Düsseldorf 2011: Grand Final

Welcome to the Esprit Arena for the Grand Final of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Follow the action along with the ESCDaily team live from the press centre here. 87 individual rehearsals have taken place, followed by nine show rehearsals and two televised semifinals. The Eurovision season reaches its climax over the next few hours. Keep refreshing here for all the latest.

Our hosts, Judith, Stefan and Anke complete the warm-up in the arena. Anke is in a red dress, Judith in a gold dress, and Stefan in a black suit. They thank the former hosts Oslo a and then instead of the winner performing to open the show, the hosts do a rockabilly/big band rendition of last year’s winner, Satellite. Even Lena pops up for the final choruses. The performance is very well received in the arena, and the press centre. The crows cheers for Lena!

We now get to see a brief video of the transformation of the Düsseldorf Arena from a football stadium into a Eurovision venue.

01 Finland

In some recent rehearsals, Paradise has seemed lacking in energy but tonight he looks and sounds perky and gives a very strong opening to tonight’s show. The tuning of his vocals is as good as I have heard. A beautiful start to the evening.

02 Bosnia & Herzegovina

This entry really seems to benefit from the atmosphere with the live audience. The delivery is bubble and enthusiastic. All vocals are excellent. It will be interesting to see how this style of song, from this starting number, performs in the voting.

03 Denmark

A Friend in London perform their entry as strongly as we have seen across the fortnight. The Danes spoke to ESCDaily and commented on their disappointment to be drawn third in the running order, but given that they are the first ‘modern’ song to peform tonight, will the boys have earned themselves some fans?

04 Lithuania

Everyone has been on form so far this evening. A strong rendition of C’est ma vie from Evalina. The crowd respond well, but whether it is a vote-winner remains to be seen. The first ballad we have heard this evening.

05 Hungary

Kati and her backing singers and dancers have grown into their performance during the week. The first off-key note of the night belongs to Kati, but there were only two in the whole performance. Her backing singers are far more accurate than this afternoon. A pretty powerful showing, and thankfully the big hair has reduced to normal proportions. The crowd goes wild.

06 Ireland

This song is no work of musical genius, but they have got the presentation just right. The vocals were pretty good, the stage act as lively as ever, and the Irish have made, in my opinion, the best use of the background graphics of any act this week. We had heard some shaky vocals in rehearsals from both Jedward and their backing singers, but not tonight.

07 Sweden

The back panel of the glass box smashed right on cue. Eric shows greater attack with the vocals than many performances earlier in the week. A few shaky notes, but not too many to put of Eric’s fans. We are 3/4 of the way through a phase of upbeat pop songs and they have each managed to grab the arena audience’s attention.

08 Estonia

Getter has been one of the most vocally erratic performers this year, but this is as good as she has executed this song. Just three or four sharp notes across the song. The Estonians seem to thrive on the packed crowd and Getter gives a heart-felt cheery thank you to the crowd at the end. This one has been up and down with the book makers, but could be ending on a high. Do you feel dat?

09 Greece

After a raft of europop, the Greeks’ stoic and emotional song has a good position in the running. There are no vocal problems here. It will come down to whether the juries and public appreciate the intriguing mix of rap and anthemic ballad.

10 Russia

The dancers are on particularly sharp form this evening. Alex is very smiley which doesn’t always seem to fit the feeling of the song. A tad too much cheese? Nonetheless, this song fills a musical gap which hasn’t been exploited thus far. All the graphics and LEDs work. The four boys’ jackets now spell ‘ALEX’ on their backs during the final chorus. The Russians in the Press Centre are very excited and pleased by that performance.

11 France

Amaury has still not found a comb; he is going for the ‘straight off the field of battle’ look. The vocals are, of course, impeccable. His emotions turn from stern to light in good balance. The arena crowd seem impressed. Were the bookies right all along? We still have had no major problems tonight; even Amaury’s often-sweaty upper lip is behaving pretty well.

12 Italy

Another touch of class follows. Raphael manages to open his eyes quite a few times tonight, but never quite manges to make eye-contact with the camera. Vocally there are no problems at all. Fans and media remain very divided on the fate Italy will see in its return to the Eurovision stage. A strong round of applause in the arena.

Dino is interviewed in the green room and seems in good humour. He takes pride in his 15-year-old jacket! For those on a commercial break, it is a rapid one. Those who went for a pit stop or to put the kettle on at this point may not have arrived back to see Anna start her performance.

13 Switzerland

We know what to expect here, and we are given a performance of the same consistency. A shame they’ve still not got around to writing the second verse, but they have the bubbles flowing from the start tonight to add some extra cheer! Anna’s legs are the best of the night and there are no vocal wobbles. She seems to give the middle-eight more ‘oomph’ than in some previous performances.

14 UK

Lee Ryan has one of the most testing vocals in the show, and one or two minor wobbles are covered up well. Simon Webbe has decided to go shirtless; good plan. All the graphics and backgrounds are working well. Like the Estonians, Blue have been up and down in rehearsals. This was much better than the jury rehearsal yesterday. If there is a criticism, it is that the overall performance seems to be overtly trying rather hard to impress.

15 Moldova

here we have the song without a real chorus, which will probably see it lost among other entries. Having said that, there is no other punk or ska in tonight’s show and only the Danes and Georgians are offering us other brands of rock, so this will appeal to some. Unicycling, hat-wearing and the high-energy staging of the song are met with good applause. Or is that just because they’ve seen Lena in the wings?

16 Germany

Tonight’s most contemporary offering. Lena is vocally as accurate as we would hope her to be. Her ‘condom dancers’ fit the mood well and this entry provides a good sedative after the Moldovan madness; but will Europe see it pass under their nose? The arena and press room cheer as the shattering sound ends the entry.

17 Romania

The contrast couldn’t be greater between Germany’s song and Romania’s more typical Eurovision-fodder. It has an instant impact but doesn’t offer great depth.  The two female dancers have had a good dunking in the fake tan during this week. Vocally this is good tonight, with a positive uplifting performance.

18 Austria

Back to ballad territory with one of the voices of the contest. Nadine seemed slightly nervous in Thursday; today she is more relaxed with impressive vocal acrobatics to brighten up this straight-forward song. Best key change of the night. (Though there’s not much competition for this award!) The crowd in the arena and the media in the press centre applaud heartily.

19 Azerbaijan

Nigar’s vocals fill you with as much confidence as the outcome of a Ukrainian national final, but tonight they are miraculously in tune at least. Eldar is smiley and strong vocally as always. Azerbaijan have more polish on this performance than most of their rehearsals this fortnight. The amount of white in the background has been toned down. Like it or not, this will soar up the leader board.

20 Slovenia

Further vocal gymnastics meet impressive heels and boots with Maja on stage. Backing and lead vocals are well balanced and well tuned. The Slovenians sell this well and strut about like they own the stage. A good performance, but the competition will be fierce. Once or twice in rehearsal, Maja has been short of breath on the last line. No such problems today, and big smile to end.

21 Iceland

A complete change of musical direction once a gain, with Sjonni’s Friends full of charm and a likeable song. Does it have instant impact for the majority of viewers who will be hearing it for the first time? Vocally they are tuned and matched as well as ever. You can’t been a tempo change and accelerando!

22 Spain

Here comes the mediterranean equivalent of the Romanian entry. Big smiles, happy tune, pleasant mood and a nice little dance routine, but there is nothing specific to make it stand out to jury or televoter. Nonetheless, it is performed with gusto and well-tuned vocals, plus a firework or two.

23 Ukraine

The Ukrainians in the press centre are determined to out-do the Russians for noise. Mika’s vocals have grown better throughout the fortnight; tonight is a continuation of this. There is plenty of attack too. Our ‘Ukraine’s got Talent’ winning sand artist produces her usual pictures with impressive skill. How many birds died to produce that dress? Good use of the Carole machine here; the feathers are fluttering in the breeze.

24 Serbia

Nina really looks to be enjoying herself this evening. She had two lines that were badly off key this afternoon, but there is none of that tonight. The arena’s crowd enjoy a last upbeat dance along. The retro feel of this number will keep it in the memory as will the start number. It will be interesting to see how this competes for Balkan votes with Bosnia & Herzegovina.

25 Georgia

Are we nearly there yet? Yes! Sopho (yes, all Georgian singers are called Sopho) gives a customary strong vocal performance in her curious dress. Like the Greek entry, it will be a matter of taste as to whether the rap is appreciated or hated. Rock enthusiasts get their best opportunity to vote tonight right here. This will do better than many people expect. Quite an original use of the background graphics.

And now we’re onto the recap of the 25 performances. Followed by the tour of Germany through foreign eyes.  And another recap!

Jan Delay performs a great medley before we now come into the results!

First country up to vote is Russia. 12 points go to: Azerbaijan
Bulgaria: United Kingdom gets the 12!
The Netherlands: 12 to Denmark
Italy: 12 to Romania
Cyprus: 12 to Greece
Ukraine: 12 to Georgia
Finland: 12 to Hungary
Norway: 12 to Finland
Armenia: 12 to Ukraine
F.Y.R. Macedonia: 12 to Bosnia & Herzegovina
Iceland: 12 to Denmark
Slovakia: 12 to Ukraine
United Kingdom: 12 to Ireland
Denmark: 12 to Ireland
Austria: 12 to Bosnia & Herzegovina
Poland: 12 to Lithuania
Sweden: 12 to Ireland
San Marino: 12 to Italy
Germany: 12 to Austria
Azerbaijan: 12 to Ukraine
Slovenia: 12 to Bosnia & Herzegovina

We break in to the green room where Judith speaks to Sweden’s Eric Saade.

Turkey: 12 to Azerbaijan
Switzerland: 12 to Bosnia & Herzegovina
Greece: 12 to France
Georgia: 12 to Lithuania
France: 12 to Spain
Serbia: 12 to Bosnia & Herzegovina
Croatia: 12 to Slovenia
Belarus: 12 to Georgia
Romania: 12 to Moldova
Albania: 12 to Italy
Malta: 12 to Azerbaijan
Portugal: 12 to Spain
Hungary: 12 to Iceland
Lithuania: 12 to Georgia
Bosnia & Herzegovina: 12 to Slovenia
Ireland: 12 to Denmark
Spain: 12 to Italy
Israel: 12 to Sweden
Estonia: 12 to Sweden
Moldova: 12 to Romania
Belgium: 12 to France
Latvia: 12 to Italy

With 221 points, Azerbaijan wins!