Azeri romantic ballad wins Eurovision Song Contest
By Erik Kirschbaum
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - Azerbaijan won the annual Eurovision Song Contest with the romantic ballad "Running Scared" on Saturday, watched by a television audience of more than 100 million people.
The song about a love-struck couple was performed by 21-year-old student Eldar Gasimov and Nigar Jamal, 30, a mother-of-two who lives in London. The duo, known as Ell-Nikki, won a total 221 points.
Italy was second with 189 points and Sweden came third on 185 in the 56th edition of the contest, hosted by Germany. Widely heralded pre-contest favorites Ireland, Britain and France all had disappointing results.
The extravaganza, dubbed the world's biggest music competition with one of television's largest audiences, was beamed to countries from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caspian Sea -- and to nations around the world that were not even competing.
"Oh my gosh, we won, we won," said Gasimov, whose face was drenched with sweat as he celebrated on stage in front of 36,000 spectators in a soccer arena in the German city of Duesseldorf that had been converted for the event.
"I'm the happiest man in the world right now," he said.
The Azeri entry had Swedish touches. It was composed by Swedes Stefan Orn, Sandra Bjurman and Iain Farquharson and four Swedish dancers accompanied Ell-Nikki.
Jamal, who has an economics degree, said it was hard to grasp the fairytale victory for Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic of eight million that regained independence in 1991. Continued...