Upon winning this year’s Eurovision competition in Ukraine, Portugal’s Salvador Sobral stated in his soft-spoken way, “We live in a world of disposable music – fast-food music without any content.” A lack of content was not the case for his winning song, however, which captured the hearts of music-lovers around Europe and even in other parts of the world. Amid energetic and, at times, peculiar rivals, Salvador Sobral stood out by simply singing beautifully.
The 27-year old singer from Lisbon represented Portugal to perfection, encompassing within his personality the Portuguese nature of tranquility and modesty. His manner and song also hinted at saudade, a word without an English translation but which is often described as a longing or melancholy. The winning song was “Amar pelos dois,” meaning “Love for two,” which was fittingly written by his sister, Luísa, who stood by her brother every step of the way, even filling in and singing for Sobral when he couldn’t make rehearsals due to regular doctors’ visits.
This was the first time that Portugal has won the Eurovision competition since first competing 53 years ago. Salvador Sobral also received the highest number of winning votes in Eurovision history, earning a total of 758 points, 224 points more than the previous year’s winner and a significant margin from the competition’s average. Last year’s Eurovision winner was Ukraine’s Jamala with the song “1944.”
Before the competition final on Saturday, May 13, Italy’s Francesco Gabbani was predicted as the popular vote and possible victor, but he ended up finishing in sixth place.
Coming from a talented family, Sobral has been singing for years, and participated in Portugal’s Ídolos competition in 2009 – Portugal’s equivalent of American Idol or X Factor – and placed seventh overall. It hasn’t seemed to be an easy road, however, as 27-year-old Sobral suffers from a heart condition and missed initial rehearsals for this year’s Festival da Canção, Portugal’s national competition that decides who will enter Eurovision. His sister sung in his place each time his health prevented him from participating. It seems fitting, then, that his sister sang alongside him during his victory performance after winning the Eurovision 2017.