Lisbon, 6 March 2021.
One more super Saturday under our belt! As Europe is taken by (Clara Klingen)storm, we head towards Portugal, and its surprising winner. 2021 marks the first time Portugal will be represented by a song performed fully in English.
Surely most people believe San Remo is the place to be, but us cool kids know Portugal is where the actual magic happens! All the fashion, delicate intricasies, and sense of grandeur of a San Remo, but with fewer stay-awake-at-late-night calories!
Everyone’s favourite lusophone nation had a big decision to make: Which song would win Festival da Canção 2021? And by consequence, who would represent Portugal in Rotterdam?
Tonight’s line-up was as follows:
On the Catwalk
Festival da Canção is a fashion paradise, in addition to a musical one, so we won’t deny you the gorgeous setpieces that made each song pop to a higher artistic level. Here are the screencaps for every act:
01. Karetus & Romeu Barrois – “Saudade”
Karetus opened the show, and immediately stunned us with their glorious piñata looking costumes, complete with an engaging and mobile act that immediately caught they eye. Near the end of the performance, Romeu took off his leather jacket, revealing a message: “DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON CULTURE”, an outcry for the struggling cultural sector.
02. Joana Alegre – “Joana do mar”
Joana swerved up an attitude of pale teal tulle. If her semifinal frock consisted of sand-trousers and an ocean-coloured top, her dress represents the seafoam that forms at the top of a crashing wave. Her song, “Joana do mar” rung quite pleasantly around the arena, providing light-hearted fun in a festival known for its stern drama.
03. Fábia Maia – “Dia lindo”
Fábia Maia brought her quiet ballad with emotion etched on her youthful face. Fortunately for us viewers, she had also substitute her hospital cleaner costume for a slightly milder version of Arilena Ara’s infamous tarantula dress.
04. Valéria – “Na mais profunda saudade”
Valéria swerved onto the stage wearing a stunning custard-coloured mound of chiffon, embroided with black thread. An excellent showpiece to accompany her dramatic, ultra-portuguese fado ballad. Also, those earrings.
05. Carolina Deslandes – “Por um triz”
Carolina, whose song is the closest thing this final had to an “Amar pelos dois”, went for a trash-chique set piece: an oversized grey jumper over a sleeveless bridal gown. The colour was tastefully removed to allow her introverted song to take centre stage, without being swallowed by the colourful entries around it.
06. NEEV – “Dancing in the stars”
Neev’s memorable piano ballad came with a lit candle (fire hazards? How risqué!), and he himself stuck to a rather straight-forward mellow-down militaristic outfit. With his song being one of merely two English-language songs, he felt like a former soldier stuck in a no-man’s land of unapologetically Portuguese fado.
07. Pedro Gonçalves – “Não vou ficar”
Festival’s resident trash prince Pedro Gonçalves went on the offensive with a current 80s synth-inspired anthem. To support the throwback value of it all, he dressed himself in a crisp and shiny burgundy-coloured jacket and a simply plain white tee-shirt and moved around the stage with gusto.
08. Sara Afonso – “Contramão”
Sara Afonso kept her dress relatively simple, a sleek sleeveless navy coctail dress. What she didn’t invest in clothes she made up in jewellery however, with an impressive collection of bracelets adorning her left arm. It all worked well with the charming simplicity of her song. Beautiful stage lightning effect complemented the song’s levity and cheerful charm.
09. EU.CLIDES – “Volte – Face”
Eu.clides provided one of the more artful performances of the night. The young man sat himself down on a rusty chair, wearing a pristine white outfit, closed his eyes and let his voice do the rest. His ethereal voice was flanked by simple, but effective use of stage lights and camera effects, adding to the air of mystery.
10. The Black Mamba – “Love is on my side”
When The Black Mamba band took the stage, they kept things simple. A message-heavy crooner song requires powerful vocals over visuals, and they were provided in droves. Looks were still being served however in the form of a well-coiffed manbun, a crisp new fedora and a classy dinner jacket, adding a jazz-concert-at-a-romantic-dinner vibe to the song.
The remainder of the show
Since FdC is a musical extravaganza, as well as a fashion bonanza, the entire show was littered with esoteric musical performances, tributes to past FdC winners and quirky green room interviews. Star of the hosting team was Filomena Cautela whose phenomenal (filomenal?) entheusiasm was the perfect soundboard for the show’s distinctive Cançaoness.
There were too many interval acts to mention, but Elisa brought an adorable rendition of her 2020 entry, “Medo de sentir“, which was met with roaring applause.
Voting opened from the start, and the Portugese could cast votes before the first act had even performed. They stayed open for over an hour even after the last song had performed. This massive voting span allowed the audience to let every performance sink in, as well as discuss it with family and friends before voting en mass. The previous voting record of 73.000 votes was broken a full 15 ahead of the close.
Like most countries, FdC uses a combination of Jury votes and Televotes to determine their winner, similar to that we know from Lithuania. Jury vote and televote are reduced to a simple 1-2-3-,…-8-10-12 scoring system, which is then combined for the full result. Unlike Lithuania however, the televote takes precedence over the jury vote.
Before the results came in, Carolina Deslandes, The Black Mamba, Karetus ft Romeu Bairos and NEEV were considered the main contenders. The Jury however, quickly eliminated Karetus/Romeu and NEEV, ranking them 6th and 7th respectively. Meanwhile, Carolina narrowly beat The Black Mamba, claiming 12 and 10 points respectively.
It would come down to the audience vote to decide this clash of titans. NEEV won the televote, presumably by a wide margin, however, Carolina and The Black Mamba also placed inside the top 3. This time however, The Black Mamba beat Carolina, forcing a tie.
As stated earlier, the tiebreaker in Portugal is the audience vote, meaning that The Black Mamba are representing Portugal in the 2021 Song Contest in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Their song, ‘Love is on my side‘, is the first ever Portugese entrant to be fully sung in English. You can listen to it below:
Portugal will compete in the second half of the second semifinal, on the 20th of May 2021. There, they’ll face competition from Bulgaria, Switzerland and Estonia, amongst others.
Do #YOU like “Love is on our side”? Who was #YOUR favourite act in Festival da Canção this year? What do #YOU think of Portugal’s decision to sing in English? Let us know in the comments, on social media or on our forum HERE.