Monty’s Eurovision Countdown Part 29 – Portugal

Each year during the national final season there are some Eurovision constants. The better-known names are gonna qualify in Melfest; Sanremo is gonna go on for 743 hours; and in the Festival da Canção Portugal is gonna Portugal. And long may she!

With all the crash, boom, bang that accompanies much of the modern Contest it took a gentle, unassuming ballad for Portugal to finally win. It’s a victory that seems to have emboldened them to stick to their guns and pick what they like, rather than trying to send a stereotypically “Eurovision” entry. It’s a choice I love, and one which has encouraged a high degree of risk in the Festival da Canção. It’s not always successful but give me Conan Osiris’ Telemoveis over something like Beyba’s Solo any, each and every day.

Understatement remains at the heart of Portugal’s unpredictability. When it works, it’s pure delight, like Maro’s Suadade, Saudade. That charm is written right through Ioanda’s Grito like a stick of rock, although it comes with plenty of Lusitanian angst. She sings of survival, but it’s a destiny that comes with still-burning scars. It’s both gentle and highly emotionally charged at the same time.

The performance includes dancers forming various tableaux who move around her in lace masks. It reminds me of another Portuguese classic, Senhora do Mar. Iolanda could use that senhora’s negras aguas to quench the remaining burn.

Eight PointsIf there’s any justice this will do a Maro, and not a Conan, who might just have been a step too far for a mainstream audience, but whatever the result I adore that Portugal just keeps on giving us songs like this.


Photo: Sebas Ferreira/EBU

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