With ten more songs set to take to the stage of Festival da Canção, what did Daniel, James and Sean think of tonight’s hopefuls? Read on to find out…

Da Chick – I Got Music

Daniel – 6.5 – “Oh the funk and the jazz overtones. The song has spunk, funk and everything in between. The lyrics are a bit simplistic but the composition is pretty fun. The song will likely not do super well because it is a little too retro (like I could easily see this in a Donna Summer repertoire). I am a little bit on edge by her pronunciation of “y’all” that was a bit concerning if I am going to be honest. It is an interesting addition to the competition.”

James – 6 – “This is a fairly pleasant and laid back pop funk lounge act with a nicely performed scat in the middle. Fans of the contest will no doubt know about the curative powers of music and the depths from which music can pluck you. However, the lyrics of “I Got Music” is a prime example of show, don’t tell, the audience what you mean. I am not convinced that easy going adult contemporary is a match for the “Thank God I got Music” chorus. The style lends itself better to “the Bose system in my Polestar 1 blares uplifting music as we travel to Napa Valley.” I love the vibe, but the contest is not the best context to be listening to this song.”

Sean – 7.5 – “A 70s disco-pop throwback is not what I expected to hear in FdC this year! You can really tell Da Chick’s style is this kind of jazzy, funky retro-pop and she’s done a great job with this one. I’m not sure it would translate very well onto the Eurovision stage but this is musically one of the most interesting songs in the competition and it offers something very unique in the Eurovision setting.”

Total = 20 (avg. 6.67)

Tainá – Jasmim

Daniel – 6 – “Bringing back the gardening symbolism from Portugal 2018, I see you Tainá. But actually, this is such a sweet melody with a loft of soft power imbedded. I think that it is a perfectly sweet song, it will not likely have a big impact, but it still will be nice to hear. Because of the greenery metaphors, it could have a very clear staging concept which can help with the delivery. It is cute and I liked listening to it.”

James – 8 – “”Jasmim” is a lovely, intricate dream-like song. There are a lot of small details going on – from the soft female backing vocals to guitars and what sound like harps – that come in and out to lull the listener into the dream she doesn’t want us to leave. The ending comes in suddenly, leaving around 20 seconds, and you could make the argument Tainá could use the time to drift out of the dream rather than the sharp stop. That editorial quibble aside, “Jasmim” is every bit the pure and soft, sensual moments that the flower itself symbolizes.”

Sean – 6 – “Another laid-back, soothing song with breathy, caressing vocals in Portuguese. Starting to struggle to tell all of these songs apart, to be honest with you! This has one of the stronger choruses in the competition and is really pleasing on the ear, but isn’t doing much to raise excitement levels.”

Total = 20 (avg. 6.67)

Ariana – Mundo melhor

Daniel – 6.5 – “Oh Mr. MLK Jr. makes a guest appearance. I am not sure how I feel by the inclusion of the English lyrics. I will say she has one of the most riveting voices of the competition. I think this song is one where the refrain and the bridge are really strong but the chorus is not as strong as the rest of the song so it seems slightly lop-sided. I think Ariana should be proud of her song and the delivery she will give it.”

James – 7 – “An intriguing blend of an acoustic Portuguese ballad with gospel. You don’t expect the build-up at the end and Ariana belting it out in the second half with a couple backing singers. Lyrically, the song is an anti-racism anthem and about making the world a better place and the impetus to make that dream a reality. “Mundo melhor” keeps the tone pleasant and uplifting, but the blend of English and Portuguese is a little off. The “Let’s do it today” chorus should either be in all English or all Portuguese. It’s a little confusing if a call to action is followed by an action communicated in a different language.”

Sean – 7 – “The Martin Luther King Jr sample is inspired, but possibly illegal in Eurovision rules? It’s only a small part of the track but helps set the scene for non-Portuguese speaking listeners like me. The snare rolls and drum machine taps keep this one ticking along nicely, with a good blend of languages and the whole thing topped off by Ariana’s soulful rasping vocal. Definitely one of the more interesting songs here!”

Total = 20.5 (avg. 6.83)


Daniel – 7.5 – “That beat really drives it home. This is most certainly a modern sound in a sea of ballads which I very much appreciate. It has those R’n’B undertones that make it extremely contemporary, and paired with those deep lyrics, this song has a lot going for it. It does, however, thread the line of being a little more lo-fi than I would like to have a big impact because now it seems somewhat reserved in what could be a really strong package. Overall a good song that I would have wished pushed the envelope just a bit more.”

James – 8 – “Slowed down Afro-pop is not what I expected from an act called EU.CLIDES (the stage name of Pedro da Linha). This song is a powerful standing up for yourself ballad, refusing to be a copy of what someone else wants (the volte-face being Pedro’s turn around to face his antagonist and tell them he’s doing things his way). It’s his vocals, though, that make this light track stand out. Of the many balladeers we’ve had this national selection season with an acoustic guitar, EU.CLIDES’s voice is the most pleasant.”

Sean – 6.5 – “If George Michael learned Portuguese and was asked to make “Telemóveis” without any tips, it would probably sound a bit like this. The layered vocals could make this one a stand-out live, and there’s an interesting reliance on the power of the negative space in music. Needs a suitably demure performance to bring the best out of this one.”

Total = 22 (avg. 7.33)

Joana Alegre – Joana do Mar

Daniel – 7 – “This is a personal empowerment song that contrasts from many of the other songs in its semi-final. I think there is a lot of interesting elements happening with the instruments and the tempo of the song. The song is a little bit different but in a way that can make it stand out in Festival but not necessarily at Eurovision. Musically this is a wonderful song, I mean an electric guitar leading in Celtic instruments, that’s unique. I just do not believe this is the winner, but it is a good song.”

James – 9 – “This sounds like the Newfoundland folk rock that was big in the 1990s (10,000 Maniacs), from the instrumentation down to the mystical themes. There’s a lot going on with piano, electric guitar and fiddle coming in strongly at the chorus, but it all works. Staging may be the biggest challenge for this song, as the imagery could lend itself to overkill (as we’ve seen in some other folk entries in other selections this year) or just sticking a band on stage with a static singer. Joana’s vocals slay, and if she can pull off a charismatic stage performance then this entry could be the folk rock anthem that a sizeable portion of the fanbase has been clamoring for for years.”

Sean – 7 – “Why do many of these songs sound like washed out versions of what they could be? So much potential here, and the same is with Joana Alegre’s song, which almost threatens to turn into an indie banger but doesn’t quite make it. The choruses are still intriguing, and I’m always a fan of reverb guitars in a track, but there’s not quite enough power in it for me.”

Total = 23 (avg. 7.67)

Pedro Gonçalves – Não vou ficar

Daniel – 9 – “Oh this is a sound I can get behind. I think that this song is one of those standard pop songs that they add interesting instrumentalization in the background and is sung in a foreign language and that is what makes it rather unique. I think this has a cool point of view and is one of the more modern sounding songs in the competition. My one fear is that I just feel like the chorus is sung in a seeming rushed manner. But the sax solo, this is the key to my heart. I think this is a strong package overall and one of my favorites.”

James – 7 – “FdC is going to get knocked by the ESC Hipsters with this – dare I say it – “modern” pop entry among the fado ballads. The first minute and a half are unremarkable – the synthesized backing vocals especially – but then they let loose with a saxophone solo. I will say it works overall, even though it sounds like it was shoe-horned in from another pop song from thirty years ago. A relative lack of cohesion may turn some people off this pop song, as will its being a pop song in a selection that often takes a homicidal approach to modernity, but if Pedro can pull off a charming performance live then this could be an understated yet slightly quirky pop tonic at Eurovision.”

Sean – 6.5 – “At least Pedro commits! This seems like it could be one of the vote-getters in this selection as it appeals to mainstream pop sensibilities (from the 90s at least) but has that class that FdC fanatics look for. Gratuitous saxophone is also warmly appreciated, no matter which song it shows up in.”

Total = 22.5 (avg. 7.5)

Ana Tereza – Com um Abraço

Daniel – 6 – “My first thought is that the intro is a bit long, so it gets hard to get into it immediately. This song does combine modern rhythms with Portuguese sounds in a seamless way. The lyrics are captivating and really leave a mark on the listener. I think might be a bit too lowkey for the high impact we are looking for but it’s still is a song with a lot of merits. I could have done without that final key change.”

James – 7 – “I am not sure this track is warm enough to be titled “With a hug,” or if it was written for a different singer, or if hugging is generally a more aggressive motion in Portugal, but that is a minor, minor quibble. This song does have in its favor a seamless blend of the Portuguese traditional acoustic sound with the structure of modern pop, complete with the almost Eurovision-required key change. I don’t know if, the obvious nod to the contest aside, this track will have enough appeal, especially in a contest with a lot of rowdy entries this year.”

Sean – 4.5 – “This is a pretty song but once again, there’s not a lot happening here. It gently floats along for three minutes, with some pretty instrumentation, but doesn’t do nearly enough to excite me.”

Total = 17.5 (avg. 5.83)

Carolina Deslandes – Por um triz

Daniel – 7 – “This song has a lot of wonderful elements. It has such a sweet composition with beautiful strings. The lyrics are strong and captivating. The song will have some difficulties distinguishing itself in the terrain of the Portuguese ballads but it does have a lot of spirit and a lot of love emanating from her voice. I think this is a great song overall.”

Daniel – 10 – “This is a very charming track with a backing acoustic guitar and strings, but it’s the best vocal performance in the selection that really carries this. I will say that of the ballads, Deslandes’s track is the canvas that best allows the vocalist to shine. She composed and arranged “Por um triz” herself, and is clearly confident in her vocal prowess and how to put an audience through an emotional wringer. I would love this as a powerful and emotional counter-point to what is gearing up to be a loud and raucous year at Eurovision.”

Sean – 6 – “A classy ballad here from Carolina, with some great orchestration and a degree of emotion that can be felt despite my lack of understanding in Portuguese. Could be a moment if performed right, but it falls foul once again of the lack of a build or exciting moment for me.”

Total = 23 (avg. 7.67)

Graciela – A vida sem acontecer

Daniel – 9.5 – “This immediately gave me “I feel love” vibes. I love the lyrics, I mean “a life without Ctrl Z” that is genious. This song is definitely more on the nouveau pop, bordering avant-garde train and you know I have a very particular love for these types of songs. This is a mood, a genre, a movement. This song has beats, it has power, it has meaning. I think that the continuous build makes it constantly interesting. Like you contrast her sweet vocals with the funky beat, and you have a phenomenal song. I am putting a lot of energy behind this song.”

James – 4 – “This is a clunky indie-electropop number. I am sure Sean will love it! There’s a lot of elements to like here, but they don’t come together to form a cohesive track. From the lyrics, I am getting that it may be a deliberate choice to represent a chaotic life, but to an outsider, it just sounds like somebody raided Erasure’s master tape cabinet and jammed them in a blender. Modern electropop such as Ladytron and Susanne Sundfor can be compelling, and you sense Graciela was aiming particularly for the latter, but for all that is going on I don’t feel it’s much better put-together than a “random cheesy synth noises of the ‘80s” compilation.”

Sean – 8 – “*breathes a sigh of relief* Something to sink my teeth into! Graciela’s bringing the electropop back to FdC and my, did we need it this year! “A vida sem acontecer” is just the right amount of retro and deserves a colourful, brash performance to go along with it. The way it builds up to the final chorus is delightful and really grabs the attention. This is one of the highlights of the selection right here and hopefully the Portuguese public will recognise that!”

Total = 21.5 (avg. 7.17)

NEEV – Dancing in the Stars

Daniel – 9 – “What a romantic song, it has a very traditional format but, as I always say, traditional is not bad as long as the composition is top notch. This is one of those Jason Mraz or Ed Sheeran style ballads that are not usually my cup of tea but I can easily see the appeal and this could make an indelibale mark on the competition. This coupled with what I hope is top-notch vocals can make this song a real contender to take the crown. I like the dramatic instrumentals, that for me really elevates it beyond just a cute pop ballad. It is a song of contrasts.”

James – 8 – “Modernity AND English at FdC! Sacre bleu, or whatever the hipsters might say about this selection. However, there is a lot to offer in this poignant, modern pop track, particularly NEEV’s grieving for a lover who has passed away too soon. Going against this is that voters in other selections have not shown an appetite for dark subject matter unless you can dance it away (The Roop) or embrace it and rock out (Blind Channel). A second thing going against it is that it is a slick, simpler version thematically of “Arcade.” Being too close to a recent winner can be a losing game at Eurovision. On its own merits, a strong entry and I hope its genuine, heartfelt goodbye can provide comfort to others.

Sean – 7 – “This stands out in this selection among all of the other ballads because, well, it’s in English. And doesn’t feel very Portuguese. I’m not going to debate the merits of whether that is good or bad, but this has major potential for staging and grabbing the votes from across Europe. It’s nothing truly remarkable but NEEV has an emotive vocal and the song will tug at many people’s heartstrings. I feel like this could end up winning the selection.”

Total = 24 (avg. 8)

What do #YOU think of our thoughts on tonight’s Portuguese hopefuls? Have we underrated any songs? Share your thoughts with us on our forum HERE or join the discussion below and on social media!

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