Eurovision 2021 national selections: Portugal preview

It may not be a fashionable or commonly held few among the Eurovision fandom, but I have a real love and soft spot for the Portuguese national selection, the long-running Festival da Canção. I enjoy that i is so very different to Melfest, and almost all the other national finals; I enjoy its chilled and relaxed feel; I enjoy the variety and style of songs, often unique to Portugal; and I appreciate the complete lack of compromise to Eurovision – Portugal goes its own way and I don’t think we’d have it any other way.

Inevitably, I lost my favourite FdC 2021 song in the semi-finals (great early 80s inspired/sounding song but vocals not the strongest), but there is a broad range of songs to enjoy in this final. I’m fairly sure my top two won’t win, so I will enjoy them while I can!

My favourite: Pedro Gonçalves “Não Vou Ficar”

A real 80s pop song here in the Portuguese language – I really enjoy this and seeing the live performance convinced me (I liked it from the lyric video, but really enjoyed the live performance). I hold no real expectations of this winning so I’m well prepared for disappointment!

My second favourite: Joana Alegre “Joana da Mar”

One of the songs I hadn’t even registered until I watched the semi-final, this song and performance really delighted, especially the choruses.

My third favourite (and one of actual favourites): Karetus & Romeu Bairos “Saudade”

Opening the final, this song stands out in a similar way to how “Telemóveis” stood out in 2019, though is perhaps not quite so “out there” as Conan Osiris’s song. (It was one of my favourite songs from 2019). It’s very different, and very Portuguese (and with some nice use of iconic Portuguese tiles, “azulejos”, in the staging. Certainly in with a shout of winning though running order might count against it.

The (probable) favourite: Carolina Deslandes “Por um Triz”

Carolina Deslandes is quite well known in Portugal, and this impactful song has racked up far more YouTube views than any of the other finalists. With a moving and atmospheric song, simple staging, and powerful vocals, this is probably the one to beat.

The other favourite: NEEV “Dancing in the Stars”

Bringing this selection to an end, is the other big favourite to win – and shockingly for FdC – it’s a song entirely in English! NEEV is a good performer and it’s definitely a decent song, but after Duncan Laurence’s win in 2019 with “Arcade”, this feels extremely close in style – the “sad boy at piano ballad” to put it one way. Nothing wrong with those per se, and Arcade was sublime, but it just feels a little more of the same and crucially, there is nothing Portuguese about this song, and if there is one thing I like to see from Portugal at Eurovision, is that you can tell it is Portugal, through style or just language. So I will be rather keeping my fingers crossed that this doesn’t find enough favour to win.

The final of Festival da Canção begins at 9pm UK time on Saturday 6 March and can be watched on the broadcaster’s website.

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