Eurovision 2017 – Belarus’s National Selection Preview

Belarus are more selecting their 2017 Eurovision song nice and early, presumably because they’ve thought of an even more jolly wheeze than frolicking naked with wolves (as a hologram) to tease us with between now and May.

I’ll be honest with you. This national final is on at the same time as Georgia and this isn’t the one of the two that I recommend that you watch.

That being said, let’s take a look at the hopefuls.

1) July – “Children of the World”

The only performance in the final which you could conceivably put straight into a Eurovision semi final. She’s got backing singers and a pair of very active dancers flapping about behind her. The chorus manages to do the same trick as 2016’s Icebreaker but to much less effect – it’s seemingly a different and unconnected tempo to the verses. The chorus will be strong enough to ensure that the viewers remember this one until the phone lines open.

2) Lexy Weaver “Be Stronger”

A huge, yet delicate ballad interwoven with some contemporary dance from Lexy, who clearly has one of the best voices in the competition. When she’s singing with the saxophone, it’s quite lovely. I am not ideologically opposed to ballads, ballads can be interesting.

3)Vladislav Kurasov “Follow the Play”

Portentousness abounds. A strong falsetto and a flute solo don’t earn a Eurovision slot for me. Not my kind of thing, ie, an emotional but dull ballad.

4) NAVI “Historyja majho žyccia” (Story of my life)

I already thought NAVI were great. Look how adorable they are! Listen to their bouncy folk pop tune! As far as the song goes, I think it might suffer slightly from being entirely in Belorussian, but the ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’ chorus is infectious enough to make it stick in the memory. I hope that when they try to get the studio audience clapping and stomping along on Friday, it doesn’t seem as frantic as it did in their vocally impressive audition.

5) Isaac Nightingale “On the Red Line”

It’s aiming for some sort of anthemic quality – like Heroes but about world peace. It misses, largely because the chorus isn’t big enough. Isaac’s audition vocal was a bit shaky, it’ll be interesting to see how it improves and if he gets any additional dancers to lift the performance a bit.

6) Kattie “Wild Wind”

The low point of the evening in terms of tempo. Nicely performed but quite standard ballad about the state of the world that we’re living in, which is dreadful of course. The world, that is, not the ballad.

7) Nuteki “Take My Heart”

While Nuteki is as cute as anything dressed entirely in trendy All Saints gear, he blew quite a lot of the notes in his audition. Take My Heart is the kind of extremely danceable uptempo number that we often crave in a ballad-heavy Eurovision, but I don’t think it’s got a lot of distinctive characteristics.

8) NAPOLI “Let’s Come Together”

A fun and summery pop song with a tropical chorus but a slightly weak vocal delivery on the key chorus notes. I am assuming that the singer’s costume is finished but that her dancers have just performed in whatever they were wearing that day. It’s the kind of upbeat but unthreatening song that might get buried as Semi Final 1, Song 1. I am warning you, Belarus.

9)Nikita Hodas “Voices In My Head”

Belarus’s answer to Damien Rice tugs nervously at our heartstrings. If you can’t find it in your hearts to send my lovely NAVI to Eurovision, Belarus, then Nikita Hodas would be an adequate substitute. Also, he decides to read a short story over the middle minute of this. It’s about as lovely and indiefied as you can imagine. His singing voice is unaccountably different to his speaking voice though.

10) Angelica Pushnova “We Should Be Together”

Quite good mid-tempo house influenced track that somewhat falls apart when it runs out of lyrical ideas halfway through the first chorus. With the schlager-esque drum beat and jarring key change, it’s one interesting chord progression from being something you could give to Carola. She’d throw it back in your face, but you could give it to Carola.

11) Anastasiya Sheverenko “We’ll Be Together”

It’s a quite quavery piece of quite sophisticated soul pop, aiming for Sade levels of seduction. Anastasiya has a really nice voice, and she’s wearing the best frock of any of them in the audition videos. There is sadly absolutely nothing to prompt a viewer to pick up the phone and vote.

12) Lermont x Julic “Heartbeat”

Bravely opting for the Freddie Mercury half mic stand in their audition, I remain unsure what genre Heartbeat is supposed to be. There’s a piano line which is a bit 70’s FM rock, there’s a pub singalong chorus and there’s a tremendous sense that there are many missing guitar parts from the demo that they’re singing along to. It’s ok, but I can’t believe they put this through instead of one of the really odd auditionees.

13) PROvokatsiya “#mylove”

Clad in matching maroon pyjamas with oversized bum flaps, these lads crush their way through a big silly passionate boy band tune. If this is going to be the last tune on the night, and then they do an interval act and a drawn out voting process, this will be when you should start on the neat spirits.

 

My picks: The glorious NAVI or Nikitas Hodas at a push

Likely winner: Nuteki or maybe Napoli

Video

Гісторыя майго жыцця – NAVI

It’s a busy week in Eurovision land. Yesterday, at roughly the same time as the very exciting Melodifestivalen launch the good people of Belarus were live-streaming their Eurovision national selection auditions. They give every single applicant a go in front of the cameras, resulting in high jinks and shenanigans as you can well imagine. You can watch them all if you’ve got 61 x 3 minutes to spare. Quality is varied.

NAVI are my pick of this year’s crop though – they are so joyous and their sound is so beautiful and accomplished that I can’t really see past them for the win. I trust that the people of Belarus will not let me down. It’s not their first time in the competition – last year was a similarly folky effort but it maybe lacked the frantic bounce of this year’s song?

Also, if you’re making your Christmas playlists can I suggest that you include their gorgeously snow-swept song Plakali Vetry in the mix.

In short, NAVI are great and we should get behind them even if it means going to Minsk in January. Especially if it means going to Minsk in January.

Child In Time – Stary Olsa

Such is the nature of my musical tastes, I can’t be totally sure whether or not this is the first time I’ve listened to Stary Olsa. They seem really familiar, but I might be thinking of Moldova’s Che-MD who are just a tad less authentic.

This is Belorussian medieval classic rock and it makes perfect sense. They’ve been going since 1999 and for the main part, their repertoire consists of traditional music, played on traditional instruments, but they also do a selection of astonishing covers. Smells Like Teen Spirit? Yes, it does.

They’ve just released a whole album of the rock covers, which they funded by Kickstarter, but in this interview they say they’re going to be going back to the medieval music for their next record.

Stary Olsa have a website

Stary Olsa are on Soundcloud