It’s true. Portugal is out of Eurovision 2016 and fans can’t do anything about it (besides launching crowdfunding campaigns and petitioning parliament, anyway). These are sad and tearful days in Lisbon. So, to help lighten the mood among Portuguese eurofans, we’ve decided to select and debate Portugal’s five worst Eurovision entries since 2000. Let the arguments begin…
1. Nonstop – “Coisas de Nada” (2006)
Bernardo: Now that’s just a mess. One of my first Eurovision memories destroyed by an awful song. Everything was wrong with this – the song, the voices, the outfits, that lyric fail. And to know we had such an incredible patriotic song at Festival da Canção that year – it just breaks my heart. Please, Vânia, come back!
Josh: Non-stop? I wish this would stop. Ooooh gurl. You know a Eurovision entry is headed for the dumpster when the first note is from some outdated horn instrument that a poor band member had to pull cobwebs off to use. Those costumes and the feathers in their hair look like they were made for a low-budget high school theatre production. Just no.
Luis: This was glorious. I remember I laughed so hard when I saw them, especially after the lyric fail at the beginning which was an omen of this holy mess. And that totally random “make you style” at the end wearing THOSE costumes and having THAT hair… simply the best, better than all the rest.
Robyn: This looks like a group of friends who have put together a little show for their friend’s bachelorette party, just before the male stripper arrives. They can’t really sing, they can’t really dance, but they’ve been spending big at the party supplies store and are determined to have a good time. Hilarious for the bride-to-be, but a tragedy as a serious ESC entry.
Diego: Welcome to “How to ruin your country’s reputation at Eurovision in three minutes or less”. If you put all the Eurovision haters into just one room and asked them why they hate the contest, one of the most repeated statements would be – “it’s way too cheesy”. Performances like this hit the spot. “Gonna make you dance, gonna make you smile”… I assume people don’t like to be told what to do, especially when they’re being told by a bunch of ladies who seem to have gone through a very bad night and were still wasted while choosing their outfits. It applies for both the Iberian entries, though.
2. Homens da Luta – “A Luta é Alegria” (2011)
Bernardo: This one had to make the cut! Everyone thinks they were the worst. They were really really bad, indeed. Let’s not talk about the melody, the outfits, the staging or the voices. What stands out to me here is the lyrics – I understood their message because I’m Portuguese, but Europe didn’t. Nevertheless, I’m still shocked Rui Andrade was not able to win Festival da Canção 2011.
Josh: Almost every year there is a song from one country where I sit there and think, “What the actual heck am I watching?” and unfortunately in 2011 it was Portugal’s entry. Now whilst I understand that the message of the song was important for the Portuguese, for a native-English speaker like myself the message was entirely lost. The melody was off, and the voices of the “singers” sounded horrendous.
Luis: I identify with the message (or at least the things I understand), but this was not the way to deliver it. I assume they wanted to take Europe back to the Portuguese Revolution back in 1974 to start something similar, but it passed as a total failure. This ain’t good for A Luta.
Robyn: History lessons are fine for Eurovision (just ask ABBA), but if you’re going to do it, it really helps to have a good song. This is like a bunch of teachers who have dressed up for a school show, trying to make learning about history fun for a hall full of bored kids. For their next number, the male teachers will perform a hilarious version of “YMCA”.
Diego: I’m not too keen on political statements at Eurovision, although politics are always in, one way or another. But at least, if you’re going to the big stage with a message within your song, just make it either subtle or catchy, not just boring and dull, because people are not gonna buy it. I can’t argue with their message, sometimes the struggle might be joy, but it’s not joyful having to sit through three minutes of this. By the way, staging is crucial, guys; it’s not about planting a bunch of people, raising a couple of banners each.
3. MTM – “Só sei ser feliz assim” (2001)
Bernardo: I’m speechless. What is this? I wasn’t able to find anything positive back then. I’m still panicking with this duo. Poor staging and outfits. The song didn’t fit in the 21st century and, sweet Mary mother of Jesus, that choreography. In current days, even backing vocalists do better than this.
Josh: I hadn’t heard this song until I had to review it and I actually don’t hate it as much as I was expecting. The two male lead vocals are a little flat in parts but at least they can harmonise! And we can’t judge them for their oversized suits. It was 2001 – no one had a sense of style back then. We all know the ’90s really didn’t end until 2005. Portugal could and have done a lot worse than this.
Luis: I was about to turn seven in 2001 and I can remember parts of that contest – not this song, though. I actually couldn’t even hum this song before hearing it to review it, and if you ask me now, I probably won’t be able now neither. It’s the definition of ‘meh’, if you ask me.
Robyn: The song itself isn’t terrible, but it’s let down by the staging, particularly the dance moves. It’s the relentless side-to-side stepping, like a cheesy 1980s aerobics workout. I can only think that the choreographer wanted to minimise the risk of bad dad-dancing (a very real risk) and so gave the singers super basic choreography. Perhaps they’re trying to hypnotise the audience into liking them.
Diego: First off, any similarity with Estonia’s winning entry that year is pure coincidence; y’all know what I’m talking about. Is it just me or does the music of the chorus sound like something from the soundtrack of a sleazy X-rated movie? Sorry about that, but that song was so clichéd that while I was watching it I needed something to keep my mind occupied! If you want to send a ballad, fine. If you want to send high-tempo pop song, fine. If you want to send a jazzy tune, fine too. But don’t try to mix them all that way. Sorry, Portugal, after a one-year break, that was not a good comeback
4. Sofia Vitória – “Foi Magia” (2004)
Bernardo: Sofia, darling, I’m going to tell you what “was magic” – you being selected to be at Eurovision. After all this year, my ears are still bleeding over your trashy attempt at pop-vision. It simply does not work. That music needed a revamp after the national selection. Instead, it sounded better there – if that’s possible.
Josh: 2004 bought us some of the most memorable Eurovision entries of all time but I’ve just finished listening to Portugal’s entry and I’ve already forgotten it. Poor Sofia’s vocals sounded incredibly flat for a large portion of the song – unfortunately matched with incredibly flat sounding backing vocalists. Meh.
Luis: I quite liked this back in 2004, but in 2015 I’d say I was too easy to impress as a child. Maybe I liked Sofia rather than the song – who knows. Indeed, I don’t think “Foi Magia” is a bad tune, but it lacked zillions of things – a better musical arrangement, to begin with – to become a worthy qualifier, although 2004 wasn’t especially a good year.
Robyn: It’s another case where the song itself isn’t too bad, but the presentation kills it. Sofia’s vocals sound flat and that goddess-of-many-hands dance move is the wrong kind of distraction. And we need to talk about the dress. It looks like part of the wardrobe from a feminist theatre company’s musical celebrating the female reproductive organs. Enter its silken pink folds!
Diego: And here we are, back in 2004, do you remember it? Those good old days of outstanding, overwhelming and sometimes even over-the-top staging. “Wild Dances”, “Lane Moje”, “Shake it”… amazing songs with remarkable performances, but what about Portugal? Well, the song wasn’t THAT bad, it had some rhythm, some dancing on it, or at least that’s what I thought before seeing the people on stage. Sofía was just okay, didn’t miss a note during the song, but the dancers and backing vocals were just too static. Their kind-of-sassy head movement combined with their subtle dance routine (which somehow reminds me of 1998’s UK Imaani’s “Where are you?”) didn’t make it “magical” at all.
5. Sabrina – “Dança Comigo (Vem ser feliz)” (2007)
Bernardo: Emanuel’s first attempt at Eurovision – he then came back with lovely Suzy. We gotta be fair. For me, this is one of Portugal’s best stagings ever, despite my endless hate for the song, the lyrics and everything. She missed making the final by one point. In my mind, she should have stayed in Portugal. Shout out to the dancers – they’re working it.
Josh: I actually don’t mind this entry! It’s uptempo and fun and I do enjoy an entry that shows a bit of Latino flare. I love the theatre of those big fans and I’m a Latin dancing fiend so seeing dancers nail the Samba was awesome!
Luis: Totally LOVED this, and still do. This is my ultimate Eurovision guilty pleasure and Sabrina became quite a platonic love for the early-puberty Luis. She should have qualified instead of Latvia. I mean, the song is not a big thing, but the scenery was pretty fine, and she was on point. It felt very sophisticated in a way, like a high standing summer party by the beach.
Robyn: Hey, it’s not bad at all! The only thing that stands out as regrettable is at 1:27 when the lady dancer’s crotch seems about to slide towards the camera, but she recovers from it well. It’s a fun song and very Portuguese. Sometimes I think, “Ugh, can’t they just outsource it to Brazil?” But no – Portugal can do it. They just need make the effort.
Diego: A tough year for Western countries, for sure. It is noticeable how close Portugal was from making it past the semi-final, and actually, it doesn’t feel such a surprise to me given what entries made it through that year (yes, the change in the voting system had something to do with that). The Iberian flavour on that year’s entry is so intense she could sing it again in Spanish in the grand final and probably achieve a better ranking than their peninsular neighbours. Good dance routine (finally!) but the live vocals were sometimes dodgy and that might have pushed the song back for many – enough to not reaching the grand final. I must admit it made me jiggle on my chair while re-watching it.
Do you agree with our choices? Is anyone missing from this list? Tell us below!