TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The Latest on the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest (all times local):

2:00 a.m.

The Netherlands is the winner of the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest.

Duncan Laurence's doleful piano ballad "Arcade" was tapped as an early front-runner before Saturday's Grand Final. But it had to rely on the fan vote to secure the country's fifth win in the competition. Italy finished second, followed by Russia, Switzerland and Norway.

Some 200 million people around the world were expected to watch the annual campy contest with 26 nations battling to be crowned Europe's best pop act.

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12:55 a.m.

Europe's ultimate pop extravaganza is hosting the Queen of Pop.

Madonna was the special guest Saturday at the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv where 26 nations were battling to be crowned Europe's best pop act. Some 200 million people around the world are expected to be watching the annual campy contest.

Israel earned the right to host the show after Netta Barzilai carried off last year's prize with her spunky pop anthem "Toy."

Madonna had faced calls to boycott the event by a Palestinian-led campaign. But she rejected them, saying she will "never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda."

Madonna performed her hit song, "Like a Prayer," marking 30 years to its release, and a new song "Future" from her forthcoming album "Madame X."

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12:05 a.m.

The 26 contestants in the Grand Final of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest have finished their acts.

Now the voting gets underway. To maximize onscreen tension, performers are picked Saturday by a mix of fan votes and professional juries from the participating countries. Spectators cannot vote for their own country, but like-minded countries tend to fall into blocs that back their regional favorites.

Israel earned the right to host the show after Netta Barzilai won last year with her spunky pop anthem "Toy."

The Netherlands has been tapped as an early front-runner for Duncan Laurence's doleful piano ballad "Arcade." Other favorites include Switzerland's energetic "She Got Me," sung by Luca Hänni, Sweden's soulful "Too Late for Love," sung by John Lundvik, and Australia's breathy act, "Zero Gravity," by Kate Miller-Heidke.

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23:30 p.m.

Iceland's controversial steampunk band Hatari has concluded their live performance without incident.

The band had drawn attention in Israel by initially vowing to stay out, saying it would be "absurd" to participate in Israel because of its policies toward the Palestinians. Later, they vowed to use the Eurovision spotlight to expose the "face of the occupation." But at a press conference after the semifinal, Hatari offered a purely positive message. "We need to unite and remember to love," it said, in the wake of "hate that's on the rise in Europe."

In Saturday's final they belted out their grinding metal rock to cheers from the audience. They are not a favorite to win.

Calls for performers to boycott the show have failed to generate much momentum.

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23:20

Israel's prime minister has called the country's Eurovision representative to wish him luck in the contest.

Benjamin Netanyahu's office says he spoke to Kobi Marimi Saturday night to tell him the "the entire nation is supporting you."

Marimi, with his song "Home," is considered a long shot to win. He has a tough act to follow after Netta Barzilai won it all for Israel last year with her spunky pop anthem "Toy."

Israel has won the Eurovision four previous times and it has provided the country with some cultural touchstones. "Hallelujah" became the country's unofficial national song after Milk and Honey won the contest Israel hosted in the late 1970s, and Dana International became a national hero and global transgender icon when she won with "Diva" in 1998.

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22:00

The Grand Final of the 64th Eurovision Song Contest is under way.

Europe's annual music extravaganza will crown one of 26 entries with dreams of following in the footsteps of past winners such as Swedish pop icons ABBA and Celine Dion, who represented Switzerland.

The show is taking place at Tel Aviv's Expo Center, starting at 10 p.m. Saturday (1900 GMT.) Some 200 million people around the world are expected to be watching.

Israel earned the right to host the show after Netta Barzilai carried off last year's prize with her spunky pop anthem "Toy."

The show of European unity brings together acts from 41 countries, including those with little connection to Europe, such as Australia.

The final round's winner will be influenced by TV viewers casting votes via text message.

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