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Identity, authenticity, and what we can all learn from Salvador Sobral’s win

by | May 18, 2017

Identity, authenticity, and what we can all learn from Salvador Sobral’s win

by | May 18, 2017 | Eurovision, Featured | 16 comments

image source: Notícias ao Minuto

I didn’t mean to be so emotional last Saturday. In fact, I was sure I wouldn’t be. I knew throughout the season that 2017 wasn’t going to be my year. I only liked a few songs, and had little interest in the rest. I had few expectations from the songs I did like, so my involvement in passionate discussions about their chances was very limited. I also came to terms with having a winner that I don’t really get as soon as Italy became the frontrunner, and I didn’t even go through the usual bouts of trying to convince people that it wouldn’t win. I didn’t dislike it, which was already a vast improvement over the other recent winners I still don’t quite get. So that’s better than nothing, right?

Yet, I cried when the final credits rolled over the confetti in Kyiv, and for more than one reason. I had five thousand thoughts running through in my head at once and was trying desperately to find the right words. The first sentence I managed to coherently put together was that I couldn’t possibly imagine how the Portuguese fans felt at that very moment. Then I realized that I actually could.

Excuse me as I deviate from Eurovision for a paragraph, but there is a point, I promise! Growing up, my other addiction besides ESC was the Olympics. And if in Eurovision my dream was to attend the contest one day (I’ve managed three to date) and see Israel win the thing (thank you, 1998), my Olympic dream was even more challenging. I wanted to become a sportswriter, cover the Olympics and get to write about a monumental moment for Israeli sports. In 2004, 52 years after Israel’s first participation at the Olympics – does that sound familiar? – I made the first part of the dream come true, and covered the Olympics in Athens for an Israeli paper. A chain of unexpected events led me, almost two weeks later, to a speedboat in the middle of the Mediterranean – wearing a “Wild Dances” bandana, because why would I be doing anything else – as five meters away from me, an Israeli windsurfer celebrated as a stunning realization dawned on him: he had just won his country’s first ever Olympic Gold medal. And I was there to see it. I was there to write about it. I was there to celebrate, to be overcome by emotion and overwhelmed by it all. I barely remember anything from that day now, so great was the system overload, but I can say without a doubt that it was one of the most amazing, wonderful, incredible moments I have experienced in my life. I also know that I will never get another moment quite like that.

The next thing that came to my mind on Saturday was the realization that IBA – the Israeli Broadcast Authority – had just finished broadcasting for the very last time. As the last seconds of the closing “Te Deum” faded away, one final frame appeared on the screen. “Our broadcasts have ended. IBA, 1968 – 2017”.

“Portugal won Eurovision”, they tweeted in conclusion. “Imri Ziv finished in 23rd place but feels alive. IBA’s Channel 1 no longer does. Thank you to our viewers, and for the last time after 49 years – good night from Jerusalem.”

I cried when I read it. I even cried when typing this now.

That 23rd place meant IBA did manage to bid Eurovision farewell with one last – albeit questionable – achievement: In all of its participations since debuting in 1973, Israel never finished last. It felt symbolic to open the final broadcast on the channel with the Israeli flag and song. I imagine being so overwrought over the closure of a public broadcaster might sound strange to some of you, but not only has IBA played a big part in the country’s history and in the memories and experiences of most Israelis, I actually worked there for five years, and had family and friends still employed there. It was personal. I experienced so much when I was there, taking my first steps in the world of mainstream media. I edited news items and worked in the control room during breaking news broadcasts. I had fun moments too, the ones you get when you spend too much time in the halls and edit suites and start going slightly insane. I once got to hang out with Ruslana and her singers as they visited Israel in 2005 and were guests of a show that was recording in the studio next door. Turns out that a video I shot on that occasion at one of IBA’s studios, of Ruslana and the band Wild Jammin’, still lives on her official YouTube account.

I made friends there, I discovered talents I didn’t know I had, I discovered what my capacity was for working under pressure (very good, as it turned out). It was there I even fell in love for the first time. While the closure and replacement of IBA with a new organization were a long time coming, the sudden way in which it happened, only last week, came without warning and hit me – and many others – right in the gut. I cried on watching its final news broadcast last week, and I teared up again when our spokesperson, Ofer Nachschon, bid the Eurovision family farewell on behalf of IBA, after 45 years and three pretty iconic wins. As a radio presenter, Ofer singlehandedly shaped my musical interests in my formative years. Αs a Eurovision fan, he was the man responsible for “Lonely Symphony” and “Nocturne” making it to the end-of-year charts in Israel. I was glad that he had the chance to present our points one last time, and was touched by the response to his farewell – both from the audience and especially from the hosts, who took the time to respect and honor that moment and, just once, not rush to ask for the results. It meant a lot.

Also happening on Saturday was that crazy little thing called a competition, where we were once again reminded that reality truly is stranger than fiction.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first: I still don’t care for most of this year’s songs, but making it through the show was surprisingly painless. I even decided that I liked the hosts, badly scripted jokes and all. They at least had that relaxed, easy-going dynamic that guys tend to have, and they were entirely self-conscious of it anyway, which made it far more bearable.

While I see no reason to have the voting window last as long as the songs (or so it feels), I really liked all three intervals. I thankfully managed to miss a specific moment in Jamala’s performance, and will continue to miss it in the future. To the surprise of absolutely no one I loved Ruslana’s new single, and I generally never cease to be ridiculously happy when Verka is around. It’s good to be reminded that there’s more than one way to win Eurovision.

In the usual analytical aftermath of the final, I loved Armenia and United Kingdom but got both wrong, I felt bad for Manel who managed to make the absolute worst out of his three minutes, and I was relieved to discover that I wasn’t alone in not really getting Italy.

I was thrilled to see Hungary making it to the top 10 – and actually getting televote points from 33 countries while not singing a single word in English and rapping in Hungarian. Norway was another favorite of mine that rarely got any attention from fans, so I was really pleased to see it sneak into the top 10, and I was so happy for Blanche who managed to save her best performance for the Saturday night.

Also, when Belgium finishing in fourth place twice in three years and making the top 10 for the third time in a row is the least crazy detail of the top four songs, you know we must be all alone in the twilight zone.

Moldova, and not for the first time, showed Europe how to get 500% out of an average song and with no money, demonstrating the value of charm, charisma, imagination and the ability to sing well while dancing zumba. Still, I don’t think even they imagined getting their country’s highest ever placing, beating the 6th place of their debut entry (also in Kyiv, of course). Moldova also made the top 10 of the juries, something that I need to bookmark for all my usual arguments about juries actually being capable of having fun.

I thought a fourth place for Bulgaria last year was huge, and if someone had told me they would better it the very next year and be one of the two clear favorites of both the juries and the televote, I wouldn’t have believed them. I still don’t care much for the song, but Kristian is an absolute superstar, and I hope that one day he realizes how incredibly well he did.

Speaking of things I would never have believed if someone had told me: Portugal.

I wrote in an earlier post that the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest wasn’t going to be one for the books. I was wrong. But no screenwriter who actually wants to get hired would have dared to write something as preposterous as what has transpired last Saturday.

Two years ago, when I reviewed Portugal’s entry, I wrote that I always wonder whether the organizers of Festival da Canção are actually ever attempting to find a song that could succeed in Eurovision and mused that the answer was probably not – or hopefully not, anyway, otherwise they really are useless. I ended that same piece with a few prophetic words. “All I will be left with is the hope that maybe next year, Portugal will actually try to get it right. And as the Czech representatives who will follow Portugal on stage this year can tell us, Hope never dies.”

One of the craziest thing about this result, in a very long list of crazy, is that they didn’t really try, and yet they couldn’t have gotten it more right even if they had done. After all, their selection process this year, despite some changes, was as useless as ever. Salvador’s song was definitely noticed and I liked it right away, but I know better than to hope Portugal will actually send something I like. And they almost didn’t. That’s the problem with national finals no one actually watches – the televote numbers are so easy to skew. Friends, fan clubs, family members, Eurovision fans who have a very clear idea of what Eurovision sounds like. That leads to another crazy fact. Salvador Sobral lost the televote in Portugal. Twice. Last Saturday he received 12 points from 12 countries, was in the top 3 of 17 other countries, and received a lowest televote placing of 6th (from Italy and Denmark, both of whom had some neighborly and diaspora votes pushing it down). Bear in mind that we weren’t far off having an entirely different entry from Portugal, one that likely would have finished last in the semi-final, or as near as to make no difference.

The juries, thankfully and predictably, had Salvador first both times. When he won in Portugal, I must have watched the reprise five thousand times. And I found myself picturing, in my mind, that same reprise on the Kyiv stage after winning both the jury vote and the televote, but this time the European one. Then I yelled at myself to get it together and not develop impossible expectations. This is Portugal we’re talking about, after all, you silly woman. I love jazz music so much I couldn’t trust my own judgment about the song anyway; I’m the front and center of its target audience, so of course I love it. That said, I was at least certain enough that Portugal would finally break into the top five after 53 years of trying, but anything beyond that seemed unthinkable.

It’s been almost a week since the final, and I still struggle to wrap my head around what happened. I could have never imagined that one day I’d watch a Eurovision Song Contest in which Portugal would lead from the very first vote to the very end. I would have never believed that they’d find a song that would so overwhelmingly dominate both the televote and jury votes. And I most definitely wouldn’t have believed anyone telling me that they’d find that song while doing their usual Festival da Canção thing.

Portugal won Eurovision with persistence, pride and stubbornness. They won it by refusing to compromise, refusing to give up their identity. Assuming the powers-that-be behind their Eurovision participants aren’t complete idiots, they probably knew they had next to no chance every time, but they never changed. There were some moments over the last 20 years in which they did briefly attempt to make their songs more accessible to the rest of Europe, but they gave up on that very quickly and returned to being chanceless in Portuguese only.

I never thought I’d enjoy a runaway vote so much, but I found myself watching it over and over again, reveling in seeing how the delegation zigzagged between bafflement, shock and celebration, never quite believing this could actually be happening to them, not even when they got 12 points for the 18th (18th!) time. Nothing illustrates how implausible they found the whole thing better than the final moments of the vote, when Bulgaria, which had been one place below them all night long, finished second in the televote, and still they only realized they had definitely won once they were told as much.

Portugal never intended for this happen. Not that they didn’t want it to, but they took the longer way, and chose identity over a shot at the victory every time, until those two things finally overlapped. It was never about trying to make people like them, and that makes this win an even more beautiful moment. Luisa Sobral wrote the way she always writes, and gave her brother a song that he’d always sing. Salvador performed it like he always performs – with the music taking over his voice, expressions and every fiber of his body. There was no compromise; there was no asking what could be done to make the song easier for foreigners to relate it. It was what it was, and that was all. When it was all over, Portugal had won with a song that meant something to them. A song that was truly theirs.

The new-found Portuguese talent of accidentally winning Eurovision happened to coincide with Benfica Lisbon winning its 432354th championship title, which brought 200,000 football fans to celebrate at the Marquis of Pombal Square. When Salvador took the stage in Kyiv to compete, early in the evening, the audio of Amar Pelos Dois was played in the square. And you wouldn’t believe what happened next.

Two hundred thousand football fans fell silent and let the music speak for three minutes, before returning to their own celebrations.

When I watched Salvador’s performance at both the semi-final and the final, I felt like the world around me suddenly got tuned out. Watching that video from the square made me realize it wasn’t my own affinity to the genre that made me feel that way – it was the song. When they stopped to listen to the song and when they cheered loudly at the end, it wasn’t because they had already won, and it wasn’t because they were about to. They cheered because the song meant something to them, and they wanted to respect that.

Later that night, as they were not following the voting, the celebration was interrupted once again as the announcer, excitedly, shouted into his microphone: “Salvador Sobral won!” and the crowd erupted, before honoring Salvador in the same way they honor their beloved players.

“Salvador!” the announcer shouted, and the audience replied “Sobral!” “Salvador!” “Sobral!” “Salvador!” “Sobral!”

If there was a time to believe in fate, perhaps this is it. Sometimes things just click, and when they do, anything can happen. Even Portugal winning both the jury and the televote comfortably and achieving one of the Eurovision Song Contest’s biggest wins of all time.

For me, this is more than just my favorite song winning. That’s happened before. And of course it’s great. But this kind of overwhelming victory was the greatest display of what we often forget humanity is capable of – basic emotional connection. This is what Eurovision was supposed to be all about when it started. It was supposed use music to bring us together and bridge the gap between different people and different countries. This win, more than any other, was a reminder of that.

Salvador’s body language during his performances has been discussed repeatedly over the last few months. Is something wrong with him? Is it an act? Does it distract from the song? Does it make him look like such a weirdo that no one will even pay attention to the song?

Why does it even matter, really? Are we so used to defining what we perceive as normal behavior, that anything other than that must have a negative connotation? Why is it so hard to accept that people are just what they are and who they are? Salvador is the kind of person and performer whose entire body sings along with him. Such a simple explanation, yet so hard to accept.

Think about it. If your child, or your nephew or niece told you one day that they struggle to make friends at school, even though they are trying really hard to make people like them, and they try very hard to act like everyone else even though they feel a little different, just so that people won’t make fun of them, what would you tell them? I imagine most of us would talk to them about the importance of being yourself, no matter what. Giving advice is easy. Following it is a lot harder.

That is what Salvador’s song and performance were. Three minutes of him pouring himself into it. Three minutes of being himself. Salvador Sobral, 100%. Take it or leave it, Europe.

A friend of mine from Germany texted me before the show started to ask who my favorite was. When I told her it was Portugal she promised to pay close attention when it came on. “You don’t need to,” I replied. “Whether you love it or not, you’re not going to be able to miss it”.

When the song ended, just as I was watching Artsvik shouting bravos and shedding tears, she texted me again.

“I see what you meant.”

It didn’t matter whether people loved it or hated it, found it mesmerizing or boring. Its strength was that it made everyone feel something about it. We live in a such a crazy, overwhelmingly busy world that it’s sometimes hard to stop and smell the roses. Everything and everyone tries to compete for our attention, and tries to get noticed, and sometimes in order to do this, anything goes. It was good to be reminded that, at the base of it all, there is our need and desire to feel something. And that’s true of everything, not just music. For example, when I go out I make an effort. I put on a dress that hopefully complements me. I wear nice shoes, I do my hair and make-up. I do this for myself, because I like to feel put together, but also a tiny bit of me wants to get noticed, and to be thought of as beautiful. But I know that it would only really matter if the person who finds me beautiful in high heels and sparkly make-up finds me just as beautiful in my pajamas and morning hair. It’s one of the best things about being human – the more we love something, the more beautiful it looks to us. Music is the same. Its true beauty comes first and foremost from how it makes us feel.

This win, in all its improbable glory, was the most fitting ending to the 2017 edition precisely because I struggled with it so much. The more countries tried to aim at finding songs with the potential for radio airplay and commercial success, the more I couldn’t tell their songs apart. I couldn’t tell entire countries apart, because the only difference was the hashtag. So many entries had no character or identity. So many entries reeked of clear attempts to find the secret formula of Eurovision, of how to appeal to the masses. Many of those songs – the ones I can remember, at least – were perfectly nice, but they never gave me anything. They taught me nothing about their performer, they taught me nothing about the music scene in the country they are from. They tried to make themselves generic so they would have a better chance of appealing to a wider audience, and in doing so, they eliminated anything that might have made me care.

There are no rules to this. There’s no right language or right genre. But there’s integrity and there’s identity, and in the current era of Eurovision, both are often lost. What I hope countries can learn from Salvador Sobral’s victory is that they can send anything and anyone. Send an artist with something that represents the culture and music market you come from. It doesn’t mean it can’t be a pop song in English, if that’s what your artist does or what your music scene tends to prefer, but send artists with songs they would record and perform in your country even if Eurovision wasn’t in the picture. Send songs that mean something to you, send something you love, not something you think we’d love. Give me the chance to discover you and your music and your country. And do it as well as you can. The rest is out of your hands.

Yes, it’s a risk, and it might not pay off, but you can just as easily fail with a pre-packaged song that you bought and unwrapped just for the event. There can only be one winner. So look at it this way: any vote you are given is a bonus. Use your three minutes to tell me who you are, and make me feel something. Make me feel happy, make me feel sad, make me feel nostalgic, make me feel hopeful, make me feel like dancing, make me laugh, make me cry, make me care. Put a show on if you want, if that’s who you are, and if that’s what the song needs and it fleshes out what the song is about. Don’t do anything just because you feel it’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s a not a great way to live life generally, whether inside or outside Eurovision. There’s room for everything and there’s no checklist. Don’t be so afraid to be yourself that you don’t even try. How can you know if something works unless you try? As I always say, if you want an answer, you need to ask the question.

When I was growing up, the Eurovision Song Contest was my window into the world. It’s how I discovered music from other places, learned about different types of music and different cultures. It helped me discover artists I still follow, and that was in the days before we all had the internet, because I’m old. Today it’s so much easier for people to look that kind of information up, but they still need to be given a reason to look for it.

Not that it’s wrong to want to win, but this year’s top 10 is a great example of how anything can work, given effort and the right situation. If you want to have a shot at the title, though, you need to stand out, and how can you do that if you try to be like everyone else? Looking at the faces of the Portuguese delegation on Saturday night as the realization sank in, I thought how much sweeter it must feel knowing that, like Frank once sang, you did it your way.

Of course, that doesn’t include Salvador, whose facial expression could be translated into “Oh. I won? Great, does that mean we can finally go out and get some ice cream?”

It took me a shamefully long time to learn that, as human as it may be to want other people to like the same things you like, there’s nothing in the world everyone is going to agree on. There are the ESC victories I can’t even comprehend by songs that others absolutely adore, and now it’s my turn to be on the right side of that fence. C’est la vie. Although my side did get an extra boost when Jamala handed Salvador the trophy and someone who was taking videos in the hall managed to catch the words she said to him: “I told you.” At least one of us dared to call it ahead of time!

And as for the rest of you, if you loved the song, I know you were just emotional as me when it won.

And if you didn’t like it, that’s all right too. I can love it for us both.

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16 Comments

  1. Name

    I’ve just cried reading your article… and I’ve cried during the Israeli allocution… knowing it was the very last time he was giving the Israeli jury votes (of course next year Israel will be there but with KAN…) and the 12 points were given to Portugal and in Portuguese (!!!) so emotional…
    And receiving the twelve points from countries so far away from us as Armenia… Iceland… Georgia… Serbia… Israel… or from countries who usually ignored us like Sweden… Poland… it’s overwhelming… being in first place since the first voting until the end… no words… and knowing that Portugal had won under whenever vote system used by EBU… and that Portugal broke all records… even if under the old system… we would received 20 times 12 points… more than the previous one which was 18 for Loreen equalized by Salvador… and we would had more than 400 points more than the 390 of Alexander Rybak…
    All this is nothing… music it’s music and as Salvador said… music shouldn’t be competition… I still remember música from Eurovision of 1991 and love them… I still remember the first participation of Poland with Edyta Gornyak… I had a crush on her and I still have tears in my eyes when I hear her… she was my favorite back in 1994… how many entries… how many memories… I remember of singing, or at least trying to sing it in their language… in Turk… in Hebrew… in Swedish… back then… we were more authentic… closer…
    But still… Eurovision reserves plenty of good things…
    thank you so much for all this memories that you wake up on me… and this emotion of sharing the same feeling of Portugal’s firs Eurovision win… love and respect from for you all….

    • Shi

      I cried reading your reply, so I suppose we’re even!

      I still find myself rewatching the voting, by the way, and not being able to believe what I am seeing. Can’t imagine how it’s like when it is your own country…

      And thank you for your comments about IBA – I know many didn’t understand what was going on with it and those who knew it’d be replaced didn’t understand what the big deal was, but it *was* a big deal for us who had the historical context and it was important to me to write about that.

  2. Iur A

    Wrote with your heart. Congrats

  3. The Anders

    I agree with almost every single word here 🙂 It’s one of the best Eurovision winners of all time because it is honest, and the emotions are real. And because it is a fantastic beautiful song.

    Hope we can get a bit more musical variation next year.

    I did write that article myself a few days after the final btw: https://escsongreviews.com/2017/05/16/amar-pelos-dois-a-turning-point-for-eurovision/

    As for the Viva la Diva thing from the Portuguese NF, I actually think it’s an OK song – at least as a composition. But that high pitched singing by the two countertenors gets on my nerves.

  4. MarcelV

    Thank you for this nice article. It nicely sums up what was so special about the song and the Portuguese win. In a way it reminded me of Finland’s win in 2006. The same kind of underachiever that nobody actually thought was ever going to win. But unlike Portugal, leading up to their win, Finland desperately tried all kinds of songs and styles that they thought other countries would like. But they didn’t win until they sent an entry that actually was authentic (even though it looks like a gimmick) and very close to the Finnish identity.

  5. Sara

    I’m Portuguese so you can imagine my joy when Portugal won, I still don’t believed it actually lol

    I’m 30 years old and for the past decade or so I didn’t payed attention to Eurovision, not only because I knew we would never win but also because I didn’t care for the songs we sent (the majority of them were horrible, imo). However this time was different. I loved Salvador and Luísa’s song so much that I didn’t care if wasn’t in english or had powerful voices or whatever. Amar pelos dois represents Portugal and for the first in my life I voted for a song in our National Finals. Even if we lost I wouldn’t care.

    Thank you so much for you article! After seeing so much hate is good to know why the public and the jury voted for us 🙂

    Hope you can come to Portugal next year!

    • Shi

      I hope so to! I definitely plan on it!

      You basically summed up what I said in many more words – at the end of the day, even if it is a competition, and winning is nice and all, it means very little to me if I don’t just *love* a song. That’s what the competition is about to me – to discover artists, to discover songs, to discover places. It was my favorite song this year regardless of anything, even when I didn’t *really* think it could actually win, and it would have stayed my favorite song no matter what.

  6. Chig

    I think I agree with every single word of this. It’s very well written and was very enjoyable to read. Thank you for writing it.

  7. Thom

    Very well said Shi, I really enjoyed reading this! 😘

  8. Name

    Excuse me Salvador received 12 points from 18 countries ,not 12

    • Shi

      I know – and it is mentioned too (twice, even!), as the segment with the juries is described.

      The 12 times 12 points is what they got in the televote this year, which is in the part about how Salvador didn’t win the televote in Portugal.

  9. MGR

    1) Mass of Pokemons voted for Portugal because of emotional blackmail of singer, promotion of his sister, who supposedly composed the song, left-wing reception of immigrants in style of Angela Merkel and popularity of Portuguese football players (Cristiano Ronaldo) after their successes in European Championships and Champions League.
    2) Most of these Pokemons will not even watch Eurovision 2018 next year in Lisbon. Great congratulations for EBU again. You are the masters.

  10. eurovicious

    Outstanding!

  11. Nanda

    Thank you for putting into words all my thoghts and feelings! Obrigada

  12. Montell

    A very touching article. “Amar pelos dois” is truly the best Eurovision winner in the long time.

  13. Mike Homfray

    Totally agree with you Shi.

16 Comments

  1. Name

    I’ve just cried reading your article… and I’ve cried during the Israeli allocution… knowing it was the very last time he was giving the Israeli jury votes (of course next year Israel will be there but with KAN…) and the 12 points were given to Portugal and in Portuguese (!!!) so emotional…
    And receiving the twelve points from countries so far away from us as Armenia… Iceland… Georgia… Serbia… Israel… or from countries who usually ignored us like Sweden… Poland… it’s overwhelming… being in first place since the first voting until the end… no words… and knowing that Portugal had won under whenever vote system used by EBU… and that Portugal broke all records… even if under the old system… we would received 20 times 12 points… more than the previous one which was 18 for Loreen equalized by Salvador… and we would had more than 400 points more than the 390 of Alexander Rybak…
    All this is nothing… music it’s music and as Salvador said… music shouldn’t be competition… I still remember música from Eurovision of 1991 and love them… I still remember the first participation of Poland with Edyta Gornyak… I had a crush on her and I still have tears in my eyes when I hear her… she was my favorite back in 1994… how many entries… how many memories… I remember of singing, or at least trying to sing it in their language… in Turk… in Hebrew… in Swedish… back then… we were more authentic… closer…
    But still… Eurovision reserves plenty of good things…
    thank you so much for all this memories that you wake up on me… and this emotion of sharing the same feeling of Portugal’s firs Eurovision win… love and respect from for you all….

    • Shi

      I cried reading your reply, so I suppose we’re even!

      I still find myself rewatching the voting, by the way, and not being able to believe what I am seeing. Can’t imagine how it’s like when it is your own country…

      And thank you for your comments about IBA – I know many didn’t understand what was going on with it and those who knew it’d be replaced didn’t understand what the big deal was, but it *was* a big deal for us who had the historical context and it was important to me to write about that.

  2. Iur A

    Wrote with your heart. Congrats

  3. The Anders

    I agree with almost every single word here 🙂 It’s one of the best Eurovision winners of all time because it is honest, and the emotions are real. And because it is a fantastic beautiful song.

    Hope we can get a bit more musical variation next year.

    I did write that article myself a few days after the final btw: https://escsongreviews.com/2017/05/16/amar-pelos-dois-a-turning-point-for-eurovision/

    As for the Viva la Diva thing from the Portuguese NF, I actually think it’s an OK song – at least as a composition. But that high pitched singing by the two countertenors gets on my nerves.

  4. MarcelV

    Thank you for this nice article. It nicely sums up what was so special about the song and the Portuguese win. In a way it reminded me of Finland’s win in 2006. The same kind of underachiever that nobody actually thought was ever going to win. But unlike Portugal, leading up to their win, Finland desperately tried all kinds of songs and styles that they thought other countries would like. But they didn’t win until they sent an entry that actually was authentic (even though it looks like a gimmick) and very close to the Finnish identity.

  5. Sara

    I’m Portuguese so you can imagine my joy when Portugal won, I still don’t believed it actually lol

    I’m 30 years old and for the past decade or so I didn’t payed attention to Eurovision, not only because I knew we would never win but also because I didn’t care for the songs we sent (the majority of them were horrible, imo). However this time was different. I loved Salvador and Luísa’s song so much that I didn’t care if wasn’t in english or had powerful voices or whatever. Amar pelos dois represents Portugal and for the first in my life I voted for a song in our National Finals. Even if we lost I wouldn’t care.

    Thank you so much for you article! After seeing so much hate is good to know why the public and the jury voted for us 🙂

    Hope you can come to Portugal next year!

    • Shi

      I hope so to! I definitely plan on it!

      You basically summed up what I said in many more words – at the end of the day, even if it is a competition, and winning is nice and all, it means very little to me if I don’t just *love* a song. That’s what the competition is about to me – to discover artists, to discover songs, to discover places. It was my favorite song this year regardless of anything, even when I didn’t *really* think it could actually win, and it would have stayed my favorite song no matter what.

  6. Chig

    I think I agree with every single word of this. It’s very well written and was very enjoyable to read. Thank you for writing it.

  7. Thom

    Very well said Shi, I really enjoyed reading this! 😘

  8. Name

    Excuse me Salvador received 12 points from 18 countries ,not 12

    • Shi

      I know – and it is mentioned too (twice, even!), as the segment with the juries is described.

      The 12 times 12 points is what they got in the televote this year, which is in the part about how Salvador didn’t win the televote in Portugal.

  9. MGR

    1) Mass of Pokemons voted for Portugal because of emotional blackmail of singer, promotion of his sister, who supposedly composed the song, left-wing reception of immigrants in style of Angela Merkel and popularity of Portuguese football players (Cristiano Ronaldo) after their successes in European Championships and Champions League.
    2) Most of these Pokemons will not even watch Eurovision 2018 next year in Lisbon. Great congratulations for EBU again. You are the masters.

  10. eurovicious

    Outstanding!

  11. Nanda

    Thank you for putting into words all my thoghts and feelings! Obrigada

  12. Montell

    A very touching article. “Amar pelos dois” is truly the best Eurovision winner in the long time.

  13. Mike Homfray

    Totally agree with you Shi.

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