Spain has one of the world’s richest musical traditions and Spanish — its glorious national language — can be heard in some of the world’s all-time greatest hits (from “Despacito” to “Macarena”). Yet since Ruth Lorenzo’s 10th place finish in Copenhagen, Spain’s Eurovision acts have struggled to make an impact, with Edurne placing 21st, Barei 22nd and Manel Navarro 26th. It’s a huge fall following Ruth Lorenzo’s 10th place finish in 2014.
With today’s confirmation that RTVE will participate in Eurovision 2018, we thought we’d pause and reflect on the past three entries and ask you to name your favourite. What did Spain get wrong? And which elements — from performer to song choice — did it get right?
2015: Edurne (21st with 15 points)
During Edurne’s first rehearsal at Eurovision 2015, Spanish members of the press corps were shouting and clapping just 20 seconds after it started. I can understand why: Edurne’s performance had the potential to be absolutely epic. Wearing a glittering red cape with hood, she started out crouched on the ground, hovering over her sexilicious dancer Giuseppe di Bella, who seemed to be playing dead. LED raindrops fell behind her and she walked across an LED floor of rippling water. As the performance proceeded he pulled back a massive red train on her cape, eventually ripping it off to reveal a glittering gold dress with a long slit. When the two began dancing it was like Dancing with the Stars on steroids…especially when he spun her around his neck. Unfortunately her Mary Magdalene cradling Jesus realness didn’t go down so well with Europeans, who were perhaps more inclined for something frothy and pop-oriented.
2016: Barei (22nd with 77 points)
There was no other song quite like “Say Yay!” in the contest. It was an instant pick-me-up and infectiously feel-good with a chorus that seemed to grow in intensity with each refrain in the studio version. And despite being upbeat pop for the masses, the staging ultimately let this one down. The vast stage somehow looked empty and bare, even with a series of backing vocalists. Barei’s planned stage fall was either somewhat confusing (is she OK?!) or totally cringe. Her backing vocalists didn’t blend particularly well either.
Memorable lyrics: “Come on and raise your battle cry, you are the one who never dies”
2017: Manel Navarro (26th with 5 points)
If you only understand English, then the chorus sounded both childish (“clap your hands…”) and vaguely sexual (“….and do it for your lover”). But the translated verses totally changed it. The song is about how if you’re feeling a bit down, you should still make the effort to get out and do stuff because your bae is relying on you. It’s really sweet… but that may have been lost on folks who don’t understand Spanish. The summery staging oozed piña colada realness through a series of playful and brightly coloured images, including oversized surfboards that appeared and disappeared in succession, a sandy beach vista with sun chairs, and the outline of palm trees and a golden sun. At one point we saw a camper van — probably a VW — hopping. When Manel sings, the passengers couldn’t help but bounce along. Unfortunately Europe wasn’t feeling it — or the bum note at the climax of the song.
Memorable lyrics: “Take my hand and don’t close that door”