Kiev 2017

  62º Eurovision Song Contest
 Amar Pelos Dois (Salvador Sobral) - Portugal

Portugal, with the song Amar Pelos Dois, sung by Salvador Sobral and written by his sister Luisa Sobral, was the winner of the 62nd Eurovision Song Contest which took place at the International Exhibition Centre in Kiev on May 9th, 11th and 13th 2017 after Jamala winning the 61st edition with the song "1944". This was the second time Ukraine hosted the contest, the first one was in 2005 and it took also place in Kiew. The show was presented by Oleksandr Skichko and Volodymyr Ostapchuk with Timur Miroshnychenko as the "Green Room" host. It was the first time that the Eurovision Song Contest was presented by a male trio, and the second time (after the first Eurovision Contest in 1956) that there was not, at least, a female presenter.

Forty-two countries participated in the contest. Portugal and Romania returned after both having been absent from the 2016 edition. On the other hand, Bosnia and Herzegovina had to withdraw again, after having returned in 2016, due to financial difficulties. Russian television station Channel One announced that they would not take part in this year's Eurovision song contest or broadcast the competition because their contestant, Samoylova, had been barred from the host country, Ukraine, as she had apparently toured in Crimea in 2015 after this region was annexed by Russia, which under Ukrainian laws meant she had illegally entered Ukraine and could not travel to the country again in a three year period. If she did she would face trial and prison. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU), which produces the competition, had apparently told Channel One that it had been unable to resolve the dispute. Possible solutions that had been suggested by the organisation were for Samoylova to perform via satellite from Russia or for the contestant to be changed to one who could legally travel to Ukraine. Channel One turned down both options. A statement from the EBU read: “Unfortunately this means Russia will no longer be able to take part in this year’s competition. We very much wanted all 43 countries to be able to participate and did all we could to achieve this.”

Portugal had taken part in Eurovision a total of 48 times since their first appearance in 1964 (they withdrew from the contest 5 times) and they were the longest running contestants never to have won the competition, having placed highest back in 1966 when they came sixth. Since the introduction of the semi-finals they had failed to progress to the final eight times and after failing to qualify in 2015 they withdrew from the 2016 competition due to financial reasons. Last time Portugal had qualified for the final was in 2010 and they finished in 18th position then. But that's all just history now for the Portuguese!

Sublime, touchy and outstanding, "Amar pelos dois", their entry this year, was the best song Portugal ever sent to the contest and this year's most beautiful and moving entry by far. It reminded us that once upon a time the Eurovision "SONG" Contest used to be about songs, not about best fireworks or best special effects or impossible choreographies as Salvador Sobral himself said on stage as he was presented with the winner's trophy.

The motto of this edition was "Celebrate Diversity" but, funny enough, most of the songs would sound exactly the same and the vast majority of them were sung in English. One couldn't feel or see much diversity in Kiev but rather a celebration of globalisation and alienation instead. That's probably why, to see fragile Salvador standing there alone, on that tiny circle among the audience, singing his sister's little masterpiece in Portuguese, was somehow magical and enchanting and gave many of us goose bumps. For three magical minutes many of us forgot we were watching one of the world's freakiest shows.

Italy's Occidentali's Karma sung by Francesco Gabbani was fun, colourful and catchy and the video had more than a million views on YouTube. After having won the Italian Song Contest of San Remo it made a huge success in Italy as well as in Europe. Italy got to Kiev labelled as favourite but quite surprisingly they only came sixth in the end.

Sweden (as usual) as well as Belgium and Bulgaria were among the favourites to win too. Bulgarian singer Kristian Kostov was the youngest contestant of this edition (only 17). His voice was beautiful and incredibly mature for his age, and he took to Kiev a mid-tempo powerful ballad, but his chances of ending in a very good position, or even winning, definitely increased when Russia was barren from the competition as he was born in Moscow and this could probably grant him many of those votes usually given to Russia from neighbouring countries. In the end Bulgaria came second, 143 points below Portugal, but because of the new voting system first introduced in 2016 the thrill lasted until the very last minute as Bulgaria could have actually won if they had gotten the most points from the televoting. But, unlike Ukraine's the previous year, Portugal's victory this year was simply indisputable. This time they won both the vote of the jury and the tele voting. Not just that, their victory was such a landslide that they were on the lead all the evening, which is quite remarkable. They got the precious "twelve" points from the first jury (Sweden) and from that moment on they would never move from the first position. Not sure whether this has ever happened before... I will have to do some research ;)

Obrigado pela sua sensibilidade e pela boa música, Portugal. Valeu a pena esperar 54 anos para viver este momento maravilhoso com todos vós

See you in Lisbon in 2018 (And this time I mean it!)