Another Eurovision year wrapped up, and once again an unexpected and very well deserve win from Portugal. “Amar pelos dois” (Love for Both) performed by Salvador Sobral and written by his sister, Luisa Sobral gave the Iberian country its first victory after forty-eight attempts. Portugal first debuted in 1964 but withdrew on a number of occasions, more recently at last year’s contest in Stockholm.
The Sobral siblings’ ballad follows a trend of recent winning songs that rank outside the camp style pop music Eurovision is often associated with. Much like Ukraine’s jazzy-ethnopop number last year, Portugal’s winning entry did not rely on pyros or special effects but purely on the singer’s emotion to transmit the song.
This year’s result was as exciting as it was unexpected. Bookmarkers ranked Portugal second place in the odds, just hours before the show started. This unexpected victory was because it was hard to believe that a Standards-influenced non-English ballad would ever win Eurovision. Not in the televoting era, not in the 21st century.
And it did. For all those who have criticised the Eurovision voting of being too political, neighbour-friendly, and dominated by diaspora. Portugal won with only one neighbour, a diaspora of about a million in France, and a few thousand elsewhere in Western Europe. Certainly not enough considering you need 100+ million votes from fourty-two participating nations.
Portugal wins Eurovision Song Contest for the first time after the country won its first UEFA Euro Championship last summer. Coincidentally, Greece achieved its first Eurovision victory in 2005 after its football team won the Euro, for the fist time, in 2004.
But perhaps it is more bizarre is that May 13th 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of the ‘Marian apparition’ of Our Lady of Fatima in the city of Fatima, north of Lisbon. The Virgin revealed three secrets including the end of World War I and the fall of communism. The third is yet to be revealed. Earlier this week, social media fans joked that Portugal’s victory was the third secret:
Lo de la virgen de Fátima es ya mu fuerte
— ManueLesky🎙️ (@ManuelESCky) May 13, 2017
It was also ten years ago that the last non-English song won Eurovision when Serbia took the prize in Serbian in 2007. Though last year’s winning entry chorus’ was in Crimean Tatar.
A record-breaking victory
It took Portugal 53 years to win Eurovision, the previous record was held by Finland who waited for 45 years their first victory in 2006.
Portugal scored a total of 758 points breaking the previous record held by Norway (2009) of 387 —or translated under the current system, 690.
Now some trivia and facts
- Portugal scored its first victory and first Top 5 result ever. Their previous best result was 6th place in 1996. It was also the last time the country reached the Top 10.
- Much like Ukraine last year, Portugal won the contest after not participating the year before.
- “Amar Pelos Dois” (Portugal’s winning entry) is the first song in Portuguese to win the contest; and the first winning song, since 2007, to feature no English lyrics.
- For the first time, under the current voting system, the winner wins both the jury and televoting. This is the first occurrence since Conchita’s win for Austria in 2014.
- Salvador Sobral received 18 sets of 12 points from the jury, sharing Loreen’s record for Sweden in 2012 (under the combined system).
- The top three countries achieved their best placing in the contest: Bulgaria came 2nd after finishing 4th last year, Moldova’s best result was 6th in 2005.
- Belgium remains in the Top 10 for the third year in a row. This is a feat they’ve never achieved before.
- Sweden comes 5th for the second year in a row remaining in the Top 5 for the fourth consecutive year.
- Australia scores its third Top 10 placing in a row. However, this is also their worst result after coming 5th in 2015 and 2nd last year.
- Coincidentally, the Netherlands and Cyprus repeated their placings of last year, 11th and 21st respectively.
- the United Kingdom achieved its best result since 2011, by coming 15th. Azerbaijan also improved their result from last year, jumping from 17th to 14th. Germany climbed one place from last to second to last.
- Ukraine received its worst result ever, 24th place.
- Spain placed last for the fifth time. The last time they did so was in 1999.