Let 3's "Mama SC!" is Croatia's official entry and though many of its lyrics seem like nonsense — "Mom bought a tractor!" "Mom kissed a moron!" — it also refers to "going to war" and an "evil little psychopath."

The tractor references are being read by some on social media and Eurovision blogs as allusions to a 70th birthday gift from President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus to his counterpart in Russia, Vladimir V. Putin: a Belarussian-made farm truck.

Let 3, known in Croatia for its social commentary and garish costumes, performs the song using what appeared to be nuclear rockets as onstage props.

Switzerland's entry, "Watergun" by Remo Forrer, is unapologetically an antiwar tune. "I don't wanna be a soldier, soldier," Forrer sings. "I don't wanna have to play with real blood."

Explaining the message of that song for a promotional video in Eurovision's website, Forrer said, "We are currently faced with global crises and war. And we must live with the consequences of decisions we didn't make. But I still hope we can change things."

In previous years, Eurovision has been less forgiving of entries with politically charged lyrics. Belarus was ejected from the competition in 2021 after critics said the song it had entered endorsed a violent crackdown on antigovernment protests that year by Mr. Lukashenko.

Alex Marshall

Germany may be Europe's political and economic powerhouse, but at Eurovision, it's a weakling.

Last year, its entry — Malik Harris, with "Rockstars" — finished bottom of the rankings, securing just 6 points. Germany was last for the third time in 10 years.

Can the metal band Lord of the Lost, taking the stage now to perform "Blood and Glitter," do any better?

Chris Harms, the band's singer and guitarist, said in a recent telephone interview that he wrote "Blood and Glitter" with spectacle in mind, imaging a pyrotechnic and light show that could be synced to the band's performance.

Still, he said, he knew it could be hard to convince Eurovision fans to vote for his act.

Harms said that many Germans believe their country is shunned in Eurovision for "political reasons." Some Eurovision voters might also think it's unfair that Germany's entry is guaranteed a spot in the grand final when smaller nations have to qualify, he added. (Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain all go through to the final automatically, because they make the largest financial contributions to the competition.)

Yet sometimes, Harms said, Germany's poor performance was simply because its entry was terrible. In 2021, Germany entered Jendrik, a ukulele player, who performed an upbeat track called "I Don't Feel Hate." Jendrik came second last, securing 3 points. Harms said he’d been skeptical about that song "from the very beginning."

Even if Lord of the Lost do not do well on Saturday, Harms said, the band had already experienced some success. It has released eight albums, he said, the last of which topped Germany's album charts. And next month, Lord of the Lost is going on an arena tour with Iron Maiden, the British heavy metal group. Harms said he would keep making music even "if things go sour, and we’re coming last — again."

Alex Marshall and Marc Santora

Ukraine's entry, Tvorchi, which has just taken the stage, has perhaps the hardest job of any act tonight: to represent a country at war.

That duo — the producer Andrii Hutsuliak, 27, and the singer Jimoh Augustus Kehinde, 26 — has written an electro-soul track, "Heart of Steel," that is a three-minute message of defiance. "Get out of my way," Kehinde sings, in English, "‘Cause I got a heart of steel."

Later, he switches to Ukrainian for a few lines. "Despite the pain, I continue my fight," he sings, "The world is on fire, but you should act."

In a recent interview in Kyiv, Hutsuliak said the song was inspired by Ukrainian soldiers who last year were defending the now-ruined city of Mariupol, in southern Ukraine.

Those forces, which survived for months longer than anyone thought possible, made a final stand at the sprawling Azovstal steel plant, and Hutsuliak watched clips of the conflict online. "When I saw these videos, I saw people with strength, staying solid even in the most terrible conditions," he said.

In recent years, Ukraine has had Eurovision success by mixing musical folk traditions with contemporary styles, including rap and dance music. Tvorchi's sleek electronic entry takes a new direction. Could it help Ukraine repeat the country's victory at last year's event?

Read our full profile of Tvorchi here.

Elisabeth Vincentelli

Despite not being in Europe, or even near it like Morocco (which appeared in the 1980 edition), or even Israel (four victories since 1973), Australia has been competing in Eurovision since 2015. This year's entry, Voyager, is a pop-metal band performing a song called "Promise."

It's hard to find a country more mad about pop music than Australia — it was an early ABBA adopter, after all. The contest has been broadcast there since 1983 and, naturally, the country was itching to participate. It first sneaked in with a prerecorded video in 2013; the following year, it was allowed to perform during the second semifinal's intermission.

And finally, Australia landed an invite to compete — it was supposed to be only for a year but, well, the Aussies are still here.

And they are not joking around: Australia's 2016 entry, Dami Im, was the runner-up that year, behind Ukraine, and Australia has been in the top 10 four times. Fun fact: Kate Miller-Heidke (9th in 2019) also co-wrote the score for "Muriel's Wedding — The Musical."

Voyager is not among the favorites this year, but what will happen if Australia ever wins? Will Melbourne and Sydney battle to host? Alas, that's a fight we won't get to see: The contest's rules stipulate that hosting duties will be delegated to somewhere in Europe. Manchester is probably ready to step in.

Alex Marshall

Kaarija, Finland's Eurovision entry, is about to take the stage in a fluorescent green plastic costume featuring puffy sleeves and a studded collar. His song, "Cha Cha Cha," is every bit as original as his dress sense. The three-minute track starts as a techno banger, with Kaarija rapping, in Finnish, about his only desire after an exhausting week: to head to a bar, and drink numerous pina coladas.

Then the song switches direction entirely, jumping into a heavy metal chorus before morphing into a sickly sweet K-pop tune. Onstage, Kaarija is joined by a group of grinning ballroom dancers.

In a recent phone interview, Kaarija, 29, said he always tried to make music that took popular genres like metal or rap then gave them a twist. "I just want to do crazy things!" he said.

He said he wrote "Cha Cha Cha" with two friends while sitting in a bar watching ice hockey on TV, and knew it could be a Eurovision hit as soon as he started playing it to friends and family. "It's a party song," he said. "All people like to party."

Kaarija, whose real name is Jere Poyhonen, insisted the song was about more than drinking, even though its lyrics are about holding two cocktails on the dance floor. He said he wrote it from the perspective of man using alcohol to overcome his demons, although that might be hard for viewers to grasp.

Alex Marshall

If you believe the world's bookmakers, the favorite to win this year's Eurovision is about to hit the stage: Loreen, representing Sweden with the song "Tattoo."

Why is she so hotly tipped?

It's not simply because Sweden is one of Eurovision's most successful nations, having won the contest six times (starting with ABBA in 1974). Loreen, 39, also has pedigree in the contest, and won in 2012 with "Euphoria," a love-struck dance tune that showed off her soaring vocals.

With "Tattoo," Loreen has had help from some of Sweden's most successful songwriters, including Moa Carlebecker, who has worked on numerous global K-pop hits.

So, the pedigree is there.

None of that, of course, would matter if Loreen's entry wasn't so glorious. "Tattoo" is a dance track that grows in intensity with every verse, as Loreen, the child of Moroccan Berber immigrants, sings about a lover she's about to break up with.

The chorus is also among the catchiest you’ll hear tonight. During it, Loreen sings, "All I care about is you / You’re stuck on me like a tattoo," drawing out the final syllables of each line's last words.

If the track does win, Loreen will have won the same number of Eurovisions as some of Europe's most populous countries, including Germany and Spain. Maybe she should form her own nation?

Scott Bryan

It has been more than 50 years since Spain won the Eurovision Song Contest, and that was in a four-way tie with Britain, France and the Netherlands, in 1969.

The country's losing streak almost came to an end during last year's competition, thanks to the Cuban Spanish singer Chanel and her track "SloMo." An acclaimed dancer and singer, her Eurovision performance was a dazzling display of fast-paced choreography that earned Spain third place.

Spain's 2023 entrant, Blanca Paloma, has a different style and sound, mixing traditional flamenco sounds and an addictive electronic beat.

Paloma also tried to represent Spain at last year's Eurovision, but lost out to Chanel during the country's selection contest, Benidorm Fest.

This year, Spanish voters have chosen her to represent the country. But performing in the first half of the final may not help her, since Eurovision viewing figures usually peak later in the evening. Will "Eaea" be memorable enough to those voters who tuned in from the start?

Alex Marshall

Tonight's first act, soon taking the stage, is Austria's Teya & Salena, performing "Who The Hell Is Edgar?"

The Edgar in question is Edgar Allan Poe, the 19th-century American writer perhaps best known for "The Raven" — a poem in which a lovesick man is tormented by a talking bird.

In the song, Teya & Salena imagine that they have been overtaken by Poe's ghost, which is dictating the lyrics. "Don't know how he possessed me, but I’m happy that he did," the duo sings: "Cause this song is feeling special and is gonna make me rich."

In recent interviews, Teya and Salena said this was a satirical dig at the music industry and the assumption that there were always men behind female artists’ success.

"Who The Hell Is Edgar?" is not the only Eurovision making literary allusions. Later tonight, Armenia's entry, Brunette, will perform "Future Lover," a song about a woman hoping to find a bookish boyfriend.

Derrick Bryson Taylor

Fewer countries are participating in Eurovision this year as inflation continues to strangle parts of Europe.

Thirty-seven countries are participating in this year's competition, including most of Europe along with Australia and Israel, down from 41 countries in 2022.

Last October, officials in North Macedonia said in a statement that the country had decided to pull out of the contest in "the best interest" of its citizens. Officials pointed to the rising cost of energy, which accounts for a large portion of the country's public-service budget, and an increased registration fee to participate.

Officials in Montenegro made a similar announcement last year. "In addition to the significant costs of the registration fee, as well as the cost of staying in Great Britain, we also faced a lack of interest from sponsors," officials said in a statement.

Bulgaria has also pulled out of the contest, though its reasons were unclear. In December and January, Bulgaria's official Eurovision Twitter account responded to concerned fans, saying there were also no plans to participate in this year's Junior Eurovision and Eurovision Choir competitions.

A broader recession was expected to hit much of Europe by the end of last year after Russia's war in Ukraine, and retaliatory sanctions against Russia by European countries, caused global fuel, food and fertilizer prices to soar.

By late January, Europe's economic forecast had become more positive. The region's statistics agency had said the eurozone economy grew 0.1 percent in the last quarter of 2022, compared with the previous quarter.

Alex Marshall

Eurovision always reflects current trends in global pop music. So, based on this year's entries, are we about to see heavy metal storming the charts?

Two metal bands are competing this year — Germany's Lord of the Lost with "Blood and Glitter" and Voyager, from Australia, with "Promise" — while several other acts, including Kaarija, from Finland, have metal guitar riffs running through their entries.

Daniel Estrin, Voyager's longhaired lead singer and keytar player, said by phone that metal is a great fit for the annual song contest. "Eurovision's all about drama and theater and is over the top," he said: "So's metal."

Only one metal band has ever won Eurovision: Lordi, from Finland. Clad in monster outfits, its members triumphed in 2006 with "Hard Rock Hallelujah."

Estrin, 41, said he’d been in love with the contest long before Lordi's victory. As a child growing up in Germany, then, from age 11, in Australia, he watched Eurovision every year, jumping around his living room while pretending to play keyboards, he said.

At university in Australia, he attended Eurovision watch parties where he played drinking games with friends. "By the end of the night you’re having the greatest time in the world," Estrin said. His band, which has released eight albums, has been trying to represent Australia in the contest since 2015.

Estrin said he expected to see more metal bands entering Eurovision in the future, though he added that some artists on a record label he runs — including groups called Earth Rot and Goat Torment — might not be suitable. Even in a show as inclusive as Eurovision, Estrin said, "I’m not sure how well that would go, to be honest."

Alex Marshall

Wherever you’re watching the Eurovision grand final, you’re about to see a lot of the show's hosts.

So who is in the foursome that will be guiding you through the 26 performances?

The most well-known to American viewers is the Emmy Award-winning actress Hannah Waddingham, who plays Rebecca Welton in the TV soccer comedy "Ted Lasso."

Waddingham, who has also appeared in "Sex Education" and "Game of Thrones," has this week been charming British Eurovision fans during the semifinals with her mastery of French, which is one of the official languages of this year's competition. Tonight, she might just try out some Ukrainian, too.

Alongside her is Graham Norton, an Irish comedian and late-night TV host. Norton has commentated on Eurovision for British television since 2009, and he is known for gently poking fun at the more outrageous performances and the horrendously complicated voting process. Expect him to do at least a little of that tonight.

Some musical expertise will come from Alesha Dixon, a former member of the girl group Mis-Teeq, whose 2003 single "Scandalous" reached number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.

And finally, adding representation for Ukraine, is Julia Sanina, the lead singer of The Hardkiss, one of the country's most popular rock bands.

In a recent telephone interview, Sanina said Eurovision was her first TV presenting gig. She felt a "big responsibility" to represent her war-torn country onstage, she added, and had been practicing her English by reading "Harry Potter" novels.

Maria Varenikova

In Ukraine, last year's winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, war continues to rage more than a year after Russia's full-scale invasion. Ukrainians monitor reports of destroyed Russian equipment, follow daily movement at the front line and heed alerts of incoming strikes.

But on Saturday, for some, Eurovision offered a diversion from the battlefield.

At Ponchyk Boy cafe, which means Doughnut Boy, bakers dedicated a special treat to Eurovision: one with Bailey's topped with strawberry yogurt and fresh strawberry pieces.

"Many people got our doughnuts to go today and said they are buying them to watch Eurovision," said Yaroslav Koshovyi, 26, the cafe manager. "We are a very bright cafe so our doughnuts suit Eurovision."

At 6 p.m., Eurovision fans gathered at the bar Squat 17b for an early night out, with the first applause of the evening going to the Ukrainian Army. Kyiv's curfew starts at midnight and the bar is closing at 8:30 p.m. to allow people to get home.

At one table, a group of friends sang along to Eurovision songs.

"It's a piece of happiness," said Olha Tarasenko, 24. "I remember last year when I evacuated to Poland, we went with friends to one Polish gay bar to watch Eurovision, and when Ukraine won, I was crying, and felt like everything is possible."

Few in Ukraine expect to win this year.

"We probably will not win this year, but we are good at cheering and hoping," said Anastasia Telikova, 32, a photographer and volunteer, who was resting in a downtown Kyiv park with a soldier friend.

After the park, she planned to go a club to watch the start before heading home to watch with friends.

"With all the pain and loss, if there is a possibility to get together with people you are close to, it's worth doing," she said.

Last year, when Ukraine won, "people were smiling, despite a lot of danger and uncertainty around us," she said. "We are ready to hold onto any possible symbol now that can give hope."