Israel ends jury voting in second-to-last place
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Netherlands wins Eurovision; Iceland, Madonna bring Palestine messages to show

Heavy favorite Duncan Laurence brings show to Holland for first time in decades; Israeli Kobi Marimi finishes in 23rd place

  • Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands, center, celebrates after winning the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final with the song "Arcade" in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2019. He is flanked (from left) by the four Israeli hosts: Assi Azar, Lucy Ayoub, Bar Refaeli and Erez Tal (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
    Duncan Laurence of the Netherlands, center, celebrates after winning the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest grand final with the song "Arcade" in Tel Aviv, May 18, 2019. He is flanked (from left) by the four Israeli hosts: Assi Azar, Lucy Ayoub, Bar Refaeli and Erez Tal (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
  • Israel's Kobi Marimi performs the song "Home" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    Israel's Kobi Marimi performs the song "Home" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song "Zero Gravity" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    Australia's Kate Miller-Heidke performs the song "Zero Gravity" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • Iceland's Hatari perform the song "Hatrid mun sigra" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. ( Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    Iceland's Hatari perform the song "Hatrid mun sigra" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. ( Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • France's Bilal Hassani performs the song "Roi" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    France's Bilal Hassani performs the song "Roi" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • Spain's Miki performs the song "La Venda" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)
    Spain's Miki performs the song "La Venda" during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Photo by Jack GUEZ / AFP)
  • Gali Atari, who won the Eurovision contest in 1979, performs during a rehearsal ahead of the finale in Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Gali Atari, who won the Eurovision contest in 1979, performs during a rehearsal ahead of the finale in Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 Eurovision Contest, performs during a rehearsal ahead of the 2019 finale in Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
    Netta Barzilai, who won the 2018 Eurovision Contest, performs during a rehearsal ahead of the 2019 finale in Tel Aviv on May 17, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
  • Israeli fans roar for Kobi Marimi, the Israeli contestant for Eurovision 2019, singing 'Home,' at a Friday dress rehearsal for the May 18, 2019 show (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
    Israeli fans roar for Kobi Marimi, the Israeli contestant for Eurovision 2019, singing 'Home,' at a Friday dress rehearsal for the May 18, 2019 show (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
  • Proud Norwegian fans cheer on xx, their country's pick for Eurovision 2019, at the May 16, 2019 semifinal (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)
    Proud Norwegian fans cheer on xx, their country's pick for Eurovision 2019, at the May 16, 2019 semifinal (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

The Times of Israel liveblogged the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv from pre-show, via Dana, Netta and Madonna, all the way to the vote tallies and Holland’s victory. Here’s how Saturday’s extravaganza unfolded.

Eurovision final snarling traffic in downtown Tel Aviv

Residents and visitors in downtown Tel Aviv are facing huge traffic jams this afternoon, as the city gears up for the Eurovision final later this evening.

Herbert Samuel Esplanade is gridlocked for vehicles traveling in both directions, and the areas adjacent to Charles Clore Park, home of the Eurovision Village, is also blocked to most traffic.

Police said all of the parking garages in and around the Eurovision Village are at capacity, and have started to direct traffic in the area.

Dutch, Australian contestants bookies’ favorite for 2019 Eurovision

The Netherlands and Australia are the bookmakers’ favorites going into tonight’s Eurovision song contest finals.

Dutch contestant Duncan Laurence — whose chances of winning are close to even — hopes to end a 44-year drought for the Netherlands in the long-running spectacle, when he sits at the piano to sing his power ballad “Arcade.”

He came out as bisexual in 2016 and has called for tolerance and understanding, saying his love of music provided a refuge during a difficult upbringing as a “mini-Harry Potter lookalike.”

Despite only coming into the competition in the last few years, Australia is ranked as the second strongest contender, with odds on the Eurovision site giving it an 11 percent chance of winning.

Dressed in an extravagant white dress, Kate Miller-Heidke’s version of “Zero Gravity” appears likely to propel her to stardom far beyond her country’s own borders.

— with AFP

Eurovision final expected to draw 200 million viewers

An estimated 200 million viewers worldwide, more than the Super Bowl, are expected to tune in tonight to watch the 26 finalists belt out their tunes to be crowned the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Thousands of fans will watch the final on giant screens outside the venue and at the Eurovision Village in downtown Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, a shoutout to our colleague Richard Ferrer, editor of the UK Jewish News, who is in Tel Aviv liveblogging Eurovision with a particularly British flair here.

Police ask public to avoid Eurovision Village due to overcrowding

Police in Tel Aviv are asking the public to keep away from the Eurovision Village due to the large crowds gathered to watch the song competition finals.

According to Channel 12 news, more than 100,000 fans gathered at the Village in Charles Clore Park to watch the semifinals last night, and estimated that even more are there tonight.

The adjacent Herbert Samuel Esplanade is closed to vehicles in both directions. Police have urged drivers to avoid the area.

Douze must-reads: ToI’s Eurovision highlights, while we wait for the real action

With less than two hours to go before the final gets under way, here are 12 must-reads from ToI’s Eurovision coverage this past year.

(All Times of Israel’s Eurovision coverage over the years is posted here.)

1. Where it all began: Israel’s Netta Barzilai wins Eurovision song contest

2. Netta’s celebratory press conference: Eurovision winner Barzilai jubilant: ‘How great we got to change Israel’s image’

Israel’s Netta Barzilai after winning the final of the 63rd edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2018 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, on May 12, 2018. (AFP/Francisco Leong)

3. Our 2018 winner’s personal story: ‘A one-woman band’: How Israel’s Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai rose to fame

4. Roger Waters et al try to spoil the show: 140 artists, 6 of them Israeli, urge boycott of Eurovision if hosted by Israel

5. So what do we think of Israel’s 2019 entry? Like a ‘memorial’ lament: Israel’s Eurovision pick doesn’t quite bring it ‘Home’

Kobi Marimi, winner of the reality show ‘Rising Star’ and Israel’s 2019 Eurovision entrant, performs at the show’s final on February 12, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

6. The taxi drivers get ready: Tel Aviv taxi drivers brush up on English ahead of Eurovision

7. Rehearsing as rockets from Gaza rain down nearby: Eurovision entrants rehearse in Tel Aviv as rockets rain on south

8. Israel’s four winners share their secrets of success: Past winners get mystical when sharing the secret of Israel’s Eurovision success

Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta, the winners of the 1978 Eurovision, Israel’s first time winning the song contest (Courtesy Eurovision Israel)

9. The first semifinal: Tel Aviv Eurovision semifinal soars on glitz and stilts, with politics sidelined

10. Amerivision? Eurovision, the kitsch song extravaganza, may be coming to America

The Shalva Band performs at the second Eurovision 2019 semifinal in Tel Aviv on May 16, 2019 (YouTube screenshot)

11. Shalva wows the world: The real winners of 2nd Eurovision semifinal? Shalva Band wows the world

12. Kutiman’s 3-minute Eurovision history: WATCH: The 63-year-history of Eurovision in three minutes

Madonna set to take the Eurovision stage at 12:45 a.m.

Pop superstar Madonna is wrapping up her last rehearsal before taking the stage for a guest performance at tonight’s Eurovision final.

According to Channel 12 news, the Queen of Pop will take the stage at 12:45 a.m. to perform two songs: her 1989 hit “Like a Prayer” and the world premiere of the song “Future” from her forthcoming album.

The guest performance by the 60-year-old diva is expected to keep millions of fans glued to their TV screens for the entire three-and-a-half hour extravaganza.

Earlier this week, Madonna said she was determined to perform at the final despite pressure to drop out from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox protest Eurovision’s Shabbat ‘desecration’ in Jerusalem

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men and boys are clashing with police in Jerusalem during a protest against the “desecration” of Shabbat by holding the Eurovision Song Contest final on the Jewish day of rest.

Protesters blocked Haneviim Street and the surrounding roads, stopping traffic and attacking officers who came to disperse the demonstration. Police arrested one protester who attacked an officer.

This year’s competition is being held in Tel Aviv, and while the final will not begin until after Shabbat ends at nightfall on Saturday, rehearsals and production preparations took place earlier in the day.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men clash with police during a protest against the 2019 Eurovision contest held in Tel Aviv, in Jerusalem, on May 18, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews strictly respect religious law prohibiting work on Shabbat, the weekly day of rest from sundown Friday until nightfall Saturday.

Ahead of the event, Israel’s Chief Rabbi called for Shabbat to be extended by 20 minutes in response to the “great desecration” of the holy day.

Madonna paid part of her performance costs ‘out of her own pocket’

Israeli-Canadian billionaire Sylvan Adams tells the Kan public broadcaster that Madonna’s Eurovision appearance was never in doubt, calling hiccups that delayed her gig being confirmed as “little contractual technicalities.”

Adams played a key role in bringing Madonna to Israel for the show, flying her and her entourage to Tel Aviv in his jet on Tuesday, despite her not yet having a contract signed at that point.

Illustrative. Madonna opens her MDNA world tour in Tel Aviv in May 2012. (Flash 90/File)

“She flew a ton of equipment from Las Vegas here a month ago. Once she was physically here, there was never any doubt there would be a contract sign.”

On Thursday, she reached an agreement with the European Broadcasting Union to put on the show.

Canadian-Israeli philanthropist Sylvan Adams is footing the bill for Madonna’s performance at Eurovision 2019 (Courtesy Sylvan Adams)

Madonna wants to put on a “special” performance tonight, Adams says. Asked if rumors that she paid for some of the costs “out of her own pocket” are accurate, Adams confirms this. “That’s correct… She wanted a certain level of her show and she wasn’t going to compromise.”

Asked whether that means Madonna’s losing money to perform, he says, “I don’t know if she’s losing money, but she didn’t do this for the money.”

“She wanted to come,” he says. “She knows us, she likes us.”

He adds: “It’s really good to have friends like that.”

Madonna, who is not Jewish but has dabbled in Kabbalism, has made several trips to Israel over the years and played three shows here.

Waffling singers and singing lawmakers: Random facts about Eurovision contestants

Here’s some random facts about a few of tonight’s contestants, courtesy of ToI’s Eurovision correspondent Jessica Steinberg:

Michael Rice from UK owns a waffle and milkshake business

Italy’s Mahmood is singing about his unhappy relationship with his father

Slovenia’s Zala Kralj and Gasper Santl are a real couple

Czech indie band Lake Malawi is singing about friendship, not a relationship gone sour — they’ve got a Marvin Gaye sound

Victor Crone, singing for Estonia, is actually Swedish. He has a Bryan Adams look and sound

Greek singer Katerine Duska is Canadian-Greek, and she does a great cover of the Arctic Monkeys’ “Do I Wanna Know”

Denmark’s Leonora is a former elite ice skater; go figure

Sweden’s John Lundvik also co-wrote UK’s entry, “Bigger Than Us,” and it sounds a lot like his own “Too Late for Love”

Norway’s popular KEiiNO is led by rapper Fred Buljo, who once served as the leader of Norway’s parliament for people of Laplander descent

Idan Raichel: Eurovision shaped my music project

Idan Raichel at Eurovision in Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Jessica Steinberg/Times of Israel)

Musician Idan Raichel, one of a handful of local acts who will play at Eurovision tonight during voting, tells ToI that his internationally renowned world music ensemble was influenced by the Eurovision Song Contest.

“Growing up, the Eurovision shaped what we are, and we wanted to bring our Israeli soundtrack to Eurovision with the Idan Raichel Project, and it’s a great honor to bring all of Europe to our backyard and to show Europe the beauty of our society,” he says.

Also performing will be past winner Dana International, who tells Israel’s Channel 12 news that she’s excited for Israel, but less so for herself because she is not competing.

Past winners, also-rans to feature in interval acts

After her victory last year, the honor of opening the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest falls to Israeli singer Netta Barzilai. She will get the party started along with Israel’s previous Eurovision winner Dana International and Israel’s first ever Eurovision representative, Ilanit.

As has become a tradition since the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, the Grand Final will open with a flag parade to introduce the 26 competing entrants before the competition begins.

The interval act will be a “switch song” featuring former Eurovision winners and runners-up:

Conchita will sing Måns Zelmerlöw’s “Heroes” (Sweden 2015)

Måns Zelmerlöw will sing Eleni Foureira’s “Fuego” (Cyprus 2018)

Eleni Foureira will sing Verka Serduchka’s “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” (Ukraine 2007)

Verka Serduchka will perform Netta Barzilai’s “Toy” (Israel 2018)

At the end all four artists will join Gali Atari on stage to perform her 1979 winning song, “Hallelujah.”

Watch Eurovision here (unless you are in the US)

The Eurovision Song Contest is set to begin in about 10 minutes.

The contest can be watched on YouTube here. However, the video is blocked in some countries, including the US. (But there’s always a VPN, if you are really committed to watching.)

This is Israel’s Kan state broadcaster’s livestream feed, with signing.

Netanyahu wishes Marimi luck (and he’ll need it)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called Israeli contestant Kobi Marimi to wish him luck, though it sounds like he’s almost consoling him early for his expected poor showing.

“Millions are now watching you. Know that an entire people is supporting you. It is important that you believe in yourself Kobi,” he says, according to his office. “Do the best that you can; this is what you expect from yourself and this is what we expect from you. We all embrace you and adopt you. I will also be watching you. Good luck, for you and for our country.”

The Eurovision World oddsmaker currently gives Marimi and his mournful operatic “Home,” a less than 1 percent chance of winning. He will perform 14th.

Show kicks off in Tel Aviv

A full house at the Expo Tel Aviv convention center claps and cheers excitedly as the Eurovision entrants are announced, kicking off the show.

The show starts with a promo video featuring Netta Barzilai as a pilot landing a jumbo jet next to the hall and Dana International gets things started with an Israeli song medley, backed up by dancers dressed as flight attendants.

Reminder, our colleague Richard Ferrer is liveblogging with a British slant for the UK’s Jewish News here.

 

Who the press room thinks will win

Predictions are flying in the Eurovision press room about the possible order of the winners in the Saturday night song contest.

People are talking about the Netherlands’ Duncan Laurence and his keyboard-playing rendition of “Arcade,” Italy’s Mahmood with “Soldi” and Sweden’s John Lundvik crooning “Too Late for Love.”

The surprise entry of North Macedonia’s Tamara Todevska (a four-time Eurovision contestant) singing “Proud” moved her higher up, followed by the Norwegian trio of KeiiNO and its “Spirit in the Sky,” Israel’s Kobi Marimi’s operatic “Home,” the boy band Luca Hanni from Switzerland and “She Got Me,” the sexy Tamta from Cyprus singing “Replay,” with Denmark’s Leonora singing “Love is Forever” and another surprise entry, Azerbaijan’s Chingiz singing “Truth.”

Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke is another favorite, but fans keep on wondering if Eurovision could actually be held in Australia, which isn’t all that close to Europe.

Malta kicks things off with color-changing ditty

Things get started with Malta’s Michela Pace singing the high energy “Chameleon.”

Hammering the song’s theme home, the screen behind her keeps changing colors.

Albania breezes through traditional song

Next up is Albania’s Jonida Maliqi singing “Ktheju tokës” a traditional Albanian song.

She ends her song with a “todah rabah,” thank you in Hebrew.

Czech’s Lake Malawi sings ‘Friend of a Friend”

The Czech Republic’s Lake Malawi gets things going with the poppy, synthy “Friend of a Friend.”

S!sters take the stage for Germany

Germany’s female duo S!sters sings “S!ster” about, you guessed it, sisters!

Adding to the meta-ness of it all, the faces of the two are projected all over the performance hall.

The two are not sisters.

Russia’s Lazarev showered with love from crowd

We’ve been going for less than 20 minutes and already up to act number 5, Russia’s Sergey Lazarev singing “Scream.”

That’s even with the short “postcard” videos with tourism promos between acts as the stage is reset.

Lazarev is popular with fans. People love his voice, but not the shower stall he stands in onstage.

The crowd goes wild when he ends.

Denmark’s Leonora skates into performance

Denmark’s Leonora takes the stage with the downbeat “Love is Forever.”

A promo video features the singer, a former elite ice skater, doing a ballerina bit at the YMCA in Jerusalem because why not.

She sits on a giant chair on stage for her performance, and thankfully does not fall off.

San Marino’s singing dentist fills Turkish cavity at Eurovision

San Marino’s singing dentist Serhat, an audience favorite, leads the crowd in “Say Na Na Na.”

The song features some Turkish, courtesy of the Turkish singer.

Turkey has not competed since 2013.

Fourth time’s a charm for North Macedonia’s Todevska?

North Macedonia’s surprise finalist Tamar Todevska, performing at Eurovision for the fourth time, brings it with glass-shatterer “Proud.”

“I love you,” she tells the excited crowd at the end.

No matter how bad a song is, the crowd embraces it. The fans know every word of every song and mimic every hand movement

Sweden’s John Lundvik pumps up crowd

Sweden’s John Lundvik, another favorite, comes on stage and performs traditional Norse song “Yggdrasill.”

Just kidding. The former sprinter and songwriter gets the crowd to its feet with the R&B-ish “Too Late for Love.”

He is an actual favorite, though.

Slovenians in love on stage

Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl, representing Slovenia, take the stage and stare at each other while she sings and he plays guitar.

The two, a real couple who apparently met on Instagram, gently embrace at the end of their slow song.

Cyprus to replay second place finish?

Cyprus, which nearly stole the Eurovision crown from Israel last year, takes the stage with another upbeat song: “Replay” by Tamta.

The crowd goes wild for her racy “striptease,” and seems to appreciate the dance song as well.

Netherlands’ favorite belts out entry

Here’s Duncan Laurence, who is widely favored to win the contest with his “Arcade.”

The crooner sits at a piano as he belts out the song in front of a spare set.

Despite his popularity, many people think he doesn’t have much personality.

The crowd goes wild, natch.

Greece marks halfway point; Kobi up next

Here’s Greece’s Katerine Duska with “Better Love,” the 13th entry, meaning it’s one to go until hometown hero Kobi Marimi.

It’s also the halfway point of the show, which appears to have gone off so far without any technical difficulties or protest disturbances that some had feared would accompany the show.

But there’s still another 13 acts to go.

Meanwhile, the crowd is singing along to Duska.

Marimi tangos through Jerusalem before taking the stage

Here comes Kobi Marimi, who is introduced with a promo video of him tangoing through Jerusalem’s Yemin Moshe neighborhood.

Kobi Marimi brings it ‘Home’

The crowd naturally goes craziest for Israel’s Kobi Marimi.

This is their first time seeing him, having skipped the semifinals with an automatic entry into the finals.

Marimi sings “Home,” a slow operatic number, backed up by a small chorus in evening wear.

Critics had said the song was too slow and lacked personality, but Marimi, working his way to the front of the stage, gives it a little extra for the performance.

He cries as he ends the song, barely managing a “todah rabah.”

“Wow” is all the local announcer can manage.

Norway gives spirited performance

Norway’s KEiiNO sticks with the promo video in the “Judean Desert,” despite some complaints that it was filmed in the West Bank.

The trio sings “Spirit in the Sky,” an upbeat ditty with lots of pyrotechnics, and the crowd loves it.

Britain on stage now

UK is up now, with Michael Rice singing “Bigger Than Us,” and if it sounds like Sweden’s “Too Late for Love,” it’s probably because it was co-written by John Lundvik.

Fer cryin’ out loud: the twittersphere reacts to Kobi

The contest takes a short break, just enough time to look at some online reactions to Kobi Marimi’s performance.

Iceland brings the hate

One thing this Eurovision has been missing is a truly weird act of the type its become known for, like old dancing ladies, or Dschinghis Khan.

Iceland’s Hatari is here to fill that void with “Hatrið mun sigra,” or “hatred will prevail.”

The group, in full-on S&M garb, sings/screams the techno “song.”

Crone croons for Estonia (and Sweden)

Oh good, another male singer.

Victor Crone, representing Estonia, warbles “Storm.”

His Estonian footwork apparently confuses the camera people, who lose him for a few seconds, in a rare technical glitch.

Crone is actually Swedish, like Swedish entrant John Lunkdvik, who co-wrote Britain’s song.

Long story short, Sweden will win no matter what.

Ladies in high places watching Eurovision

Here’s a picture of Sara Netanyahu, wife of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at Eurovision with Patricia Marroquín, wife of Guatemalen President Jimmy Morales, watching Eurovision in the audience at Tel Aviv.

Neither Israel not Guatemala are in Europe.

Sara Netanyahu, right, and Patricia Marroquín at the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. (Courtesy)

Belarus, Azerbaijan belt out numbers

Belarus’s Zena performs upbeat dance number “Like It” and then thanks the crowd in Russian.

Next up is Azerbaijan’s Chingiz with “Truth.”

The pop song is the latest to feature a male signing in falsetto. The Russian-born singer sings “shut up” over and over again. The crowd enjoys it, telling Chingiz to shut up as well (but in a good way).

France’s Hassani gets crowd going

France’s Bilal Hassani, the 21st entry and another automatic finalist, takes the stage next with “Roi.”

The crowd goes crazy for Hassani, a YouTuber and LGBT icon in France.

He is seen as having a chance, albeit an outside one, of winning.

Italy’s Mahmood money on stage

Mahmood, representing Italy, sings “Soldi” in Italian, one of the few non-English entries.

The song-features a double-clap, which the crowd faithfully performs along with him.

The song, which means “Money,” is already a top hit in Italy and Mahmood is a popular pick for winner.

The singer gets a standing ovation.

Serbian sings power ballad in Serbian (mostly)

Serbia’s Nevena Božović is introduced with a promo video in Ein Zivan in the Golan Heights, which also had some people up in arms.

She sings the power ballad “Kruna” or “Crown” in mostly Serbian, though it does have some English as well.

Australia swings crowd

Australia’s Kate Miller-Heidke has also been touted as a possible winner, with her astral, yodelly, operatic “Zero Gravity.”

She and two backup dancers sway above the stage on giant stilts. The crowd loves her, or her ability to sing while flaying around on a sky-high skewer.

Next up is the last act, Spain.

Swiss favorite shows off footwork

Swiss performer Luca Hänni sings the hip-hoppy pop song “She Got Me.”

Hänni is a clothing designer, but he’s also clearly been working on his dance moves.

The crowd cheers loudly as he ends. Oddsmakers put him in the top handful with a chance of winning.

Spain finishes things off on an upbeat note

The crowd seems really pumped for Spain’s Miki, who sings the fast-paced meringue-inspired “La Venda,” the last entry of the evening.

The song ends with a giant cheer.

Voting begins as main part of show ends without any mishaps

Voting now begins across competing countries, for those into that kind of thing.

After 26 acts, the main part of the show ends without any major technical glitches or protest disturbances.

Iceland’s weird Hatari, which had promised to bring an Israel critical message to the stage, doesn’t try any such shenanigans, or at least are ushered off before they can try.

Iceland’s Hatari perform the song “Hatrid mun sigra” during the Grand Final of the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 at Expo Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019. ( Jack GUEZ / AFP)

Past winners and also-rans cover each other for crowd

Past Eurovision performers, including some winners, are now taking the stage, doing covers of each others songs.

Few Eurovision acts go on to have major music careers (basically just ABBA and Celine Dion) so it’s nice to see they still have work.

The bit includes Ukraine’s Verka Serduchka covering “Toy” and ends with them all doing 1979 winner “Hallelujah” with Gili Atari.

Madonna, in eye patch, gives Eurovision pep talk

Madonna, sporting an eye patch (in homage to Moshe Dayan?), shows up in the contestant room speaking to host Assi Azar, with an awkward repartee about being married.

Madonna gives the contestants a pep talk, telling them they are all winners.

Madonna with Eurovision Song Contest host Assi Azar in a live interview during the contest in Tel Aviv on May 18, 2019 (YouTube screenshot)

Then she makes them all sing lyrics from her 2000 song “Music.”

Netta teases crowd ahead of Madonna

Netta Barzilai, last year’s winner, takes the stage to sing her newest single “Nana Banana,” a schoolyard taunt in Israel.

The crowd seems less than pumped for the song, which isn’t quite as catchy as “Toy,” and they are likely just waiting for Madonna to take the stage.

Before Barzilai, Idan Raichel, lead singer of The Idan Raichel Project, brought his full band and soloists to perform “Boiee, Come To Me” as votes come in during final minutes of Eurovision.

The performance includes screens recreating the famous Marc Chagall windows at Ein Kerem Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Madonna performs with monks

Pop superstar Madonna, still wearing an eyepatch, is on stage, performing “Like a Prayer,” with a chorus dressed as Benedictine monks.

Madonna’s second song features gas masks, Palestinian flag

Madonna transitions into her next song “future,” but more remarkable are her backup dancers, wearing gas masks.

One dancer has a Palestinian flag pinned to her back.

But rather than a not so subtle protest on the world stage, it appears to be part of the act, as the dancer walks off stage hand in hand with another dancer wearing an Israeli flag.

Voting ends, tally begins

Voting ends and Gal Gadot makes her appearance, which is actually just a promo video for Tel Aviv.

Wonder who will win? Stay tuned.

Russia takes early lead, Israel in cellar

With eight countries’ votes counted, Israel has yet to get a single point.

In the lead is Russia, followed by Italy and The Netherlands.

Dark horse North Macedonia takes comfortable lead

North Macedonia, which was not even favored to make the finals, is in the lead, well ahead of Russia, Italy and Sweden with 15 countries having voted.

Israel is one of three countries yet to get a single point, together with Germany and Spain.

Belarus puts Israel on board with 12

Israel is finally on the board, with 12 points from Belarus, putting it in 21st place.

Kobi Marimi jumps up in excitement.

With 22 countries voting, it remains Israel’s only points.

After the jury votes are tallied, the hosts will go through the public votes, which will determine the winner.

Madonna chided for Israel-Palestinian flag display

The European Broadcasting Union has released a statement saying that the Israeli and Palestinian flags in Madonna’s performance were not approved.

This part of the performance were not part of the rehearsals which ahd been approved by the EBU and the host broadcaster, Kan,” the union says in a statement, according to a tweet from Reuters correspondent Dan Williams.

“The Eurovision Song Contest is a non-political event and Madonna has been made aware of it,” the statement reads.

Madonna performance leaves world befuddled

Even worse for Madonna are the devastating reviews she is getting for her performance.

Even the Netherlands announcer made sure to get in a pot-shot, saying she was “thankful for Madonna’s autotune.”

Paddy Power, which allows betting on random things, says it will pay out those who bet Madonna would have a malfunction.

Israel ends jury voting in second-to-last place

Israel gives The Netherlands 12 points, moving it in into second place, as the jury voting tally ends. Israel ends jury voting in second to last place with just 12 points.

Israel ends with disappointing 47 points

Israel gets 35 points from the public vote, giving it a total of 47 points, meaning it won’t finish last, but it will be near the bottom of the pack.

Currently in the lead is Russia with 369 points, but much can still shift around at the top.

Netherlands Duncan Laurence wins Eurovision

The Netherlands Duncan Laurence wins Eurovision with 492 points, as was widely expected.

North Macedonia ends with only 295 points, in 7th place, despite early hopes of an upset.

We’re going to Amsterdam (or maybe The Hague?)

Netta Barzilai is on stage to give the trophy to Duncan Laurence.

“We’re going to Amsterdam,” she screams.

“This is to dreaming big, this is to music first, always,” Laurence says.

This is Holland’s first win since 1975. The contest in 1976 was held in The Hague.

Pro-Palestinian statement prevails for Iceland

While the contest made it almost all the through without any pro-Palestinian protests, Iceland did manage to sneak one in as their vote total was announced, holding up Palestinian flag banners to the camera.

Rather than cut away, the camera stayed with them.

Iceland’s Hatari holding up Palestinian flags during Eurovision in Tel Aviv on May 19, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube)

Eurovision Village still rocking at 2 a.m. before it closes for good

It’s after 2 a.m. and Sunday is a work day in Israel but there are still hundreds of people at the Eurovision Village in Tel Aviv, where tens of thousands gathered to watch the final Saturday.

The village, which hosted concerts and other events for a week, is packing up. The Kan broadcaster reports some 500,000 people visited the space.

The channel interviews a group of Dutch fans at the village who are very excited for the win (but said getting actual tickets to the event was too expensive.)

Standing in the middle of them is a man known simply as Liron Grey-Shirt, who has a habit of jimmying his way into live camera shots, always wearing a grey shirt. This time he is also wearing an Israeli flag, but no less out of place.

Kobi Marimi is okay, but kinda hungry

Despite his 23rd place finish, Kobi Marimi seems in good spirits in an interview with Kan.

He tells the station he wants to get something to eat and go enjoy the night. Unlike his stage performance, this time there are no tears.

 

Iceland puts BDS in BDSM with Palestinian flag confiscation video

A member of the Icelandic band Hatari publishes a video of Israeli security confiscating Palestinian flags from the group.

His inexpressive face, partially covered by a kinky mask, lends an air of perfect Eurovision ridiculousness to an otherwise unfunny scene.

And with that, we bid you goodnight.

Austria plans snap poll after far-right leader caught in graft scandal

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen says he wants snap elections to take place in September after the government collapsed over a corruption scandal which saw far-right Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache resign in disgrace following explosive revelations in a hidden camera sting.

“My preference is for early elections in September, if possible the beginning of September,” Van der Bellen told journalists after holding talks with Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, left, and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz deliver a press statement after a meeting on May 19, 2019, in Vienna. (HANS PUNZ / APA / AFP)

On Friday, two German newspapers published footage showing Strache openly discussing the possibility of awarding public contracts in return for campaign help for his far-right Freedom Party (FPOe).

— AFP

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Israel ends jury voting in second-to-last place

Israel gives The Netherlands 12 points, moving it in into second place, as the jury voting tally ends. Israel ends jury voting in second to last place with just 12 points.