“Forever” (and before): Should Belarus disqualify Alekseev over earlier performances of song submission?


Ukrainian singer Alekseev generated a lot of buzz on Tuesday evening with the release of “Forever” — his entry for Belarus’ Eurovision 2018 national selection.

But by Wednesday afternoon Eurovision fans were questioning whether his entry violates the September 1 rule, which says songs may not have been commercially released prior to that date.

ESCWORLDCLUB — a Eurovision community with more than 50,000 subscribers — obtained and published a video of Alekseev performing the song on May 23, 2017 in the city of Stavropol. Further videos are available here and here.

They report that he premiered the song a few days earlier inside Kyiv’s ‘Oktyabrsky Palace’ as part of “Drunken Sun” — his nationwide tour — and even issued a press release about the debut.

The song — a dark ballad, in which Alekseev professes his love for the person who makes his life complete — sees Alekseev tell his beloved: “It’s our happiest story and there’s no one around/We will go for it and I know you’ll be mine, forever”.

“Forever” is an English version of Alekseev’s recent single “Navsegda” — which also means ‘forever’. The original is 3:45 long, but the Eurovision edit has been thoughtfully done and it doesn’t feel like anything is missing.

And while this new version premiered last night, the official rules of the national selection — in line with those of ESC — say that songs may not have been performed prior to September 1.

“A song (music and / or text) can participate in the Project, as long as it was not commercially released or performed publicly before September 1, 2017,” the rules say. Songs may not have been “distributed over the Internet, as well as on any media (audio cassettes, CDs , mini-disks and the like) by means of sale or otherwise transmitted to a radio or television broadcast. The maximum duration of a song is three minutes. ”

BTRC officials, who are conducting live auditions in Minsk on January 11, will now have to decide whether the song can proceed, and, at some point soon, they’ll also want to have a word with the EBU to confirm.

There is precedent for similar dramas.

In 2016 a petition circulated calling on the EBU to disqualify Jamala and “1944” after grainy video footage emerged showing her performing the song in May 2015.

“The purpose of the rule is to prevent wide distribution of any song that might give it an unfair advantage in the competition the following May,” the EBU wrote in response.

“In the past, songs that had been publicly available before the deadline, but had not been accessible by a wide audience, had been granted permission to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest by the Reference Group.”

“In the case of Jamala’s ‘1944’ the EBU’s attention has been drawn, after the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, to a public performance of an earlier version of the song in May 2015.”

“The video of a small concert had only been viewed by a few hundred people before it was discovered in the past few days.”

“The EBU, based on previous decisions in the Reference Group, therefore has concluded that the published video did not give Jamala’s song any unfair advantage in the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest and the song was eligible to compete.”

EBU: Jamala’s May 2015 performance of “1944” does not breach Eurovision rules

In 2016 Danish broadcaster DR allowed Anja Nissen‘s song “Never Alone” to remain in Dansk Melodi Grand Prix, after earlier suggestions that it may be ineligible due to a previous live performance by co-writer Emmelie De Forest dating back to 2014.

DR consulted with the European Broadcasting Union, who confirmed that there would be no problem with the song competing at Eurovision if it were to win the Danish national final.

Many will argue that Alekseev’s current song is different from the earlier version — it’s shorter, features new cuts, is sung in a different language and has a different title.

What do you think? Should Alekseev be allowed to compete? Let us know down below!