Ballad beats glitz as Portugal’s Sobral wins Eurovision

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Kiev, Ukraine (AP) — A gentle romantic ballad challenged the Eurovision Song Contest’s decades-long reputation for cheesy, glittery, unbridled excess — and won easily.

Salvador Sobral from Portugal celebrates as he holds the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 13. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Salvador Sobral from Portugal celebrates as he holds the trophy after winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 13. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Portugal’s Salvador Sobral sang his Amar Pelos Dois (Love For Both) in a high, clear tenor accompanied by quiet strings and a piano in last Saturday night’s extravaganza, which was watched by millions around the world.

Unlike the 25 other competitors who performed on a wide stage backed by flashing lights, bursts of flames and other special effects, Sobral sang from a small elevated circle in the middle of the crowd, an intimate contrast to others’ bombast.

“Music is not fireworks, music is feeling,” he said while accepting the award.

Sobral won in a landslide, capturing 758 points, 143 more than second place.

Runner-up Kristian Kostov of Bulgaria wasn’t short on feeling — his powerful song “Beautiful Mess” was awash in melodrama, the singer appearing almost wrung out by romantic turmoil.

Moldova’s Sunstroke Project finished a surprising third in the 2017 contest with a bouncy, jazzy song called “Hey Mama” in which the female backup singers hid their microphones in bridal bouquets.