Yesterday, we began our Eurovision preview journey in the cold north of Europe. Today we travel down to the sunny south, to a country famed for having pristine beaches, the current European football champions and a cuisine that gave you an excuse to go for a cheeky Nando’s. It’s Portugal!!!
Portugal made their debut in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1964. They have the dubious honour of the country has competed for the longest time without winning. Their best result was in 1996, when Lúcia Moniz, who you might recognise as Aurelia from Love Actually, came sixth. Portugal has not reached the final since 2010, and withdrew from last year’s contest. They last took part in 2015, when Leonor Andrade came 14th in the second semi-final with “Há um mar que nos separa” (There’s a sea that seperates us).
The Portuguese broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) organised the 51st edition of Festival da Canção, which has been used to select almost all of Portugal’s Eurovision entries. RTP invited 16 composers to compete, who then selected the singers for their songs. For the first time ever, song did not have to be in Portuguese and could be in any language. Despite this, only two of the entries were performed in English and the rest were performed in Portuguese. The festival consisted of two semi-finals and a final. Eight songs competed in each semi-final, where an in-studio jury (50%) and televoting (50%) sent four songs to the final. In the final, the winner was chosen by regional juries (50%) and televoting (50%). Having topped the jury vote and finishing second in the public vote, Salvador Sobral was awarded the Portuguese ticket to Kyiv.
Salvador Sobral was born on December 28th 1989 in Lisbon. He has also lived in New York and Barcelona. He originally studied Psychology in university but later went on to study Music in Barcelona’s prestigious Taller de Musics. He made his first foray into the music industry by competing on the third season of Ídolos (Portuguese version of Pop Idol) in 2009 and finished seventh overall. He released his debut album “Excuse Me” in August 2016. The song which he will perform in Kyiv, “Amar pelos dois” (Love for both) was written and composed by Salvador’s sister, Luísa, who finished third on the first season of Ídolos.
First of all, thank you Portugal for stopping Semi-Final 1 from being an all-English affair! As for the song itself, it has a wonderful quality to it. It takes me to a faraway place and a time long forgotten. Salvador has a beautiful tone to his voice and manages to show off its capabilities fully without being boastful or flashy. You can easily grasp that Salvador is desperately asking his love to come back, despite the language barrier for some. RTP has stated that they are aiming for their best ever result this year. With Portugal currently fifth in the betting odds, they might just achieve that goal. It’s always the quiet ones that you have to look out for.
What Could Have Been
As mentioned before, RTP abolished the language rule for this year’s Festival da Canção. One of only two songs to benefit from this was “Don’t Walk Away” by Pedro Gonçalves. This would be a change from Portugal’s usual entries because of its modern, up tempo sound and completely English lyrics. This break from tradition could have benefited Portugal in the contest. Maybe it will happen in a future contest but for now, we can only think about what might have been.
Boa sorte Portugal!
Is Salvador’s love for everyone or just for a few? Leave your comments below and stay tuned for another preview tomorrow!
(Sources: eurovision.tv, RTP, YouTube)