Denmark won this year's Eurovision Song Contest in the Swedish city of Malmoe early Sunday with the song "Only Teardrops" by Emmelie de Forest.
Denmark, widely tipped to win the annual music competition, garnered 281 points at a glittering ceremony watched by millions of viewers, beating runner ups Azerbaijan (234 points) and Ukraine (214 points.)
The Scandinavian country last won the contest in 2000 with "Fly on the wings of love" by Olsen Brothers, also in Sweden.
There was no shortage of Danish support in the Malmoe Arena, located just minutes away from Sweden's southern neighbour across the eight-kilometre (five-mile) Oeresund bridge.
"I believed in the song, but the exciting thing about Eurovision is that you never know what's going to happen," de Forest told reporters after the competition. In the past the contest has produced surprise winners, such as the monster-mask clad Finnish rockers Lordi in 2006.
The 20-year-old Danish singer performed the winning entry barefoot -- her trademark since she began performing in her early teens -- against a flaming backdrop.
She became the bookmakers' only odds-on candidate after winning Tuesday's semi-final.
Although it was never a serious threat to de Forest's dramatic pop number about the state of the world, Azerbaijan earned top marks from several countries, propelling Farid Mammadov to second place.
Mammadov's emotional ballad "Hold me" was one of several eye-catching performances during the evening, the singer's moves mirrored by a dancer inside a glass cage.
Ukrainian entry "Gravity" had drawn media attention after it became clear that singer Zlata Ognevich would be carried on stage by a 2.34-metre (7 feet 8 inches) 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 involved, but reversed its decision after a private broadcaster stepped in to finance the production of the country's national final.
Their song, "Alcohol Is Free", by Koza Mostra and Agathon Iakovidis, used metaphors to describe Greece's suffering during the economic crisis.
Sweden had pledged to scale back the spectacular music fest after costs soared in recent years, vowing to stage a sparkling show for a fraction of what last year's host Azerbaijan spent.
Despite that, the largest Nordic nation opened Saturday's show with pageantry fit for an Olympic ceremony.
Flag bearers entered on stage to a special hymn by pop icon ABBA's song-writing duo Benny Andersson and Bjoern Ulvaeus.
During the evening there were several references to the Swedish supergroup, which won the Eurovision in 1974 with "Waterloo".
One tribute was a rendition of their hit "The winner takes it all" by Swedish singer Sarah Dawn Finer.
Hostess Petre Mede wore a pink dress by Jean-Paul Gaultier as she welcomed 11,000 fans -- including the French designer -- to the Malmoe Arena.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also put in an appearance in one of several sketches lampooning Swedish culture.
Some estimates put the price tag for regenerating last year's host city Baku at one billion dollars (780 million euros).
By comparison, Swedish organisers had a budget of 125 million kronor (14.5 million euros, $18.7 million.)
With an estimated 125 million viewers, Eurovision is a bigger broadcasting event than American football's Super Bowl.
However, the continent's cultural differences came to the fore this year after show rehearsals in socially liberal Sweden showed not one but two gay kisses.
Turkish observers said that may have been the reason for public broadcaster TRT dropping the event earlier this week.
TRT cited low ratings as the reason for the cancellation: Turkey did not field a Eurovision candidate this year.
Saturday's live broadcast included two male Swedish folk dancers kissing each other; and Finland's Krista Siegfrids doing the same with one of her female dancers when performing gay marriage anthem "Marry Me."