Earlier tonight, Germany selected its champion, but the appearance of a previous Eurovision winner was the moment of the night.

After a close battle with singer Felicia Liu and duo Maël & Jonas, 24-year-old rapper and pop singer Malik was declared the winner of Germany 12 Points, earning him the right to represent his country at Eurovision in May with the song “Rockstars”. The winner was chosen via public vote, with Malik winning the on-the-night televote and placing 2nd in the online voting that began five days ago. You can watch his winner reprise below:

In our pre-contest interview with Malik, published on March 3, the multi hyphenate spoke about his excitement at performing his intimate, individual song on an international stage.

“It’s so personal and vulnerable,” he said of “Rockstars”. I‘m sure that there are a lot of people who can relate to the lyrics of the song and who can derive some form of support through it, and that has always been something I want to do with my music.”

Though the energy in the room through the performance half of the show was celebratory, it was clear that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was on the top of everyone’s mind. A number of the competing artists showed support in small ways, with Emily Roberts sporting blue and yellow nails and Eros Atomus accessorizing with a Ukrainian flag arm band. Eventual winner Malik ended his performance by flipping over his guitar, displaying the message ‘I Stand with Ukraine’ (see left).

Once the voting lines were open, the show became much more somber. Conchita Wurst (ESC 2014 winner) and Jane Comerford, lead singer Texas Lightning (ESC 2006), both on hand to help Germany select its act, performed a duet of each other’s Eurovision entries. They were then joined on stage by Gitte Hænning (ESC 1973) to lead the audience in a rousing rendition of Nicole‘s “Ein bißchen Frieden”, the peace anthem that brought Germany its first Eurovision victory in 1982.

Jamala, the singer who won Eurovision for Ukraine in 2016, then emerged on stage, carrying the flag of her country (see right). The 38-year-old vocalist made headlines recently, revealing that she had fled with her children to Turkey following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Her husband remained behind to aid the war effort.) After a rapturous reception from the in-studio audience, Jamala gave a powerful, emotional performance of “1944”, her Eurovision winning anthem. You can watch that moment below.

Germany has had a rough go of it at Eurovision since Lena‘s back-to-back appearances in 2010 and 2011. Besides Michael Schulte‘s 4th place finish at the 2018 contest, the country hasn’t finished higher than 18th place in almost a decade. Last year, “I Don’t Feel Hate” by Jendrik placed 25th and was one of four countries that received zero points from the televote.

Were #YOU rooting for Malik to win tonight? If not, who were #YOU supporting? Did Jamala’s appearance make #YOU emotional? (It can’t have been just me.) Sound off in the comments below, in our forum, or on social media @ESCUnited.

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