Wait a minute, I’m confused. I think I like Portugal’s Eurovision Song Contest entry? This is a surprising change of events, as the country continues to struggle with getting into the Final for the first time since 2010. Let’s take a listen to “Há um mar que nos separa” (If It’s the Sea that Separates Us) by Leonor Andrade:
Considering how few entries this year have an actual band providing instrumentation, this entry is a breath of fresh air. I will be the first to admit that the melody sounds a bit dated, even going so far as to call it a little Lilith Fair fare. However, that’s smack dab in the middle of my musical sensibilities, which is part of the reason I’m responding so positively to this entry.
In terms of the competition, this is the first time in a long time when Portugal has produced a track that an audience outside of Portugal could connect with it. The tone of the song is somber without being maudlin. Assuming the translation provided in the above video is accurate, the story comes across even if you do not understand the literal words to express it.
My suggestion for Andrade would be to build up her vocals over the next two months, particularly her breathing. There were points in the above performance that sounded rather thin. If it sounds like that in a TV studio, it will sound worse in an arena setting. I’m not a fan of the outfit she’s wearing, but judging by previous Portuguese entries, I’m not going to like any of the costuming.
This song could be a turning point for Portugal. I’ll be curious to see how they do in May.