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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Lee

The Portuguese Eurovision entry that sparked a revolution

Today June 10 is Portugal Day. It is the National Day of Portugal and commemorates the death of Luís de Camões in 1580, who is a Portuguese poet and national literary icon.

To celebrate this date we at Aussievision have decided to look back at the Portuguese Eurovision entry 50 years ago. It may not be particularly consequential in a Eurovision context, but is incredibly important to the politics of Portugal.

Eurovision 1974

Eurovision 1974, held on April 6, was a landmark contest. Australia's very own Olivia Newton-John performed for the host country United Kingdom in Brighton. Italy's Gigliola Cinquetti almost became the first performer to win Eurovision twice, barely missing out on matching her 1964 victory by finishing runners-up. But it was the Swedish supergroup ABBA who won the contest with Waterloo, helping propel them to international stardom.

In the midst of these big names Paulo de Carvalho quietly represented Portugal with the ballad E depois do adeus (And After the Farewell in English). Like its title suggests the singer discusses facing the end of a relationship in the song. Performing in the penultimate position before Italy, Portugal unfortunately finished joint last in the contest with three points.

E depois do adeus likely would have been largely forgotten, had it not been used for a strange but important purpose several weeks after Eurovision.

Carnation Revolution

Portugal prior to April 1974 was experiencing growing political discontent under the autocratic leadership of President Américo Tomás and Prime Minister Marcelo Caetano. The main reason for this was the government throwing increasingly unreasonable amounts of manpower and resources into subduing Portugal's three African colonies.

A significant section of the Portuguese military formed a rebel alliance known as Movimiento das Forças Armadas (MFA). They hatched a plot to overthrow the dictatorship. A secret signal was decided on to alert rebel captains and soldiers to start mobilising for the revolution: a song would be played on the radio station Emissores Associados de Lisboas at 22:55 local time on April 24, 1974. That tune was Portugal's Eurovision entry E Depois Do Adeus.

When a second song Grândola, Vila Morena by Zeca Afonso was broadcast on Rádio Renascença at 00:20 on April 25, it was a signal to the MFA to take over strategic points of power in Portugal. The wider Portuguese population also rose up in support of the rebel forces.

By the evening of April 25 the Portuguese authoritarian government had been overthrown largely through peaceful means. An iconic image from the event was gun barrels being stuffed with carnations, which were abundant at the time. This led to the event being known as the Carnation Revolution. After the overthrow Portugal began to transition to democracy and ended their colonial war.

Paulo's career after Eurovision 1974

Paulo would continue his musical career after the revolution. In 1977 he returned to Eurovision as part of the group Os Amigos with Portugal no coração (Portugal in the heart in English), and placed 14th.

Later in the 1970s and early 1980s he won many international music awards in Europe and South America. By the mid 1980s he began experimenting with Fado - a traditional Portuguese musical genre that dates back to the 1820s. Today he is known for a style of music that fuses fado, jazz and contemporary genres into what is described as new fadisto.

So whilst ABBA has revolutionised the "history book on the shelf" in terms of Eurovision and western pop music, Paulo has also left a lasting impression on Portuguese music, politics and history. The Carnation revolution is commemorated annually on April 25 with the holiday Dia da Liberdade.

Today marks another national holiday Portugal Day, so we wish all our Portuguese readers and followers a paradisiacal day and celebration.

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