Wiwi: Gaitana is my sentimental favourite. Shortly after winning Ukraine’s national selection back in February, she had to deal with ugly comments from a right-wing politician who said she wasn’t an “organic” representative of the Ukraine because she’s half-Congolese. But she held her head high, gave a kick ass interview to WiwiBloggs.Com, and emerged as a symbol of perseverance and hope amid all those haters out there.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s turn to Gaitana’s first rehearsal. Ukraine has an ability to work staging like no other country at Eurovision. I can still remember Svetlana Loboda’s stripper routine in that hamster wheel back in 2009, and Mika Newton’s use of a sand artist in 2011. Once again the delegation from Kyiv has dreamed up a visual masterpiece. Taking a cue from Alexey Vorobyov in 2011, a back-up dancer has LED lights on his body. Other back-up dancers perform routines that are mimicked by virtual dancers on the LED backdrop, and from time-to-time we see Cossack dancers in tie dye doing their thing. Just when you think it can’t get any more fabulous, footage of real-life people performing Gaitana’s routine appear on the LED backdrop. It all conveys the message of her song: that it’s better to dance in step with one another than it is to live as enemies.
Her powerful vocals transform a lackluster song into something memorable. But they are also a source of curiosity. At the 1:00 mark Gaitana literally puts the microphone down and stops singing. Yet we hear some very powerful vocals coming from somewhere else. Looks like she isn’t the only pair of lungs in Ukraine…or on the stage.
Deban: Here’s the thing. I don’t like this song. It is hollow. Secondly, I don’t want to play guest to a host who is shouting pleasantries. This song won’t make it on my playlist. Period. Although Team Wiwi praise her for her message of unity, she’s clutching at straws. Be My Guest is one long repetitive chorus!
However, the staging is most befitting, and in lots of ways, adds a fuller flavour to the performance as a whole. The splashes of colour create a carnival spirit, the neon bodies exude a technicolour Blue Man Group, and Gaitaniqua can SIING! All in all, with staging like this, a lot can be forgiven. What she failed to communicate with words is tastefully re-enacted on stage. Ukraine, you’ve done it again. Good job!
- Read about Gaitana’s right-wing race row
- Read the lyrics to “Be My Guest”
- Read tour Q&A with Gaitana