Oi, Portugal! On Sunday evening RTP will stage the final of Festival da Canção 2017 — the country’s Eurovision 2017 national selection. Ahead of the show the Wiwi Jury — our in house panel of music unprofessionals — reviewed all eight qualifiers based on their semi-final performance. Salvador Sobral came out on top with his enchanting song “Amar Pelos Dois”, which our jurors think straddles eras by sounding vintage but never dated.
Our jury for this edition consisted of 14 jurors who come from Australia, Czech Republic, Morocco, New Zealand, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Each juror assessed each song independently, and awarded each song a score from 0 to 10. Before calculating the Wiwi Jury verdict, we dropped the highest and lowest scores to reduce potential bias and outliers. The average scores ranged from 4.29 to 6.21 (out of a perfect 10), suggesting that our jurors were not exactly smitten with this selection.
Below, you can read a positive and negative take on each song in Portugal. If you click on the song title, you can read the Wiwi Jury’s full reviews. Click here to read our reviews from each of this year’s national selections.
1. Salvador Sobral – Amar Pelos Dois (6.21)
The positive: This is just delightful. “Amar pelos dois” would not have been out of place at Eurovision 60 years ago, but yet it feels vintage, not dated. It’s helped that scruffy hipster Salvador brings a quirky feel to his performance. He bends the song to his own style, but still lets the classic sound ring true. If this went to Kyiv, it would be a moment of stillness amid all the dramatic divas and pumped-up pop and it could do really well. (Robyn, 8.5/10)
The negative: Why anyone thought delving in to a 1950s back catalogue was a good idea is beyond me. Maybe there’s a timeless quality to it, but this wouldn’t stand out for any good reason at Eurovision. I understand Salvador was ill during this performance, but all of his mannerisms are off-putting. I just can’t enjoy it. (Chris, 3/10)
2. Celina De Piedade – Primavera (6.08)
The positive: “Primavera” is so joyful and authentic and Celina is a very charismatic performer. This is heartwarming, and it manages to put a smile on my face. However, this sounds more “opening act” than Eurovision song. The song would be a fabulous opening for the first semi-final of Eurovision, although whether it would make the final is another story. (Luis, 6/10)
The negative: The beginning of the song is quite boring and nearly put me to sleep, but it brings the fun as it progresses. The light and easy melody flows really nicely, but becomes monotonous towards the end. However, the song gives me a feeling of something street artists would do. It doesn’t belong on a big stage. Yes, it’s one of the best entries in Portugal’s selection, but that doesn’t say much. (Mikhail, 4.5/10)
3. Pedro Goncalves – Don’t Walk Away (5.88)
The positive: Unlike so many competitors at this year’s Festival da Cançao, Pedro Gonçalves decided to go international. His entry is a modern mid-tempo EDM song in English. It is far from original, but it is good enough to find its place in the ESC audience’s hearts. All in all, this is a good song for Eurovision. (Jovana, 7/10)
The negative: I applaud Pedro for submitting something new to Festival da Canção, but new doesn’t always mean better. “Don’t Walk Away” is such a generic song that it sounds like a reject from Switzerland’s live auditions. We’ve heard this type of song so many times in other national finals that it’s now tiresome to endure. It would be a shame if Portugal sends this. (Zakaria, 3/10)
4. Fernando Daniel – Poema A Dois (5.79)
The positive: “Poema A Dois” encapsulates the essence of intelligent songwriting. Unlike most love songs, the subject matter here isn’t obvious. The song structure deliberately omits a chorus, making for an interesting path from verses to climax. Fernando Daniel sprinkles youthful star quality on this classic composition, whilst taking listeners on a poetic journey. Although the core elements of this stand tall, bad wardrobe choices and poor staging dampen its magic. (Deban, 8/10)
The negative: The Latin strings at the start are utterly enchanting, but unfortunately that’s about it. Midway through the song I was hoping, praying, begging for it to offer a bit more – it just never did. Even if it did rise up a tiny bit at the end – and electric guitars are always welcome – it never really got out of being just another same-y and dragging ballad. We seriously need something else. (Natalie, 4/10)
5. Jorge Benevida – Gente Bestial (5.63)
The positive: “Gente bestial” has fun playing with ska and new wave — without being slavish to the genre like Slovenia’s Sell Out was. Musically and visually it’s a whole lot of crazy fun, and Jorge’s used-car-salesman plaid jacket almost threatens to upstage him. I don’t think it would work as a Eurovision entry, but it’s another act I’m pleased to see in the FdC final. (Robyn, 6.5/10)
The negative: “Gente Bestial” is the type of song that puts the credibility of Eurovision into question with its crazy/joke composition and stage presentation. The song sounds like it comes straight out of an old kids TV show or an amusement park which is very annoying and painful to listen to, and Jorge’s performance isn’t helping things at all. (Zakaria, 1/10)
6. Deolinda Kinzimba – O Que Eu Vi Nos Meus Sonhos (5.54)
The positive: From start to finish, Deolinda kept me spellbound. Her dreamlike melody evoked the right emotions, and at the right moments. Her vocal control is equally impressive. Yes, she can sing the house down but this melody — which unveils her hopes and dreams for unity — doesn’t call for that. Accordingly, she applies a measured approach in her delivery, and boy does she sparkle! In a field of amateurs, Miss Kinzimba is sufficiently skilled to deliver a master class to established musicians. (Deban, 9/10)
The negative: This is a beautiful song filled with a lot of emotion. Unfortunately, it’s equally boring as it is beautiful. We already have a million lifeless ballads at Eurovision 2017 and while this is better than most of them, we don’t need another one. Deolinda’s vocals are dazzling but she needs a more contemporary and more energetic song to be able to succeed at Eurovision. (Antranig, 3/10)
7. Lena D’Agua – Nunca Me Fui Embora (4.46)
The positive: Oh my God, this is so amateur hour that I adore it. Lena looks like she’s just turned up from watching her grandchildren. The song makes you want to sway your arms up in the air and just think about happier times. Mostly, I want Portugal to send this because I want to find a way to drink wine with Lena in Kyiv. I bet she’s a hoot. (Chris, 6/10)
The negative: The melody instantly reminded me of Lilly Allen’s “F*ck you”, but then I couldn’t find the lightness in Lena’s song when she started to sing. Closer to the chorus, another song popped up in my head — “Jingle Bell Rock”. Is it a new song or just a mash up of old songs translated into Portuguese? It’s uninteresting and no one would want to listen to it — unless it was played somewhere in a shop during the Christmas season. (Mikhail, 2.5/10)
8. Viva La Diva – Nova Gloria (4.29)
The positive: There’s something about Viva la Diva that is really catching my attention. They managed to bring something dated that sounds quite contemporary at the same time. However, even if I do appreciate the falsettos from both male singers, the song is slightly messy in some parts. But I still enjoy it. It’s varied and interesting but it lacks a little modernity. The idea is nice, but even if it’s not especially fresh. (Jordi, 7/10)
The negative: “Nova Glória” starts off a little dated, but strong enough to keep me engaged. The vocal on the female lead is powerful and reminiscent of all the great divas in music history. Then the two fellas join her on stage and it turns into an entire joke. The falsetto backing vocals are off-putting and cringe worthy. How this managed to win the first heat baffles me. (Josh, 2/10)
Those are our rankings for Festival Da Cancao — but what are yours? Who do you think should represent Portugal in Kyiv? How well will they do in this year’s Eurovision? Let us know in the comments.