With Portugal’s selection “Festival da Cançao” kicking off this weekend, we sat down to look at the acts in the first semi-final. Are there any potential Eurovision winners in the Portuguese selection once more?

Ana Claudia – Inercia

James – 7 – “This is going to be a divisive one. I get why people might hate this as a European entry, but who’d have thought a big lad doing an Edith Piaf impersonation would have won in 2017? Anyway, the composition is unusual, with a constant stop-start and downbeat, but not miserable, vocals. Usually the downbeat songs are signs of toilet breaks, but if Portugal is in the middle of a rowdy pack, this could be a compelling state break that people may pay attention to. In a small venue, this would work. Not sure about a convention hall, especially if Portugal is up first.”

Sean – 9 – “The muffled brassy production on this one reminds me of Slugabed (look him up) and is a real positive surprise for me in this selection. The tempo of this one is hard to pin down, but this dramatic experimental pop nugget is gloriously uplifting, despite ebbing and flowing more than the Mediterranean tide.”

Total – 16

Joao Campos – É o que é

James – 8 – “It takes stones to bring a simple acoustic track called “It is what it is”. It’s Joao and his guitar – what you going to do about it? (Well he harmonizes with a second guy at the bridge, but you get the idea.) I get the sense the adult contemporary crowd is going to love Portugal this year. If this goes to Tel Aviv, I suspect this will drive rosé and cheese plate sales up. Campos’s voice is beautiful and he tells a simple story over some simple guitar playing.”

Sean – 7 – “This one just works in Portuguese. A serene guitar ballad with a tremendous rhythm, especially in the louder chorus. The build-up of this one is enjoyable too, as the backing vocalists come in at the end for a soaring finale.”

Total – 15

Soraia Tavares – O meu sonho

James – 8 – “Our first belter of the night. The singer, that is. The track is a very basic drum beat, with some occasional bass. As with Campos, Tavares is an excellent singer whose vocals take the lead. Though I am guessing the drum and bass and her singing style are a nod to Tavares’s Cabo Verde heritage? If I am wrong, let me know. This is my first Portuguese national selection, and so far, three songs in, it’s been an excellent musical education and an introduction to styles I’ve never heard before.”

Sean – 5 – “Marching band sounds are probably a little overdone by now, but this aside this is a nice yelpy ethnic number. This may be a little too Portuguese and out there to be appreciated by international audiences though.”

Total – 13

Calema – A Dois

James – 4 – “This is more familiar for non-Portuguese music fans. And I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. It sounds like a mash-up of indie pop and hip hop with the indie “hey” trope in the chorus and a generic backing track. In the Portuguese national selection, it is amazing that a bog standard hip hop song stands out. But for all the wrong reasons. There is nothing unique about this, and the performances sound indifferent.”

Sean – 4 – “This would be a nice way for Portugal to tie in with it’s influence on Africa and represent the international flavours of Portuguese. Sadly, it’s lacking a special something to stand out in this selection, and something so ordinary almost seems extraordinary in FdC 2019! Portugal need to avoid the trap of middle of the road again.”

Total – 8

Conan Osiris – Telemóveis

James – 9 – “This one is odd. Osiris’ voice is strange. The instrumentation is weird in that clash of the old and an almost Eastern influenced transcendental house modern sound (like Pantha du Prince). It sounds like old instruments such as marimba and steel string guitarra over a minimal house beat and bass. You can’t really classify this, and I suspect that’s the point. I will stick with the category of “muito bom” until the music nerds correct me.”

Sean – 10 – “What else is there to say about this truly magnificent opus of a track that hasn’t already been said? Despite the simplistic subject matter, this is richly textured, emotive, dark and mysterious. There is quality and originality pouring from every snare roll and ethnic element interspersed throughout this track, all topped by a fantastic perform in Conan. Not to mention it’s catchy! This has a real chance of pulling off another shock for Portugal in May!”

Total – 19

Ela Limao – Mais brilhante que mil sois

James – 4 – “Sounds like a couple of hippies having a sing-a-long in Portuguese on top of a basic Casio keyboard track and beat. She’s on after Osiris? Oy, she has no chance. As pleasant as her singing is and the harmonization with the backing vocalists, this is a nothing burger of a hipster retro song.”

Sean – 6 – “This is really sweet and lo-fi, and as a result Ela’s entry is a charmer. It’s not exactly a stand out, but personally I find it an enjoyable yet lightweight entry.”

Total – 10

Filipe Keil – Hoje

James – 3 – “Another song that stands out because it sounds like a radio friendly pop song. Not in a good way. Sure, he’s got a great voice, but it’s on top of a generic hip hop influenced pop track. And no surprise, those ghostly backing vocal effects make an appearance here. Can I start threatening to mail the contents of my cat’s litter box to any DJ who puts those ghostly mechanized “oooohhs” in their song? I am sick of it. Just stop.”

Sean – 6 – “So is this is what male teen pop sounds like in the context of Festival da Cançao? Interesting… It’s certainly a dsmn sight more captivating than other low tempo RnB male lead tracks this year but it’s not my cup of tea all the same.”

Total – 9

Matay – Perfeito

James – 9 – “This sounds like a ballad from the early 1960s, but from one of those crooners like Julio Iglesias or James Darren. Or like Mark Vincent tried for Australia this year. For some reason these types of ballads are getting a lot of crap from viewers this year who give a pass to dialed in hip hop and bill this as “Disney” music. Though the orchestration is very different, this does remind me of Salvador Sobral in that he conveys a lot of emotion through his voice without you needing to understand his lyrics. I have a slight preference for Conan Osiris, but Matay will slay if he goes to Eurovision as well.”

Sean – 4 – “Heh, this sounds like it belongs in the end credits of a Portuguese dub of a Disney film, or a happy ending for a light-hearted family comedy from the 90s. “It’s not really modern” is what I’m getting at, but Matay gives this gusto and conviction which I applaud.”

Total – 13

Let’s see what our scores combined to…

  1. Conan Osiris – Telemóveis – 19
  2. Ana Claudia – Inercia – 16
  3. Joao Campos – É o que é – 15
  4. Soraia Tavares – O meu sonho – 13
  5. Matay – Perfeito – 13
  6. Ela Limao – Mais brilhante que mil sois – 10
  7. Filipe Keil – Hoje – 9
  8. Calema – A Dois – 8

With a near perfect score, Conan Osiris is our favourite from the first semi-final of Festival da Cançao 2019! Will he take home the first night crown on Saturday evening? We will have to wait and see!

Who do #YOU want to represent Portugal in 2019? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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