In praise of the mature woman: Danes win Eurovision

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The Independent Online

Two middle-aged brothers playing guitars gave Denmark a surprising victory in Europe's biggest song contest in Stockholm on Saturday night.

Performing before a sellout crowd of some 13,000 at the Globe arena and an estimated 100 million viewers in nearly three dozen European countries as well as Australia and Japan, Joergen and Niels Olsen won with a song called "Fly on the Wings of Love."

Their song has captivated Denmark, thanks not only to its infectious, happy rhythm, but also due to the lyrics, which are Joergen Olsen's tribute to the mature woman.

UK entrant Nicki French only managed to pick up 28 points, putting her in 16th place.

The singer - who made it to number five in the charts in 1995 with her cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart - was chosen to represent the UK with Don't Play That Song Again.

The bookies' favourite had been 18-year-old Ines from the tiny Baltic state of Estonia, but she came fourth, with second place going to Russia and the third going to Latvia.

The top seven entries were all Baltic states apart from Ireland - and Belgium came last with just two points.

It was Denmark's second victory in the Eurovision Song Contest since its inception in 1956. The first came in 1963.

Denmark took the early lead in the vote count and never looked back. Russia's entry, 16-year-old Alsou, finished second for the song "Solo" for which Americans Andrew Lane and Brandon Barnes were the composer and lyricist, respectively.

The Olsens have been writing songs, singing and performing together ever since they started their careers by forming a pop group named The Kids at age 11 and 15, respectively. They have appeared in six Danish Song Contests, but never won until this year.

The audience was crucial in the modern, high-tech contest as it also made up the jury. Viewers participated in selecting the winner by telephone voting in all the competing countries except for Russia, Romania and the Netherlands, where the poll was cancelled because of the fatal explosion in a fireworks factory earlier that evening. A panel cast the Dutch votes instead.

To even out the odds for participants from small nations, it was impossible to vote for the country where the phone call was registered. In host country Sweden 132,000 people voted, while half a million took part in the UK.

Sweden won the right to host for the fourth time after Swede Charlotte Nilsson won last year in Israel by singing "Take Me To Your Heaven" while dressed in a 1970s-style pink-and-beige pantsuit. Sweden's first win came in 1974, when "Waterloo" brought ABBA international fame.

Denmark will host next year's show.