Review: “Festival Da Canção 2021” (Portugal)

As usual, Portugal will select their act for Eurovision via the traditional local music festival “Festival Da Canção”. This year, 20 artists will compete for the winning.
The 20 songs were allocated into 2 semi-finals. In each semi-final, 10 artists will compete for 5 spots in the final. Therefore, 10 artists will compete in the final.
The results of each show will be determined by a combination of 50% jury voting and 50% public voting.

Along the last decade, Portugal struggled to qualify for the Eurovision Grand Final.
They have manged to qualify only 3 times: 2010, 2017 and 2018. In 2017 they received their first (and only to date) winning. While in 2018, they were pre-qualifier due to the winning in 2017.
What will be the fate at Eurovision 2021?

In this post, I will review the 20 competing songs of “Festival Da Canção 2021“.
Since the running order hasn’t been revealed yet, we will go through each semi-final songs according to alphabetical order.

Semi- final 1 (February 20th, 2021)

#1. Fábia Maia – Dia Lindo (Eng: Beautiful day)

It’s a classical ballad. The song is starting with a basic and dreamy piano playing. The few firsts seconds are instrumental.
Fábia‘s voice may be limited to specific range of heights but it is full of quality. When she reaches the low notes, there is a special color her voice can suggest. As the verse continues, violin playing is added to the melody. By that, another dimension of sadness is being added to the song.
In the bridge, she is performing with higher and thinner voice. The violin overcomes the piano playing and thereafter it changes back. The song is ended with a violin solo.
The song is very pleasant, but I would like to hear a change in the melody towards the end. The final outcome may be a little bit flat for some listeners.

#2. IAN – Mundo (Eng: World)

It’s a modern Indie song. There is something experimental in the experience of listening to this song.
Although the title is in the language of Portuguese, the majority of the lyrics are in English.
IAN who sings in a low voice, sometimes effortlessly or even almost speaking, represents the new age of female singers. The first verse melody is based on keyboards playing as well as non-trivial production. The bridge, before the chorus is the first moment when we finally meet IAN’s real vocal abilities. The tension ob well built until it explodes at the beginning of the chorus. The singer is performing the chorus is a higher voice. After the chorus, there is an electronic beat which is actually a long instrumental section that in fact is breaking the song into 2 pieces. Thereafter, she is singing the chorus in Portuguese. The last minute of the song includes a massive change in the production.
The melody transfers into a more classical one with the helping of string instruments.
The song arrives with a sophisticated package of developing production. It is keeping us awake along the listening. Personally, I would preferred that beginning of the song to be in Portuguese and being performed with more passion.

#3. IRMA  Livros (Eng: Books)

It’s a romantic ballad. The melody is based on processed instruments and a soft playing of bass guitar. The atmosphere is sensual and calming. She is singing the first verse in a slow rate and a soft voice. After the first verse is ended, there is a thick male voice that is actually being used as a backing vocal. The chorus is less modern, but it earns the value of classical music, namely thanks to the string instruments playing. The chorus is the felicitous and memorable part of the song. The use of the backing vocals and instrumentals is pretty wise.
The last minute of the song is the peak that I’ve been waiting for. The violin takes a main role in the required drama and it is leading the production of the song to an interesting side.
This is intimate song, but with a lot braveness. However, I’m afraid of the way it may be accepted by the public voting.

#4. Karetus & Romeu Bairos – Saudade (Eng: Missing)

It’s a mid-tempo Fado song with a modern production. Th melody is based on oriental guitars playing.
The lead singer is bringing a mature voice which reminds big names in the history of Fado music.
The melody can be related to a traditional Greek and Spanish ethnic ballads. The first chorus is opened with a beat become strong as the chorus lasts. The chorus includes a single phrase that keeps on repeating. In the middle of the chorus, there is a storing instrumental section.
The verse after the chorus is built on almost identical line of melody. The instrumental parts are catchy. After the second chorus, we can hear some backing vocalists
The song has a cyclic structure, its strength is probably the catchy and unique melody. I can tag it as a modern Fado with electronic foundations.
Will it be enough? I think that the live performance will have a crucial role in its fate.
I can see it easily qualifying for the final of the festival with the right performance.

#5. mema. – Claro Como Água (Eng: Clear As Water)

The song is opened with a vocal improvisations by the singer alongside piano playing and a special modern production that builds an atmosphere of tension. Mema is singing the first verse with a fragile and high voice. The chorus has a catchy beat that is relying on the wonderful of ethnic strings instruments. The singer is keeping on singing while we can hear some backing vocals.
After the chorus, we have an instrumental section where several instruments are involved.
The second verse is being performed in even more higher voice and sound of the ethnic guitars is getting stronger. The second chorus is pretty similar to the the first one, but it has a little bit more dramatic breaks. The song is ended with drums playing and soft singing.
For me, the song is effective, catchy from the first hearing and has an interesting structure.
The singer has a beautiful voice and I can already recognize a staging potential. Sometimes, it reminded me of the creativity of “Telemovies” by Conan Osiris. However the advantage is that “Claro Como Água” more easy to hear.

#6. Miguel Marôco – Girassol (Eng: Sunflower)

It’s a modem Indie – jazz song.The song is opened with acoustic guitars playing alongside drums.
The first singed part of the song is actually the chorus. The first verse has a fast rate together with an rhythmic beat. The second verse is more rich melody wisely. Towards the end, we can hear a pretty instrumental part that include keyboards, guitars, drums and computer processed sound.
The song is ending out of the blue.
There is a good match between Miguel‘s voice and the melody.
It can be used as a successful song for commercials.

#7. Nadine – Cheguei Aqui (Eng: I’m here)

It’s a classical ballad. The melody is based on piano and cello. The first verse is putting the Nadine’s voice in the center of the production. She is keeping the last words of each line longer by a special pronunciation. The chorus has a slower rate and it contains more classical elements. After the chorus, we have an instrumental section that’s based on traditional string instruments playing.
The second part include more “massive” string instruments comparing the first verse.
The singer has a strong and noticeable voice. I can totally see it representing Portugal 30-40 years ago.

#8. Sara Afonso – Contramão (Eng: Contrary)

It’s a jazz indie pop with influences of Portuguese music and romantic music.
The song is opened by acoustic guitars playing, thereafter a basic keyboards playing is being added.
The first verse is being performed with a magical voice in a slow rate. The production is the simple, but it just fits the whole package. The chorus continues the verses directly, but we can hear violin playing as well. The verse that comes after the chorus, has a rich melody to suggest: we can hear several different string instruments alongside guitar, piano and more interesting production.
The instrumental break accompanied by almost disappearing voice is just captivating.
Sara is closing the song with a high falsetto singing.
In my opinion, the song is a great example that sometimes basics is beautiful. The song is memorable. Vocally and Melodically it’s a piece of art that Portugal should be proud of.

#9. The Black Mamba – Love is on My Side

It’s a rock pop song with influences of the 1990’s music.
The song is opened with a classical introduction that’s heavily based on violin, cello and piano playing. The lead singer has a beautiful husky voice. The classical motives can be felt also in the verses. The chorus melody is based on piano playing. The lyrics in the chorus are quite repetitive.
The second verses has a stronger “rock” character with the adding of the electric guitars.
The closure of the song is a short section of string instruments.
I loved the way they mixed it into rock pop song with classical elements, which in fact elevates the song into a good classic rock song.
The song gives us a personal experience: unrequited love, the teenage life, self acceptance and more. It is one of the few songs that being fully preformed in English at “Festival Da Canção 2021”.
I usually prefer Portugal sending songs in the language of Portuguese, but I won’t ignore this one.
I found it very similar to “I’m yours” by the Makemakers that represented Austria at Eurovision 2015.

#10. Valéria – Na Mais Profunda Saudade (Eng: In the Deepest Longing)

It’s a mixture of Fado music with Bosa Nova music and symphonic elements.
The song is opened with an oriental guitar and string instrumental. The singer has a unique voice. We can totally feel the drama and passion in it. The firs verse is focused on Valéria‘s voice.
The song fulfills the Fado requirements by book, the word “Fado” is even mentioned in the lyrics
The color of her voice can be defined as a traditional and high quality.
However, I found the song a little bit heavy and inaccessible.

My Full Ranking of Semi-Final 1

  1. mema. – Claro Como Água
  2. Sara Afonso – Contramão
  3. Miguel Marôco – Girassol
  4. The Black Mamba – Love is on My Side
  5. Karetus & Romeu Bairos – Saudade
  6. IAN – Mundo
  7. Nadine – Cheguei Aqui
  8. Fábia Maia – Dia Lindo
  9. Valéria – Na Mais Profunda Saudade
  10. IRMA – Livros

Semi- final 2 (February 27th, 2021)

#11. Ana Tereza – Com um Abraço (Eng: With a Hug)

It’s an acoustic indie pop with a little bit oriental music elements.
The song is opened with Latin guitars and percussion instruments. The singer is performing the song with a mid-high voice. The first verse feels like a story telling. Very quickly, we are getting the chorus
The chorus is catchier and has a beat that is built on the production itself. The guitars are disappearing as the verses are arriving. The verses are weaker and forgettable comparing the chorus. I loved the modulation in her singing towards the end.
For me, it isn’t bad but more a background music that’s suitable to be played in restaurants

#12. Ariana – Mundo Melhor (Eng: Better World)

The song is opened with African tribes sound. There are backing vocalists who sing “Ya La Ha Ya La”.
Thereafter it transforms into a mid-tempo pop soul song. There is a mentioning of “I have a dream” By Martin Luther King. The beat is combined with the electric guitars. The chorus is being performed in English. I had difficulties with understanding her English accent. In addition, I don’t see any reason to combine these phrase in English. After the chorus, she is using vocal improvisations.
The verse afterwards is much rhythmic Her voice is thin but high. In the second chorus , she continues singing in English while her backing vocalists singing in English
Personally, I feel it should be improved vocally. At specific moments it reminded acoustic version of songs that are usually being played in weddings.

#13. Carolina Deslandes – Por um Triz (Eng: Close by)

It’s a singer song writer ballad with characters of Disney songs. Te melody is based on guitar, keyboards and violin. The first verse has a slow rate, it’s a little lullaby without risks vocal wisely.
The chorus has more vulnerability, the singer is singing with a high voice and a lot of emotions.
The chorus has a closure of a long classical violin instrumental section.
As the second verse is arriving, we can hear the adding of violin to the melody. It transforms the verse and the whole song in general. We can definitely feel the drama is boosted in the second chorus, however it isn’t too much. The ending of the song as “little” and dreamy as I wanted it to be.
My experience with the song is that sometimes simple is beautiful and basic is enough.
Carolina‘s voice is amazing and you can totally feel how devoted to the song she is.

#14. Da Chick – I Got Music

it’s a disco song with influences of the 1990‘s music. The entry is one the few in “Festival Da Canção 2021” to be performed in English.
The song is opened with a soft electronic beat and” clapping” effect. The first half minute of the song doesn’t include much words but only “Thanks god, I’ve got music”.
The first part of the song is actually the chorus itself. Thereafter, we encounter the verse which just let me down. The beat remains the same with the adding of wind instruments However, Vocally the verses are just not good enough. I feel that the energy has been lost in the verses.
The second chorus lifting us up and has the right disco vibe. The last part of the song just feels like it was a spontaneous improvisation in the recording studio.
The song is catchy and actually I can imagine it being played in a clothing store at the shopping mall.
In my opinion, the song can be a “guilty pleasure” for some of us. However, “Festival Da Canção” has better songs in general and in particular this year. The whole package seems to a mess.


It’s a modern indie ballad. The introduction is fascinating, the singer pronounces the words slowly and in a calming way. The silent and atmospheric vibe are broken after 23 second where the beat is included. The rate of the song is being a little bit faster. The backing vocals are head like a soft echo.
In the second verse, we can hear the element of guitar playing. The chorus comes again after the second verse with a richer production and backing vocals.
The last seconds of the song are simple guitar stringing that doesn’t contain any singing.
Something in the song can made me closing my eyes and imagining heaven, but in the same way made me dancing.
There is something very original in the song, it isn’t commercial at all and therefore I apprentice it even more.

#16. Graciela – A Vida Sem Acontecer (Eng: Life Without Happening)

This is one of the alternative songs in the running. I would define it as an alternative upbeat electronic bop with influences of the 1980’s music.
The song is starting with an electronic beat, while Graciela is singing in a gentle and soft voice. It is built up wisely and in mysterious way. The end of the second verse includes also violin playing.
Her voice fades into the beat which keeps on changing. The second part of the song is much more rhythmic. Sometimes, her voice just disappear between the complicated production.
Melodically, this is one of the most interesting songs of the festival. There isn’t any song similar to it in the running.
The style and the vibes reminded me of the wonderful “Inercia” from “Festival Da Canção 2019”.
I appreciate the singer’s braveness and originality, however I’m little bit worried about how will it work in live performance.

#17. Joana Alegre – Joana do Mar

Luisa Sobral , the writer and composer of the song “Amar Polos Dois” (Portugal Eurovision 2017) and the sister of Salvador, is the music producer of this song.
The way Joana Alegre sings and her interpretation reminds me of Florence and The Machine‘s music.
It’s an indie pop ballad. The song is starting with guitar playing and vocal improvisations.
The first verse is based on keyboards, guitar playing and a gentle beat. The chorus is being performed in a clear, high and captivating voice. Joana reaches the high notes easily.
The chorus includes electric guitar playing that is less dominant (in a good way) than the other instruments. The guitar playing is also included in the next verses.
I find the chorus catchy, interesting, well produces and convincing.
There is something powerful but fragile in her singing. That’s why I find this song one of the strongest this year in the festival.

#18. NEEV – Dancing in the Stars

It’s a classic singer- song writer ballad with Disney vibes. Again, it’s one the few songs to be performed in English at “Festival Da Canção 2021“. The song is very personal and emotional.
The melody is based on piano playing. NEEV has a gentle voice which is remarkable and can’t be ignored. The song is growing strong as we arrive the chorus where we can hear string instruments.
As the end of the chorus arrives, the using of those string instruments is fading.
An impressive orchestra section is included in the song and empowers the value of the song and the gives us the required “wow moment” and drama. The ending of the song is pretty simple but effective.
I would like to praise NEEV string instruments for crating such an excellent song, with great structure.
For me, the song can be a wonderful soundtrack and I can imagine a couple of lovers dancing it.
Nevertheless, reading the lyrics of the songs can be interpreted as a guy that is telling as about someone who loved ans sadly passed away – “Now you’re dancing in the stars above us“.
The only thing I see as an issue here is that I hardly believe that a song in English can win “Festival Da Canção”.

#19. Pedro GonçalvesNão Vou Ficar (Eng: I won’t stay)

Pedro Gonçalves is a familiar name for the Eurovision fans. He had participated in “Festival Da Canção 2017” with the song “Don’t Walk Away” and ended in the 6th place in the festival’s final.
It’s a mid-tempo pop, but the only one in the whole “Festival Da Canção 2021” line-up.
The song is starting with basic piano playing and slow singing. But after 20 seconds, computer processed vocals are being added. We can hear a catchy electronic beat with more fragile singing from Pedro.The chorus is catchy and faster, the electronic beat has a significant role in the chorus.
The third verse already includes the beat from the chorus. There is something very wise in the production choosing. After the second chorus, we can hear saxophone playing.
Pedro vocals are stable and he has the ability to fit his voice to different cases.
There is something “old fashioned” but still refreshing in that one. The song is just unpredictable if the view of “Festival Da Canção. I totally can see it as a contender for the winning

#20. Tainá – Jasmim (Eng: Jasmine)

This is a Bosa Nova song. Tainá has a nice and calming voice. The song is starting with guitar and keyboards playing. Sometimes, we can hear some backing vocals. The vibes it gave me were like lullaby song. The transition between the verses and the chorus is quite smooth, too smooth actually.
The second part of the song includes special keyboards playing. The whole experience here is like listening a “B-Side” from a singer- song writer album. There is nothing bad here, it just doesn’t stands out.
My problem here is that the song isn’t competitive at all, at some point it seems to me as a background music.

My Full Ranking of Semi-Final 2

  1. Carolina Deslandes – Por um Triz
  2. Joana Alegre – Joana do Mar
  3. NEEV – Dancing in the Stars
  4. Pedro Gonçalves – Não Vou Ficar
  6. Graciela – A Vida Sem Acontecer
  7. Ana Tereza – Com um Abraço
  8. Tainá – Jasmim
  9. Da Chick – I Got Music
  10. Ariana – Mundo Melhor

In general, I felt that Semi-final 2 is the stronger one. The festival this year is pretty good. We have a plenty of female ballads, but they aren’t identical.

Potential Qualifiers?
I think there isn’t any clear winner this year. The live performances, staging and vocals will play a main role.
Even though, I can mention the following acts as potential finalists

Semi Final 1

Miguel Marôco – Girassol
Karetus & Romeu Bairos – Saudade
Sara Afonso – Contramão
mema. – Claro Como Água 
IAN – Mundo

Semi Final 2 ( 5 among the 6):

NEEV – Dancing in the Stars
Carolina Deslandes – Por um Triz
Pedro Gonçalves – Não Vou Ficar
Joana Alegre – Joana do Mar
Graciela – A Vida Sem Acontecer

Doron Lahav is 28 years old guy who lives in Israel. Doron watches Eurovision Song Contest since early 2000s. Doron works as a Data Scientist and also shows interest in singing and writing.

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