Song Title: “Amar Pelos Dois”
Artist: Salvador Sobral
First Semi-Final: Position #9
Last year’s entry: None
Portugal holds the record for most appearances in the Eurovision Song Contest without a win, and the past few years have been particularly terrible on that front. Since 2000, Portugal has skipped the contest entirely four times and failed to qualify into the final another eight times. Of the five times they’ve gone to the Grand Final, their average placement is 17th, but they haven’t gotten there at all since 2010. After a break last year, the Portuguese are sending a song written by Berklee College of Music alum Luisa Sobral and performed by her brother Salvador. Will Eurovision viewers feel the love for these two, and send them to perform on Saturday?
Ben recently described this song as “a beautiful, delicate flower that will be curbstomped by the competition.” I agree that it’s beautiful and delicate, but I’m not so sure about the last part. Last year, ZÖE not only qualified into the Grand Final, but finished 13th, well above where many of us predicted she’d land. “Amar Pelos Dois” has the same optimism “Loin d’ici” brought to the stage, with the added bonus of Salvador Sobral’s effortlessly silky-smooth voice. When you listen to the music video above, keep in mind that Sobral is singing without working monitors, and while suffering a hernia (which accounts for the shabby appearance Mike noted). I can’t wait to see what he can do when he can hear himself clearly and isn’t in major abdominal pain.
A potential problem is Portugal’s performance spot. They’re in the first semi-final, which at this juncture appears to be the stronger of the two, and they’ll take the stage ninth. That’s right in the middle of the order, after Azerbaijan, who looks to be a very strong contender this year. Following Portugal, however, are several entries that are either not very strong contenders (Greece, Poland), or have a much more typical sound for the contest and won’t pose direct competition (Moldova, Iceland). This is far from a unanimous endorsement, and I don’t think Portugal is one of the strongest entries in the contest, but I do expect them to qualify comfortably.