RtD14: Looking Back at Belarus
Welcome back dear readers. Finally! We move on to the B’s with “White Russia”…I mean Belarus! A country that has sent an eclectic mix of entries to the Contest. I do not think I could pick a “stereotypical Belorussian sound” based on their entries – and even if I did, it would probably be changed after a few weeks. Anywho, despite the repeated song changes – these are the Belorussian entries along the “Road to Denmark 2014”!
2007 – Work Your Magic – The country’s most successful entry thus far. The popular and charismatic Koldun used nifty stage tricks to wow audiences across Europe to Belarus’ only Top Ten finish.
2008 – Hasta la Vista – A song that was just not very good. The lyrics were uninspired, the vocals were unremarkable, and the staging was cheesy. Just…not a very strong entry.
2009 – Eyes that Never Lie – The overwhelming commentary on this entry was that it sounded like a Bond theme. Unfortunately, it did not live up to expectation – though, the camerawork won the production team a prestigious award. For the song itself, it’s alright. I am not overly enthralled by it, but it is fun to rock out to every so often. Not too many ESC songs are genuine rock like this one is. Yay diversity!
The winning camerawork is from 2:41-3:09.
2010 – Butterflies – So, what happens when you take five of the top classical vocal talents in your country and force them to perform together in a language none of them speak? 3+2, of course! Belarus is not exactly known for having singers with the clearest articulation, but this group takes the cake in terms of singing with accents. And, the song really makes no sense! Also, why did Georgia give them 12 points? To this day, I refuse to guess the way Georgia votes because of this.
2011 – I Love Belarus – As I said in my live notes, I am so confused as to why this song is not, at least partly, in Belorussian. The whole point of the entry is nationalistic pride, but the country’s language does not even feature once throughout the entire song – it doesn’t make sense. My question is – did the producers honestly think this song had a chance of doing well or were they just hoping to get a club hit they could sell the rights to for years to come? Or, were they just trying to get 3+2 out of everyone’s minds?
2012 – We are the Heroes – Okay, so many folks complain that the pop version is not nearly as good as the original alternative rock one. I disagree! The pop version that Belarus competed with was more generally accessible and, given the success of similar entries, made more sense to compete with. The issue with the song was the lackluster performance. It was kinda just there. It was too gimmicky for the band to be taken seriously, but not exciting enough for the act to be considered memorable. Definitely one of my favorite entries from Belarus.
2013 – Solayoh – So, my distaste for this song is well documented on this blog. After a few months – I still am not impressed by it. It’s fun, I guess – but the giant disco ball and half-naked singer were not appreciated. It was just a generic song that, in my opinion, over-performed and finished much higher than it should have.
Let’s Take a Closer Look At: Belarus 2011. Fun, upbeat, and entirely way too nationalistic (and this is coming from an American). I am much more amused by the reaction than by the song itself. People seemed to think “Oh, there goes that silly Belarus, being all irreverent again.” or “That poor country is ruled by a tight-fisted government that use stuff like this as propaganda” (because, no other country does that, of course!). What I didn’t see was anyone complaining about the presence of such blatant national-pride. Could you imagine if the UK, France, or Russia tried to sing this song (with their name in title, of course!)? Or Germany? Oh yeah, I’m sure Ich Liebe Deutschland would have been über-successful. Which brings us to my bigger point, all jokes about dark histories aside, there’s an air of haves and have-nots. Those from the bigger countries that “are actually worth bragging about” would be seen as jerks if they subjected us to “I Love the Netherlands” or “I Love Sweden” but those small, poor countries, awww, they’re just trying to put on their big boy pants and be seen as equals even though we know they’re not. That is just patronizing and disrespectful. The beauty of the Contest is that every country gets at least three minutes on stage to display why they’re awesome. Until the fans are ready to be equally engaged by (or angered by) each country, the EBU will have work to do to accomplish the mission of the Contest – to unite Europe through song.
What’s your thoughts – am I being overly idealistic in my call for equality? Do you, indeed, not love Belarus? Did this Eastern European country “work its magic” on you?
Check back tomorrow when I will be looking back at Belgium! Meanwhile, check out the previous stops on the Road to Denmark 2014!