XTRA Preview & Review: Portugal – Festival da Canção

The national final season is in full swing. At 22:00 CET tonight, Festival da Canção is going to take place. We’ve taken a look at the entries and the procedure below, so here is the XTRA Preview & Review!

XTRA Preview: Festival da Canção

It is time for the host country to choose its entrant tonight. Festival da Canção is a great tradition in Portugal and it’ll continue to be that tonight. Fourteen acts have made it through to the final of tonight’s show.

The line-up changed a little over the course of last week. Hot favourite Diogo Piçarra saw himself forced to withdraw after a plagiarism claim. A week prior to that, it turned out RTP announced the wrong qualifier. That has now brought us to the fourteen qualifiers you can find below.

The winner will be chosen by regional juries and televoters. Televoters and juries tend to disagree a lot in Portugal. Even last year, televoting preferred another act over Salvador Sobral. And we all know how that ended…

One of tonight’s hosts is Filomena Cautela. She will also host Eurovision in May, so make sure to keep an eye on her skills. The show will start at 22:15 CET and will last for almost four hours, with a scheduled end at 02:00 CET. Cláudia Pescoal, Peu Madureira and Janeiro seem to be tonight’s frontrunners, but it’s all wide open again.

XTRA Review: Festival da Canção

Rui David – “Sem Medo”

Nick: Anytime you’re done with Euroclub in Lisbon, visit a good old jazz café, where Rui David will play the calming and soothing tunes of his entry “Sem Medo”. This is nice enough, but not a winner.
Score: 6/10
Rigmo: This should play every time I wake up on a Sunday and can’t be bothered doing anything besides taking up as much space on the sofa as possible. There’s a chill atmosphere here that makes it easy to forget all the work piling up and the 200 missed calls on your phone. Any coffee shop would be glad to have this on their playlist.
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: Feels like the perfect soundtrack for a walk in the park on a sunny spring day. Nice and pleasant entry, I especially like the trombone sound,  but not ambitious enough.
Score: 6/10
Miki: This has a very sultry and jazzy feel to it, but it sort of drags for three minutes and it feels much longer. However, the instrumentation on this track is impeccable and I wouldn’t mind this scoring high in Portugal. Not a winner tho.
Score: 6/10

Susana Travassos – “Mensageira”

Nick: This is the replacement of Diogo Piçarra’s withdrawn entry. It’s easy to see why this originally failed to make it through, as it feels very nervous, shaky and puts me off immensely.
Score: 3/10
Rigmo: I’m left scratching my head if I like this or not. It’s like riding a rollercoaster of emotions. Each time I take a ride, I hear and feel something new and I’m left walking away even more confused than before, but never nauseous, so I guess that’s good.
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: The piano lover in me really wants to love this song, but I somehow just can’t. I love the dramatic vibe but it fails to captivate me. It feels more like a track you would sing to someone that got you mad.
Score: 5/10
Miki: Pleasant, easy listening type of a song that is performed with great emotion and beautiful vocals by Susana, but I just don’t think this stands out enough. With that being said, this might get lost among the remaining acts in the final and end up being the song you listen to in order to get to a better one.
Score: 5/10

Peter Serrado – “Sunset”

Nick: This has surprised me immensely. Starting with the fact that we see a song in English in FdC, this is actually good, modern and chart ready. It reminds me of old Jason Mraz tunes. He sings this well, too. I’m impressed.
Score: 8.5/10
Rigmo: An English song in a Portuguese selection? That’s like pineapples on a pizza. It just ain’t right. Even Peter and his eyebrows look perpetually pissed off about it. The song itself is pleasant enough, yet absolutely forgettable at the same time.
Score: 5/10
Riccardo: I share Rigmo’s surprise with the song being in English, but unlike him I find it so pleasant and refreshing. I don’t want this to win because I want Portugal to sing in Portuguese but this would be one of my favorite in other countries.
Score: 8/10
Miki: I love this song, It reminds me of the early 2000’s and Peter has a very interesting voice which is a bonus. Some might call it dated or not really current but I’d say this is beautiful and nostalgic. The only disadvantage might be the fact that It is performed in English, which might work against in its favor.
Score: 7.5/10

Joana Espadinha – “Zero A Zero”

Nick: She doesn’t look all that comfortable on stage, despite having a fairly decent song. I’d happily bop along to this if this featured somewhere in the middle of her album. I wouldn’t have chosen this as a single though, especially not when it needs to be performed live…
Score: 6.5/10
Rigmo: Zero sounds a bit harsh, Joana, have a bit more faith in yourself! The studio version of this was pretty wonderful, but then it all had to happen live…She looks like she’s being forced to dance to a song she’s never heard before during an 80s night at a karaoke bar. All the hip shaking isn’t doing wonders to her vocals either, which gets worse as the song goes on. Once we reach the last 30 seconds, it’s time to abandon all hope.
Score: 5/10
Riccardo: Finally a song from Portugal with some more beat! I like this even if it feels dated. But I do agree with Rigmo that towards the end it just becomes a bit too much. 
Score: 6/10
Miki: “Zero a Zero” sounds very 90’s Eurovision and I really appreciate that, but I have to say that I hope that Joana improves her vocals for the final evening. Despite being sort of catchy and vibrant, the shaky vocals made it look quite flat.
Score: 5/10

Lili – “O Vôo Das Cegonhas”

Nick: I didn’t expect much at all from this. I expected a very awkward song and performance, but it is very intriguing. This managed to get stuck in my head and she performs it so well. It’s sweet, yet dark and interesting. Might not be the worst choice!
Score: 9/10
Rigmo: Well this is something different, isn’t it? Mysterious, intriguing and oddly futuristic. Lili’s voice is the star here, channeling her inner Kate Bush, she lifts this futuristic track into the stratosphere! A winner? Not likely, but it has found a place on my playlist.
Score: 8/10
Riccardo: UUUH, well I am intrigued. I am not really sure what they are trying to achieve with this entry, but I like it! It sounds a little childish but oh so mysterious and naughty. I don’t think I would like it as much in English, go Portuguese!
Score: 7/10
Miki: I can certainly appreciate a good artistic point of view plus a talented performer. However, this song just seems a bit strange and I especially don’t get the usage of those synth pop/ polyphonic melodies in the transition from the verse to the chorus. It feels a bit “try hard” yet falls a bit short while attempting to stand out.
Score: 6/10

Catarina Miranda – “Para Sorrir Eu Não Preciso de Nada”

Nick: This song sounds like a fairy tale in three minutes and Catarina sounds like the lovely little princess waiting in her tower for the prince to arrive. Looking at the performance, she looks more like the evil stepmother! Change that stylist and then we’ve got a deal.
Score: 8.5/10
Rigmo: Just adorable! I know some people were expecting more from her, but I find this song to be enchanting. Though that might have more to do with Catarina herself. She has a quirky and charming quality about her that I find irresistible. It helps lift what might have otherwise been a fairly standard FDC entry.
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: I don’t know why but when I saw the intro video I thought “I’m gonna like this”. Did I end up liking it? Yes, but not as much as I thought. I am a piano lover so that piano background is grand for my ears. I love her performance, but I am missing something, maybe just a little more rhythm.
Score: 6/10
Miki: Catarina delivers this with great emotion and despite me not understanding Portuguese, I can totally pickup on what she’s trying to communicate with the viewers. This might be an interesting choice for Portugal at Eurovision.
Score: 8/10

Joana Barra Vaz – “Anda Estragar-Me Os Planos”

Nick: This is sweet, this is simple and this is a lovely filler of a national final. Will pick up some points, but will be forgotten by anyone who’s not related to her.
Score: 5/10
Rigmo: If there was an award to give out for being simple and pleasant, this would win. Sometimes simple is all that you need though. I’m not sure why, but I keep coming back to this, despite not even having it in my top 5. It’s an easy one to listen to, but just as easy to forget moments later.
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: Well this is lovely. In a shouldn’t win kinda way. I love the instrumentation and I like Joana as a performer but I feel like the performance is a bit too simple, it just misses a little bit of edge to make it stand out.
Score: 6/10
Miki: I have a soft spot for this. It is the type of music I would listen on a lazy Sunday morning. Plus, there is something hauntingly beautiful about Joana’s vocals and simplistic approach when performing this. Even if it doesn’t win the festival I will gladly continue listening to “Anda Estragar-me os Planos”.
Score: 7/10

David Pessoa – “Amor Veloz”

Nick: This is a nice little ditty, reminding me of the weaker Portuguese entries of the late 90s. Nice, but that’s it.
Score: 4.5/10
Rigmo: This elevator ride is lasting way too long today.
Score: 4/10
Riccardo: Wake me up when the song ends.
Score: 2/10
Miki: David really sells this well live, but I feel that it’s the type of a throwback most people would call dated. However, “Amor Veloz” is a beautiful little number and despite it not sounding current enough, this might have a certain jury appeal. But I cannot see David winning the whole festival.
Score: 5/10

Minnie & Rhayra – “Patati Patata”

Nick: Time for the Portuguese audience to come alive. They had a nice clap along here. This brings me right to the Caribbean. Reminds me of a singer from Curaçao, Izaline Calister. This is absolutely lovely.
Score: 8.5/10
Rigmo: SOMEONE had to bring the festival to festival Festival da Canção. In a contest full of slow, often sad tunes, this hits you like a sunray on a cloudy day and invites you to samba your troubles away. Even if it feels like I’m being sold a dubious travel package that will end with me losing a kidney.
Score: 7/10
Riccardo: Bring on the diversity of tunes! I like this! Feels like being in Rio carnival. Could be a refreshing entry at Eurovision, if Portugal wants to make sure they don’t win twice in a row!
Score: 6/10
Miki: “Patati Patata”, this will certainly not win tonight but I have to say I find myself singing along to it. It’s catchy, it’s refreshing and maybe partially sketchy but It is FUN which matters the most. Minnie and Rhayra sell this well live and the feature of the different languages puts a smile on my face.
Score: 7/10

Janeiro – “(sem título)”

Nick: You can clearly see why this is the chosen one for Salvador Sobral. Genuine, small. I just feel this is… slightly pretentious. Where Salvador was genuinely lovely, this feels a little more forced.
Score: 8/10
Rigmo: (sem revisão)
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: There is something quirky about this performance that I REALLY like! I don’t know if it’s the huge headphones, his hair, the coziness of the atmosphere. So simple, yet so complete. If this wins it may become my favorite Portuguese entry ever, and no I wasn’t a fan of Salvador last year.
Score: 9.5/10
Miki: At first listen, I found it a bit slow and mellow, plus the fact that its title is “No title” felt a bit pretentious. I have to say that I’ve come around full circle and I am starting to see the simplistic charm of the song. Janeiro is also a very solid live performer and it seems like this song is very special to him.
Score: 8.5/10

Maria Inês Paris – “Bandeira Azul”

Nick: Look, this is the Portugal I want to see. No, this is not a winner. And no, this is nothing new. But this shows identity, character, a good vocalist and a very classy entry. There’s a hook, too, which is very pleasant to the ear.
Score: 8.5/10
Rigmo: A comfy armchair, a fireplace crackling nearby and a delicious glass of cheap wine you found in your basement. Ahhh…Just time to relax and let the time flow past you. Can it win? Will it win? Would it do well at Eurovision? Questions, questions. Just sit back, relax and enjoy!
Score: 8/10
Riccardo: Take me to Havana please! I really like the sensual, salsa nature of the song. But I think she needs to add some dancers in her staging, having musicians only, while good, takes away potential from the song.
Score: 7.5/10
Miki: This is so Café Del Mar that I naturally have to love it. Maria Ines is also a very strong performer and seems very confident in while singing it. However, I’m not sure this is the freshest approach when it comes to Eurovision. It doesn’t have a certain wow factor and it ends up being just kind of pleasant.
Score: 7.5/10

Anabela – “Pra Te Dar Abrigo”

Nick: Festival da Canção needs the old faces to come back and show the audience they are still there. Anabela is one of those faces, having represented Portugal back in 1993. You’d be happy to hear this on any street corner in Lisbon. Lovely.
Score: 7.5/10
Rigmo: Makes me feel like I’m waiting for the pizza I ordered 12 minutes ago. There’s nothing wrong with that, I’m sure it’ll be a lovely pizza just like this is lovely in it’s own way. It’s just not particularly noteworthy or impactful.
Score: 6/10
Riccardo: Just about as Portuguese as it gets. The intro made me worried the whole song would be a slow and overly melancholic but I was very pleasantly surprised she picked up speed! A tad too dated for my taste, but still enjoy listening to it. Should stay at FdC, though.
Score: 6.5/10
Miki: “Pra Te Dar Abrigo” is a very classy, catchy, traditional yet interesting tune. Plus, it would be lovely to see a returnee representing Portugal on home soil.
Score: 7.5/10

Cláudia Pescoal – “O Jardim”

Nick: After Diogo Piçarra withdrew, this seems to have taken over the role of hot favourite. One wonders why. The K.D. Lang look-alike on the backings makes more of an impression than Cláudia herself. This is nice, but why is this the favourite?
Score: 8/10
Rigmo: Somehow this song completely passed by me when the snippets were released. Then I heard it live and now it’s easily one of my favourites here. It’s a powerful and deeply moving song that grabs ahold of me each time and doesn’t want to let go. Cláudia absolutely sells every last word coming out of her mouth even to someone like me, who can’t understand a word of Portuguese. I understand the emotion though, she makes me feel it. Her voice is the instrument here and she uses it to mold something very special.
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: When it started I thought, “oh no another slow Portuguese song” Well slow it is but this is so beautiful. I always say that I don’t like songs who don’t have a good build up, but this one doesn’t need it!
Score: 9/10
Miki: Hauntingly beautiful and emotional. This is my absolute favorite in this year’s lineup of Festival Da Cancao and it should represent Portugal at Eurovision.
Score: 10/10

Peu Madureira – “Só Por Ela”

Nick: This is another throwback. This time to the glory days of Portuguese fado ballads of the 70s. This won’t set the scoreboard on fire in May if it got to MEO Arena, but this sure has its fans. I am one of them. Such emotion, such class.
Score: 9.5/10
Rigmo: Salvador’s influence can be heard all throughout Festival da Canção this year, but there’s something particularly amarpelosdoisian (not a word, but I’m making it into one) about this. Where Salvador’s quirkiness and personality managed to mold something unique and special out of “Amar Pelos Dois”, Peu comes across old fashioned and rigid. Still, I enjoy it a great deal.
Score: 9/10
Riccardo: Definitely has Salvador’s vibes in here and I wasn’t a fan so again this ain’t my cup of tea. But, like Salvador, not being a fan does not mean I hate the song. In fact, I love the string sound and his voice, he sure can transmit emotion. It’s just a style that is far from my music taste.
Score: 6/10
Miki: Despite it being surrounded by very similar sounding songs, “Só Por Ela” truly stands out. It has something extra special and the instrumentation is perfection. I would just say that If “O Jardim” doesn’t end up winning, this would be a very solid entry for Portugal at Eurovision.
Score: 8.5/10

Who do we want?

The XTRA Jury, this time consisting of Nick, Rigmo, Riccardo and Miki has spoken. Below you can see the average each song achieved. Their favourite for tonight’s show is Cláudia Pascoal’s “O Jardim”!

  1. Cláudia Pascoal – O Jardim: 8.9
  2. Janeiro – (sem título): 8.8
  3. Peu Madureira – Só Por Ela: 8.3
  4. Catarina Miranda – Para Sorrir Eu Não Preciso de Nada: 7.9
  5. Maria Inês Paris – Bandeira Azul: 7.9
  6. Lili – O Vôo Das Cegonhas: 7.5
  7. Peter Serrado – Sunset: 7.3
  8. Minnie & Rhayra – Patati Patata: 7.1
  9. Anabela – Pra Te Dar Abrigo: 6.8
  10. Joana Barra Vaz – Anda Estragar-Me Os Planos: 6.0
  11. Rui David – Sem Medo: 6.0
  12. Joana Espadinha – Zero A Zero: 5.6
  13. Susana Travassos – Mensageira: 4.8
  14. David Pessoa – Amor Veloz: 3.9

Below, we’ve included a playlist for you. Which of these fourteen do you like best? Make sure to let us know who you like by commenting!

[ypt playlist_id=PLP6uMFIWey533eOdrzeRtJpKepL67q-1g]

Nick van Lith

I'm one of the founding members of ESCXTRA.com. Eleven years after the start, I'm proud to say that I am now the Editor-in-Chief of this wonderful website. When I'm not doing Eurovision stuff, you should be able to find me teaching German to kids... And cheering on everything and everyone Greek, pretty much. Pame Ellada!

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