Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final kicks off in Tel Aviv
Some 200 million people around the world were expected to be watching as 26 countries competed to be crowned Europe's top pop act and follow in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish icons ABBA and Celine Dion, who once represented Switzerland.
The Eurovision debuted in the wake of World War II to heal a divided continent. Over the years, the earnest show of European unity has ballooned into a campy, over-the-top, gay-friendly spectacle that brings together acts from 41 countries, including those with little or no connection to Europe, such as Australia.
Israel earned the right to host the show after Netta Barzilai won last year's competition with her catchy pop anthem "Toy."