Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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May we Have Your Votes? The Winner of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest is an Anti-Spectacular Performance by Portugal

The 2017 Eurovision Song Festival finals have ended with a clear winner.

Both the European and Australian professional juries and the viewers who called in their votes chose overwhelmingly Portugal.

Surprisingly, the winning song had nothing to do with bad singing, poor texts or steamy choreography. It rather seemed an anti-spectacle.

No special effects, no wild steps, only a simple voice with piano and violin.

An almost-hushed, chilled, smooth, jazzy, dreamy, tender, peaceful, delicate, lyrical, melodic, stilled, arresting, Latin-American, lovely ballade by someone who looked corky, hobo-chic, natural, unpolished and unassuming – very Dutch, if you ask me, which he is from his father’s side. A melancholic, romantic, minimalistic, reassuring chanson about love, a touchy lullaby. How refreshing, between all the fast-paced noise and glitter – apparently appreciated by many people. A real rebuke of the countries who hoped to win with kitschy or aggressive performances.

The winning number was Amar Pelos Dois by Salvador Sobral. After winning, he sang it together with his sister, Luísa Sobral. Here you can see an earlier life recording with Salvador accompanying himself on piano, or his sister accompanying him on guitar.

The winning number reminds me of Belgian Jaques Brel. Or maybe is a bit like Dutch Toon Hermans about love, but then more still and smooth, and … in Portuguese. They sang in their mother tongue.

Here is an Engels translation of the song text. And here is a Dutch rendition I made (from the English versions around):

Als ooit iemand vraagt wie ik was

Zeg dan dat’k alleen bestond om jou lief te hebben

Nog voor jou was ik alleen maar moe

En zonder iets om te bieden


Mijn liefje, hoor mijn smeekbede

Ik vraag je: kom terug, komt terug om van me te houden

Ik weet dat je liefhebben nooit in je eentje kan

Misschien kun je ‘t beetje voor beetje herleren


Mijn liefje, hoor mijn smeekbede

Ik vraag je: kom terug, komt terug om van me te houden

Ik weet dat je liefhebben nooit in je eentje kan

Misschien kun je ‘t beetje voor beetje herleren


Als je hart dat niet wil

Al die passie, al dat lijden

Zonder plannen te maken voor later

Mijn hart kan liefhebben voor ons beiden

The interviews with the dark horse winner are worthwhile too, both before, during (the best interview), and after his performance. The singer, who generally keeps his private life under wraps, barely made it to Kiev because of health problems about which he doesn’t want to talk, claiming that he wants no pity; the essence is the song, a plea for meaningful music, and not the artist.

The Contest this year was dedicated to a call to Celebrate Diversity. Ironically, the Eurovision-first-time male all-white trio of metrosexual or homosexual presenters (in a funny sketch we saw them naked together in the shower, but they did not out themselves as either, so that’s everyone’s guess) compered a showy show that ended with a run-away winning number that was the total exception to the rule of kitsch and commerce that had formed the pack of the other performances in the hectic loud disco extravaganza. Tolerance for the other, approved with a mass-vote for an authentic going one’s own loving way.

That wasn’t the first time; just remember Dana International, who recently won as an openly transwoman. In any case, Europies and Aussies in 2017 wanted the outsider to win. Maybe, we can still hope for a better world.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. 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