What they're talking about at Eurovision in Rotterdam

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Rotterdam (Netherlands) (AFP)

The Eurovision Song Contest is never short of drama and its return after a year off was no exception, with a nailbiting finish and tense national rivalries.

Here are some key talking points from the 65th edition of the competition, held in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam:

- Drugs denial -

The singer for Italy's Maneskin, Damiano David, strongly denied taking drugs when he was asked by a reporter about footage showing him bent over a table during the Eurovision ceremony went viral on social media.

"I don't use drugs. Please, guys. Don't say that really, no cocaine. Please, don't say that," David told a press conference after the four-piece glam rockers were named winners.

He said he had been looking down because guitarist Thomas Raggi had broken a glass

The band later said on their Instagram stories that they were "ready to get tested because we have nothing to hide."

"We are really shocked about what some people are saying about Damiano doing drugs. We really are AGAINST drugs and we never used cocaine," they said.

- 44 years of hurt -

France saw its best chance in years to break its long Eurovision losing streak slip out of its grasp as singer Barbara Pravi came second to Maneskin.

The favourite to win a week ago, Pravi was compared to Edith Piaf, with her moody number "Voila" and an emotional performance against a dark background.

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But despite raucous support from many in the international media she was pipped at the post, scoring 499 points to Maneskin's 524.

France has been waiting for a Eurovision champion since 1977 when Marie Myriam won the competition.

That's despite the country being one of the so-called "Big Five" guaranteed a place in the final each year, along with Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

- Swiss role -

Switzerland's Gjon's Tears -- singer Gjon Muharremaj, 22 -- surprised many by ending up at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of voting by Eurovision's national juries.

The 22-year-old, whose parents are from Albania and Kosovo, appeared in the French version of The Voice in 2019. He was then part of Mika's team, and reached the semi-final stage.

He worked on his song "Tout l'Univers" with one of the writers of "Arcade", the power ballad sung by 2019's Dutch winner Duncan Laurence.

But the subsequent public vote brought a huge surge for Maneskin that took them into first place, leaving the Swiss feeling the sting of defeat.

- Nul points for UK -

The United Kingdom's James Newman suffered the humiliation of scoring the notorious "nul points" -- getting no points at all on the leaderboard.

Newman's song "Embers" failed to set Europe alight, with both the national juries and the public vote snubbing him.

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A good humoured Newman raised a beer to the cameras to acknowledge what had happened.

Britain may be wondering whether it would be a good idea to leave Eurovision as it has the EU, as it also finished last in the song contest in 2019.

- First transgender host -

Eurovision got its first transgender host with Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials to her more than 13 million followers on Instagram and Youtube, where she gives beauty tips.

De Jager was the online presenter and also took part in parts of the main live broadcast.

She revealed she was transgender in 2020 in a video that has now been viewed more than 32 million times.

De Jager's make-up tutorials have made her one of the most famous Youtubers in her field, and she has collaborated with US stars including Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.