Netta Barzilai of Israel wins Eurovision song contest 2018: 5 things about the talent show

Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won the Eurovision song contest 2018 in Lisbon over the weekend with Toy, a pop anthem about female independence, accompanied by her signature chicken dance.

This despite several countries pulling out all stops, with Denmark's singing Vikings, Ukraine's contestant rising from a coffin to play on an enormous flame-wreathed piano, and an Estonian opera singer performing in an enormous gown.

Barzilai said the song was "influenced by the #MeToo movement", which she said described as an amazing time when women are searching for and finding their voices.

The Eurovision song contest is a talent show that started in 1956. Held annually and televised live around the world, the competition reportedly attracts about 125 million viewers globally.

Here are five facts about the competition.

1. It's a talent show

Participants are drawn mainly from the countries which are part of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Eurovision is one of the most watched non-sporting events in the world.

In an interview with CNN in 2012, Dr Karen Fricker, co-director of the Eurovision Research Network, said the contest was first set up not to unite Europe in song, but to test the scope of new broadcast technology. She said the EBU needed content hence the team thought of a song contest.

2. Participants can include non-European nations

Participating countries must be from any member country of the EBU which also includes non-European nations. This year, the semi-finals were held in Lisbon on May 8 and 10, and the final was also held there on May 12.

As last year's winner, Portugal earned the automatic right to host and compete in the contest this year.

There were 43 countries participating in the contest, same as in 2008 and 2011. Russia also made a comeback after it was missing from the previous edition.

The 20 final countries joined the Big Five countries who automatically qualify - Spain, Italy, France, Britain and Germany.

Reports say the Big Five are the biggest financial contributors to the contest. Eurovision 2014 was held in Copenhagen, Denmark and reportedly cost about €30 million (S$44.6 million).

3. Australia's Guy Sebastian invited to participate in 2016

The Eurovision song contest celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016 and the organisers invited Australia to participate. The contest has had a cult following Down Under for many years, and Australia has been given a one-time invitation to participate, even though it is not a member of the EBU.

2003 Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian represented the country. His song - Tonight Again - has a slight Bruno Mars feel to it.

4. Drag Queen Conchita Wurst won Eurovision 2014

Bearded Austrian drag queen Conchita Wurst aka Thomas "Tom" Neuwirth won the contest in 2014, singing Rise Like A Phoenix. She became an overnight inspiration and advocate championing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights.

Although there have been gay and transgender contestants before, Wurst was the first beard-sporting drag queen on the stage. The singer has gone on to grace magazine covers and international runways.


5. Famous names

Some of the biggest pop stars in the 20th century have found the Eurovision song contest to be a great springboard to bigger careers. Canada's Celine Dion, Sweden's ABBA and Ireland's Johnny Logan became famous thanks to the competition.

The show has also attracted other famous performers such as Cliff Richard and Engelbert Humperdinck.

Sources: Billboard, CNN, Mirror UK, The Guardian, Euronews, Telegraph UK, Huffington Post UK

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