Belarus national final drama continues: Shuma to be investigated for potential rule break

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If there’s one national final that’s serving more than it’s fair share of drama, it’s Belarus. And now there’s another incident to add to the tally. Electronic duo Shuma is being investigated after claims that their song “Chmarki” (Clouds) contains some lyrics from an old folk song.

Belarusian news site Sputnik reports that BTRC is investigating the situation.

Shuma is known for mixing folk songs with modern production. Their Facebook biography describes Shuma as “An electronic project that combines ancient pagan songs and electronic music”.

But if this style has been used in their Belarus national final song “Chmarki”, it may be in breach of Eurovision rules.

The rule in question is the 1 September rule, which is becoming very familiar to those following the Belarus national final this year. The rule states, “The compositions (lyrics and music) must not have been commercially released before 1 September 2017.”

If the lyrics to “Chmarki” have previously been released as part of another song, Belarus would not be able to enter “Chmarki” at Eurovision 2018.

A BTRC spokesperson told Sputnik, “We are checking the possibility of violation of the rules by the Shuma group, whether they can use folk words in the song.”

The situation echoes an issue with Jamala’s 2016 song “1944”. During the Ukraine national final, it was discovered that the chorus of “1944” referenced a lyric from the traditional Crimean Tatar song “Ey, güzel Kirim”. The only difference — the two lines were flipped, though the meaning was largely the same.

This was not considered to be in breach of the rules. Jamala went on to perform “1944” at Eurovision 2016 — and win the whole thing.

The Shuma investigation is the latest dramatic incident to plague the 2018 Belarus national final. Ukraine pop star Alekseev ran into trouble after fans pointed out he had performed a Russian version of his song “Forever” in May last year. BTRC officials decided that if Alekseev wins the national final, he will need to enter Eurovision with a different song.

This led to six other Belarus national finalists announcing they would withdraw from the contest if Alekseev was allowed to compete.

And yesterday, young Russian singer Sofi Lapina confirmed that she would withdraw from the contest as she was not happy about the Alekseev situation.

What do you think? Should Shuma be disqualified? Should BTRC scrap the messy national final and internally select Alekseev? Share your thoughts below!

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