Portugal’s win has redeemed Eurovision


Sir, – Although presented as a “song contest”, every effort was made to distract attention from the musical performances at the Eurovision Song Contest in Kiev. This was done, remarkably, in two different ways. First, the songs were not allowed to “speak for themselves” but were surrounded by a multitude of additional elements, of dress, dance, props, lighting, back-projection, under-projection, and excessive orchestration, all designed to emphasise the visual rather than the aural. As if this were not enough, these visual elements (which were no doubt carefully designed and probably very entertaining when viewed live) were shredded and disregarded by the camera directors as they sliced and diced what was happening on stage with multiple cuts, zooms, and camera angles. And all to create an impression of faux-excitement; to make sure no shot lasts longer than a few seconds; to ensure the viewer won’t get bored; to avoid them changing channels!

To its credit, the Portuguese entry avoided all this flim-flam. No eye-catching attire or fabricated sex appeal, no dance routine, no props or accompanying video, and no over-powering orchestration! Just a simple, sweet song, and arguably the only actual song in the three hours, ie a text and melody rather than a set of repeated phrases and musical hooks; a song that you could imagine anyone performing, freed from the surrounding distractions of the other entries. Switching off before the voting, I did not even hope that it would win, so I was greatly heartened on Sunday morning to discover that it had. A rare triumph of art over the crassest of commerce!

Well done, Portugal! A small check to the wilder excesses of television! – Yours, etc,


Dublin 12.