Since I started to write about Eurovision in 2011, Portugal has yet to qualify for the Grand Final. It’s understandable that the country has taken a step back a couple times in the last few years to rethink how it approaches its selections, including floating rumors of dropping its language rules1 and hinting that big name artists like Nelly Furtado were considering the gig.2
Although I enjoyed Portugal’s last entry in the Contest–2015’s “Há Um Mar Que Nos Separa” by Leonor Andrade–I totally get why that failed to connect with the audience. What is Portugal to do? How about getting Berklee College of Music graduate Luisa Sobral to write a beautiful ballad for her brother Salvador Sobral? Take a listen to “Amar Pelos Dois”:
That was so unexpected and delightful, wasn’t it? Not overly theatrical, no pyrotechnic unicyclists, just singing the song. This works as both a palate cleanser from a bombastic entry to a tone-setter for its half of the first semi-final. I’m excited to see how this entry evolves in the coming weeks.
In terms of what to work on: styling. In the above video, Salvador Sobral looks like he just walked out of a bus station on a rainy Wednesday on his way home from work. Although that may be part of the story of the song, the shabbiness is a little too shabby-shabby instead of shabby-chic.
I would also suggest figuring out something to keep his hands busy or some other distraction to minimize the affectations while singing. I realize there were some audio issues with his monitor, but there’s a stiffness to his performance that is uncomfortable to watch.
Fortunately, there’s two months to work through those issues, which is more than enough time. Good job, Portugal!