Salvador Sobral: Paris, Lisbon, what do we know about the new album?| 25 March, 2019
Portugal does not have many mainstream artists and they are not normally very keen on producing worldwide radio hits. To what concern us, Portuguese music is much more connected to Brazil, with samba and bossa nova being highly popular in many countries of the world. However, there is one man who broke into the spotlight two years ago and turned into a sensation, rising high in billboards in countries such as Finland or Georgia. This man, who is now on the verge of launching his second album, is Salvador Sobral.
The Lisbon born artist has devoted his young life to music, dropping out of psychology in favor to explore his musical backgrounds in Majorca and later engaging in the prestigious Tallers of Music, a school in Barcelona. Previously, he had already participated in the Portuguese version of tv show Idols, where he reached the top 7 artists, before being sent home in favor of the most popular contestants.
Later, Salvador would regret to have been a participant in this competition at such a young age and admitted he was not able to deal with the sudden fame and that it made him be less interested in the music industry at the time. However, the talent and the eagerness to sing spoke loudly and after finishing his studies, Sobral started singing in bars, who would fill to listen to such a sui generis voice.
In 2016, Salvador along with pianist Julio Resende launched his first album, Excuse Me, where he had songs both in English and in Portuguese. This album had also the collaboration of the Venezuelan musician Leonardo Aldrey. Nonetheless, it was not enough for Salvador to jump into the mainstream Portuguese musical scene, something that would happen one year later through an unlikely source.
The unlikely hero who silenced the fireworks
During the early beginnings of 2017, Salvador’s sister, Luisa Sobral, who curiously was also a contestant in Idols, having finished in second place, was invite by the Portuguese national broadcaster to write a song for Festival da Cancao. This event occurs yearly in Portugal, to decide who will be the contestant for the Eurovision Song Contest – you might know this as the weirdest musical event in the world, where participants of about 40 European nations face-off to decide who is the best act. The event had its roots in the 50s and was part of an idea to unite the European continent, in the post second world war, picking the idea from the Sanremo Music Festival, who was born in Italy.
Anyway, Portugal has joined more than 50 years ago in this contest and until 2017 they were the country with more participations in the contest and no wins. The reasons might vary, either some people pointing at the lack of borders, since the country has only one neighbor to vote for them (Spain) and others claiming their stubbornness for singing proudly in their own language might also not be able to attract many foreigner fans. In fact, since the late 90’s, Europe abolished the rule that demanded the contestants to sing in their own languages, thus creating a show that is no longer a show of traditional music and idioms, but kind of a Got Talent or The Voice, in a European fashion, with lots of fireworks, flashy divas and crazy acts.
So, when Luisa invited her brother Salvador to sing the song she wrote to, possibly, participate in the Eurovision he hesitated. Nonetheless, the artist fell in love with the simplicity of the song itself, which his sister had written all in one night, while handling her newborn on her lap. Quite poetic, isn’t it? Well, the song, called ‘Amar pelos Dois’ hit the Portuguese sphere immediately and created an unusual hype, specially in social media, with some people applauding the outstanding melody and Salvador’s interpretation, while others criticizing his quirkiness and how inapt this song would be in a festival who claims for explosive chorus.
However, ‘Amar pelos Dois’ sneaked through the Portuguese national final and suddenly it was heading to Kiev, where the Eurovision Song Contest was being held, in May. There, it was undeniable a surreal moment. The normally effusive atmosphere of the contest was filled with a magnetic silence, when Salvador got up on stage and sung the marvelous contagious melody. There were tearful artists in the backstage and mouth drops everywhere. Most people wouldn’t understand a word, since the song was sung in Portuguese, but they were captivated by the ‘Disneyesque’ vibe, who brought the nostalgia back, from the long-gone times when music was intimate but soulful.
Although the betting houses weren’t initially keen on giving Sobral the favorite position to win, the moment he created on stage turned him quicker into a potential dark horse. Both jury and the public voters were unanimous in giving Salvador the victory. The Portuguese singer was surprised, but was able to deliver a sentenced who might echo through the annals of history: ‘Music is not fireworks, music is feeling’. The boldness to say that during his victory speech, made the Eurovision fans worldwide gasp. How dare this man go against the fast food music industry and the whole Eurovision concept of exaggeration?
It surely ignited a huge debate and Salvador later would assume that is was maybe the heat of the moment. Nonetheless, it was indeed a victory for music that day, a day when Europe realized that sometimes enjoying the silence and the intimacy of a subtle melody, sung in an exquisite way, is much more rewardable than producing a formulaic song, with the single intention of winning a yearly contest.
Cleaning the stardust after Eurovision fame
Winning the Eurovision had two effects on Salvador Sobral life. The obvious first one is that he was never forgotten again. His album, Excuse Me, produced in the year before Eurovision, had a sudden boom, besides being one of the most listened ones in Spotify, not only in Portugal but elsewhere. Also, besides popping up now in the radio charts of the country, his fame expanded borders, with Sobral being invited to tour around Europe, Brazil and much more locations.
Nevertheless, Salvador admitted, in a recent interview to a Swedish TV channel, that Eurovision was also his ‘prostitution’. Being a discreet person, who likes to keep his life private, he unfortunately saw himself in covers of magazines, which would explore his love affairs and his health problems (he received a heart transplant in the end of 2017). Still, Eurovision was a necessary evil so that he could be able to be properly recognized to his music and have the opportunities rightly deserved in the industry.
With assumed influences of bossa nova, soul and jazz in his music, Salvador is a fan of Chet Baker and Caetano Veloso. With the latter, he was able to perform live a version of Amar pelos Dois, live in Lisbon, during the Eurovision Song Contest of 2018.
Far from being attached to this song, even though it will be a demanding request by fans in his concerts, Salvador has released in the end of last year a new single called Mano a Mano. He also produced a song together with Tiago Nacarato, called Time, with the participation in the videoclip of Italian sculptor Tony Cassanelli.
In the next days, fans are waiting for the release of the new album, which will be called Paris, Lisbon and will be multilingual. “It is inspired in a trip, without departure or arrival, but where the points of union are between Paris and Lisbon, cities of big importance in the construction of this disco”, explained the agent of Sobral. “It will also be a tribute to the classic movie of Wim Wenders, Paris, Texas, from 1984, whose argument and direction defined Salvador Sobral”.
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