Festival RTP da Canção 1979: My opinion

Hi,

As you have noticed, I’m about to do my first opinion of a ESC NF. And why not do it with a NF from my own country? So, here’s the Festival RTP da Canção 1979 (Portuguese ESC NF 1979) – more precisely, the big final (since that’s what’s only left in the RTP archives, but not in its entirety)

Before the final, there were 3 semi-finals with 9 songs each, which leads us to a total of 27 songs. An expert jury would determine for each semi which 3 songs would go forward to the final. This method was a departure from previous NF‘s made in here (although the semi-final concept was actually used for the first time in a Portuguese ESC NF back in 1967). More about the results of the semi-finals in: http://natfinals.webuda.com/70s_80s/Portugal1979SF.html and http://festival1979.no.sapo.pt/

After this brief trivia, we now move on to the center of my opinion. Held on a Friday, 23th February 1979 in Lisbon at the Cinema Monumental and presented by Fialho Gouveia (already a TV and radio personality back then, doing his first Portuguese ESC NF presentation) and Manuela Matos (a fresh face at that moment that started her carrer as a on-vision continuity presenter, as also as a normal presenter in 1978, together with 12 other hopefulls after several casting phases for the presenting/on-vision continuity job. Soon she would later change her surname to Moura Guedes and would also become one of the most known journalist presenters of all time), the first part did start with an interval act defended by brazilian singer Wilson Simonal who sung several songs. Here’s an example:

The real thing started in the second part – the performances of the 9 finalist songs. Therefore, I’m going to talk about them, one by one. Note that the number on the bracklets is the number in which the song was first presented in the semi-finals:

01 (05): Gonzaga Coutinho – Tema para um homem só

At the time a person who was working at RTP in some terms, he got his taste of opportunity to break in as a singer with a self-composed entry. The power ballad in question was a song about the world around the person itself, all its benefits and all its prejudices. Ostentabily a great performance by Gonzaga. Nowadays, Gonzaga still sings and performs live, as well as having released a few cover albums in the last few years

02 (07): S.A.R.L. – Uma canção comercial

First, the acronym stands for “Sociedade Artistíca e Recreativa Lusitana“. Second, its members were Carlos Alberto Moniz (who had also participated that year as part of a duo formed by his wife with 2 songs, one of which in a semi and the other on another. And is still working in the music business nowadays, as also got his break as the presenter, last seen presenting a Saturday morning talk show on RTP 1“Portugal sem fronteiras”), Samuel (who had also participated as a solo singer with a song in the first semi. Nowadays, it’s hard to know what he’s doing) and Pedro Osório (the author and composer of the song, sadly passed away in 2011). And third, one of the three female chorists was Carlos Alberto Moniz‘ wife, Maria do Amparo. Created especially for ESC at the time, the group dared to sing a novelty satire of the comercialism in music by putting the story idea of creating a song that can do well in the international markets by following the conventional rules of doing one. The best part of the song, though, is the performance: from the acting to the hilarious clothes, everything clicked so right into this song. Certainly a highlight from this NF

03 (09): Concha – Qualquer dia, quem diria

A newcomer at the time, Concha sung a composition made by António Pinho and Nuno Rodrigues whose lyrics suggest a girl’s desire to become her man’s lover. Musically, this was quite unlike many other songs that took part in the Portuguese NF for its modern art pop music arrangement. Eventhough she was quite shaky vocally, she was sexy and some of the corporal movements fit the song’s sexyness well. Soon after her appearance in the NF, she was heavily compared to british singer Kate Bush for the exquisiteness of the song’s musicality and performance. However, that comparsion was also her downfall and she ended her music carrer in the following year with a release that became a radio hit but a commercial failure, the more poppish “Bombom”

04 (12): Gabriela Schaaf – Eu só quero

A bit of newcomer as well as she had just had her first hit in the previous year, “Põe os teus braços à volta de mim”, the entry also made by the same writers as the previous entry in competition is quite unconventional for being a bossa-nova typed song. Lyrically, the song recounts a very intimate love relationship, with the girl exalting her loving devotion to him. Here’s a performance that oozes sexyness and classyness, confidently done by the singer. Her dress only adds more sexyness to it. She’d become quite a more known name for a while, especially thanks to her edgy pop hit “Homem muito brasa” released in the same year and in 1986, she’d come back the Portuguese NF singing the also ballad “Cinza e mel”. Two years later, she returned to Zurich, Switzerland, where she still lives to this day (she was born in that country to begin with. The city where she was born, though, was Basel)

05 (15): Tozé Brito – Novo canto português

The hottest name of the preselection at the time, he had already tasted the feeling of ESC as part of the pop group Gemini with “Dai li dou” in the previous year on Paris, but only getting 5 points and a 17th place out of 20 countries. This time he’s the author of a conventional portuguese flavoured pop entry (music was made by his brother, Pedro Brito) that pays tribute to Portugal. A bit shaky vocally in some parts, he defended well his song. TRIVIA: at the time, according to Diário de Lisboa, the singer affirmed that in case his song would win, he would not be the one singing the song for ESC but rather Paulo de Carvalho (who got his chance in 1974 with the monumental ballad “E depois do adeus” and in 1977 as part of the group Os Amigos with the forgettable “Portugal no coração”). It’s not the first time we’d get such a scoop: on his solo debut in 1972, Tozé Brito had confirmed for a TV magazine that Paulo de Carvalho could be the one for ESC in case “Se quiseres ouvir cantar” would win the NF. This all comes with a reason: he’d think he hadn’t a special voice to sing and much prefered to focus more on songwriting

06 (17): Teresa Silva Carvalho – Cantemos até ser dia

A known fado singer at the time, she already had a connection to ESC: she was one of the two portuguese jurors in 1973, representing the over 30’s (songwriter José Calvário (passed away some years ago) was the other one, representing the under 30’s). From the two songs she sang during two semis (one for each), the power ballad made by Pedro Osório, embracing the story of a couple that is awaiting for rebirth was the qualified one (the other one was “Maria, Maria”, also a ballad). Monumental performance that she did, capturing the feeling of the entry. Nowadays, only older generations probably know who the singer was

07 (21): Florência – O comboio do Tua

Another fado singer in the competition. This time with a more uplifting entry (made by Manuel José Soares and his lyricist partner, Mário Contumélias) that touches in the touristic spot concerning Portugal, as we travel by train to the cities where Tua river flows and where everything happens. The singer defended it the best she could, with a lively performance on both vocals and visuals. In recent years, Florência would be on the music map again thanks to a cover version made by Mariza (fado singer and the second most known portuguese female artist worldwide) of a song she sung in 1972: “Rosa branca (Rosa ao peito)”

08 (25): Manuel José Soares – Quando chego a casa

Possibly one of the most forgotten singer-songwriters nowadays (and still one of those artists that participated the most in the Festival RTP da Canção as both a singer, as part of a group andf as a songwriter in the 70’s and the 80’s), Manuel José Soares had already experienced a NF participation in 1970 as part of the Duo Orpheu, together with Vitor Leitão for the song “Adeus, velha amada” and in 1977 as part of the group Bric-à-Brac singing their version of “Fim de estação”. By the time, he had matured musically and the entry he wrote himself together with his lyrical partner, Mário Contumélias, was his trial by fire. The lyrics, combined with its waltzy-inspired sound, reflect the main character’s life when comes home after another day of working. The song might not be the most interesting one in competition music-wise in my opinion, but it’s quite better live than in studio

09 (27): Manuela Bravo – Sobe, sobe, balão sobe

A “from rags to riches” story for the singer: by the time she performed in the NF, she wasn’t a known singer in commercial terms, eventhough she had a few released singles (one of which in 1975 made by legendary portuguese singer, Jorge Palma). Written by the same person who co-wrote the ESC portuguese entry of 1965 (“Sol de Inverno”, sung by Simone de Oliveira), this dreamy and anthemic uptempo entry about a carefree and naive girl who hopes to find a place to live with her lover by sending a balloon. Not only the song was deeply catchy and instant, but there wasn’t any doubts that she gave the performance of a lifetime on that stage. TRIVIA: according to sources, the song was initially offered to brazilian born singer living in Portugal, Mara Abrantes. She refused (perhaps because she’d rather prefer to see someone new or unknown singing to the tune) and… the rest is history

The part that RTP hasn’t shown was the results part, but to know more about the results, you can check on these sites: http://natfinals.webuda.com/70s_80s/Portugal1979.html and http://festival1979.no.sapo.pt/

With the NF coming to an end, “Sobe, sobe, balão sobe”, sung by Manuela Bravo, was declared the winner of the Festival RTP da Canção 1979 and would participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 1979 (a contest I gave an opinion before on this blog: https://laboy456.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/esc-1979-my-opinion-part-i/ and https://laboy456.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/esc-1979-my-opinion-part-ii/ ). It ultimately became the breakthrough hit for the singer that year and has become a timeless evergreen nowadays (in Portugal, many people, especially the 70’s/80’s generation, know this song by heart)

In resume: all in all, a nicely done NF with a set of nice songs and good performances, as well as a nicely concieved stage for the effect, outdoing some of the previous NF editions. Curiousity: for many years, this NF was rumoured to be lost in the RTP archives (the performance of the winning song, “Sobe, sobe, balão sobe”, was the only thing shown by RTP. Keep in the mind that it wasn’t the reprise performance, but rather the performance before the results). This was thought so, until the day RTP Memória finally transmitted it for the first time in years, on 4th October 2008, in a remastered and restaured form

A last treat – some of the entries I loved/liked and didn’t qualify for the final:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)

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Posted on 17 de August de 2012, in Eurovision Song Contest. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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