The host of Eurovision in 2018, it’s been a long, long journey for Portugal to finally reach this point. No country had been in Eurovision longer without a single win to their name; in fact, poor Portugal had never even reached the Top 5 in almost 50 years in the contest! That all changed in 2017 with a spectacular win with a very understated song. What else have I dug out from their long Eurovision history?
You’ll note all the below are in Portuguese and that has been a distinctive feature of Portugal in the contest – they have never wavered from entering songs that represent Portuguese culture, musical traditions and language (as opposed to sending songs that might have a wider European appeal!). Even France has had more English in its entries than Portugal! Goes to show that if you stick with it long enough, you’ll eventually get the reward!
5. Tonicha “Menina do alto da serra” (1971, 9th place, 83 points)
One of the better entries from the vast back catalogue of Portuguese entries – and this is my favourite from those. At the time, this was Portugal’s best result to date, having never even been in the top 10 since their debut in 1964 (in fact they got nul points on their debut!).
4. Suzy “Quero ser tua” (2014, 11th in semi-final, 39 points)
My good friend Clive would never forgive me if I omitted Suzy from this list! It’s not exactly the most complex of songs, but it’s actually rare for Portugal to put in these sorts of up cheesy uptempo Iberian numbers, so among the long list of Portuguese entries it does stand out. Suzy came to Eurofest at the RVT and was a lot of fun, partying away till the early hours (though we wondered if someone had just forgotten to book her a hotel!)
3. Salvador Sobral “Amar pelos dois” (2017, winner, 758 points)
The song that changed Portugal’s record forever – the biggest Eurovision winner ever in points total, Salvador won both the jury and the televote by a very convincing margin. Eurovision is so often about the staging and lighting, the campness, the big key changes, the dance routines, that it is indeed a rare and welcome sight to see such a simple, homely song triumph on the biggest stage. It was a song written by his sister for him, and performed in rehearsal by her due to Salvador’s illness (heart problems). He returned to Portugal as a national hero, and I’m pleased to say has now had a heart transplant (after taking a break from music) and is recovering well. We may yet see him at the 2018 contest itself.
2. Vânia Fernandes “Senhora do mar (Negras águas)” (2008, 13th place, 69 points)
A high quality entry here I think, and a dramatic song that build through the three minutes. There was a somewhat unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in the live performance that you might spot – a combination of a very sheer, floaty dress and a wind machines turned up high… (credit to my Brighton friend Graham B for being the first to spot it!)
1. Flor-de-Lis “Todas as ruas do amor” (2009, 15th place, 57 points)
Easily my favourite Portuguese entry by some distance, I think this is a lovely sweet song. Undeniably Portuguese, it’s a very jolly folk pop number – Portugal does it best when it keeps it simple and authentic it seems.
So did you like my Portuguese top 5? Would you have put their winner Salvador higher than I did? Or lower?