The grand final of Festival da Canção 2021 takes place tonight in Portugal. After two competitive semi-finals, ten acts remain in the mix to represent the Iberian nation in Rotterdam. The Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — had their say before the semi-finals but they have reconvened ahead of the big night. Did the semi-final performance change our opinions? Read on to find out.

Natalie

1. Joana Alegre – “Joana do mar”

I must have a thing for female fronted soft rock at the moment. I’m kinda sad that my favourites went out in the semi-finals but this girl still wins my heart. Sometimes you must need a pretty vocal line on top of some good understated instrumentation to win me over.

2. EU.CLIDES – “Volte-face”
3. Carolina Deslandes – “Por um triz”
4. Fábia Maia – “Dia lindo”
5. Sara Afonso – “Contramão”

Tom

1. NEEV – “Dancing in the Stars”

Beautiful. NEEV produces a genuine and heartfelt performance that stands out from the pack. NEEV’s vulnerable and sweet vocal captivates from the first listen. It’s a song that makes you shut up, stop in your tracks and watch for those three minutes. It’s not a perfect voice, make no mistake but that’s what makes “Dancing in the Stars” relatable. You feel his pain when the voice breaks, it’s always at an appropriate moment. The fragility he conveys makes you believe in what he is singing. It’s a real performance.

2. Pedro Gonçalves – “Não vou ficar”
3. The Black Mamba – “Love Is on My Side”
4. Carolina Deslandes – “Por um triz”
5. Fábia Maia – “Dia lindo”

Antranig

1. Karetus & Romeu Bairos – “Saudade”

“Saudade” was my favourite going into this contest but I was always worried about how it would look on stage. The first semi-final didn’t do much to assuage those fears. I don’t know what those dancers were meant to be but it looked a mess. To put it in Eurovision terms, I need a little more “Telemóveis” and a little less “Quero ser tua” from their performance. Despite that, this is still easily the strongest song in Festival da Canção 2021 and should win the ticket to Rotterdam but I hope they work out their staging in the process.

2. Pedro Gonçalves – “Não vou ficar”
3. Fábia Maia – “Dia lindo”
4. The Black Mamba – “Love Is on My Side”
5. NEEV – “Dancing in the Stars”

Lauren

1. Fábia Maia – “Dia lindo”

Wow. The women collectively decided to serve this year. After a first listen to the studio cuts, “Joana do mar” emerged as my solid favourite, and I had “Dia lindo” 19th of 20. However, the semi-final performance made me feel strength and poignance I hadn’t realised this song had. Everything about it is beautiful from the instrumentation to the lyricism, and Fábia beautifully carries the track vocally — in a manner quite reminiscent of the amazing Cláudia Pascoal, which I have to admire. Unsurprisingly for me, as a religious Portugal stan, I find this to be the strongest selection of 2021 (with Dora in second). I will be very happy with almost all winners, but if “Dia lindo” takes it… I might have a new favourite Eurovision entry of all time.

2. Joana Alegre – “Joana do mar”
3. Carolina Deslandes – “Por um triz”
4. Sara Afonso – “Contramão”
5. EU.CLIDES – “Volte-face”

Oliver

1. NEEV – “Dancing in the Stars”

Some big favourites in this year’s Festival da Canção were let down by awkward performances, but others elevated massively. While the studio cut of “Dancing in the Stars” is easy to pass over, it’s difficult to ignore the raw emotion of NEEV’s live vocal. And with this gorgeous ballad, he brings a profound vulnerability to the stage that’s hard to replicate in the recording booth. Lyrically, he turns overused clichés into something very pretty — utilising them as a tool to make the extremely personal nature of his song more accessible for wider audiences. There’s an authentic sentiment here that will resonate with a lot of people. For the first time ever, Portugal could be sending a fully English-language track to Eurovision.

2. EU.CLIDES – “Volte-face”
3. Pedro Gonçalves – “Não vou ficar”
4. Sara Afonso – “Contramão”
5. Joana Alegre – “Joana do mar”

Deban

1. EU.CLIDES – “Volte-face”

Sometimes in life, we go through pain and sorrow. “Volte-face” is the understated composition that assures us of a better outcome. Cradled with depth and poetic expression, EU.CLIDES sings this beautiful entry with ease and unreserved feeling. Whilst his peers belt, and sometimes yell for attention, he sits on a stool and quietly unpacks. Language is secondary here. His deepest emotions cut through.

2. NEEV – “Dancing in the Stars”
3. Karetus & Romeu Bairos – “Saudade”
4. Sara Afonso – “Contramão”
5. Valéria – “Na mais profunda saudade”

Robyn

1. Karetus & Romeu Bairos – “Saudade”

This national final season there are plenty of songs that allude to different aspects of the pandemic, but “Saudade” is one that gets to the intense longing for the before time. Times when we could be with our loved ones, when we could venture out without a care and not have to think about health and safety precautions. “Saudade” captures the emotional side of it but also offers a bit of relief. And by creating a song about the experience, “Saudade” lets us know we’re not alone in these emotions.

2. The Black Mamba – “Love Is on My Side”
3. EU.CLIDES – “Volte-face”
4. Pedro Gonçalves – “Não vou ficar”
5. Joana Alegre – “Joana do mar”

Who do you think should win Festival da Canção 2021? Can any of these acts deliver a good result for Portugal in Rotterdam? Let us know in the comments below.

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Michael Green
Michael Green
8 months ago

I think this is one of the strongest finals Portugal has in the last years. Since the revamp of Festival da Cancão Portugal assumed his strength- like there is something recognized as Balcan Ballad, Portugal is great in making Portuguese ballads. They may come with different styles combined, world heritage mix, but they are mostly ballads or slower songs. And I think there isn’t anything bad about it. It’s just the way it is. I can recognize that for a television show it may seem undertone and not really a party, but all the songs come from the heart of… Read more »

ALas
ALas
8 months ago

Judging by everyone’s personal favourites, this must be the strongest NF in 2021.

Robert
Robert
8 months ago

So many great quality songs.. I’d say Volte face or Nao vou ficar.. Although Saudade is amazing too but reminds me of Portugal 2019 too much in the production..

Patrick
Patrick
8 months ago

“Dia Lindo” is a special song full of poignance and magnificent layering. My first ten listens, I heard a new part of the song, a new nuance that I had missed before. It’s truly magical.

Tibor
Tibor
8 months ago

I relistened to “Dia Lindo” – the one entry whose qualification caught me completely off-guard. But after Lauren’s euphoric assessment, I had to go back to it (from second to last in a national final to possible favourite Eurovision entry of all times is quite a leap). It’s indeed a very pretty melody. I still can’t look past the outfit and the more than shaky vocal performance, but I’m beginning to recognize the charm of the song itself.

Esc addict
Esc addict
8 months ago

Team Pedro

Kosey
Kosey
8 months ago

I will be rooting for Pedro tonight and amongst a sea of slow, at times ponderous, songs, I am hoping he will stand out.

Briekimchi
Briekimchi
8 months ago

Quite interested in Lauren’s opinion about Dia Lindo considering she had it 19th out of 20th before the show, then Fábia delivered what was considered one of the weaker live performances in the semi final, and was moved up to 1st place, potentially being her favourite Eurovision moment of all time. Consider my head thoroughly scratched! 😉

Back to answering what the article is about though and Valéria is my clear favourite at this point.

adam
adam
8 months ago

I really hope Sara Afonso wins with Contramão or even Carolina Deslandes. They are such beautiful songs and I think they would do Portugal proud.

I think that sometimes Eurovision fans get too warped with the idea that countries must send entries that are designed “to win”. Neev has a really nice song but I don’t completely understand the hype. I would be happier with Portugal sending something which represents their culture and language over Eurovision-ready songs.

Valeria would also be a really cool choice tonight. Her staging could be so dramatic in Rotterdam!