7 Day YouTube Views: 291,078
7 Day YouTube Likes: 6,547
Host nation Portugal return in 2018 with O Jardim sung by Claudia Pascoal. Salvador Sobral (last year's winner for Portugal) called for more depth and meaning to the songs in Eurovision and it seems that they've taken his words to heart this year, presenting the opposite of plastic pop.
The song is a simple, slow ballad with a repeating melody. No vocal theatrics for this one at all. This is a song that seems to split the audience, many think it's beautiful and many think it's rather boring - I personally fall in the latter group. Claudia sings in a breathy way for the entirety of the song, this is a common tactic, used frequently by YouTube singers and X Factor contestants to slow a song down and make it sound ethereal whilst not having to display very much singing talent. Claudia does modulate a little to show she can actually sing but the song itself doesn't really require it, so for the most part it's almost-talking breathiness.
I can't criticise Belgium for being a slow starter and then sing this track's praises, there is a brief period in the middle where a second singer comes in but it hardly gets your blood pumping. Songs that do well in Eurovision generally either entertain the audience or make them cry, Portugal's entry obviously aiming for the heart, but it leaves me rather unmoved. It's easy to entertain people, but songs that go for the emotion play a much tougher game - they really do have to hit the mark and I'm not sure Portugal have achieved that.
The staging footage we have so far is simplistic and will likely remain that way for the live finals. Claudia stands almost alone on stage with her song, the problem for me was the person seated in what appears to be clothing resembling a strait-jacket, facing away from the audience. Nobody can deny this is distracting, nobody can deny that when they first watched this, the flow of the song through their heads was interrupted by wondering what the deal was with the strait-jacket person, it's a distraction and one that doesn't pay off either.
The betting markets have Portugal as 18th favourite, surprisingly I noted behind Denmark which seems to be the punching bag of Eurovision commentariat despite being quite a good song (we thought). Portugal's YouTube views are also disappointing compared to other songs with similar stats, Likes are rather low in particular. Portugal won last year so no semi-final worries for them. The song will probably do well with the juries but I don't have as much hope for the song as others do with regards to the televote. The best thing about this song I'd say - is Claudia herself.