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Portugal: Conan Osíris – Telemóveis

  Portugal opted to send the early favourite, Conan Osíris to Tel Aviv with the song Telemóveis. Having Iceland and Portugal selected on the same weekend has really screwed with the market: people don't know which unconventional song to back while at the same time forgetting that Eurovision isn't an alternative song contest. If you are lucky enough to hail from Portugal or at least have a grasp of the language, you will be one of the lucky few who understand what's happening during Conan's performance. The rest of Europe's viewers will be discussing the costumes, the interpretive dance and the…
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When your USP is how strange you look on TV, there has to be serious concerns when viewed through a Eurovision lens

User Rating: 4.02 ( 93 votes)

Portugal opted to send the early favourite, Conan Osíris to Tel Aviv with the song Telemóveis.

Having Iceland and Portugal selected on the same weekend has really screwed with the market: people don’t know which unconventional song to back while at the same time forgetting that Eurovision isn’t an alternative song contest.

If you are lucky enough to hail from Portugal or at least have a grasp of the language, you will be one of the lucky few who understand what’s happening during Conan’s performance. The rest of Europe’s viewers will be discussing the costumes, the interpretive dance and the strange choice of jewellery. This is normal for Conan [see previous].

When I first heard TelemóveisI was instantly reminded of the weirdness of Rambo Amadeus’ Euro Neuro. I accept both songs are vastly different in terms of competence and delivery, yet for average Eurovision viewers they project similar levels of confusion. When your USP is how strange you look on TV, there has to be serious concerns when viewed through a Eurovision lens, more so when the song is from a nation that lacks a consistent regional televoting bloc.

At the time of writing and before the review was completed, I woke up to countless comments awaiting moderation all telling me that the star ratings were wrong and that Portugal would enjoy another landslide victory. Every single comment was submitted from a Portuguese IP address. The comments from the gambling community have been far more measured. Typically we are focussing on the negative vote-depressing aspects staring us in the face. There isn’t an emotional journey for viewers to help overcome the language barrier, which was the main driving factor behind Salvador’s victory. Nor is there a hummable melody or hook (the reason for the low song star rating). The whole package is just too avant-guard and too esoteric.

Semi-final 1 is perhaps the best place for Portugal to thrive, though I pity the poor viewers based on the lineup so far. There are a few alternative-loving nations in that semi-final so their juries might get behind Conan’s song – to what degree is anyone’s guess. Nevertheless, if Conan makes the final I can’t see him attracting enough support to match or even get close to Salvador’s result. Borderline top-10 might be achievable in year where originality is lacking, but I’m thinking 12th-18th is more likely. Again, that’s if Conan’s hallucinogenic trip escapes the semi.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.


  1. Catriona Colville

    I have no idea what to say about this entry. I also can’t see where the voters are for this. Solid jury vote, but I can imagine a disgusted press room come May when this doesn’t qualify.

  2. Portugal will win Eurovision 2019. Conan Osíris is ten awead if it’s time. Europe will understand that this is music this is art this is presence and staging. Portugal is in deed is the upfront of Europe’s musical scene. This is fado, afrobeat, arabic influenced strings, kizomba, dance. This is all of the world, this is Europe

    • Agree 100%.

    • Completely agree. This is a universal quality music and eurovision need to survive diversity and différents choices like this. Not more of the same. The comments of the guy that say eurovision it’s not this was a person that don’t e understand nothing about another stage of music. Eurovision it’s alternative music as well. By the way what it’s Israel last year entry? Do you want the same monicordic songs? I I like Netherlands, but for instance sweeden and noroway are almost the same of every years the same formula. Are eurovision songs? Yes but the same format of always. I like this friend comment.

  3. It grabs attention from the first seconds. Then mesmerises with a spellbinding cocktail of Fado, Arabic and electronic music. Then, when it finishes, you hit the play button again and again and again to explore its many layers of complexity.

    Yes. The audio version of Telemoveis is brilliant. Quite brilliant.

    But then we have what was presented on stage at Festival Cancao. What a fucking mess! It looked like the sort of grant-funded self-obsessed performance piece you might encounter down the local Arts Centre.

    The strength of Telemoveis is in the soundscape it creates. The ridiculous costumes and frenetic movement from Conan and the dancer only distract from the audio experience and as a consequence seriously weaken the piece.

    Conan needs to be still. The dancer needs to be confined to a corner of the stage or, better still, the Green Room, with the visual accompaniment to the music coming purely from the LED lighting.

    Will Conan take heed? I doubt it. If he goes to Tel Aviv with similar staging to Festival Cancao (2.5 million You Tube hits notwithstanding) this could seriously hamper his chances of escaping the semi, far less making an impact at the top of the Grand Final leaderboard.

    • Thank you! I was thrinking the same about the presentation. The audio is weird enough and he needs to atract the audience to that and not the presentation. But I have no hope he will change it now

  4. I don’t envisage a shock nq for this. This year is not only disappointing in its weakness so far but also in its blandness so anything remotely interesting and semi decent is through. I’ve been actively looking for something interesting to back, something different but this entry, as well as Iceland, is actively attempting to alienate. It needs to be- “yeah, this is a bit different but here’s a few familiar elements to appeal” rather than just going down the divisive arty route and making everything weird or inexplicable. A winner this is not, but a top ten is acheiveable with some work.

  5. Winner alert and you, ESCtips, you know that.

  6. The song has all the chances for a good result. But the act is a little disappointing.

  7. I’m curious to see the running order of the first semi. With Australia, Portugal, Iceland and San Marino in the second half, it will be the biggest mindfuck ever for the average viewer.

  8. You are sooooo off the mark. And screw the fact I have a Portuguese IP (and am Portuguese myself, thank you very much).

    Do you know why? Because I am a musician and I have a YouTube account. And I’ve seen *a lot* of reaction videos so far. People are mesmerized by this act, even without its flaws, and the comments are eerily similar to those made about Salvador (except obviously adjusted for the style of the song).

    Spain, in particular, is a guaranteed solid 12 points both from the jury and televote, especially when Conan makes a charm offensive that won’t put Salvador’s to shame only and if he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. His sound reeks of Flamenco influences, and they’ve been comparing him to the super-popular and modern local singer Rosalía, even. The same goes for the Romani and African population scattered around Europe, who’ll love this thing to bits.

    As for the lyrics, I had an epiphany yesterday about “Amar Pelos Dois”, which I believe is extensible to this song, too; the fact that they are in Portuguese, and that the song sounds werd af, absolutely plays in its favour. Most reviewers I’ve seen either somehow “got it” intuitively, or were so intrigued they expressed interest in checking out the lyrics and what they meant; the music, thus, works as a trojan horse, in a virtuous cycle of views and comments.

    As for it not being hummable, I wholeheartedly disagree. I know your job as a reviewer probably prevents you from doing that, but try listening to it four or five times in a row, and you’ll see just how catchy it is in fact. I believe Conan will be a bit sad when one of the members of the production team pulls a Luísa Sobral on him and nudges him towards memorizing the melody and stop doing entire improvisations each and every performance but, just like Salvador, he’ll thank them in the end.

    As for the staging… Oh boy, where do I even start. The dancer WILL NOT be boxed in. He has always been an integral part of Conan’s act, even before the ESC and Festival da Canção, and he will remain so. And Conan’s moves are, too, so screw that “he must remain motionless” bs. Sure, the whole thing may benefit a bit from some polish and fine tuning, and Conan is known for his unpredictability and openness to change (the backup singers, who only do voice effects, disappeared from his act in the final, and I’m sure he decided that because he was paying attention to professional and even online feedback), but don’t expect a complete 180° and such drastic changes that would completely compromise what he stands for.

    The same goes for the costumes. That’s his personal look, as done by a professional stylist, and the regalia *has* meaning. That’s not about to change, so fuggedaboutit. He’ll do the same as he did in FdC; staying true to himself and, if people like it and are willing to put in a bit of effort and do some research, great. And I’m betting they are (and this is not just wishful thinking, almost 90% of the reactions I’ve seen as of yet seem to confirm that).

    • Hi João and thanks for the analysis. Those other folk commenting from Portugal didn’t put any effort into their responses, so kudos for providing a comprehensive review.

      I can’t disagree with most of the points you make and my aim hasn’t been to discredit what Conan does, but more about how wider Europe will react to what is quite an esoteric performance. I have acknowledged that it could creep into the top-10 on the back of jury support. Nevertheless, you admit yourself that one has to listen to the song four or fives to appreciate it – Eurovision voters do not have that luxury.

      I find the differences to Amor Pelos Dios quite stark. APD presented an idillic, dream-like performance whereas Telemóveis lacks an emotional hook or moment of warmth. Artistically it’s a cut above the conventional pop songs selected, but then I’ll repeat what I said in the review in that people are forgetting that Eurovision isn’t an alternative song contest. My job is to find a potential winner. I can’t see Conan lifting the trophy in May. If I’m wrong, I’m sure you’ll tell me that.

    • Having read your post, I can tell that you are not someone who bets on Eurovision. You’ve made some valid points as to why the song has its fans – in the Eurovision fan bubble. You’re on ESCTips and Gav’s review is focused on its merits relative to its chance of success at Eurovision. Your average Saturday or Tuesday night viewer is not making reaction/ranking videos on Youtube, they aren’t listening to it 4 or 5 times in a row and they aren’t looking up lyrics translations just after the performance.

      You’re correct in saying the act is mesmerising but I would only apply this to the song and not the presentation. The song is mesmerising, the act is alienating and detracting. The first comparison that popped into my head for some reason was Suus. That was a case of a mesmerising song with a presentation that allowed the song to be the main focus of the act. Now imagine her body popping with some bird man writhing around next to her, interspersed with close up shots of her trainers. Still think it would have been 8th in televote and top 5 overall? Viewers don’t get the month plus exposure that this song has had in order to ‘get it’, they get three minutes and, potentially, they get Zero Gravity, Hatari and Serhat in the same half of the semi to rival its batshitness.

      It’s one of my favourites so far, as a Eurovision fan. As a gambler, it’s probably one of the lower scoring qualifiers.

      • Again, that’s where we disagree; it will be polarizing, for sure, but it only has to be better than the other batshit entries if they are swimming in a sea of blandness (as I predict they collectively will).

        I can’t make a definitive pronouncement, as I’ve yet to listen to the other condenders you mention; but I can already tell you that Hatari stands no chance… I love it, but between an industrial and slightly aggressive sound, and an exotic and slightly dissonant sound, most people will likely go for the latter.

        And while I agree that the presentation still lacks some polish, I should also say that any comparisons with Amar Pelos Dois in the style camp are completely spurious; this song lacks an emotional hook because it doesn’t need it, it’s emotional from beginning to end; it does have, on the other hand, a physical hook, in that it makes you dance at several moments (a really rare occurrence in entries from Portugal), and if it doesn’t, well… you people (or the European viewers) must be a little dead on the inside. 😉

  9. I totally get what you’re saying. But, while I haven’t seen Zero Gravity and Serhat, if they are as weird as Hatari (that one I’ve seen, and wow!), something tells me Conan will sit in that “Goldilocks zone of weirdness” and potentially score a win.

    People think having a roster of great weird songs will divide the “weird song fan vote”, but I see it differently; if everything else is bland, and people’s attention turns to the weird acts, Conan’s may just be the one with the most mainstream appeal. Hatari’s is not it, I believe. I personally love it, even all that BDSM staging and the borderline guttural vocals in the verses, even before actually reading the lyrics, but… it also lacks punch, and it’s maybe a bit too dark and, believe it or not, not as fresh or new as Conan’s. And Lordi-level material of weirdness it isn’t, for sure.

    But anyway, I should listen to all those acts that have been brandied about before I pass definite judgement, I’ll give you that. One thing’s for sure, this year, between the weird favourites and all the politics around the host, should make for a *very* interesting ESC…

  10. I agree, dear Gavster, with all the good logic and impeccable common sense that you reflect in the review (I love reading you so much because of this sharp analysis and sober evaluation).

    But then, it seems to me, there is another, a somewhat darker and maybe sinister logic about Conan Osiris persona that subconsciously attracts viewers. He has a weird attractiveness of a fado-singing Hannibal Lecter.

    For me there is a hook, but it’s kind of different one. I watched the ‘Toy & Goy’ reaction yesterday and one of the vloggers said, ‘I feel hit in the chest’. Jack (from Jack’s face reacts) mentioned that the song scared him. Shady Shae blogger called him ‘occult’ and ‘crazy’.

    It’s like you went to a film festival to watch a cheesy love movie and ended up watching The Silence of the Lambs. First the viewers are confused, then worried, then scared, then lost in the plot. But everybody still keeps watching until the very end without blinking…

    • Ahaha great analogy! You’re on to something. The more I listen to it, the more I like it but also the more I get those people who had that reaction. If that’s the worst kind of reaction we’re getting, it’s a trojan horse in the making.

      I’ve seen the review you’re talking about. Well, it’s one out of three “bad” reviews, and I’ve seen maybe twenty already, and while some come from non-voting countries, culture and human nature are more universal than European analysts like to make it. It may not win, but it’s a strong contender to a top three, very likely to end up in the top five, and near certain to make it to the top ten.

      But what leads me to believe that we *may* win is some basic extrapolation from the reactions. They are even better and more optimistic than the ones to Salvador. Everyone is saying it’s extremely interesting, new, intriguing, different, etc., and it’s on their top three. I don’t honestly believe it would ever win in a landslide like Amar Pelos Dois, as it’s a jarring song and performance, but if you have a heterogeneous vote when it comes to each voter’s favorite song(s) and this one is like their second or third favourite and gets some votes from *everyone* (which is possible in televoting), and a good result from the jury (which, judging by the reactions, feels like a definite possibility), it may just edge out its way to victory. It doesn’t have to get twelve points from everyone, you know?

      I’m not saying it *will* happen, but if it does, that’s *the way* it will happen. And that will make the final score reveal all the more excruciating, as it can turn out to be a last-second upset.

  11. Hello, I am portuguese.
    We send our best. 🙂

  12. Respect for the portuguese choice! Getting out of the box and sending something powerful is way better than chosing another plastic safe bland song. Win shouldn’t be the goal. Probably it won’t come but that doesn’t matter.

    Art statements are needed in the contest and sometimes get rewarded as well. The same goes for Iceland. Personal opinion is that will have a result soimilar to Skeletons. Suus result would be its ceiling

  13. Well, this song for me is amazing. Love the sound and the way the music has been built. Im sure it will do well and maybe another victory for Portugal?

    • It sounds a bit weird saying this for such an artistically relevant, indie-style entry, but I think even for such entries a certain fanwank-attitude can show up. Conan Osiris is big in Portugal. A bit like KEiiNO. So obviously a lot of Conan Osiris find their ways in several polls.

      To be honest though, the Portuguese could be seen as way too weird. With Iceland, Austria and Italy there’s really something appealing about. But ‘Telemoveis’ as a song is way too complex, and for general televoting audiences and even juries perhaps way too unstructured. The staging performance is very artsy too, but it lacks a more positive ‘WTF-factor’, which I think is more present with Iceland.

      Also don’t underestimate the Kate Bush-ian Paenda from Austria. I think by now Austria has proven they are quite good at staging. And I can see something very special being created for ‘Limits’.

      Currently for me Portugal though, is a NQ.

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