After becoming the first country to record back to back Eurovision victories in the late 1960s, Spain have not won in the subsequent 50 years with four second places being their best return. They have also finished last three times in that period including one dreaded nul points. This year though, hopes are high things could well be different as their entry has had generally positive reviews and is currently sitting in the top ten of the OGAE poll (please note: this introduction could probably be applied to Spain for any year since 2012 with the exception of the Do It for Your Lover disaster of 2017!).
Spain are automatically qualified for the Final as one of the Big Five countries but currently have the worst record of the five having failed to make even the top 20 since 2014 (even the UK and Germany have managed that once each!). Their songs have generally polled well in preview votes and score loads of YouTube views, but this may be due to their popularity in other Spanish speaking countries across the world, none of whom currently participate at Eurovision (Andorra, Andorra wherefore art thou Andorra?).
This year the Spanish song is called La Venda (“The Blindfold” in English) and will be performed by 23-year old Miki Núñez, although for the sake of simplicity, he will be known just as Miki at the contest. Miki was born in Terrassa, Catalonia and finished sixth in the most recent season of Spain’s singing talent show, Operación Triunfo. However, the winner does not automatically get the Eurovision ticket as Spain then organise a standalone Eurovision Gala where several of the Operación Triunfo alumni compete with ten songs especially selected with Eurovision in mind. This year not only did Miki take out first place with La Venda, but also finished third in a duet with Natalia.
La Venda is an upbeat joyous number demonstrating a hybrid musical character combining Catalonian rumba with Latin percussion and warm horn arrangements (I assure you these are all things). The gist of the song is that you should be true to yourself and live your best possible life unfettered by others’ expectations – the title comes from the chorus where Miki tells us to let the blindfold fall away so we can experience joy, new days and become what we wish.
There is something particularly charming about Miki’s live performance. While he gives the air of someone who has just happened to wander on stage and start singing, his cheeky smile and exuberance are hard not to make you love the song as much as he seems to. "Infectious" is a word that has already been applied to La Venda, and it is impossible not to smile as it gets into full swing, You would have to be a real old sourpuss not to! It is sure to be a dancefloor filler at preview parties and in the Eurovision bubble in Tel Aviv.
La Venda was revamped a little for the official preview video which has increased the production values, but I hope that when Miki takes to the stage in Tel Aviv he brings the raw edge and energy from his national final performance. If he does, Spain could end up with their best result for years, and I for one will be cheering him on every step of the way…to quote Toni Basil “Oh Miki, you’re so fine, you’re so fine, you blow my mind - hey Miki!”