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Portugal's Sobral wins 2017 Eurovision Song Contest

UPI News Service, 05/14/2017 

Singing a song written by his sister, Portugal's Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision 2017 title, besting performers from 42 countries in the world's largest vocal competition.

The winning song was entitled Amar Pelos Dois, or For the Both of Us. Sobral's ballad gave Portugal its first win in the 61-year-old competition.

Afterward, Sobral said he was heartened his song was the winner over more upbeat Euro pop offerings.

"We live in a world of fast food music. This is a victory for music... music isn't fireworks, music is feeling," he said.

The Eurovision competition brought performers from 42 nations mostly across Europe to compete in a nationalist singing competition that last year drew an estimated 204 million viewers across the continent and the world. It is broadcast by members of the European Broadcasting Union.

Singers regularly offer lush, theatrical -- and sometimes bizarre -- performances of original music. Songs can be sung in any language and must be no longer than three minutes. The winner is determined by a combination of viewers' online and text message votes and scores awarded by a panel of judges.

As is tradition, the previous year's winner plays host the following year.

That brought a measure of political drama to the 2017 competition, when defending champion Ukraine refused to allow Russia's performer into the country. Ukraine said the Russian singer, Julia Samoylova, had performed a concert in Crimea without seeking the Ukrainian government's permission.

Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2012, leading to a years-long military conflict between the two nations.

Organizers petitioned the Ukrainian government to let Samoylova participate, but they refused. Russia boycotted the event this year, refusing to name another participant who hadn't violated Ukrainian government rules. Russia also refused to broadcast the competition on television, leaving fans there to watch online feeds where possible.

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