Fernandes was selected by the national public broadcaster Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) as a result of her victory at the Festival da Canção 2008, the Portuguese national final, held on 9 March 2008, at the Teatro Camões, in Lisbon. Ten acts entered the competition to represent the country at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Belgrade, Serbia, with the winner being selected through SMS and televoting.
The Portuguese song, composed by Andrej Babić and Carlos Coelho, was performed last in the second semi-final on 22 May. It received a total of 120 points, coming second out of 19 competing countries and thus qualifying Portugal to the final, for the first time since the semi-final format was introduced in 2004. Performing 13th in the running order, Portugal received a total of 69 points and placed 13th in a field of 25 countries.
Portugal has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 41 times since its debut entry in 1964. It achieved its best result in 1996, when Lúcia Moniz came sixth with « O meu coração não tem cor« , getting the maximum 12 points a country can give from both Cyprus and Norway and receiving 92 points in total. Portugal’s least successful entries have been in 1964, 1974 and 1997 when Portugal placed last.
The Portuguese national broadcaster, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal (RTP) broadcasts the event each year and organizes the selection process for the its entry. Many different selection processes have been used, however the most common is the Festival da Canção competition, having been held almost every year since Portugal joined the contest. At Festival da Canção, members of the public vote for the performance they want to represent them at the Contest. RTP again chose to use this format to select the 2008 Portuguese entry.
Festival da Canção 2008
RTP announced that the Portuguese entry for the 2008 Contest would be again decided through the Festival da Canção contest, revealing that they had given invitations to many established singers in Portugal to compete.
In a change from the last two contests, RTP would be the sole decider of who would perform in the contest. In the past, the producers of the songs, invited by RTP, would decide themselves who would perform their songs in the contest.
A meeting was held between the board of directors and the producers of RTP to decide how Festival da Canção 2008 would be planned. The most important issue during the meeting was to find talented artists within Portugal with experience to compete in Festival da Canção, but not ruling out the possibility of new names competing as well. It had been rumoured that artists from the then-running Portuguese talent show Operação Triunfo would be invited by RTP to take part in the contest.
The final details of the 2008 Festival da Canção were planned during a decisive meeting within RTP in December. However rumours arose that the contest would be cancelled due to the resignation of Nuno Santos, the person responsible for Portugal’s participation at the Eurovision Song Contest. With his resignation, it was deemed that it would not be possible to plan the contest in time for Eurovision. Despite this, RTP confirmed that Portugal would still be in the contest, and that the possibility of an internal selection was being considered. RTP announced in January 2008, however, that the 2008 edition of Festival da Canção would be held, with the preliminary date of the contest set at 9 March 2008.
RTP invited 10 Portuguese producers to compete in Festival da Canção 2008. They would, in most cases, write or co-write the song that would be performed by the artist RTP would choose. The first five producers were revealed by RTP on 24 January, and included both experienced and new producers to Festival da Canção. They included Jan Van Dyke, writer of the Portuguese entry of the Eurovision Song Contest 1990 « Há sempre alguém » by Nucha, Fernando Martins, Nuno Feist and Ramon Galarza, who came second, third last and last in the Festival da Canção 2007, and new producer to the contest Carlos Coelho, who had, however, written entries for the Lithuanian finals in 2004 and 2005.
The rest of the producers include newcomer to the festival Carluz Belo, Elvis Veiguinha who composed the winner of Festival da Canção 2006 « Coisas de nada » by Nonstop, comedic songwriter Gimba, Ménito Ramos, composer of one of Rita Guerra‘s entries in Festival da Canção 2003, and Renato Júnior who composed the second-placed song in the Festival da Canção 2006.
Once the producers were announced, RTP began to announce the artists that would participate in Festival da Canção 2008. Many of the artists revealed by RTP were from the popular show Operação Triunfo. These include Joana Melo, Alex Smith, Ricardo Soler and winner Vânia Fernandes. However other artists popular in Portugal competed in the contest, such as fado singer Marco Rodrigues and Vanessa, who came third in Festival da Canção 2007. The groups Blá Blà Blá (composed of Ana Gomes, Ana Ferreira and Francisco Andrade (runner-up at Festival da Canção 2004)) and Big Hit (composed of Pedro Mimoso, Luís Pacheco, Gonçalo Medeiros and Carlos Coincas) also participated in the contest. The final two artists were literal unknown Carluz Belo and Tucha.
The songs of the contest were not revealed until the contest was broadcast on RTP, and were all performed entirely in Portuguese.
The first artist to confirm her place in Festival da Canção 2008 was Joana Melo, contestant on Operação Triunfo. For the contest she sang the song « Porto de encontro », as lead singer of the group ‘Lisboa não sejas francesa’. The song is a fado-like song, which includes Portuguese guitar, drums and accordion. the chorus of the song is up-tempo. The song was written by its producers Miguel Majer and Ricardo Santos, who had performed with Joana Melo in the band Donna Maria.
Marco Rodridgues’ song is called « Em água e sal », composed by Tiago Machado, written by Inês Pedrosa and produced by Elvis Veiguinha. It is a fado song, featuring some pop elements, and features drums, Portuguese guitar and violin.
Alex Smith of Operação Triunfo performed « Obrigatório ter » at Festival da Canção 2008, composed and produced by Jan van Dijck, with lyrics by Pedro Malaquias. It is a pop song, featuring backing vocals and some tambourine. The winner and runner-up of Operação Triunfo, Vânia Fernandes and Ricardo Soler, were also present in the contest, performing « Senhora do mar » and « Canção pop » respectively. « Senhora do mar » was composed by Croatian songwriter Andrej Babić, and was written and produced by Carlos Coelho. It is a ballad which includes backing vocals, drums and some use of violins. Ricardo Soler‘s song, « Canção pop », was composed and produced by Renato Júnior, and was written by Nuno Markl. The song is a rock song, but includes some elements of jazz music, such as the use of saxophone. It also featured electric guitar and female backing vocals.
The group Blá Blà Blá (sometimes written without the accents) performed « Magicantasticamente » at the contest. The song was written by Gimba and Luís Miguel Viterbo, and was produced by Gimba as well. The song is a fast-paced pop song, inspired by the 60s. Big Hit, another group, also performed at Festival da Canção 2008 with the song « Por ti, Portugal », composed by Fernando Martins and Alexandra Valentim, written by João Baião and produced also by Martins. Their song, however, was a modern rock song that included electric guitars and drum kits.
The final three songs were performed by Carluz Belo, Tucha and Vanessa. Belo’s song, « Cavaleiro da manhã », was composed, written and produced by Belo. The song is a pop song, and includes male and female backing vocals and the use of bagpipes. Tucha’s song for Festival da Canção 2008 was « O poder da mensagem », composed, written and produced by Ménito Ramos. It is a pop-rock song that features female backing vocal, guitar and drums. Vanessa’s song was « Do outro lado da vida », composed by Nuno Feist, written by Nuno Marques da Silva and produced by Nuno Feist as well. The song is a modern pop-ballad, beginning slowly and quietly before becoming louder towards the end.
Festival da Canção 2008 was held on 9 March 2008 at the Teatro Camões in Lisbon, hosted by Sílvia Alberto, host of Operação Triunfo. All ten songs were performed, with the winner being decided through televoting, not just of the Portuguese public but also through the votes of those watching RTP in France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland, with televoting beginning at the beginning of the show.
The interval act for the show involved the artists from the show singing a medley of Eurovision winners, both together and solo. Three Eurovision winners were sung by all 10 of the artists; « Waterloo » by ABBA, « Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz and Hallejulah by Gali Atari and Milk & Honey. As well as these three medley songs, each artist performed one song on their own; Ricardo Soler performed « Ne partez pas sans moi » by Celine Dion, Big Hit performed « Hold Me Now » by Johnny Logan, Vânia Fernandes performed « Non ho l’età » by Gigliola Cinquetti, Joana Melo of Lisboa não sejas francesa performed « Puppet on a String » by Sandie Shaw, Carluz Belo performed « L’oiseau et l’enfant » by Marie Myriam, Marco Rodrigues performed « Après toi » by Vicky Leandros, Vanessa performed « Everyway That I Can » by Sertab Erener, Alex Smith performed « My Number One » by Elena Paparizou, Tucha performed J’aime la vie by Sandra Kim and Blá Blà Blá performed « Save Your Kisses for Me » by Brotherhood of Man. As well as this, the band ‘Be-Dom’ and a hip-hop group also performed during the interval.
Marco Rodrigues performed first on the night, with the song « Em água e sal ». Rodrigues was joined on stage by a guitarist, and also a female violinist and three drummers. The second song was Carluz Belo’s « Cavaleiro da manhã ». Three backing singers, two female and one male, were also present on stage, as well as a bagpipe player. A dancer was also on stage during the performance. Big Hit was next on stage with their song « Por ti, Portugal ». The four members of the group were accompanied on stage by two female drummers. Lisboa não sejas francesa were next on stage. The group was made up of lead singer Joana Melo, as well as an accordion player, a keyboardist, a drummer and a guitarist. The fifth song of the night was « Senhora do mar », performed by Vânia Fernandes. She was featured on stage in a black dress, and was accompanied by five backing dancers/singers, two male and three female, all dressed in white.
Vanessa was next on stage with her song « Do outro lado da vida », and was accompanied on stage by five male backing singers. Pyrotechnics were also featured at the end of the song. Ricardo Soler performed seventh with the song « Canção pop ». On stage with him was a male pianist, saxophonist and guitarist, as well as two female backing singers. Alex Smith performed next, with his song « Obrigatório ter ». He was present on stage and was accompanied by five backing singers/dancers on stage, three female and two male. The penultimate artist was Tucha with her song « O poder da mensagem ». She was present on stage along with two female backing singers and three backing dancers, two male and one female. The final song was « Magicantasticamente » by Blá Blà Blá. The group were present on stage in colourful 60s-inspired outfits, and were accompanied on stage by two backing singers, one male and one female.
The winner of the contest was Vânia Fernandes with « Senhora do mar« . She received a total of 17617 votes, gaining 35% of the total vote, beating second place Alex Smith by over 10000 votes. She would go on to represent Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest 2008, held in Belgrade, Serbia.
|Draw||Artist||Song||Composer – Lyricist||Producer||Votes||Place|
|1||Marco Rodridgues||« Em água e sal »||Tiago Machado, Inês Pedrosa||Elvis Veiguinha||5944||3|
|2||Carluz Belo||« Cavaleiro da manhã »||Carluz Belo||Carluz Belo||2049||8|
|3||Big Hit||« Por ti, Portugal »||Fernando Martins and Alexandra Valentim, João Baião||Fernando Martins||2934||6|
|4||Lisboa não sejas francesa||« Porto de encontro »||Miguel Majer and Ricardo Santos, Miguel Majer||Miguel Majer, Ricardo Santos||1974||9|
|5||Vânia Fernandes||« Senhora do mar«||Andrej Babić, Carlos Coelho||Carlos Coelho||17650||1|
|6||Vanessa||« Do outro lado da vida »||Nuno Feist, Nuno Marques da Silva||Nuno Feist||2622||7|
|7||Ricardo Soler||« Canção pop »||Renato Júnior, Nuno Markl||Renato Júnior||4736||4|
|8||Alex Smith||« Obrigatório ter »||Jan Van Dijck, Pedro Malaquias||Jan van Dijck||6928||2|
|9||Tucha||« O poder da mensagem »||Ménito Ramos||Ménito Ramos||626||10|
|10||Blá Blà Blá||« Magicantasticamente »||Gimba and Luís Miguel Viterbo||Gimba||4616||5|
RTP announced that they would be holding a promotional tour for Fernandes and « Senhora do mar ». Fernandes would be travelling to countries around Europe, promoting her song on various TV and radio shows. Despite an English-language version of the song being written for the promotional tour, it was decided by RTP that the song would be sung at the contest entirely in Portuguese by Fernandes.
Fernandes’ promotional tour began in Bulgaria, where she appeared on many TV shows and sang a duet with the Bulgarian representative at the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 Mariana Popova. From 27 to 30 April, Fernandes visited Malta, appearing on various radio and TV shows, giving interviews and singing « Senhora do mar ». In Turkey, she performed a duet with Şebnem Paker, the Turkish representative at the 1996 and 1997 contests. Finally, after arriving in Serbia for the contest, Fernandes performed a duet with the Beauty Queens, the group that accompanied Serbia’s winning singer Marija Šerifović at the 2007 contest, performing both « Senhora do mar » as well as « Zavet », the Beauty Queens’ losing entry at Beovizija 2008, the Serbian Eurovision selection for the contest.
Promotion of the song was also made through an English version of the song being written, called « Lady of the Sea », as well as a promotional video being made of both the Portuguese and English versions of the song. The video shot on Fernandes’ home island of Madeira, commissioned by the Madeiran government in order to promote the island.
Since Portugal had come in 11th in the semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, Vânia Fernandes was obliged to perform her song in one of the two semi-finals of the 2008 contest. The EBU split up countries with a friendly voting history into the two different semi-finals, to give a better chance to other countries to win. On 28 January 2008, the EBU held a special draw which determined that Portugal would be in the second semi-final, held on 22 May 2008. The draw for the running order allowed three countries in each semi-final to select their positions in the running order. Portugal was selected as a wild card, and were allowed to select their position in the semi-final. As such, the Portuguese delegation for the contest selected to perform 19th (last) on the night of the semi-final.
Although only being allowed to vote in the second semi-final, RTP broadcast both semi-finals on RTP. The first semi-final was broadcast on a time-delay, 3 hours ahead of the live showing. The second semi-final, which Portugal was competing in, was broadcast live on RTP.
At the contest the commentator for RTP was Isabel Angelino, who also hosted a series of shows for RTP on Fernandes, her preparations in Belgrade and the rehearsals in Belgrade. The spokesperson for Portugal, announcing the results of the Portuguese televote for the contest, was Sabrina, the Portuguese entry at the 2007 contest.
Fernandes sang in the second semi-final on 22 May 2008, performing 19th on the night. Her performance was similar to her performance at Festival da Canção. She again wore the same black dress, with the same backing singers as in Festival da Canção. The stage was filled with blue light, with the background showing blue waves, like in water. The backing dancers had the same choreography as before. She received a total of 120 points, coming second to the Ukraine‘s Ani Lorak. She received 3 points from Latvia, Malta and Cyprus, 4 points from Lithuania, 5 points from Sweden and Bulgaria, 6 points from Albania, Hungary and Serbia, 7 points from the Czech Republic, Georgia and the United Kingdom, 8 points from Croatia, Belarus and the Ukraine, 10 points from Iceland, and the maximum 12 points from Switzerland and France — receiving no points from Turkey, Denmark and Macedonia. She qualified for the final on 24 May for the first time in Portugal’s history since the semi-finals were introduced in 2004. The semi-final received 1.45 million viewers, the second-most watched show that day.
Fernandes sang a repeat performance of « Senhora do mar (Negras águas) » in the final, performing 13th on the night, following Turkey and preceding Latvia. This time she received only 69 points, placing 13th in a field of 25. She received the most points, 10 points, from Andorra and Switzerland, as well as receiving 8 points from Spain and France, 6 points from Iceland and Belgium, 5 points from San Marino and the Netherlands, 4 points from Germany, 3 points from Croatia and the Ukraine, and 1 point from Serbia. This was Portugal’s best placing at the Eurovision Song Contest since 1998. The show received 2 million viewers in Portugal, and was the most watched program that day.
Points Awarded by Portugal
|12 points||10 points||8 points||7 points||6 points|
|5 points||4 points||3 points||2 points||1 point|
|12 points||10 points||8 points||7 points||6 points|
|5 points||4 points||3 points||2 points||1 point|
After Fernandes came 13th in the final, disappointment arose in Portugal over her result, with the Portuguese population and media expecting a higher result in Belgrade. With this, there were talks within RTP over a new selection method for Festival da Canção, with the possibility that anyone can enter songs to RTP, and not just the selected producers.
Fernandes benefited from her Eurovision appearance, however. She starred in a new advertisement for the Portuguese branch of the Spanish bank Banco Santander. She also made a number of Eurovision-related appearances, appearing at a Eurovision party in Cologne, Germany, as well as appearing at the annual convention of the Luxembourgish branch of OGAE, the official Eurovision fan organization, appearing with Eurovision winner Corinne Hermès and Luxembourgish entrant Marion Welter. She was also interviewed on the Portuguese-language radio station Radio Latina in Luxembourg.
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(Note: Entries scored out are when Portugal did not compete)