Russian authorities complained about the song as a negative portrayal of their country, but Eurovision officials sided with the Ukrainian singer. “There’s nothing in it that could insult any individual, or country,” she said. “Nothing is directed against anyone. Sure, there’s a date—but this is a date that’s important to my family.”

Tatars living in Crimea under Russian rule today face repression—including censorship of their media, raids of their homes, and a ban on their political representation.

Jamala faces tough competition from the catchy song “You Are The Only One” from the Russian former boy-band singer Lazarev. If he wins the show, an event of huge national importance in Russia, Ukraine announced it will boycott next year’s contest.

Although they couldn’t weigh in on the artistic merits or political message, for the first time viewers in the US were able to watch the Eurovision on television, courtesy of Logo TV. A cameo performance by American star Justin Timberlake, who clearly does not fit in with the kitschy fiesta, is a nod to the show’s new audience, though not everyone is happy about it.

This post has been updated to reflect the winners of the Eurovision competition.

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