Besides participating in semi-final 1, where all the public favourites were performing, Mimicat managed to mark her presence in the finals of the Eurovision Song Contest, making Portuguese proud and guaranteeing some epic reactions from the audience.
Portugal has been participating in the Eurovision Song Contest since 1964, and while they are known for getting good reactions and feedback, Portugal's path in Eurovision has not always been easy.
To participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, the song producers must submit their song to RTP, the national broadcast responsible for Eurovision in the country. After submitting the songs, RTP makes an internal selection choosing the song that will be participating in the Festival da Canção, where the national song will be chosen, by the public and the jury, to represent Portugal in Eurovision Song Contest.
The first performance
As mentioned before, the first Portuguese participation in Eurovision Song Contest was by by António Calvário, who sang the song “Oração.” In 1964, António Calvário sang a prayer in a ballad, accompanied by the orchestra, as was the rule of the Eurovision Song Contest. However, the first Portuguese entry was not as remarkable as expected, as António Calvário did not receive any points.
During the ’60s, Portugal usually finished with one point during the finals, as there was no semi-final at the time. Despite the participation of the acclaimed singers Simone de Oliveira and Madalena Iglésias, Portugal did not have the opportunity to accomplish great results.
Portugal made its first entrance into Eurovision during the Estado Novo, the dictatorship which ruled the country until 1974. It has been always speculated that Eurovision Song Contest, besides being a music contest, may also be a political show, possibly explaining the low Portuguese scores during the 60s. By 1970, the dictatorship was coming to an end, as António de Oliveira Salazar was no longer leading the country. Thus, Tonicha, in 1971, participated in Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 9th place, the highest position Portugal ever reached.
The 70s seemed to be the golden era for Portugal in the Eurovision Song Contest. After not participating in 1970, the following entries were marked by top 10 positions, until 1974, giving some hope to the country.
The electric 80’s
The dictatorship was over and songwriting became easier, as no entities were trying to censor lyrics, while the costumes started to change the performances. During the ’80s the girl group Doce has to be highlighted. The group participated in four different national selections.
In 1980, they reached the second position of Festival da Canção, opening doors to José Cid to reach 7th place, the highest position Portugal ever reached in the Eurovision Song Contest at the time. Doce did not give up and in 1981 participated in Festival da Canção with the song “Ali Babá”, they were not chosen to participate in Eurovision Song Contest due to, what the members of the group stated, a wardrobe malfunction that only allowed them to go on stage with clothes similar to a bathing suit.
Doce was famous at the time and managed to participate in Festival da Canção in 1982, winning this time with “Bem Bom”, representing Portugal in Harrogate, and finishing in 13th place.
The 90’s up and downs
The 90s started with great success, with singers such as Anabela and Sara Tavares reaching the top 10 in the Eurovision Song Contest. Lúcia Moniz in 1996 broke José Cid's record, reaching 6th place, being the highest Portuguese score in the contest until the victory of Salvador Sobral, in 2017.
Following the success of Lúcia Moniz, the public and the jury were no longer appreciating Portuguese entries, which eventually led to RTP deciding to not participate in the 2000 Eurovision Song Contest.
In 2004, the Eurovision Song Contest decided to implement the semi-finals regime, making it much harder for Portugal to qualify. Until this time, Portugal only participated with songs with Portuguese lyrics. However, the semi-finals regime led the country to start including English lyrics, or other languages, to make the songs more understandable for the European audience. However, 2008 seemed to be “Portugal’s Year”. Vânia Fernandes with the song “Senhora do Mar”, reached second place in the semi-finals, being a public favourite, that, unfortunately, ended up in the 13th position at the finals, a decision that was not well supported by the general public, who thought Portugal could win.
Portugal had its place in the finals for two more years, in 2009 and 2010. After that, despite some great performances, such as Leonor Andrade in 2015, the country did not reach the finals again and decided to not be present in Eurovision Song Contest 2016.
The greatest joy
After an absent year, Portugal returned to the contest in 2017 to Kyiv, with Salvador Sobral singing “Amar Pelo Dois”, a song was written by his sister Luísa Sobral.
The public was hyper focused-on Salvador Sobral and his peculiar stage presence and the feeling of the song. The song won first place at the semi-finals, and was, of course, the winner of Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Portugal won the contest with 758, the highest score any contestant has ever received in the competition.
In 2018, Portugal hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, despite the great show, the Portuguese entry ended up in the last place. Now, since 2021, Portugal has been present in all the finals, with The Black Mamba (2021), Maro (2022), and in 2023 with Mimicat.
Deeply in love with music and with a guilty pleasure in criminal cases, Bruno G. Santos decided to study Journalism and Communication, hoping to combine both passions into writing. The journalist is also a passionate traveller who likes to write about other cultures and discover the various hidden gems from Portugal and the world. Press card: 8463.