It took Portugal 50 years to get their first win at Eurovision (in 2017) but they have not rested on their laurels, achieving two impressive results in the past two years, and in my own pre-Eurovision countdowns, I’ve had them in top 10 last year, and in 2019, in the same position as this year, the bronze medal third place. This year it’s Mimicat representing Portugal – can she keep their recent good results going?
Mimicat (real name Marisa Mena) won Portugal’s national final this year, over 20 years after her previous attempt. As a 16 year old, and under the name Izamena, she entered Festival da Canção 2001 but didn’t get past the semi-finals. Happily she had no such trouble this time, and we have this very Portuguese song, Ai coração, at the contest. This is a real vibrant song, and is reminiscent of big musical numbers. Mimicat is the co-writer of the song and it’s all about that giddiness of either falling of love or fancying someone (maybe someone you can’t have). It’s uptempo and has a very Portuguese/Iberian sound as well – and unlike the last two Portuguese entries, it’s purely in Portuguese and no English at all.
This is an entry to make my own coração sing – it’s so fun, and vibrant and distinct from any other country’s entry. While the dancers and the choreography are a lot of fun, it’s Mimicat who is the star of the show. Her vocals are never less than great and she really gets to show her ability off in an amazing long note towards the end of the song. She’s so engaging a performer as well, really connecting with the camera and audience, and just seeming like she’s having a whale of a time. There’s a nice sultry bridge in the song, that then goes into that big long note, and then a final big flourish to end, which is very Chicago/musical theatre.
It amazes me that people wouldn’t have a smile on their face watching this, especially that ending, but I’ve known a couple of people who haven’t liked it at all – but more of my Eurovision group like i than not so I take comfort from that. Qualification is not assured – it’s a tough semi-final, and Mimicat is 5th in the running order which is quite early. But she does have a unique genre, and comes between two indie rock songs. Staging is quite stripped back it seems but classy – but success will rest more on Mimicat’s shoulders. She’s good enough to carry that so I am keeping my fingers crossed she will not befall the fate of the last Portuguese entry I had in my third place. That was of course Conan Osíris with “Telemóveis” which failed to make the final – though that was more niche and less accessible than this burst of Iberian musical theatre.
Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1964
Appearances (excluding this year): 53
Best result: Winner in 2017
Last year’s result: 12th