Editorial: What to take from Salvador’s winning speech

Hey guys, I’m back again actually writing articles instead of being just an occasional Tweeter. I do really apologise on the lack of actual articles since January, as my final exams are a mere month away from the time of writing and as such, I kinda had to prioritise them over this website…PLEASE DON’T KILL ME!

In any event, four months after the last post on this website, another Eurovision has come and gone. We flew to Kyiv, we celebrated diversity in all its shapes and forms…even if we missed a bit of a elephant (or should I say bear?) in the arena, and we’re home again. Eurovision 2017 turned out to be one the strongest years in the Contest’s history in terms of musical quality. We saw the return of the Epic Sax Guy, the KWEEN that is Valentina Monetta and we also were introduced to some new faces that we’ll hopefully see again sometime in the future. But most importantly, we ended up with a winner. One that was considered an outsider from the beginning but soon was able to sneak in and steal the trophy from all its competitors’ noses.

For the first time in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest, we have a winner from Portugal. In the 53 they’ve been participating – and in 49 attempts – Portugal has never won this beloved Contest of ours. Their best result pre-2017 was a mere 6th place in 1996. So, with no placing EVER in the top 5, Salvador Sobral’s victory came as a shock and a pleasant surprise to the fandom, as his gentle, timeless ballad “Amar Pelos Dois” broke practically every voting record set: highest score using the post-2016 voting system (758 points, up from Jamala’s 534); highest score pre-2016 voting system (418 points, see here for details!); highest number of 12 points – 30 combined, obliterating Loreen’s 18 in 2012. It was almost as if Portugal was waiting until now to unleash this kraken of quality in order to win, and as such I’m more than excited to see us go to Lisbon next year! And who knows, I MIGHT ACTUALLY GO….but time remains to be seen.

However, there’s one bone of contention for many fans about Salvador’s win. After being declared the winner and having the trophy handed to him by Jamala, it was his turn to finally express how he was feeling after becoming the first representative of Portugal to win the Eurovision Song Contest. Instead of the traditional “OH MY GOD, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR VOTING FOR ME!” speech, Salvador took the unorthodox route and instead made his speech a statement, saying:

I want to say that we live in a world of disposable music – ‘fast-food’ music without any content – and I think that this could be a victory for music with people that make music that actually means something. Music is not fireworks – music is feeling. So let’s try to change this and bring music back which is what really matters.

After this, Salvador gave the reprise of “Amar Pelos Dois” with the composer of the song – his sister Luísa. Surprisingly, this was the first time that the composer (that wasn’t the signer themselves) was recognised in the reprise of a song after winning and it’s fair to say that the spontaneous duet added a new layer of affection and overall cuteness to the winning song and the people behind it.

However, even when Salvador took his trophy off his head and went back to his hotel for the night, this mere speech divided the fandom almost as much as Jamala’s victory one year before. It has since created spats between friends and has led to a question of what – and more importantly who – was the indirect attack aimed at. It even has since divided the artists at the competition, with Robin Bengtsson and Alex Florea condemning his choice of words while Martina Bárta is supporting Salvador’s statement.

It’s pretty hard to explain, but let me explain to you how I see the situation. First off, Salvador wasn’t speaking about his fellow artists taking part in the competition. As the lovely Kylie over at ESC Pulse remarked in her post-Kyiv experience, Salvador would have made it a lot clearer if what he was saying was directed at the other competitors. As well as this, he wouldn’t have covered some of the songs throughout the duration of his time at the Contest, including my personal #1 – Finland.

If Salvador was to speak about his competitors, surely he would be a lot more vocal about it; perhaps not so much as Hovi Star was last year about Douwe Bob, but along similar lines to say the least. He had an amicable relationship with practically everybody as seen through the footage from the press centre and as such, that only emphasises he was there for the music and the chance to meet some new people firstly and to represent his country secondly.

The next point I want to make is that I think it’s fair to say that the terminology Salvador used in his speech to describe ‘disposable’ and ‘fast-food’ music leaves the door open to interpretation. However, it’s been left so ajar that everyone is taking a different viewpoint on what he meant. For some context, on what I believe he meant, let’s turn back to the childhood years of Eurovision – the 1950s. More specifically, the first winner of Eurovision Lys Assia’s “Refrain”. Although we don’t know by how much of a margin she won by, she is forever known as the first ever winner of this prestigious Contest of songs and music.

“Refrain” was – and still is – the go-to song for people to look back on the so-called ‘golden years’ of the Contest, as the show was about the MUSIC and the DELIVERY as opposed to the STAGING of a song. The song itself is even slow enough for you to stop and appreciate its beauty and timeless qualities. Bearing in mind that during this time, songs such as ‘Moon River’ were massively popular – this is what may be considered to be the real, true music that “Amar Pelos Dois” was born out of. “Refrain” and “Amar Pelos Dois” share similar qualities but the predominant one is that they both feature an orchestra. Now, although ‘APD’s use is more stripped back to allow a freer movement for Salvador’s quirky vocal strengths and vulnerabilities, whereas ‘Refrain’ is more brash, they both are given that timeless feel. It almost seems as if they’re outside of the time-space continuum and that no matter what era you play them in, they will both give you the same chills you felt climbing around your body when you first heard the track. That is what ‘true’ music is meant to be.

With that now out of the way, let me turn your attention to two examples of music that is probably deemed to be “fast-food” music; ‘You Don’t Know Me’ by Jax Jones feat. Raye and ‘Despacito’ by Luis Fonsi feat. Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber.

These songs are totally different to the previous two linked songs, but these are currently the most played songs on all radio stations currently in Ireland (where I live). You literally couldn’t find a bigger difference between these two and Lys and Salvador’s efforts. The lyrics here all discuss going out, being highly narcisstic, selfish and self-centred; as well as sex, sex, sex aaaaaand more sex, even if it’s in Spanish. It’s still sex. As is the case with most songs in the past decade. Sex, drugs, going out and ‘grabbing the moment’ by the…… is all we seem to listen to now. Couple the lack of depth in the lyrics with a repetitive, industrial beat and what you get is a club banger that people fall in love with. Even if it has no meaning or a vulgar one at best, it’s still considered a good pop song because it’s a rehash of the same formula being used by practically everyone else. It panders to the people, and appeals to the masses. Hence, this style is more than likely the ‘fast-food’ music Salvador was speaking of.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with liking ‘fast-food’ music! In fact, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is one of the first songs I get on the dancefloor to when I go out with my friends. However, when you listen to the same forgettable, monotonous, every-song-blends-into-each-other sort of house, it can get tiring and dull. It can get so repetitive, you can’t even notice how you don’t feel anything when listening to it. It’s empty calories for your brain and you feel no better after hearing it. Hence, ‘fast-food’ music. This is what Salvador was getting at. Music needs to make you feel something, not just leave you feeling nonplussed afterwards. So, with nothing but a microphone and a stage to say something, the Portuguese man was able to seize the moment and say what he felt about the state of music nowadays. Perhaps it wasn’t exactly the best timing for Salvador to make this statement, as it may look like he was being pretentious and snubbing his fellow artists, when in actuality he meant the exact opposite.

So, after all that’s been said and done, what can we take from Salvador’s winning speech after Eurovision 2017?

  • What Salvador meant in that speech is that we need to bring music back to how it used to be; where music had a universal feeling. Of course, this is a tall order now that music itself has branched out into so many genres ranging from country and western to schlager to alternative electronica. Perhaps if we’re able to make the same styles of music but incorporate some lyrical depth to the song, it may bring the soul of music back to the forefront.
  • Forget the raving beats. Forget the sexual lyrics. Forget the ‘fireworks’.
  • I don’t believe that Salvador was attacking all genres of music because as an artist he is versatile and is able to venture out into different styles to see what direction he wants to go in. Every artist goes through this – even Jamala last year who started out doing cheesy, bubblegum pop before turning to dark electronic music. I believe, however, that he was attacking the modern, house-pop chart-pleasing music we all have in our countries. Songs that you can dance to but leave no mark on how you feel and leave you just as easily as it came. THAT is what needs to be changed, not the opinion of all music genres, just those that deliberately pander to the masses in order to get some form of success.
  • I think that Robin’s and Alex’s criticisms will only strengthen Salvador’s point. Both artists had gimmicks during their performance that I had already mentioned here – overtly sexual lyrics and fireworks respectively (although I don’t even want to get into how Alex riding that cannon could be considered dirty). Their offense wasn’t triggered as a direct result of Sobral’s speech, but at their respective interpretations of what he said. By that, I mean – Robin and Alex chose to take offense at Salvador’s speech because they believed he was speaking directly about them. However, it’s fine andf Robin wanted to believe that his song is considered ‘disposable’ and ‘fast-food’ music, let him away with it. If Alex wants to attack Salvador for having ‘head issues’, let him do it. Let them criticise, because even if they keep slamming Salvador, they still can’t change the results. Portugal won by just standing on the stage, whereas Sweden and Romania had other staging ideas that may have cost them the victory.

So, with this over and done with, we can say that we’re all off to Lisbon next year! Are you all excited? I’m very intrigued as to how RTP will make their mark on our favourite Contest. #LISBOA2018 here we come! 😀

So, this is what I think – but what do you think? How do you see Salvador’s winning speech? Do you think the slack he’s received is deserved or do you think what he said was right? How do you think RTP will do in organising Eurovision next year? Be sure to let us know how you feel by commenting below!!

2 thoughts on “Editorial: What to take from Salvador’s winning speech”

  1. If one requires a long written editorial to explain what he “really meant” in his speech, this means that something was wrong with that speech.

  2. Hi. A lovely and informative piece that brings balance. Thank you. To be honest I think what Salvador said is just the sort of thing that musicians say. Particularly those with an urgency about their musical passion. He’s a jazz boy who clearly loves music, this statement was not arrogant or diminishing of other artists in the slightest. I can’t believe people took it that way!

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