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The Netherlands win the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest

The Netherlands is the winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, held this year in Tel Aviv, Israel. Italy finished second, followed by Russia, Switzerland and Norway.

Duncan Laurence's doleful piano ballad "Arcade" was tapped as an early front-runner before Saturday's Grand Final. The 25-year-old was tapped as an early front-runner before the Grand Final but was only ranked third after the vote of professional juries from the 41 participating countries, trailing Sweden and North Macedonia.

But it had to rely on the fan vote to secure the country's fifth win in the competition.

Duncan Laurence - Arcade - Official Music Video - The Netherlands 🇳🇱 - Eurovision 2019 by Eurovision Song Contest on YouTube

"This is to dreaming big. This is to music first, always," Laurence said, as he was handed the trophy from last year's winner, Israel's Netta Barzilai.

Some 200 million people around the world were expected to watch the annual campy contest with 26 nations battling to be crowned Europe's best pop act.
 
Madonna was the special guest at the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv where 26 nations were battling. Israel earned the right to host the show after Netta Barzilai carried off last year's prize with her spunky pop anthem "Toy."
 
Madonna had faced calls to boycott the event by a Palestinian-led campaign. But she rejected them, saying she will "never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda."
 
Madonna performed her hit song, "Like a Prayer," marking 30 years to its release, and a new song "Future" from her forthcoming album "Madame X."

All eyes were on Iceland's controversial steampunk band Hatari, which had drawn attention for initially saying it would be "absurd" to participate in Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians. They had vowed to use the Eurovision spotlight to expose the "face of the occupation," but their live performance of grinding metal rock passed without incident.

Only at the end of the broadcast, when their final vote tally was announced, did they whip out a Palestinian flag, to sounds of boos from the audience.

For Israel, the mega event offered a much-anticipated opportunity to put its good face forward and project an image of normalcy to the world. Israel-themed promotional clips featuring each of the participants dancing in various scenic locations across the country streamed before each performance to a TV audience expected to be larger than that of the Super Bowl.

The event itself was being hosted by a quartet of Israeli celebrities, including top model Bar Refaeli. Israel's own Wonder Woman Gal Gadot also made a cameo video appearance. The Tel Aviv hall was packed with thousands of screaming fans, while tens of thousands gathered to watch the final at the city-sponsored Eurovision village in Tel Aviv and at public screenings elsewhere.