The Eurovision Song Contest 2018 is just a few weeks away. The excitement of getting to see the Eurovision Song Contest live in Portugal has got me thinking back to the nation’s chequered history at the Eurovision Song Contest.
Let’s face it, since their first appearance in 1964, Portugal’s Eurovision history leaves a lot to be desired. Up until Salvador’s winning song, Amar Pelos Dois in Kyiv last year, the country held the record for the most appearances without a win.
After a bit of research and listening to all the Portuguese Eurovision entries (if you’re thinking that it must’ve been a hard slog – it was!), I have listed my favourite songs and performances. The rich tapestry of life means we all have our own opinions so don’t be offended if your favourite didn’t make the list. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section or if you think I have missed something. Here goes my top 5…
5. Suzy – Quero Ser Tua (2014)
Quero Ser Tua was Suzy’s 2014 entry to the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen. Now, I’m a big fan of Suzy but in the live performance of this song, her voice leaves a little to be desired. That said, this was one of my favourite entries in 2014. Granted, not for the same reasons as Conchita’s powerful, moving winning song Rise Like a Phoenix or Sana Nielson’s euphonious, third placing Undo the same year. It was just a perfect “Eurovision song”…and by that I mean…that it’s a party anthem with fab staging and a middle aged women dancing like an embarrassing Aunt at the family Christmas Party. (I’m well aware Suzy was only 34 when she performed this song at Eurovision but the point still stands!) What more could you want from a Eurovision tune!?
The song inexplicably came 11th in the first semi-final finishing a single point and place behind San Marino’s queen Valentina with her song Maybe which meant Suzy just missed out on qualifying for the 2014 final. Maybe its downfall was that it was a bit out of tune or maybe it was the creepy topless man with drum on stage. Either way it left an impression on me and it remains one of my favourite Portuguese songs ever!
4. Flor-De-Lis – Todas As Ruas Do Amor (2009)
Moscow hosted the 54th Eurovision song Contest after Dima Bilan’s win with Believe in Belgrade the year before (now that was a great song. Am I right!?) Portugal entered the pretty song Todas As Ruas Do Amar performed by Flor-De-Lis. I have recently discovered that the title of the song means ‘All Streets of Love’ (thanks Googe translate!) I still have no idea what the song is really about.
A ninth place finish in the first semi-final saw the song power through to the final of the Eurovision Song Contest but Todas As Ruas Do Amar was no match for Alexander Rybak’s winning song, Fairytale which won with one of the largest scores ever recorded at Eurovision. I’m sure this was partly a reflection of the quality of the other songs entered that year as even the UK managed a 5th place finish with Jade Ewan’s performance of It’s My Time.
Todas As Ruas Do Amar remains one of my favourite Eurovision songs of 2009 and had one of Portugal’s best ever finishes, coming 15th.
3. Leonor Andrade – Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa (2015)
The first time I went to the Eurovision Song Contest to watch the live semi-finals was Vienna in 2015 and although Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa wasn’t necessarily one of the strongest songs of the year it holds a special place in my heart. I loved the use of the Portuguese language which gave this entry individuality in a sea of English language, manufactured pop songs like the eventual winning song Heroes by Måns Zelmerlöw and other successful songs that year (see Polina Gagarina’s A Million Voices and Guy Sebastian’s Tonight Again).
The staging was on point and Leonor looked great in her black cape. She made full use of the obligatory Eurovision wind machine. The song didn’t seem to resonate with the Eurovision audience and with an arguably unfair fourteenth placing in semi-final 2, it was yet another early exit for Portugal at the song contest.
2. Sabrina – Dança Comigo (Vem Ser Feliz) (2007)
Just like most Eurovision fans, I like camp, cheesy pop with an ethnic beat; so in 2007 I was blown away by Sabrina’s entry Dança Comigo (Vem Ser Feliz). Reminiscent of a Portugeuse holiday song, it was right down my alley. Staging included massive, novelty-style fans and a Latin dance sequence all with the tongue-in-cheek seriousness I’ve come to expect from Eurovision.
I am not ashamed to say that this song was one of my favourites at the Helsinki 2007 Eurovision Song Contest. Sadly it came 11th in the semi-final which meant it missed qualification by one place. This said, 2007 was was littered with disappointments as I saw some of the best songs Eurovision had to offer fail to qualify, including Denmark’s Drama Queen performed by DQ and Cyprus’ Evridiki with Comme Ci, Comme ça. Just don’t get me started on how Spain’s D’Nash only came 20th in the final with their song I Love You Mi Vida. Have a listen and tell me they shouldn’t have come top 10!
1. Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois (2017)
OK, so surely you knew this song was going to be number 1 in the list? Of course this is as much to do with the paltry selection of decent Eurovision songs entered by Portugal over the years as it is to do with the pure quality and class that Salvador Sobral brought to the Eurovision stage with Amar Pelos Dois in 2017.
I have to admit that there were songs higher up on my playlist this year but watching the song performed live in the International Exhibition Centre, in Kyiv brought the song to life in a way I hadn’t witnessed before. Were there songs I would’ve preferred to have won Eurovision in 2017? Of course! (Namely Bulgaria’s Kristian Kostov with Beautiful Mess) But did Amar Pelos Dois deserve the win? Yes, without a doubt. With its timeless simplicity, soulful originality and the fact that Salvador’s heart and soul literally went into the song and performance means it’s certainly a deserved winner to me.
It’s been a long time coming but Portugal’s determination has finally paid off with their 2017 winning song, Amar Pelos Dois. The bar for Portugal had previously been set pretty low but Salvador has proven, as we already knew, that musical talent exists in Portugal. The distinct and popular nature of the song means Portugal might be one to watch in future contests. Let’s hope it’s not quite so long before the Portugal delegation once again are able to raise the Eurovision winner’s trophy.
Here’s to Lisbon 2018! Boa Noite Europa!