At two opposite corners of Europe, we have the national finals of two one-time winners of Eurovision. Finland and Portugal may be far apart geographically, but they share similar experiences in their Eurovision history – having had many years in the contest with few high finishes places, and then achieving a win almost out of the blue.
Finland: Uuden Musiikin Kilpailu (UMK) 2020
Finland have returned to a more traditional national final after a couple of years where they internally selected their artist and then did a final for the song. There are 6 finalists, and it’s really a choice between 5 competent if rather unexciting songs or the one you see here.
The favourite (and my favourite): Erika Vikman “Cicciolina”
A somewhat unexpected subject matter, but this uptempo, campy, Scandipop song takes on the story of the Hungarian-Italian porn star turned politician, “Cicciolina”, the stage name of Illona Staller. She has quite the story and while it seems utterly incongruous for that to be the subject of a potential Finnish Eurovision entry, it makes it all the more glorious. I suspect the public vote might go for this, but the (international) jury may bury it…
Portugal: Festival da Canção 2020
Since Portugal’s win in 2017, their national final seems transformed, finally breaking free of the fado-dominance and having really interesting national finals. The music is defiantly not tailored for Eurovision, but rather than being a fado showcase, a whole range of modern Portuguese and world musical styles are showcased, with confident and bold/alternative staging. It’s actually one of my favourite national finals of late, and this year has not been an exception.
My (joint) favourite: Filipe Sambado “Gerbera amarela do Sul”
This lilty, meandering song, reminiscent of lazy holidays in warm climes was on my radar even before the semi-final, but the staging and performance of this really brought it to another mesmerizing level. Maybe I should have expected that having looked at a couple of his music videos but it was quite some spectacle seeing him in a costume that was a cross between Queen Cersei and Maleficent. I can’t wait to see what he will do for the final! Sadly I think this has no chance of winning (was great to see it reach the final) so catch it while you can.
The (fan) favourite and my other (joint favourite): Bárbara Tinoco “Passe-Partout”
This has been my favourite from early on (now joint favourite) and is the fan favourite – it’s a super sweet ditty that is reminiscent of French music of the 1920s or 1930s. Bárbara was able to pull this off live with a La La Land inspired performance and near perfect vocal. She’s changing the staging for the final (not a bad thing to try) and closes the final. She’s got tough competition so will be keeping fingers crossed.
The other likely winner: Elisa “Medo de sentir”
Other than “Passe-partout”, this is the other big favourite and is performing second to last – the slot where more than one win has come from in recent years. Judging from online views, downloads etc. this looks like it could be popular with the public and also seems tailor made for an FdC jury. It’s a fine song no doubt, and very fine vocals, but I think it is closer to the songs Portugal traditionally has sent to the contest where I think now I want Portugal to keep sending unique entries, even if they don’t perform well at the contest.
As always, the times and links to shows are available on my Eurovision 2020 season calendar page.