Eurovision 2024 Concludes With Controversial Grand Finale

Just hours after Eurovision 2024 kicked out one of its most promising competitors, the song contest crowned a new winner: Swiss singer Nemo, with a narrative work on their embrace of their nonbinary identity entitled “The Code.”

Even before Nemo and their competition from 24 other countries hit the stage, Eurovision 2024 was rocked by controversy. The contest, which was held this year in Malmö, Sweden, faced protests from its first day over the decision to include a participant from Israel, given increasing dismay over the toll its war against Hamas has taken on civilians in Gaza.

Eden Golan, a 20-year-old who—per the Associated Press—practiced for her Eurovision slot by singing her song “Hurricane,” while being booed, took fifth place. Her song was originally entitled “October Rain” as a reference to the October 7 attack on Israel, until Eurovision organizers ordered a name change.

As Golan and her fellow singers performed, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside to demonstrate against both the war and Golan’s Eurovision inclusion. Among them was climate activist Greta Thunberg, The Wrap reports. Thunberg had tweeted, “Malmö says NO to genocide! People from all over Sweden are gathering in Malmö this week, where Eurovision is taking place, to protest against Israel’s participation in the competition,” the day before the finale, and had been spotted at protests against the contest earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, French contestant Slimane broke with Eurovision’s “no politics” rule from inside the competition, the BBC reports. During the final, audience-attended dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon, he stopped mid-song to say, “Everybody, I just need to say something. Every artist here want[s] to sing about love and sing about peace. We need to be united by music, yes, but with love for peace.”

“United by music, yes, but with love for peace. Thank you so much. Thank you, Europe.” The singer was awarded fourth place in the contest for his song “Mon Amour.”

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