A Swedish songwriter has told Aftonbladet that he is considering legal action against the EBU for allowing Belarus’ Alekseev to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest 2018.
Tim Norell told the Swedish tabloid: “I will talk to our lawyer about how to proceed and claim damages from the EBU and Belarusian television for fraudulent procedures.”
Tim, you’ll remember, worked with Ola Håkansson, Alexander Bard and Anders Hansson on the song “I Won’t Cry”, which Gunesh performed in Belarus’ national selection in February. Her bop about perseverance placed second behind Alekseev’s “Forever”.
Alekseev, the pre-contest favourite in Belarus, was at the centre of a storm leading up to the national final after it emerged that his song had been performed prior to September 1 — the official date when the EBU allows songs to be performed or released to compete in the current Eurovision cycle.
In January 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. It later shared other videos from other performances.
They reported 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.
“Forever” — his Eurovision entry — is an English-language remake of his recent single “Navsegda” — which also means ‘forever’. The original is 3:45 long, but the Eurovision edit is shorter and features tweaks he made after discussions with the Belarusian broadcaster.
Several contestants signed an open letter calling on the broadcaster to remove him from the show, and one singer — Sofi Lapina — even withdrew in protest.
Speaking to wiwibloggs in January, Alekseev brushed the controversy aside, saying his earlier performances were experiments and that the current song has been reworked, so it isn’t actually the same song.
“I don’t think that it came out in May because it came out in September,” he said. “On my birthday performance in May, I tried to sing a part of the song ‘Navsegda’, but it was innovation and so I think it’s a different song.”
Speaking to Aftonbladet, Tim said the EBU must follow its own guidelines and regulations to create a fair playing field for songwriters.
“The EBU does not follow its own rules,” he said. “How, then, as a songwriter, will I know what is applicable? I’ll let our lawyer look at this.”
Aftonbladet pressed the EBU for a response, and received the following:
“As in previous years, it is up to each country’s broadcaster to elect an appropriate representative of the Eurovision Song Contest in May. The EBU and the host country’s television company will then ensure that all contributions comply with the competition rules. All potential contributions to the Eurovision Song Contest are reviewed by the EBU prior to the Head of Delegation’s meeting in March, to ensure that the songs follow the rules before they formally qualify for a contest. ”
That meeting will take place on Monday. Stay tuned.