Norway wins big at 2009 Eurovision Song Contest

Ah, the Eurovision Song Contest — a huge thing in Europe, a non-event for the rest of the world.

Last night marked the finals, which were held in Moscow and broadcast in nearly 50 countries.

Norway’s baby-faced Alexander Rybak won the event, beating out 24 other countries and earning a record-breaking 387 points for his song “Fairytale.” Iceland came in second place, and Azerbaijan came in third.

The contest is held between active members of the European Broadcasting Union. Voting is a little complicated. Some 42 countries are eligible to vote, but cannot vote for their own entry in the song contest. Through both public voting and a jury, each country awards a set of points from 1 to 8, and then 10 and 12, with 12 being for the song they liked best.

This was the first year in some time that juries were let back into the voting process, following complaints from some that public voting essentially guaranteed that each country would vote for its closest neighbors.

There is still a lot of that kind of bloc-voting, though. The Balkans tended to throw their votes to other Balkan countries; ditto Scandinavian countries. But one of the big differences was that no matter what, most countries were giving their top points to Norway.

I’ll admit, I like the Eurovision Song Contest. I like the nationalism of it, and the politics (Georgia’s song was banned because it was deemed at being insulting to Russia). I like watching the performances, many of which are just awful (you can see some highlights here). This year in particular seemed to favor songs that required confusing costumes and even more confusing background dancing.

Of course, you might not know the name of Alexander Rybak. But you know some other former Eurovision Song Contest winners: LuLu (UK), ABBA (Sweden) and Celine Dion, who won the contest in 1988 singing for…Switzerland.