San Marino, Valentina Monetta, 4

Valentina Monetta—the Sanmarinese diva who sang about personal transformation at Eurovision 2013—has won the Yohanna Award for Most Improved Performer at Eurovision 2013.

Our readers cast a total of 1,696 votes in the poll, which opened on June 1, and the “Crisalide” singer walked away with more than 800 of them. In doing so she beat out ByeAlex—the chilled out Hungarian who only came fourth with the Hungarian jury at his national final, but who climbed all the way to 10th at Eurovision. And she sidestepped Roberto Bellarosa, who had all of us reaching for our earplugs at the Belgian national final. He went on to finish 12th at Eurovision. Here are the complete results:

1. Valentina Monetta: 816 votes, 48.11%
2. Roberto Bellarosa: 625 votes, 36.85%
3. ByeAlex: 129 votes, 7.61%
4. Ryan Dolan: 107 votes, 6.31%
5. Dorians: 19 votes, 1.12%

Valentina seriously impressed y’all, and not just because she managed to slot the phrase “personal growth” into nearly every interview she gave this year. Comparing her Eurovision performances from 2012 and 2013 shows that her development has been long-term and that the girl is now a woman. Shall we compare?

Valentina at Eurovision 2012:

Valentina a year later:

The road to Eurovision is long and bumpy, and it doesn’t always start out with a strong song—or the ability to sing said song. The Yohanna Award honors Iceland’s 2009 contestant Johanna Jonsdottir who illustrates the principle well. When she won the Icelandic national selection, we thought she was gonna flop at ESC. Then she put on that blue dress, hired some back-up singers, and wowed us all the way to second place in Moscow.

This award is just one of a dozen awards we have launched as part of the inaugural Valentina Monetta Awards. Our 12 categories—from best dressed to most most wronged at ESC—identify the contestants who left the biggest impression on Eurovision fans, regardless of whether they won the contest or not.

Valentina’s status as the namesake of this awards scheme did not impact her status in any of our polls. Instead, it is her spirit of self-belief and committment to renewal that saw us name the awards after her—and which saw you name her Most Improved Performer.

Photo: Valentina Monetta

William contributed this report from London. Follow the team from wiwibloggs on Twitter @wiwibloggs and keep up with the latest Eurovision news by liking our Facebook page.