Portugal’s Sobral wins Eurovision song contest

KIEV, Ukraine — Portugal’s Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a gentle romantic ballad that challenged the event’s decades-long reputation for cheesy, glittery excess.

Sobral sang his Amar Pelos Dois (Love For Both) in a high, clear tenor accompanied by quiet strings and a piano. Unlike the 25 other competitors who performed on a wide stage backed by flashing lights, bursts of flames and other 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.

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

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