Dusseldorf - Ell and Nikki from Azerbaijan won the 56th Eurovision Song Contest in Düsseldorf on Saturday evening in a show watched by over 130 million TV viewers in 55 countries.
With their song "Running Scared", the duo comprised of vocalist Ell (a.k.a Eldar Qasimov), 21 and Nikki (a.k.a. Nigar Jamal), 30, prevailed in the finals after two preceding qualifying rounds over a field of 43 participating nations. Their score of 221 points beat out Italian singer/songwriter Raphael Gualazzi's song "Madness Of Love" (189 points) and the Swedish entry "Popular" performed by Eric Saade (185 points).
"A dream has come true for us," Qasimov said. "Thank you to everyone who voted for us."
"This is the world's biggest TV music show," said Thomas Schreiber of Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), a German broadcaster that co-produced this year's Eurovision with the production company Brainpool, Cologne, and the private broadcaster PRO7, Munich.
Performing under the motto "Feel Your Heartbeat," Germany hosted the 2011 Eurovision show because last year the country's 2010 entry "Satellite" performed by young German singer Lena, won the contest in Norway.
Lena, who again represented Geramany, this year came in 10th place. In the past 12 months, however, her career as skyrocketed: she signed to Universal Music and has sold over 1.5 million albums and one million singles, according to label sources.
Frank Briegmann, president of Universal Music Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Deutsche Grammophon told Billboard: "The fact that Germany won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2010 for the first time in 28 years was a fantastic achievement for us all and catapulted Lena into a new international dimension."
"The most important thing about this song contest is that for a few hours each year we feel at least emotionally as if we are the United States of Europe," said Bernd Hocke, general manger of the independent Edel AG in Hamburg "Despite the fantastic show, the event will not have much impact on physical business, although it will doubtless boost digital business."
In Germany, however, music retailers will see a physical sales boost from the Eurovision Song Contest. EMI released a double album containing all the Eurocision Song Contest entries on Thursday and, according to Michael Bartels, a purchaser at chain store Medi Max in Hamburg, "the CD is selling very well."
The show's voting system was modified this year in an attempt to prevent blocs of countries from giving each other points. Fifty percent of a country's score is awarded by a jury and the other fifty percent by TV viewers. The votes cast by the viewers and experts are then combined on a 50:50 basis to arrive at the final score, which was announced country by country during the show.
Next year's Eurovision Song Contest final is expected to take place on May 26 2012 in Baku according to sources within the Azerbaijan delegation. Azerbaijan, knwon officially as the Republic of Azerbaijan, is the largest country in the Caucasus with 9 million inhabitants. It is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to the south.
2011 Eurovision Song Contest Results:
01. Azerbaijan: Ell/Nikki "Running Scared" - 221 points
02. Italy: Raphael Gualazzi "Madness Of Love" - 189 points
03. Sweden: Eric Saade "Popular" - 185 points
04. Ukraine: Mika Newton "Angel" - 159 points
05. Denmark: A Friend In London "New Tomorrow" - 134 points
06. Bosnia-Herzegowina: Dino Merlin "Love In Rewind" - 125 points
07. Greece: Loucas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike "Watch My Dance" - 120 points
08. Ireland: Jedward "Lipstick" - 119 points
09. Georgia: Eldrine "One More Day" - 110 points
10. Germany: Lena "Taken By A Stranger" - 107
11. United Kindom: Blue "I Can" - 100 points
12. Moldova: Zdob si Zdub "So Lucky" - 97 points
13. Slovenia: Maja Keuc" No One" - 96 points
14. Serbia: Nina "Caroban" - 85 points
15. France: Amaury Vassili "Sognu" - 82 points
16. Russia: Alexej Vorobjov "Get You" - 77 points
17. Romania: Hotel FM "Change" - 77 points
18. Austria: Nadine Beiler "The Secret Is Love" - 64 points
19. Lithuania: Evelina Sasenko "C'est Ma Vie" - 63 points
20. Iceland: Sjonni's Friends "Coming Home" - 61 points
21. Finland: Paradise Oskar "Da Da Dam" - 57 points
22. Hungary: Kati Wolf "What About My Dreams?" - 53 points
23. Spain: Lucía Pérez "Que Me Quiten Lo Bailao" - 50 points
24. Estonia: Getter Jaani "Rockefeller Street" - 44 points
25. Switzerland: Anna Rossinelli "In Love For A While" - 19 points
The winners of the 56. Eurovision Song Contest in Dusseldorf: Ell alias Eldar Qasimov and Nikki alias Nigar Jamal.
Copyright: NDR/Rolf Klatt
The winner of 2010 Lena started a big success one year ago. On Saturday she got the position 10. Here with Frank Briegmann, President Universal Music Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz and Deutsche Grammophon.
Copyright Lena und Frank Briegmann:
Michael Kucharski, Universal Music, Berlin