Emmelie de Forest the toast of Denmark after winning Eurovision title
Barefoot singer is all smiles as Only Teardrops romps to first place at Eurovision competition
Twenty-year-old barefoot singer Emmelie de Forest is the toast of Denmark after winning this year's Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmo.
Her song, Only Teardrops - the bookmakers' favourite - won comfortably at Saturday night's finals, scoring 281 points at a glittering ceremony watched by millions of viewers.
Azerbaijan was the runner-up on 234 points, followed by Ukraine with 214 points.
"Europe adores Emmelie," Denmark's tabloid newspaper Ekstrabladet declared on its website soon after the result.
"Denmark's darling was the big favourite and she met all expectations," public broadcaster DR wrote on its website.
Broadsheet Politiken chimed in too, noting that Only Teardrops was "the best song in Europe".
Denmark last won the contest in 2000 with the Olsen Brothers' Fly on the Wings of Love.
There was no shortage of Danish support in the Malmo Arena, located just minutes away from Sweden's southern neighbour across the eight-kilometre Oresund Bridge.
"I believed in the song, but the exciting thing about Eurovision is you never know what's going to happen," de Forest said later. In the past the contest has produced surprise winners, such as the monster-mask clad Finnish rockers Lordi in 2006.
This time, however, the Danish singer confirmed her status as odds-on favourite, performing the winning entry barefoot - her trademark since she began performing in her early teens - against a flaming backdrop.
The Danish singer took the crown from last year's Swedish winner, Loreen.
Azerbaijan earned top marks from several countries, propelling Farid Mammadov to second place. His emotional ballad Hold me was one of several eye-catching performances on the night, the singer's moves mirrored by a dancer inside a glass cage.
Ukrainian entry Gravity had drawn media attention after it became clear singer Zlata Ognevich would be carried on stage by a 2.34-metre tall "giant" meant to symbolise her inner strength.
Crisis-stricken Greece made a strong showing in early voting but soon fell back, ending in sixth place, calming fears it would have to host the costly event next year.
The country had initially ruled out taking part this year because of the costs, but reversed its decision after a private broadcaster financed the production of the country's national final.
Their song, Alcohol is Free, by Koza Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis, described Greece's suffering during the economic crisis.
Some estimates put the price tag for regenerating last year's host city Baku at US$1 billion.
By comparison, Swedish organisers had a budget of 125 million kronor (HK$144 million).
With an estimated 125 million viewers, Eurovision is a bigger broadcasting event than American football's Super Bowl.
- The first contest took place in 1956. It was originally conceived in Monaco by Marcel Bezencon and based on the Italian Sanremo Festival. Switzerland won the first contest.
- Ireland's Johnny Logan won the contest three times.
- ABBA is the winner that has gone on to have the most international success. The Swedish band won the contest in 1974 with Waterloo.
- Norway has come last most often - in 1963, 1969, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1990, 1997, 2001 and 2004. However, it's also won three times - in 1986, 1995 and 2009.
- English has been the main language of 24 winning entries. French is also popular, with 14 wins. Dutch and Hebrew songs have won three times each.