The Latest: Portuguese fado music kicks off Eurovision final

The Latest: Portuguese fado music kicks off Eurovision final
The Associated Press

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

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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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