Meet Manel Navarro: Spain’s Eurovision hopeful for 2017

Spain is hoping for a score above nul points in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest by presenting a youthful surfer dude who writes his own music and plays guitar.

Meet Manel Navarro: Spain’s Eurovision hopeful for 2017
Credit: Eurovision / RTVE

Who is he?

This year, Spain will be represented by Manel Navarro, a 20-year-old singer who was born just outside Barcelona in 1996. He shot to fame (sort of) when he won a televised Catalan talent show as a freshfaced 17-year-old before signing a record contract with Sony.

He was chosen as this year’s entry after competing in Objecto Eurovision on RTVE with the song Do it for your Lover broadcast in February.

But the win was controversial. In a public vote the songstress Mirela and her upbeat Spanish pop entry Contigo garnered the most support and put Manel in third place, but the final say was given to a panel of judges who put Manel ahead.

Want to sing along?

The verses of the song are in Spanish but the catchy chorus is in English and it won't take you long to learn the words.

The refrain “do it for your lover” is repeated almost 30 times interspersed with “clap your hands” and “just do it” (Although you'll be forgiven for thinking he's singing “just suet”)

Such repetition has served Spain well in the past. Massiel famously won the Eurovision song contest for Spain in 1968 – beating none other than British crooner Cliff Richard at London’s Royal Albert Hall –  with a song in which she repeated the word 'la' no less than 138 times (Although that win has since been revealed to have been rigged by dictator Francisco Franco).

READ MORE: Five fantastic facts about Spain in Eurovision

So what are the odds on Spain winning this year?

Bookmakers are predicting a win for Italy and currently placing Spain in 36th (out of 42) countries taking part. Bet365 is offering odds of 250/1 on a win for Spain.

Spain hasn’t fared well in the competition, winning only twice in its history and one of those wins was secured by Franco buying votes. But Spain does have the dubious honour of being one of the countries to receive the most nul points in the history of Eurovision.

Can surfer dude Manel be the one to break the curse when he goes to Kiev next week for the competition?

The competition will be broadcast from Kiev on 9th-11th with the final broadcast on Saturday May 13th.


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Five fantastic facts about Spain in Eurovision

As the Eurovision final approaches it's time to swot up on some facts about Spain's history in the most celebrated singing contest in the world. From false starts to Franco, here is The Local's list:

Five fantastic facts about Spain in Eurovision
Arguably Spain's feakiest Eurovision act, Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, dancing the Chiki Chiki. Screen grab: YouTube

1) False starts

Only three times in the 60 year history of Eurovision has an act been allowed to start their performance again and two of these were Spanish. 

In 1990 Spanish sisters Azucar Moreno (Brown Sugar) opened the show and it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. The backing track was not started in time so the sisters came out onto the stage only to look at each other in confusion before storming off stage. They did eventually reemerge and managed a respectable fifth place with their flamenco-inspired song, Bandido. 

Ten years later another Spanish act had to perform again after his performance was disrupted by a notorious Spanish streaker. Daniel Dignes was halfway through his song Algo Pequeñito when Jaume Marquet Cot, better known as Jimmy Jump, stormed the stage.

2) A little help from Franco

Massiel, who beat none other than British crooner Cliff Richard to win the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest with her snappily titled hit La, la, la in which she repeated the word 'la' no less than 138 times.

But suspicions arose that Massiel had received support from a rather unlikely Eurovision fan, none other than Spanish dictator, General Francisco Franco.  A 2008 Spanish documentary claimed Franco bought votes so Spain could win Eurovision, thus improving the country’s image abroad. He promised to buy other countries’ television programmes if they voted for Spain. The claims were rubbished by Massiel, who said she won because her song was better. 

3) One hit wonders fail to make a comeback

Remember The Ketchup Song? The nauseatingly unforgettable hit played none stop during the summer of 2002 and went on to be, amazingly, one of the biggest selling singles of all time. Well, the group behind the hit, Spanish sisters Las Ketchup, decided to enter Eurovision in 2006 hoping to replicate the success of their earlier condiment-based tune. Unfortunately, by 2006 European audiences preferred masked Finnish trolls (Lorde) than Europop stars and Las Ketchup came in 21st place with their song Un Blodymary. 

4) Champions of nul points

Spain has the dubious honour of being one of the countries to receive the most nul points in the history of Eurovision.

Nul points hall of fame: 

1962: Victor Balaguer – Llámame (Call me) 

1965: Conchita Bautista – Que bueno, que bueno (How good, how good) 

1983: Remedios Amaya – ¿Quién maneja mi barca? (Who is sailing my boat?) 

1999: Lydia – No quiero escuchar (I don't want to listen) 

5) Freaks and gimmicks

Every country occassionally disregards singing ability and submits a “comedy” entry and Spain is definitely no exception. 

Baila el Chiki Chiki from a man toting a fake Elvis quiff, lenseless glasses and a kiddie's plastic guitar, has to be one of the strangest songs in Spain's, if not Europe's, Eurovision history.