Ah, he knows what he’s doing, this one. Salvador Sobral wears an ill-fitting jacket and a scruffy shirt not tucked in beneath it. He fidgets continually and gives every impression of having been dragged suddenly from a small room with a piano into a grand venue that’s bigger and swankier than anywhere he’s ever played before.
All of which is carefully calculated and deliberate. He blinks under excessive lighting so as to give elegant visual expression to the rather deliciously vulnerable phrasing of the song.
Here’s the official video, which I found slightly disorientating towards the end. The camera swoops and circles Salvador so many times I began to feel as though I’d been on a roundabout for a bit too long:
Who could resist Salvador Sobral’s face? Yet his irresistibility is a matter of conscious craft rather than biological advantage. He is, quite clearly, a cabaret star, skilled in the art of seduction, a showman whose every faltering or eccentric gesture is the work of a consummate performer.
I’ve a feeling that Salvador Sobral could have performed with distinction in Bertolt Brecht’s Berliner Ensemble. The kind of mannered of gestural performance demanded of so-called “epic theatre” is well represented here. Or if you wanted someone to play a Chaplinesque version of a “little man” in a harsh capitalist system, I dare say Salvador could help you out there too.
As Yeats’ poetic persona muses while amongst school children: “How can we know the singer from the song?” I’d say that this entry is very much about the singer rather than the song, especially. None of us will want to join in the chorus, because we just want to hear (and see) Salvador. If this were a Eurovision singer contest rather than a song contest, I’d see Salvador carrying home the trophy. As it is, it’s impossible to hear this without feeling you’ve heard something just a bit special.
Anyhow, Portugal’s offering is infinitely more palatable than Poland’s:
Far, far more intriguing is Montenegro:
Equally sexualised is the Moldovan entry:
Latvia offers a more techno-trance version of minimalism:
Iceland’s entry isn’t really a Eurovision song either:
Georgia’s offering is undoubtedly a bigger if not bolder initiative:
Frankly, I prefer Finland: