Favourites include Cyprus' fiery song "Fuego" by Eleni Foureira and Israeli singer Netta Barzilai's "Toy", whose lyrics "I am not your toy" sum up the concerns of many women who have adopted the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.
The show, watched by millions around the world, got underway at the riverside Altice Arena with performances by Portuguese fado stars Ana Moura and Mariza, a willowy singer with bleached blonde hair. He juggles ballads with heavy rock, and balances solo acts with bands, to get the tempo right.
The event started out as a competition between European countries, but its huge popularity has led to the inclusion of Israel and Australia as contestants.
21-year-old MELOVIN represent Ukraine with the song Under The Ladder.
Noway's Alexander Rybak is a previous Eurovision victor, but he seems unlikely to make it to the top a second time with his offering this year, That's How You Write A Song.
"SuRie may be looking to win the UK's first Eurovision crown in 21 years but it would be against all the odds as a 200/1 outsider and the 2/1 favourite to finish last, with a first half draw not helping what has in recent years become a tough night for the United Kingdom". After Melovin, it was Spain's turn. That's not much time to get the props off stage, though the commercial breaks offer more breathing space for the crew.
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The kitsch is conspicuously absent this year and the usual extravagant stage effects are nowhere to be seen. And it's doing that with a $23.8 million budget that officials say is the most restrained since 2008.
"Music isn't fireworks, it's feeling", Sobral said to explain his 2017 triumph.
Recall automatically in the finals enter the country, the founder of the Eurovision song contest: Germany, France, UK, Spain and Italy, as well as the winners of previous year - Portugal.
Some Eurovision fans have taken to Twitter to call for Sobral to be jeered after he called Israel's entry this year "a terrible song" in an interview published Wednesday Portuguese daily Publico. Two semifinals have cut the overall field from 43 to the 26 who will compete on Saturday night.
This year saw the return to competition of Russian Federation, a traditional favourite, after missing last year's event amid a diplomatic spat with host Ukraine.