Eurovision Song Contest 2024: Unmissable Moments, Revisited

Nemo from Switzerland celebrates after winning the final of the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest with their song, "The Code." Credit - Jens Büttner—Getty Images

The grand final of the 68th Eurovision Song Contest took place Saturday at the Malmo Arena in Sweden, with Swiss singer Nemo taking home the iconic microphone-shaped glass trophy. Nemo’s win marks the first victory for Switzerland since 1988, when Canadian singer Celine Dion competed for the country.

Likened to the Olympics of pop music, the annual international songwriting competition is celebrated for its glitzy and fun-filled performances. Eurovision is watched by millions of fans around the world, but this year has been mired in controversy and protest.

While Eurovision organizers insist that the event is non-political, the Israel-Hamas war has been at the forefront of this year’s event. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched through Malmo to protest Israel’s participation in the contest on Thursday and Saturday. Last-minute changes to the event program on Saturday stirred confusion, most notably the announcement that Dutch entry Joost Klein had been disqualified from the competition after a reported incident with a female member of the production crew. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which organizes Eurovision, said that while Swedish police were investigating the complaint,“it would not be appropriate” for Klein to continue in the contest.

Although the lead-up to the grand final proved to be chaotic, the main event was a relatively smooth affair. Here are some of the most memorable, noteworthy moments from the 2024 Eurovision Song Contest.

A royal welcome

The final kicked off with a message from Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. In a pre-recorded video, the royal greeted the crowd and wished all the contestants luck.

“It’s my great honor to welcome you all to Sweden,” she said. “I hope you will enjoy the show, and I wish all the contestants the best of luck.”

Eurovision meets Hollywood with Malin Akerman

Many viewers were surprised when they saw Hollywood actor Malin Akerman co-hosting the show with Swedish comedian Petra Mede. A Swedish-American movie star, Akerman is known for her roles in Watchmen, The Heartbreak Kid, 27 Dresses, The Proposal, and Couples Retreat, among others.

Viewers took to social media when they recognized Akerman on stage:

Ireland's entry Bambie Thug ends performance with a strong statement

Irish singer Bambie Thug competed with their song “Doomsday Blue,” and ended their performance by saying “Love will always triumph hate.” The singer, who has been vocal of their pro-Palestine views, was one of this year’s favorites to win and ended up placing sixth overall.

Before the show, Bambie Thug missed the flag ceremony for the final rehearsal, sparking concern that the singer might pull out of the grand final. Bambie Thug later said in a statement on their Instagram story that their absence was because of “a situation” they said needed “urgent attention” from event organizers. In a subsequent statement on their Instagram story, they said that they had “raised multiple complaints” over the past few days to the EBU regarding some incidents they had experienced, adding that the EBU “confirmed” Saturday that the commentator for Kan, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, “had broken the rules of conduct” during the first semi-final on Tuesday.

“I have been patiently waiting to hear what action is set to be taken by the EBU following this rule break,” Bambie Thug said in their statement. “I have since seen a statement by EBU Director General Noel Curran which contradicts this earlier confirmation. I am still waiting for an official update from the EBU.” Per the Irish Times, Bambie Thug made further claims against the Israeli broadcaster Kan when talking to journalists after the final.

TIME reached out to the EBU for comment and further information.

Nemo wins over the live crowd and audiences at home with their performance

Nemo’s performance of their song “The Code” elicited strong reactions from the crowd. “The Code” is an operatic pop-rap song about Nemo’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance as a non-binary person. During their performance, the 24-year-old balanced on a metal disc that spun around on stage.

Nemo ended the night with 591 points in total, 44 more than the second-place act, Croatia.

The musician accidentally broke their trophy at the close of their post-results victory performance, injuring their thumb in the process, Variety reported. Organizers gave them a replacement trophy after, to which the singer joked, “I technically have two now.”

A behind-the-scenes Eurovision icon makes a public-facing appearance

Fans were surprised yet again when Akerman interviewed her mother-in-law during the show—who just so happens to be British choreographer and Eurovision legend Chrissy Wickham.

Wickham is perhaps best known for being the choreographer behind the winning performance in the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, when the British pop group Bucks Fizz ripped off their skirts on stage (and were wearing shorter skirts underneath). While Akerman interviewed her mother-in-law during Saturday’s show, Wickham jokingly ripped off Akerman’s skirt, referencing the iconic move. In true Eurovision fashion, Akerman was wearing a mini dress underneath.

Israel contestant’s performance met with boos and cheers

After Eden Golan performed, she was met with both boos and applause from the audience. TV presenter Graham Norton, who provided commentary for the BBC One production of the show for viewers in the U.K., said the crowd had a “mixed reaction” to the 20-year-old Israeli singer. After receiving a boost in numbers from the public vote, Golan placed fifth overall.

Golan, who spent much of the week leading up to the show under security protection, performed the power ballad “Hurricane.” Per Reuters, organizers had previously instructed Israel to change the lyrics of the song, initially called “October Rain,” because of its apparent reference to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that killed around 1,200 Israelis.

Alcazar reunites

Swedish group Alcazar reunited at Saturday’s show to perform their renowned hit song “Crying at the Discoteque,” which earned chart positions worldwide, including in the U.S., upon its release in the early 2000s.

ABBA avatars and a tribute performance sparks a varied response

Some viewers were disappointed that rumors of the pop supergroup making a surprise appearance in honor of the 50th anniversary of its Eurovision victory weren’t realized. Instead, fans were treated to a pre-recorded message by “ABBAtars”—virtual avatars of the singers. Video clips of ABBA singing “Waterloo,” which the group won Eurovision with in 1974, was accompanied by three former Eurovision winners—Carola, Charlotte Perrelli, and Conchita Wurst—performing the song live on stage.

U.K.’s Olly Alexander earns zero points from the public vote

Olly Alexander didn’t receive any points from the public vote. The British singer had performed his song “Dizzy” at the grand final, but placed 18th overall. The U.K. was the only country that didn’t receive any points from the public vote, according to The Mercury.

Alexander, who previously fronted the chart-topping pop band Years & Years, took the news in their stride, laughing and joking with his dancers and team when the public votes were announced.

2023 Eurovision champion and fan-favorite Loreen returns

Loreen, the 2023 Eurovision winner and the first female artist to win the competition twice, returned to the stage at the final. As per tradition, Loreen performed ahead of officially passing the baton to the contest’s new winner. The singer belted out “Forever & Tattoo” while balancing on a small raised seat.

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