By Associated Press - Saturday, May 12, 2018

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - The Latest on the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest (all times local):

11:45 p.m.

Netta Barzilai has won the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest for Israel with her song “Toy.”

Barzilai, who was the favorite to win ahead of Saturday’s Grand Final, saw off competition from 42 other countries’ performers to claim the music extravaganza’s annual crown at a show in Lisbon, Portugal.

There was a strong field of contestants at this year’s event, which largely shed its traditional hallmarks of glitz and glitter in favor of a more restrained and tasteful tone.

The international contest began as a competition between European countries, but its huge popularity has led to the inclusion of Israel and Australia among the performers.

Around 200 million people were expected to tune in to Saturday night’s show.

Portugal earned the right to host the event because it won last year with Salvador Sobral’s subdued ballad “Amar pelos Dois.”


10:45 p.m.

It’s a duet for the ages: last year’s winner Salvador Sobral is on the Eurovision Song Contest stage singing his successful song alongside Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso.

Sobral, 28, underwent a heart transplant last December and has been limiting his public appearances.

But sharing a stage at the Grand Final with Caetano, 75, on Saturday night was too good to miss. The pair appeared after all 26 countries at the competition had performed at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sobral has made no secret of the fact that he prefers quality music over the showy, glossy style favored in past Eurovision events. His ballad “Amar pelos Dois” was a massive success.


10:10 p.m.

The last performance, by Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro of Italy, has concluded at the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest. Now the tense, drawn-out collating of international votes begins.

In each participating country, a jury and viewers award between one and a maximum 12 points to their favorite songs. Those votes are combined to give each country a single score.

No country can vote for its own contestant. By tradition, each announcement is made in English or French.

Barring technical glitches, the winner of the 2018 event should be crowned before midnight (2300 GMT) at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal.


9:20 p.m.

A protester has climbed onto the stage in the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest and snatched away the microphone of the United Kingdom’s contestant SuRie.

The man got hold of the microphone but was quickly tackled by security and taken away while SuRie stood by.

The British singer kept her composure and carried on her with her song at the event in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday night. She appeared unhurt.

Previous editions of the annual event have also witnessed protesters getting onto the stage.

Contestants from 26 countries are taking part in the hugely popular contest.


8:10 p.m.

The opening of the Grand Final of the 2018 European Song Contest is showcasing Portugal’s traditional fado music.

Accompanied by a Portuguese 12-string guitar and drums, fado singers Ana Moura and Mariza - two of the genre’s biggest stars - opened the performance on Saturday night.

Beatbombers, a Portuguese DJ duo, then mixed a classic fado song with a techno beat while the contestants representing 26 countries paraded across the stage with their national flags.

More than 10,000 people are in the audience at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, and thousands more are watching the show at a downtown fan zone. An expected 200 million people will tune in across the world.


7:45 p.m.

A lot of thought went into the lineup for the Eurovision Song Contest’s Grand Final.

The event’s producer, Christer Bjorkman, assesses each of the annual event’s 26 performers, figuring out how to create the best show. He juggles ballads with heavy rock, and balances solo acts with bands, to get the tempo right.

He says: “You want to start with good energy. You want to get the party going.” Ukrainian entry MELOVIN is first up on Saturday night with his song “Under The Ladder.”

One headache for organizers is the turnover time between acts of just 40 seconds. That’s not much time to get the props off stage, though the commercial breaks offer more breathing space for the crew.


7:15 p.m.

Lights, music, action! Europe’s annual music extravaganza is about to begin, with many people expecting a vintage year.

The Grand Final of the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest will crown one of 26 entries with dreams of following in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish pop group ABBA and Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias.

The show is taking place at Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday night, starting at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT.) Some 200 million people around the world are expected to be watching.

The event started out as a competition between European countries, but its huge popularity has led to the inclusion of Israel and Australia as contestants.

The country which furnishes the winner organizes the following year’s competition. Portugal won last year with Salvador Sobral’s subdued ballad “Amar pelos Dois.”


11:15 p.m.

The kitsch is conspicuously absent this year and the usual extravagant stage effects are nowhere to be seen. Could the Eurovision Song Contest finally be focusing on the music?

The annual Euro-pop fest has long been the glittery home of outlandish costumes, high-voltage stage effects, forgettable tunes and kitschy acts like last year’s dancing gorilla.

But Portugal - which hosting this year’s event because its entry, Salvador Sobral, won with a restrained solo ballad last year in Ukraine - is putting on a show with stylish, elegant performances by a strong field of competitors. And it’s doing that with a $23.8 million budget that officials say is the most restrained since 2008.

That means the 63rd Eurovision Song Contest is heading to what many predict will be an exceptional year.

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