Azerbaijan Wins Eurovision

A worldwide TV audience of millions watched Azerbaijan become a surprise winner of the “Eurovision” song contest with Ell/Nikki’s “Running Scared.”

Vocal duo Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal’s May 14 performance at the 35,000-capacity Fortuna Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany, scored 221 points. Italy came second with 189 points and Sweden was placed third with 185.

Switzerland came in last with 19 points, meaning no countries received the humiliation of scoring “nil points.”

Viewers in all 43 competing nations voted for their favourite song by phone or text message, which accounted for half of each country’s vote. The other half was determined by five-member expert juries in each participating country.

It’s the first time Azerbaijan has won the contest in its 56-year history, although it only joined Eurovision in 2008. Although Jamal was born in Azerbaijan, she lives in north London with her husband and two daughters.

As this year’s winners host next year’s competition it will be held in Baku, the country’s capital, largest city and largest port, which is the crossroads of Southeast Europe, Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

Azerbaijan is bordered by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south. It’s on the perimeter of the Eurovision region.

This year’s Eurovision also saw an improved performance from the UK. At one time Blue’s “’I Can” headed the voting, but it gradually lost ground and faded to 11th place. Ireland’s entry, “X Factor” twins Jedward, finished eighth.

The UK hasn’t won the competition since 1997, when Katrina and the Waves triumphed with “Love Shine a Light,” and even then half of the band was American.

Ladbrokes bookmaker’s starting price odds were 1. Azerbaijan (5-1), 2. Italy (125-1), and 3. Sweden (20-1).