I am on holiday in Portugal and today I got the idea that Portugal has so far displayed very folkloristic contributions to the Eurovision Song Contest and unfortunately, as the statistics show, is one of the most unsuccessful countries in this regard (best place 6th place 1996). So, I looked up in the internet …
Since recently it is possible to see the contributions that the countries have chosen to participate in the competition. After some clips from different countries my wife and I discovered the Portuguese song, and after a few seconds we looked at each other incredulously…
The Eurovision Song Contest is often a rather creepy event. There is often the impression that, despite the many countries and artists who are participating every year, a creative vacuum is to be concealed – with the same songs in the same variations. Time and again attempts were made in the past to introduce new voting modalities, which were then again changed. This was not least because some winning songs were absolutely irreproducible – at least for people with a touch of music taste.
But whoever thinks this event is completely useless is a greatly mistaken. Especially in modern times this form of cross-nationality is important and offers the opportunity to get the musical expression of different countries shown. Unfortunately, the German comments of Peter Urban in the ARD (first German TV station) have been interspersed for years with biting to arrogant arrogance, without being really funny in both cases.
I watched this “Grand Prix” on TV for the first time in the 80s, zapped a few times in the 90s and 2000s, shocked and bewildered, and was then enthusiastically welcomed by the winner from Norway in 2009. Since then there have been many mixed years, but Lena’s contribution in 2010 as well as the awesome Austrian song performed by Conchita Wurst have left forgotten some of the embarrassing years.
From the coaching point of view, the following can be observed: the proportion of artists who show their nervousness has declined enormously since the 80s. Most of them are highly professional and have obviously no problems to sing and perform live in front of a million-plus audience. Unfortunately, there is no place for improvisations, because every movement, every gesture is rehearsed. But the high art is and still is to perform like a pro, but at the same time to electrify people while being authentic; that is, to express the characteristic of your personage.
But such a performance was rarely seen. Lena Meyer-Landrut is certainly an example of how this could be done. Each country has only three minutes to leave a lasting, positive impression. Three minutes to “flash” the audience not only in the arena, but also in front of the TVs; which can sometimes be completely different thing. Often a weak song can be weighed up by a visually interesting performance.
In recent years, Portugal has made its national preliminary decision at the Festival da Canção. In 2017 the winner is Salvador Sobral, who is going to be send to Kiev for his country.
The fact that my wife and I looked puzzled was mainly due to his unusual and strange performance, which is both surprising and completely fascinating at the same time. I thought, first, something is wrong with him, what kind of movements are these? But Salvador interprets his song with his style that is authentic, engaging and touching; and the more you listen to it, the more brilliant is “Amar Pelos Dois”.
Not only because of the compositional quality of this jazz-waltz (written by his sister) accompanied only with strings and piano, not only because I have never heard this language, which sometimes can sound like a drunken Catalan, so beautiful, and not only because the song of Salvador Sobral, with its expressive power and fragility, reminds us of the transgender voice of Anohni (from Antony and the Johnsons), I venture to prophesy that this year the victor will come from Portugal.
This song will also be outstanding because on 13th May the vast majority of other countries are going to present hymn-like uptempo numbers.