The return of Festival da Canção – the experience

Last Sunday evening, the first semi-final of Festival da Canção 2017, the Portuguese selection for the Eurovision Song Contest, took place. EuroVisionary was there to talk to the qualifiers as well as tell you everything about the show as experienced first-hand.

There were eight songs presented, with four of them progressing to the Grand Final, which will happen in two weeks. Two years after the previous edition of Festival da Canção, the anticipation was high and we could feel that excitement in the audience in the arena yesterday. However, people were left feeling disappointed in the end. Despite the quality of singers, the songs were weak and, in the end, the best of the bad songs progressed to the next round.

The Songs

Song no. 1 – Agora by Márcia

Being the first one is always a difficult task. However, it was not a bad song that started the show, but not a great song either. Marcia was not one of the strongest names of the evening, so she hadn’t much pressure on her shoulders. She presented a calm and simple ballad that combines with her own music style… In the end, the audience applauded her efforts but we could feel that the song wouldn’t progress to the final show…

Song no. 2 – Para Perto by Golden Slumbers

Another calm song, trying to get country music lovers, this time performed by two sisters that also hadn’t any pressure on them. It was different and better than the previous one and they did it simply and beautifully. That was felt by the audience, who applauded them with a sweet smile. It was not a bad song indeed, but it would be difficult to get the qualification as more is expected in these contests…

Song no. 3 – Poema A Dois by Fernando Daniel

Fernando Daniel was really one of the strongest names of the evening! He had recently won The Voice Portugal, so he had some pressure but also support for him. The song started with some Fado notes, but, when Fernando started singing, the feeling changed completely; we could understand immediately who was the composer, Nuno Feist, who has composed several songs for Festival da Canção with a similar style to this one. The song has some power indeed; it grows a lot during the three minutes and Fernando performed it competently, making it one of the best songs of the show. It received great applause from the audience, but it gave the impression that Fernando deserved a better song – a more commercial and international song, as he has a great, great voice.

Song no. 4 – O Que Eu Vi Nos Meus Sonhos by Deolinda Kinzimba

Following Fernando Daniel, came another The Voice winner, Deolinda Kinzimba, so expectations were high! With a Portuguese ballad, Deolinda proved that her voice was the best part of the song, maybe the only good part of the song, because the song seemed very weak and boring. In the end, the audience applauded her voice but not the song… We could hear people saying ‘this is an example of how a song can destroy a tremendous voice’… Sad! Very sad for Deolinda, who deserved a much better song, appropriate for her amazing voice! However, this is the song that was given to her and she did her best, as always.

Song no. 5 – O Teu Melhor by Rui Drumond

Another The Voice winner, another ballad, another disappointment… ‘One of the worst songs of the evening’ – that’s what people in the audience were saying. Rui Drumond had been in Kyiv, in 2005. As a result, he must have had hopes for this contest wishing to make a return there. However, this was not his night. Poor, poor song! He truly was not expecting the fewest points from the jury, but the audience certainly was…

Song no. 6 – Without You by Lisa Garden

Finally a dance song, finally a song sung in English…! Lisa Garden was really not considered one of the biggest names of the night, but when the beat started, we could tell that people were happy for finally not listening to a ballad song! The song itself is not great, but it was the only one that got people dancing. That’s why her song shone yesterday night, not because of its quality, but because of its style, which was different from the other ones. This should really have progressed to the final, but it didn’t…

Song no. 7 – Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral

Ballads were back and this was Salvador Sobral’s time, with a song composed by his sister. Definitely, this was the most beautiful ballad of the night, the most Portuguese one! A sincere song with a pure voice, accompanied by a piano and violins. He performed it wonderfully and the jury got it, giving him the 12 points at the end of the show. However, even though this is a song that could conquer the Portuguese public, it seems not have the power to conquer the international crowd in a big show like Eurovision… This song also got many points from the televote, so this really is a contender to win this year’s Festival da Canção.

Song no. 8 – Nova Glória by Viva la Diva

Wow, this really surprised all those present. So strange, but epic at the same time… It grows a lot as the song progresses and it seems to be the one that has the most chance of having a good result in Eurovision. It was the song that received the most applause from the audience and it really deserved it. It won the first place in the voting process so this is might be the one that will go to Kiev this May.

With all the songs presented, the main feeling among the audience was disappointment due to the poor quality of the songs.

The results

After the lines had closed, the jury votes were revealed, being succeeded by the announcement of the televote. According to the jury, Salvador Sobral was the best entry, while the Portuguese people gave the victory to Viva la Diva. Counting all votes, these were the final results, with the first four positions qualifying for the Grand Final on March 5th:

place artist song points result
1st Viva la Diva Nova Glória 22 qualified to the final
2nd Salvador Sobral Amar Pelos Dois 20 qualified to the final
3rd Fernando Daniel Poema A Dois 17 qualified to the final
4th Deolinda Kinzimba O Que Eu Vi Nos Meus Sonhos 12 qualified to the final
5th Golden Slumbers Para Perto 11 eliminated
6th Lisa Garden Without You 11 eliminated
7th Rui Drumond O Teu Melhor 9 eliminated
8th Márcia Agora 8 eliminated

What the qualifiers had to say

After the show ended, we talked to the qualifiers and listened to their reactions (except for Deolinda Kinzimba, with whom it was not possible for us to get in touch)…

Viva La Diva: ‘It’s a wonderful experience! We felt the audience on our side… We have to thank all the viewers! God, participating in such a big event like Festival da Canção, with so many good singers and composers, is an honour for us! It’s really a surprise… We were confident but the other artists were really strong names so now is step by step… We haven’t thought yet about Eurovision, but if we win this competition, we will sing in Portuguese for sure, in Kiev.’

Salvador Sobral: ‘We are very happy! We were not expecting these results at all because we knew our song is not a typical one for this type of contest. What surprised us most was the public vote because this is not the song people are expecting to hear in a competition like Festival da Canção. Now, it’s time to sing again in the Grand Final, showing our song to more people, and have fun! The song will certainly remain as it is, without any changes.’

Fernando Daniel: ‘I feel happy, but also a little frustrated with myself. I think I could have done better and had a better result, so I will work hard in the next two weeks to fix all the not so good things. I want it to be perfect! I have a final to win, so I  will dedicate a lot of my time to this song until the big day! It will be a tough night with great voices but I’ll do my best. If this song goes to Eurovision, I will ask the composer if I can sing in English, so that all the eurofans can understand it!’

Next Sunday, the second semi-final will take place, when four more songs will be selected for the Grand Final. Now, the expectations are lower, but we believe that every artist will do their best, trying to win Festival da Canção.

We would like to thank RTP and all artists involved in this article.

Source: EuroVisionary
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