Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Sunday, 17 May 2009 12:14 UK

Norwegians celebrate in Moscow

By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Moscow

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Norway's violin song Fairytale clinched the top spot

The smart money had long been on Norway to snatch victory in Eurovision 2009 - although many had assumed it would be a hard-fought contest with at least five other countries in the frame.

But in the end, 23-year-old violinist Alexander Rybak romped home with his simple, high-energy song Fairytale - taking a record 387 points, way ahead of nearest rival Iceland.

Rybak, with his troupe of acrobatic dancers and quintessentially blonde backing-singers, raced into the post-results press conference, jumped onto the podium and gave another breathless performance of the winning ditty - just in case anyone had missed it the first (or second) time round.

Alexander Rybak
Rybak's energetic performance won a succession of 12-point votes

The assembled Eurovision press corps - more participants than critics - yelped with joy and congratulated him personally before lobbing him some exquisitely easy questions.

Rybak, bubbling with fresh-faced innocence, said he knew he'd been the favourite to win in Moscow but was modest about the scale of his victory.

"I still think I am far from being the best singer in the competition tonight," he said.

"But I had a story to tell and I guess people liked that story."

He wrote the song himself and, as he admitted, simplicity is the formula for Eurovision glory.

So now a record deal and a tour await the Norwegian fiddler who was born in Belarus and speaks fluent Russian.

His euphoria was matched by the European Broadcasting Union official hosting the press conference, who proclaimed Moscow 2009 as the best Eurovision Song contest there'd ever been, with the strongest line-up of finalists.

Strip-tease

The vast Olympic stadium in central Moscow was certainly packed with an enthusiastic crowd, which was entertained with the usual mix of the bold, the beautiful, the bad and the utterly bizarre.

From the opening moments when Russian heart-throb Dima Bilan, winner of last year's competition, flew above the crowd and smashed through a series of polystyrene walls in front of the stage, the audience knew it would be an extravagant and lavish evening.

And one with its comic moments too.

Germany's Eurovision performance
What was more spectacular, Dita Von Teese's waist or Oscar Loya's trousers?

Dima himself almost came unstuck when his jacket snagged in the wires suspending him from the ceiling, after an over-zealous strip-tease routine.

The other strip-tease of the night also brought a hush to the audience.

The German song "Miss Kiss Kiss Bang" featured American artiste Dita Von Teese flinging an array of her clothing to the floor in an attempt to spice up the tedious music.

But she was more modest than in her performance earlier this week, and stopped short of continuing the strip down to a pair of sparkling nipple warmers.

The performances of the 25 finalists were as diverse as ever with emotional ballads, mock opera, classic pop and a half-hearted attempt at some hybrid-rap.

Even Britain, which is notoriously sceptical about Eurovision (while still watching it in vast numbers on television), put some serious effort into this year's entry with a song written by composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber who also hand-picked the singer Jade Ewen.

The song, It's My Time, succeeded in raising Britain's fortunes from last position in 2008 to a respectable fifth here in Moscow.

Jade believed she stood a chance of winning, but on the night, her song - a rather familiar-sounding Lloyd-Webber ballad - failed to really excite the audience.

Oslo 2010

Greece's Eurovision performance
Greece's Sakis Rouvas had one of the more ambitious dance routines

Even so, Western European countries will perhaps takes heart that the new voting system is making a difference, decreasing the influence of the traditional block voting of the Eastern half of the continent.

Audiences across Europe now only provide 50% of the votes with the rest coming from juries of musical experts in participating countries.

So now Norway will host the next Eurovision Song Contest in 2010.

They have a tough act to follow. The show here in Moscow was spectacular and expensive, costing more than $30 million (£19.8m).

Let's hope Rybak can bring that exuberant energy all the way back to Oslo.



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