‘Do It For Your Lover’ seems to be one of the most universally disliked Spanish entries, and one that has received a lot of criticism prior to, and after Eurovision 2017. Whilst some of this criticism may in fact be valid – although much is based on speculation – why exactly is this song Spain’s most controversial entry of the last decade?
Defending a song that came last at Eurovision, nevertheless, a song that was part of the Big 5, may not necessarily be expected. Some songs, such as ‘O Jardim’ (Portugal 2018) don’t receive the same treatment as Spain 2017, and is well-liked amongst fans even to this day. Usually, a song that ends up last will often strike a chord with someone, and won’t see people 100% agreeing on its placement. This is not the case for ‘Do It For Your Lover’, which often sees both Spaniards and Europeans accepting the fact it came last, and believing it deserved it.
Before Eurovision: Objectivo Eurovisión
Prior to Manel Navarro performing in Kyiv, Spain held their then-selection Objectivo Eurovisión. After selecting their first-ever entirely English language song with ‘Say Yay!’ by Barei in 2016 which ultimately ended 22nd in Stockholm despite being a fan favourite, the search was on for a song that would provide a better result. ‘Say Yay!’ wasn’t without controversy with some feeling unrepresented by the song, with The Royal Academy of Spain leading the discussion over the issue that the entry wasn’t in, and didn’t feature any, Spanish lyrics – something they also had a problem with in 2014, due to Ruth Lorenzo’s choice to use both Spanish and English in her entry ‘Dancing In The Rain’.
Objectivo Eurovisión‘s final took place on February 11th 2017, and consisted of 6 songs:
- ‘Do It For Your Lover’ – Manel Navarro
- ‘Ouch!’ – LeKlein
- ‘Lo que nunca fue’ – Paula Rojo
- ‘Spin My Head’ – Mario Jefferson
- ‘Momento crítico’ – Maika
- ‘Contigo’ – Mirela
Going into the show, the buzz surrounded ‘Contigo’. It was your classic, Spanish summer anthem and had both Spanish fans and Europeans taking that Mirela winning was a foregone conclusion. As the votes came in from the televote, it was clear Mirela was the Spanish favourite. With almost 2,000 more votes than both LeKlein and Manel, had the public been given the power to decide, I wouldn’t be here writing this article. However, the jury had favoured Manel, with Mirela in joint third with LeKlein, behind Mario Jefferson in second. Overall, ‘Do It For Your Lover’ and ‘Contigo’ both ended with 58 points – which is where the criticism and allegations begin.
The jury were allowed to select the winner by voting again during the tiebreaker round, seeing Manel win, much to the dismay of both Spanish and international viewers. The audience were also unhappy, making it vocally obvious with many booing and shouting accusations that the vote was rigged. In response, Manel decided to express his displeasure with the response with a ‘corte de mangas’, also known as a ‘bras d’honneur’ or ‘sleeve cut’, an obscene gesture that only angered the audience and viewers more, and resulted in an apology from the singer a few days later.
The rigging allegations surfaced after it was discovered that a member of the Spanish jury, Xavi Martínez, was questioned due to his heavy promotion of Manel and his song on his radio show on Los 40. The outrage prompted José Miguel Camacho and Ricardo Sixto, members of the Spanish parliament, to request clarification from broadcaster TVE on the details behind the selection and also to present them with the opportunity to void the result if rigging had been discovered.
TVE confirmed on February 26th that the results and selection had fallen in line with the EBU’s regulations and that the participants were aware of the process and the rules prior to competing. They also defended the jury and expressed that due to the nature of their work it was highly likely they’d be known to the artists, writers or producers of the songs in some way. This meant Manel was off to Kyiv, and the potential to have ‘Contigo’ on the Eurovision stage was no longer possible.
Now of course, if the jury was rigged, there is no defending that. Manels actions after he won also cannot be excused. However, the jury-rigging was only alleged, and we have to take TVE’s word for it – if it falls under the EBU’s regulations, there is no reason for the result to be declared invalid, and as sad as it is that a fan favourite may not make Eurovision and as unfair as it may feel, there is nothing that can be done to change it.
Spain At Eurovision 2017
Going into Eurovision 2017, Spain found itself last in the odds, a position that was maintained throughout the entire season. With only discussion about bottom 5 placements surrounding other countries low in the odds (Israel, Cyprus and Ukraine), and Germany – another Big 5 nation – it seemed unlikely that ‘Do It For Your Lover’ would be place any higher than 22nd. Germany wasn’t without controversy either that year with ‘Perfect Life’ by Levina being accused of plagiarising global hit song ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta and Sia.
Manel kept positive throughout his time in Kyiv, and seemed to be well-liked amongst other contestants. As the performance began he looked nervous, but relaxed into it as it progressed. Staging wise, Manel was joined by three backing singers, who all performed as though they were stood on LED surfboards, creating a beach vibe. As one of the only songs of its kind that year, it could’ve had the opportunity to stand out – however, the negativity that plagued it from fans during the national final followed all the way to Eurovision.
As the performance began to reach the final chorus and the ‘high note’, something Manel had hit in other live shows, all eyes were on him to perfectly pull of his vocal. Then, we were hit with the infamous voice crack – which was audibly met with gasps from the audience inside the International Exhibition Centre and ultimately acted as a satisfying ‘win’ to those who never agreed with the song going to Eurovision in the first place. Manel continued unfazed by his vocal issue, but ultimately Spain’s fate was sealed. Despite placing last with the jury with 0 points, even though the performance had gone well in the jury show, the televote tied it with Israel on 5 points, overall placing it 23rd above Germany, Austria and one of the jury favourites Australia. This wasn’t enough to save it, and when the votes were combined Spain finished in 26th, a world away from their neighbours Portugal – who won with the record for the highest amount of points ever gained for a song in the contest with 758 for ‘Amar Pelos Dois’ by Salvador Sobral.
Manel wasn’t the last Spanish contestant to find themselves in the lower half of the scoreboard – in the last 5 years, Spain hasn’t placed any higher than 22nd. Therefore, removing the national final drama and vocal issues, why is Manel singled out by fans when we discuss Spanish entries that didn’t do particularly well? If the song had been internally selected, I don’t see the outrage over its selection being as big of an issue it was (and still is) in the fandom.
At its core, ‘Do It For Your Lover’ is, as a studio track, a classic summer anthem. Whilst not lyrically revolutionary, it’s easy to listen to and whether you love it or hate it, it hasn’t faded into Eurovision history – we’re still talking about it 5 years on. I think now is the time that we begin to appreciate the song, especially in retrospect to how other Spanish entries also fared in the years after.
What do you think of ‘Do It For Your Lover’? Let us know in the comments below!
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