Privyet Rossija! Mother Russia might not be part of Eurovision 2017 anymore, but the Wiwi Jury — our in-house panel of music unprofessionals — never turns down an opportunity to review a song. Today we’re looking at Julia Samoylova with “Flame Is Burning”. Did we feel the heat of the flame or were we left cold? Read on to find out!
Julia Samoylova – “Flame Is Burning”
About Julia Samoylova
She’s the first Eurovision contestant ever to be barred from entering the host country. But Russia’s Julia Samoylova rose to prominence years earlier when she finished second on Faktor A — the Russian version of X Factor — in 2013. She later performed at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Paralympics, which helped solidify her place as an ambassador for people living with disabilities.
According to her web site the 28-year-old singer was born completely healthy and “developed as a normal child” but following an inoculation she slowly lost the function of her legs, and was ultimately diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy — a condition that causes muscles to weaken and which has left her reliant on a wheelchair. Julia would have become the second contestant to perform at Eurovision in a wheelchair. But, owing to her illegal entry into Crimea in 2015, Ukrainian authorities issued a three-year travel ban against the singer, making it impossible for her to compete in the country. “It’s upsetting because it’s my dream, but I believe in hope,” she told Russian state television on April 14. “I believe I will go to Eurovision again. I want my example to inspire people, to inspire them to not surrender in any situation, live a full life and follow their dreams.”
“Flame Is Burning” reviews
William: Eurovision performances aren’t judged merely with the ears — they’re judged by the eyes and the heart. And that might explain why “Flame Is Burning” burns so bright, despite the decidedly vintage sound. Nodding to Soviet-era pop, the performance is tender, breezy and stirring — an ode to perseverance and hope that Julia embodies so well. The unfortunate situation surrounding her participation only adds fuel to her fire. An important performance that inspires as much as it divides.
Dayana: “Flame Is Burning” sounds like a song from the 2000s. But Julia’s performance is very touching and emotional — and this is the aspect that makes you like the entry. But in the end, the most important thing is the song, and in this case I wouldn’t call it successful.
Deban: “Flame Is Burning” is a touching torch song with deeply moving lyrics. I liked it on first listen, and it keeps growing with repeat spins. However, it isn’t without flaws. Yulia’s enunciation needs improvement, and her backing singers need to support her vocals, NOT sing the song for her! However, I applaud Russia’s courage in fully embracing the slogan of the contest by celebrating diversity.
Robyn: Russia’s default Eurovision entry is the “peace peace love love” anthem and they’ve done it again with skill. Julia is an experienced performer and there’s no question she can deliver an emotional performance of “Flame is Burning”. I don’t quite feel a connection with the song, but it’s definitely one of the better ballads this year.
Antony: As seen in her official music video, Julia really captivates the audience with her touching and sentimental song. However, even if the song tugs on heart strings and evokes real emotion, it’s ultimately a little forgettable. At times the backing vocals add too much to the song, making it a tad unpleasant.
Marek: There are many things I hate about this song but many things I love about it too. It sounds very Russian, with a typical Russian pop ballad sound (and some dreamy guitar strumming to boot). The song sits between sadness, pride and inspiration, but never fully commits to any of them. But it’s not ultra bad. In fact, it’s actually nice to listen to depending on my mood.
Jordi: Julia’s “Flame is Burning” is built on hope. A beautiful song delivered with a sweet and angelic voice, it’s a blast of sunshine that warms the heart. However, Eurovision 2017 is full of ballads and a song like this would have struggled amongst the competition. It lacks dynamism and I’m still missing the big hook. But there’s a sparkling light for Julia anyway.
Chris: The heavy autotune on the studio version of “Flame is Burning” renders the first verse practically indecipherable. Julia can sing, however, and other performances have shown she can handle English pronunciation live. Unfortunately, that’s then bolted on to a fairly drab song. The chorus’ hook is memorable though and, when viewed as a whole, it’s easy to be drawn in by the performance. Russia have done much, much better — but it’s far from their worst effort.
In our Wiwi Jury, we have 38 jurors but only room for eight reviews. The rest of our scores can be found below:
Before calculating the average score, the highest and lowest scores are dropped. This is to remove outliers and reduce potential bias. We have removed a low of 1 and a high of 9.
Wiwi Jury verdict: 5.14/10
What do you think of this song? Share your own score and review below!