Well, it’s official: we’re heading to Lisbon, Portugal’s perennially beautiful capital city, for Eurovision 2018!
When I say ‘we’, I don’t necessarily mean ‘you and me’ – I have no idea whether you’re going or not (let me know below!), and my plans for the upcoming contest are up in the air somewhere running around with Nathan Trent. But as Eurovision fans/freaks, we collectively discovered via Tuesday’s RTP press conference that next year’s contest will be held in the MEO Arena, in Lisbon, on May 8th, 10th and 12th.
A massive shocker? Not so much. But even non-surprising news is good news, for those of us who despair during the off-season and need something Eurovisual to be developing as often as possible to feel complete. Of course, there has to be some filler between the end of one contest and the start of another…and that’s where I come in. I’m full of it (filler, that is) this post-contest, pre-NF period, which brings me to today’s post: the start of a brand new series here on EBJ that I hope *crosses fingers, touches wood and prays to the Lordi simultaneously* you guys will enjoy.
For however long I feel like it, every now and then, I’ll be choosing a country currently competing in the ESC and taking a look back at their last five entries (whether they’ve skipped years or not). After reviewing and scoring each song, I’ll finish off by rating them from worst to best on an ultra-professional scale ranging from ‘Don’t play that song again!’ to ‘That sounds good to me!’ (thanks for entering the comp with really appropriate song titles, Nicki French and Josh Dubovie…though the irony of using the name of a dreadful song to highlight great ones has not escaped me). You’ll be able to vote for your favourite of each country’s last five entries too, and share your own ranking. Got it? Awesome.
I couldn’t think of a better or more relevant way to start this Last Five Top Five series than by checking out the Eurovision evolution of reigning champs/hosts-to-be Portugal. They’ve definitely had more misses than hits of late – but which songs are which as far as I’m concerned? Keep reading to find out…and have your personal top five prepared!
- Last five participations 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017
- Last five results 18th (DNQ), 13th (DNQ), 11th (DNQ), 14th (DNQ), 1st
- Qualification record 1/5
- Winners 1
- Top ten places 1
- Last places 0
2011 | A Luta É Alegria by Homens Da Luta
I have a fair bit of respect for this song. My reasons for that are threefold: it’s multidimensional, blending traditional Portuguese sounds with folk elements for a unique finished product; it was performed totally in Portuguese, which is always welcome at Eurovision (that goes for any language other than English in this day and age, though I do draw the line at Klingon); and it’s a message song with enough quirk to make it dairy-free (i.e. it’s not cheesy). Having said all of the above, it wasn’t a highlight of the 2011 contest for me, and while it’s certainly not a big blot on Portugal’s participant history, I don’t think it’s a highlight for them either.
My score 6 points
2012 | Vida Minha by Filipa Sousa
Portugal went…well, full Portugal back in Baku, with Filipa’s fado number that came pretty close to qualifying (it finished 13th in its semi final). I’ll admit that I have to be in the right mood to really enjoy this genre, but even so, I find this entry utterly average. It’s not quite as dramatic as it needs to be, and the chorus is lacking in the essential catchy quality that you need to succeed. Once again I applaud Portugal for having sent something so true to their musical roots as a country – but like Filipa’s eventual result, Vida Minha is okay, but not great. In MY opinion, obviously.
My score 5 points
2014 | Quero Ser Tua by Suzy
Ethnopop? Now here’s a genre I tend to fall in love with at the drop of a hat (or the beat of a tribal drum) – especially when its flag is flown by someone as effervescent and enthusiastic as Suzy. Quero Ser Tua isn’t ideal for the lactose intolerant among us (meaning there is a hint of cheesiness present) and by 2014 standards, it was a little dated. But I love the fact that it managed to successfully fuse the oh-so-Portuguese sounds that we’re accustomed to with an energetic tempo and dance vibe so irresistible, it probably had Jon Ola Sand tapping his foot under the Official and Very Important EBU Executive Supervisor’s Table.
My score 8 points
2015 | Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa by Leonor Andrade
This is definitely the least stereotypically-Portuguese entry we’ve seen at Eurovision in the last five years that Portugal has competed. That’s not why I like it, but I do like it a lot. Sure, it’s not the most exciting song on the planet given that everything about it is middling – the tempo, the level of dynamism, the staging…everything, bar Leonor’s dominatrix costume which she may or may not have worn to a bunch of questionable parties since. But the melody is really nice, the chorus is sweet, and the Portuguese adds interest to what would be a bog-standard radio track in English.
My score 10 points
2017 | Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral
Finally, we come to the only truly successful song Portugal have sent to the ESC in recent times – and their most successful song ever. I understand that a lot of fans may not love this, but at the same time I feel compelled to scream ‘HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS?’. It’s as spellbinding as the entire Harry Potter series, and Salvador is…well, his name doesn’t help make the perfect portmanteau that is ‘Salvadorable’ for nothing. No, Amar Pelos Dois wasn’t my favourite entry of the year, but when something makes you weep in the short space of three minutes (and not because it’s so bad that you can’t contain your sorrow) it’s seriously special.
My score 10 points
Now I’ve revealed my chronological verdicts on Portugal’s last five ESC entries, I’ll let you in on the not-so-secret secret (since I’ve already allocated my scores) of how they rate on my official Last Five Top Five scale – from ‘Don’t play that song again!’ to ‘That sounds good to me!’ (the super-scientific ends of the spectrum as explained in the intro to this post).
So it’s parabéns yet again to Salvador Sobral, whose winning song of 2017 stands head and shoulders above anything Portugal have sent to Eurovision in the past – and definitely since 2011. Would you agree with that, or do you prefer the tracks from Homens Da Luta, Filipa Sousa, Suzy or Leonor Andrade? Make your decision and see how it measures up to everyone else’s.
It’ll be interesting to see what Portugal pulls out of their hat in 2018 as their select their very first host entry. Here’s hoping they can follow Bulgaria’s lead and keep riding their (very) recent wave of victory-dance-worthy results. Who knows – maybe this time next year, Amar Pelos Dois will be second on my LFTF scale.
Speaking of which, share your worst-best Portuguese ranking for 2011-2017 in the comments, and we’ll see if we agree on anything. Just a warning for anyone who might rate the five songs in exactly the same way as I did: THIS WILL BE MY FACE.
I may be slightly obsessed with Ukraine’s last entry, but I honestly love Mika’s costume and want it for my own wardrobe (although I’m not sure where I’d wear it. At the supermarket, perhaps?) – unlike that of her sand-drawing companion Kseniya, who was apparently going for the ‘Bride of Dracula’ look. I love nude shades, feathers and mullet dresses, so when all three combined in this outfit I was never going to turn my nose up. Especially when the feathers were used for shoulder pads. Sartorial genius.
I never thought I’d praise someone for wearing Perspex-platformed, thigh-high stripper boots, but here we are. Having said that it was the mini-dress manufactured (presumably) from Maja’s mother’s old fry pan that earned her the #2 position. How she managed to sit down in the green room without causing herself serious injury, I’ll never understand.
Before I say anything else, let me just mention that no, the backing vocalist to Nina’s left is not pregnant. The ability for the ladies’ 60s shifts to make them appear withchild is the only downside to them I can think of, because the other 99% of the time they are just too cute: retro printed perfection, with Nina standing out just the right amount.
A year ago I despised Estonia’s choice of costume, mainly because I was in love with Getter’s national final dress and was heartbroken when it evidently didn’t make it into her suitcase for Düsseldorf. But a lot can change in 12 months (including trends – Peter Pan collars are totally in right now). Fun, cutesey, colourful and voluminous enough to conceal magic wands, handkerchiefs and probably a rabbit in a hat as well.
[This image refused to show up. If you need a refresher, you’ll have to Google. Apologies!]
These were voted the worst costumes of 2011 in the annual Barbara Dex Awards, but I completely disagree. I mean, sure, I haven’t seen that much quilled ribbon since the International Card-Making Convention, but you have to admit that anyone who’d staple the stuff to a black bin liner and wear it in front of millions deserves a virtual pat on the back. Striking and appropriate.
The mullet dress strikes again, only this time it’s not alone. The Slovakian twins could have worn snuggies on stage and still looked stunning, but they went for something more in keeping with the ESC dress code, and though it didn’t get them to the final, it got them a place on this list (not quite what they’d hoped for, but it’s something).
Not many people can carry off a jumpsuit, but Lena is the queen of simple black, and besides the fact that this outfit made her look freakishly long and thin in the body (if you’re reading this Lena, I only said that out of body envy) she worked it. Bonus points for the amazing shoes.
‘Russia: Making Azerbaijan’s use of lights in Safura’s costume back in Oslo look second-rate since 2011’. It’s a wordy and very specific tourist slogan, but it could work. It’s also a good thing Russia made the final last year, because if they hadn’t, we never would have gotten to see the magic A-L-E-X, which for some reason was ditched for the semi in favour of plain ol’ lights. Leather jackets have never been so awesome (or likely to burst into flames).
It’s not just hair that this Irish twosome take to new heights; shoulder pads too became victims in their quest for ultimate volume in Germany. Jedward may have looked like they skinned Dorothy’s ruby slippers in order to achieve such shiny redness, but it was worth it. Top this in Baku, boys!
There are two main reasons why I loved Dana’s dress. Firstly, it was chosen by the public – anyone who cared had the chance to go online and vote for their favourite Gaultier creation, and this flappy green arrangement proved the most popular (BTW, I was one of those who did care). Secondly, it took me back to my pre-school days of paper weaving, which is always a fun thing to reminisce about (although not as much as making jellyfish out of polystyrene cups and cellophane).
EBJ extras…Don’t think I’ve forgotten about the worst outfits of 2011:
Armenia – taking the boxing theme a little too far for my liking.
The UK – blue suits for Blue = not so good an idea.
Croatia – not one, not two, but three hideous outfits.
Moldova – what was the deal with those “hats”?
The Netherlands – yawn.
What do you think? Who got it right and who got it oh-so-wrong when it came to the fashion of 2011?
Welcome to a 100% frill-free post*. One list, ten songs, absolutely no justifications. Let’s go!
* Technically, if you count my decision to count this top 10 down backwards, there is one measly flourish. Don’t pretend you don’t love suspense.
#10. Prati Mi SMS by Bobi Andonov (FYR Macedonia 2008)
#9. Povestea Mea by New Star Music (Romania 2006)
#8. Arabiens Drøm by Anne Gadegaard (Denmark 2003)
#7. Det Finaste Någon Kan Få by Molly Sandén (Sweden 2006)
#6. Du by Mimmi Sandén (Sweden 2009)
#5. Učimo Strane Jezike by Neustrašivi Učitelji Stranih Jezika (Serbia 2006)
#4. Ti Si Moja Prva Ljubav by Dino Jelusić (Croatia 2003)
#3. Pigen Er Min by Cool Kids (Denmark 2004)
#2. My Song For the World by Tom Morley (United Kingdom 2003)
And my numero uno favourite is (drum roll…or perhaps an anticipatory yodel?):
#1. Zo Verliefd (Yodelo) by Laura (Belgium 2009)
I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. What are your favourite Junior entries?