After a successful run in 2017 — which gave Portugal their first ever Eurovision victory with Salvador Sobral and “Amar Pelos Dois” — and a shocking last-place finish on home turf with Cláudia Pascoal’s “O Jardim” in 2018, RTP has its eyes set on Tel Aviv for the 2019 edition of Eurovision.
The Eurovision 2018 host broadcaster released a statement that confirmed its participation in Euroision 2019. RTP revealed that it would again use the national final Festival da Canção and gave the first information regarding the composers’ selection process. The show will again involve two semi-finals and one grand final will take place in February and March.
While no dates have been confirmed yet, the semi-finals are expected to take place on February 17 and 24 and the final on March 3.
As with the golden year of 2017, Festival da Canção 2019 will have 16 songs in contention to represent Portugal at Eurovision 2018. Eight songs will compete in each semi-final, with four songs qualifying from each semi to the grand final.
Fourteen composers will be directly invited by the broadcaster, as in the past two years. They will have full artistic freedom to create the songs — from genre, to lyrics, production and language — and above all, they’ll get to choose the singer.
The remaining two composers will be the fruit of the 2017 democratisation of Festival da Canção selection. One vacancy will be occupied by the winner of a competition held for upcoming composers by Portuguese radio station Antena 1.
The other composer will be the winner of an open call for public entries. A jury panel from RTP will decide the best song and the winning entry will be in one of the semi-finals.
Mixing things up from the 2018 edition
While the 2018 edition of Festival da Canção showed an increase in ratings and acceptance with the Portuguese public (despite the shocking turn of events with Diogo Piçarra), the last place in the grand final of Eurovision 2018 demanded a change in the selection process.
Fewer songs, more quality. That seems to be the narrative RTP is going for this year. The production team — made up of Eurovision 2018 creative supervisor Nuno Galopim, Eurovision 2018 deputy executive producer Carla Bugalho and others — decided to go back to basics and reduce the selection by 10 songs.
From 26 songs in 2018 to 16 in 2019, RTP also decided to cut the rule that allowed the winning singer of the past year to select a composer of their own choice. A privilege Salvador had and Cláudia won’t have.
The voting system
The 50/50 voting system is back in different terms for semi-finals and the grand final. A single jury and the public televote will decide which songs will advance to the final. In case of a tie, the professional jury will decide which ones advance.
In the grand final, the decision will be split by televote and seven regional juries. This time around, if we have a tie, the televote will prevail.
What do you think of RTP’s changes for the 2019 edition of the traditional Festival da Canção? Who would you like to see enter FdC 2019? Tell us in the comment section below!