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Eurovision 2024: The final kicks off after protests and the expulsion of Joost Klein

Eurovision 2024: The final kicks off after protests and the expulsion of Joost Klein

MALMO, Sweden (AP) – 68th Eurovision Song Contest The musical finally got underway on Saturday in the Swedish city of Malmo after days of protests and off-stage drama that upended the scene A feel-good musical celebration In the messy pressure cooker that overwhelmed her The war in Gaza.

A boisterous Croatian rocker, a Swiss performer with a soaring voice and a young Israeli singer with a powerful vocals were – controversially – among acts from 25 countries vying for the continent’s musical crown.

Before the final match, Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators He marched through Malmö in opposition Share Israel. Separately, the Dutch competitor Jost Klein He was expelled from the competition due to a backstage altercation, which the police are investigating.

What do you know about this year’s Eurovision Song Contest:

The competition organizer, the European Broadcasting Union, said that a member of the production crew had filed a complaint against the 26-year-old Dutch singer and rapper, who was a favorite among bettors and fans with his song “Europapa.”

Dutch broadcaster AVROTROS, one of dozens of public broadcasters that collectively fund and broadcast the competition, said that when Klein walked off the stage after Thursday’s semifinal, he was filmed without his consent and in turn made a “threatening gesture” toward the camera.

The broadcaster said that Klein did not touch the camera or the camera operator, and described his expulsion as “disproportionate.”

Protests and opposition have overshadowed the competition that has become Camp celebration Europe’s diverse – and sometimes confusing – musical tastes and a forum for inclusivity and diversity with a large following from the LGBT community.

Competitors performed in front of a live audience of thousands estimated at 180 million Viewers all over the world. Each contestant had three minutes to mix catchy tunes and… An eye-catching scene To shows capable of winning the hearts of millions of viewers. Musical styles ranged from rock, disco, techno and rap, and sometimes were a mixture of more than one style.

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The winner will be decided by Eurovision’s famously complex system of jury and public vote, with each act hoping to escape the humiliation of receiving a ‘blank score’ – zero points.

The contest returns to Sweden, home of last year’s winner, Loren, half a century after ABBA won Eurovision with “Waterloo” – Eurovision’s most iconic moment. ABBA did not appear in person in Malmö, although digital “ABBA-tars” from the “ABBA Voyage” stage show appeared.

The trio of former Eurovision winners – Charlotte Pirelli, Carola and Conchita Forrest – took to the stage to sing “Waterloo” as the votes were cast and counted.

Sweden’s entry, identical twins Marcus and Martinus, opened the competition with their upbeat song “Unforgettable”, followed by Ukrainian duo alyona alyona and Jerry Heil with “Teresa & Maria,” a powerful tribute to their war-torn country.

Following German singer Isaac and Luxembourg singer Tali, Israeli singer Eden Golan took the stage in front of a wall of voices — boos mixed with cheers — to perform “Hurricane.” Golan rose to prominence during the week, despite the protests sparked by her appearance.

Eurovision organizers ordered the original title of her song “October Rain” to be changed – an apparent reference to the October 7 Hamas attack that killed about 1,200 people in Israel and sparked the war in Gaza.

The show was typically eclectic at Eurovision: Lithuania’s Sylvester Pelet was an affable young singer, while Estonia’s 5Miinust x Puuluup performed a pop-zombie hybrid folk piece featuring the talharpa, a traditional stringed instrument. Greek singer Marina Satti and Armenian singer Ladaneva combined elements of folk song and dance with powerful pop, while British singer Olly Alexander presented the upbeat dance song “Dizzy.”

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Also in the running is the goofy ’90s nostalgia of Finnish Windows95, who emerged from a giant egg on stage wearing very little clothing. Irish goth Bambi Thug summoned a demon on stage and brought a scream coach to Malmö, while… Spanish Nebulosa She boldly reclaims the term used as an insult to women in “Zora.”

The nominees include Swiss singer Nemo – who will be the first non-binary Eurovision winner if the opera song “The Code” tops the vote – and Croatian Pepe Lasagna. His song “Rim Tim Tagi Dim” is a rollicking rock song that addresses the issue of young Croatians leaving the country in search of a better life.

Although Eurovision’s slogan is “Music unites us,” this year’s event has proven divisive.

Tensions and nerves were evident in the hours leading up to the final. Several performers were absent from the Olympic-style artists’ entrance at the start of the final rehearsal, although they all appeared in the final.

Broadcasters who were scheduled to read the results for Norway and Finland pulled out at the last minute, citing external events.

French powerhouse singer Slimane cut short his song “Mon Amour” during rehearsal to deliver a speech urging people to “unite with music, yes – but with love for peace.” The speech was not repeated during the final evening.

Many of the contestants referred to peace or love at the end of their performances.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators say Israel should not be allowed to participate amid a war that has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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Thousands of people demonstrated for the second time this week on Saturday in Sweden’s third-largest city, which has a large Muslim population, to demand a boycott of Israel and a ceasefire in the seven-month-old war.

A smaller group gathered outside Malmo Stadium before the final, with some chanting “shame” at the arriving music fans and confronting police blocking their path. Climate activist Greta Thunberg was among those escorted by police.

Lauren, Eurovision champion last yearHe said world events were “shocking”, but urged people not to shut down the “community of love” that is Eurovision.

“What heals trauma…Does trauma heal trauma? Does negativity cure negativity? “It doesn’t work that way,” she told the Associated Press. “The only thing that truly heals trauma — that’s science — is love.”

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Hilary Fox in Malmö, Jari Tanner in Helsinki, and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

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An earlier version of this story was corrected to show that the Dutch broadcaster’s spelling is AVROTROS, not AVROTOS.