Initial Review: “Saudade, Saudade” by Maro (Portugal)

Of all the national finals I covered this season, Festival da Canção was probably the one that baffled me the most in terms of how unusual the music scene sounds compared to what I’m used to. Nevertheless, it’s always one of the more interesting national finals as a result, and this year proved no exception.

In one of those tidy wins where both the jury and the televote went for the same song, Maro with “Saudade, saudade” is Portugal’s 2022 representative. After a surprisingly accessible entry with “Love is on My Side” in 2021, this year sees Portugal heading back towards their eclectic roots, but they haven’t entirely abandoned a more mainstream approach. Maro sings in English for the most part, but reminds us of the beauty of the Portuguese language in her second verse. The instrumentation is gorgeous, with the bell-like effects of the first minute or so setting up the relaxed atmosphere, which is augmented by some gentle percussion and hand claps by Maro and her four backing singers, who sit around her in a half-circle. As I said in my brief review, I love that we’re learning about the Portuguese concept of saudade without her literally telling us what it means. Finally, on a technical note, I appreciate that Maro takes as many breaths as she can away from the microphone, as it definitely helps the flow of the song.

It’s frustrating to be voting in the second semi-final this year, because there a number of songs in the first semi I’m not sure will qualify and I’d like to be able to help out by sending them some votes. This is one of them. I’d like to think that this will have enough appeal among both the juries and the televote to qualify, but there are a lot of big, brash entries which will eat up a lot of attention. Hopefully people will recognise the need for quiet moments amidst the chaos.