Eurovision 2018 to focus on the music, not the glitz

Eurovision 2018 to focus on the music, not the glitz
Netta from Israel performs the song 'Toy' in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, May 11, 2018 during a dress rehearsal for the Eurovision Song Contest. The Eurovision Song Contest grand final takes place in Lisbon on Saturday May 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — 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 .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.