Opinion: Portugal's win showcases the true spirit of Eurovision

For once it was all about the song and nothing else

Opinion: Portugal's win showcases the true spirit of Eurovision

The winner of the 62nd ESC, Salvador Sobral from Portugal | Image: PA images

Some might call last night’s winner unconventional but in truth ballads have always been successful in the Eurovision. While Italy had a dancing gorilla and Moldova had Epic Sax Guy, Portugal had the most important ingredient of all - the best song.

After a 53 year wait, Portugal was finally crowned Eurovision winners. 

The song Amar Pelos Dois (Love For The Both Of Us) which was performed by Salvador Sobral, was written by his sister Luisa. She had to stand in for him during rehearsals due to Salvador suffering from a heart condition.  Although he put in a great performance on the night, the real star of the show was the song itself. It’s a touching ballad about losing the one you love and it clearly captured the hearts of the jury and public alike.

Although he put in a great performance on the night, the real star of the show was the song itself. It’s a touching ballad about losing the one you love and it clearly captured the hearts of the jury and public alike.

With a resounding 758 points, it was clear from early on that there was only going to be one winner. Although Portugal was a favourite to win the competition, when you compare it to previous winners, it doesn't have the same sense of grandeur. 

Ultimately, that actually worked in the song’s favour. Amidst all the crazy pyrotechnics and dance routines was a tender song that was beautifully composed and beautifully arranged. After seeing some of the semi-finalists, it was clear that Portugal’s entry was the best song of the lot and, in a way, it almost felt like a song that was too good for Eurovision.

Breath of fresh air 

Portugal's win is a breath of fresh air for the competition itself as it shows that all you really need is a great song and everything beyond that is meaningless. 

So many countries try to add a novelty element to their act or focus on elaborate staging. All that takes away from the song itself. 

The win is reminiscent of Paul Harrington and Charlie McGettigan back in 94 with Rock 'n' Roll Kids. It was the simplicity of the song and the performance which captured people's imagination.  

In terms of the impact the win could have, we could see countries starting to shift more towards getting a song that has a message behind rather than trying to follow different trends in pop music. We might also start to see more countries go with their native tongue as Portugal became the first country to win with a non-English song since Serbia in 2007. It clearly didn't have an effect on people's appreciation of the song and it stood out because of it. 

"A victory for music"

Salvador Sobral wasn't shy about expressing his feelings either and used his moment in the spotlight to make a statement about modern music. 

During his acceptance speech, he said "I want to say that we live in a world of disposable music, fast-food music without any content. And I think this could be a victory for music, with people that make music that actually means something.


"Music is not fireworks. Music is feeling. So let’s try to change this and bring music back, which is really what matters."

That's why the win is so remarkable; a song like Amar Pelos Dois won in a musical climate where everything is ready-made for the charts and there is little room for artists to truly express themselves. Clearly, the Eurovision still holds a place for outsiders and it certainly brings hope to those countries like Portugal who haven't won it before.

Ireland's problem  

In our case though, it's fair to say that our song was going nowhere. It marks the fourth year in a row where we haven't progressed from the semi-finals and it seems like we truly have lost our way in the competition. 

Brendan Murray's song Dying to Try is actually a pretty apt name for our current predicament. In the last few

In the last few years, we have been trying way too hard to try and reclaim our former glory. In the process we have also lost our identity and as a result have progressively done worse and worse. Besides Jedward who did decent enough in 2011 and not too well in 2012, it's been a torrid time since our last win in 1996.

Besides Jedward, who did decent enough in 2011 and not too well in 2012, it's been a torrid time since our last win in 1996.

So what's the answer? 

Well, it seems Samantha Mumba is the name on everybody's lips as a recent article about Ireland's Eurovision entry finished with a plea for Samantha Mumba to enter for 2018. Samantha Mumba replied saying that she would love to do it, so maybe it's time for her to step back into the spotlight.

All we need now is a great song but God knows how long we will be waiting for one of those.


Eurovision moment 

It's better not to dwell on how badly we've done and tip our hats to the winners. If Salvador's first performance wasn't good enough, the final performance really capped things off beautifully. He invited his sister up onstage to sing with him. It was a wonderful moment that made the performance extra special. They both took turns singing the song and it brought a close to what turned out to be a pretty special night for the Sobral household. 

If Salvador's first performance wasn't good enough, the final performance really capped things off beautifully. He invited his sister up onstage to sing with him. It was a wonderful moment that made the performance extra special. They both took turns singing the song and it brought a close to what turned out to be a pretty special night for the Sobral household. 

It's been a good couple of years for Portugal - winning the European championship last year for the first time in their history and now winning the Eurovision song contest for the first time as well. 

Maybe good things do come to those and who wait and that's certainly something to strive for. 

In terms of Ireland, well we'll pick another good singer with a god awful song and hope for the best. Last night though was all about the winners and it was a special win for a truly special song. 

Music transcends barriers and whether it's in Portuguese, a great song will always shine through. So obrigado, Portugal, and thanks for making the Eurovision mean something again.