In her official music for “I Won’t Break”, Julia Samoylova becomes one with a massive mountain, her face emerging from its peak. And during Russia’s first rehearsal at Eurovision 2018, she took the idea further — sitting atop a plinth decorated to resemble a mountain. Onto the mountain — and the circular stage beneath it — producers project any manner of colour vistas, which include waterfalls and even flora. It’s an awe-inspiring and eye-catching scene, and one well worth lingering on.

The vocals are another matter. While Julia’s frail voice works well during the verses — and indeed with a song about the many challenges she has faced during her life — things fall apart during the chorus. It’s unclear whether it’s Julia or the backing vocalists who are at fault. Either way, the result is the same: a sound that’s both discordant and incredibly uncomfortable to listen to. This did improve slightly with each take, suggesting they are well aware of at least some of the issue.

Julia’s three backing vocalists wear all white, as do her male and female dancers, who perform modern ballet around the mountain and later around the circular stage. Too much focus is placed on the dancers. In fact, during rehearsals there was a 43-second segment were we didn’t see Julia at all. The show even ends with a close up of the dancers and Julia appearing only as a speck in the distance. It’s all rather curious given how impressive the central visual of the mountain is. It may be that Julia is not singing during that segment at all and producers hope to conceal that fact.

There’s a lot of work to be done here. But thankfully for Russia there is also a lot to work with.

Update: Following Julia’s performance, we caught up with her songwriters backstage. They said that following the performance they too were annoyed that the camera panned out and left Julia looking tiny. Apparently the producers didn’t get things right. Also: They said that Julia had some problems with her in-ears, which might have impacted the vocals. They are working to sort these technical issues ahead of the next rehearsal.

Julia Samoylova — “I Won’t Break”: Reviews and Reactions

Russia: First rehearsal at Eurovision 2018

Russia: First press conference 2018

Read all of our Eurovision rehearsal reviews

Read all of our Russia Eurovision news here

Footage & Photos: EBU & RTP

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86 Comments on "Russia: Julia Samoylova becomes the mountain during vocally shaky first rehearsal"

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Maria
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The only good thing about this song is that it has great melody. The singer destroys the song so much,, that it becomes the worst song of the year. Im sorry, but here the singer looks like a fish in an aquarium sitting on a decorative mountain….the worst staging this year.

Lady Gaga
Guest

I’m probably in the minority that likes the song…but if sung by another singer. I kept humming to it, specially in hectic times at work. Nothing against Yulia, but I felt this song was too big for her, as it requires Sia-esque vocals to bring it to life (which I think is what they were aiming for, anyway). Listen to Sia’s “This is Acting” album, that’s how anthemic songs should be sung by a steel-lunged diva. The staging is quite…disturbing. They could have kept it simple & classy

AngieP
Guest

She didn’t sound that good in the 1st rehearsal. However, I like the staging, I find it interesting. And she seems such a lovely person!

Fun or ban?
Guest

Oh, poor Julia Himalaya! She is looking like a hen on a giant nest, hatching the eggs.

Katerina
Guest

This should have been at least tasteful. If you want to support equal rights you should start by putting the same amount of effort (and money) to the staging. Lazarev, Paulina etc get all the visually great stuff and Yulia gets a paper mountain for kindergarden school play. Not fair. And why are they hidding the wheelchair?

Thiago
Guest

In her defense, the last participant in a wheelchair didn’t end up doing too well. Juries evaluate based on song, stage, and performance. I agree the song is not good anyway, but she’s automatically disadvantaged for stage and performance. Perhaps the mountain was their way of adding something to the stage and performance since she obviously can’t strut around or whip her hair back and forth.

brennan
Guest

this is like the postapocalyptic drag on a dime interpretation of estonia’s fabric tower, mashed together with an eerily perfect replica of hour of the wolf’s choreography, but also the sans LEDs version… big yikes

Kit Kat
Guest

Poor Yulia… I don’t like the song, but I’m so sorry for her because of the staging. Those who imagined that mountain really… hate her.
I’m sure she’s praying not to go to GF…

ted
Guest

I’ve never liked this song and this clip endorses my opinion. WTF am i watching??? Vocally poor too. It deserves to not qualify.

Sabrina
Guest

I was afraid they would take that awful video as inspiration and there it is. I feel so sorry for Julia, because she had to wait a whole year to be confirmed as an Eurovision act, then they gave a song that doesn’t suit her skills (it seems that the chorus still is a huge problem here) and now they staged it in a way that she looks more like a prop than the actual star.

BelieveinLove
Guest

Ironically, this is my favorite russian entry of rhe last decade ? Her vocals are not good, but evrything is so trashylicious that I can’t help loving it. Plus the song is celine dion realness. Go Yulia!

Hristo
Guest

I want braaaake
For my car
Ieeeee

Fun or ban?
Guest

I won’t bake
yeeeee

Mowarich
Guest

It is not her fault that she’s representing Russia this year. Who knows, why she couldn’t reject the proposal to represent her country.

susan burke
Guest

if this song qualifies the contest is one big JOKE

susan burke
Guest

i hope Russia do not qualify but all their sad neighbours full of russians will vote for them
she can look into the crimea from the top of that mountain lol

Thiago
Guest

Brilliant! I think you’re on to something. Perhaps that was the inspiration behind the mountain after all!

Julie
Guest

From just that small clip, it’s apparent that the vocals, while still not strong, are so much better than the Moscow performance! Keep working at it and refining, and it may surprise some people.

Euphoric
Guest

When Russians chose her for Kiev, it was obvious that they just use her as a “poor thing” that should be allowed to perform… When Ukrainians banned her (due to their law, which was obvious and reasonable) she still did not understand how she has been used… And still.. this year and this song and this performance…
In the end -it’s Russians -they treat pople like that since ages…

Mowarich
Guest

Absolutely agree

oscillate
Guest

could not agree more

Elsa Alves
Guest

Thanks for this message! Finally someone gets it!

Anita
Guest

Dear @wiwibloggs, please delete this insulting comment! from james

Polegend Godgarina
Guest

Didn’t she say she disliked the mountain concept? Poor girl gets to have zero artistic input in this.

Jimsalabim
Guest

is this confirmed she didnt like the concept herself?

Kris
Guest

Yes she spoke so in interviews

Anita
Guest

When a songwriter does not know how to write a song within the comfortable vocal capacities of the performer than you get this. I guess because Julia can’t sing the chorus well enough they brought this backing singers and nothing fits than. It’s the only explanation I can find. But who knows. I feel very sorry for her!

Boy
Guest

Its ok. But itsso mutch better thsn Israel, Norwsy, France, Bulgaria and Estonia

Ely
Guest

What, better than…….are you deaf boy???

Jamala
Guest

Oh, boy you again. Your fav Israel is not the winner. Get over it.

oscillate
Guest

Better? are you joking right?

Anitta
Guest

The second semifinals are so indifferent and boring for me …It is so unfortunate to be all the good songs in the first semifinals..all the songs from the first semifinals are worth a position in final for me ..in the other hand from the second semifinals does not deserve to pass any song ..and i’m really sorry that they will not go though to final good songs 🙁 🙁 🙁

NickC
Guest

Mount Russiamore… Good God.
And may we ban interpretive dancers from Eurovision?

Yulia
Guest

Oh dear.

Is she gonna jump from there? That’s the gag of the season.

Malin
Guest

I think it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I aggre whith William. But this is not an act I would vote for, and I hope the vocals will improve… But..

Good luck Julia.

Miguel
Guest

On my….
After the sammarinese robots, the mountain is also back!!!

It looks ridiculous… The mountain is so distracting. In a very bad way!
They choose a vocalist in a wheelchair, and then they try to hide it….
Coming from Russia the standards are very low and disappointing.
On the plus side, Yulia’s vocals are better than I anticipated.
If it was up to me this wouldn’t qualify.

Jimsalabim
Guest

i don’t understand what a mountain had to do with this song? is she representing a mountain? or is she just sitting on top of it?

Miguel
Guest

I don’t know either. I think it’s just to hide the wheelchair.
In a previous interview Yulia said it wasn’t her idea. It was the video director. And now they brought it back to the live performance.

JeffD
Guest

I genuinely don’t hate it but this is just not good enough… sorry Yulia
And Russia should not qualify this year!! They won’t broadcast Eurovision semi 1 because of Ireland Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s dancers… cause of their anti-gay propaganda Bullsh*t!!
I am sick of it…
And some people came down on Ryan saying he invented this!! You should be Ashamed!! Boycott Russia please!

Roy Moreno
Guest

According to the rules, Russia must broadcast Ireland’s performance so… They will anyway

Jo.
Guest

You’re right. And those are just rumours to create more unnecessary drama. Let’s focus on the performances.

Roby08
Guest

I think it isn’t rumors unfortunately… But let’s wait for something official…
Edit : It seems to be rumors again finally… Sry

Nika
Guest

It is rumours. Russia will broadcust it without any official statements.

Roby08
Guest

Yeah I know I edited my post… again sorry everyone … Damn rumors I gotta be more careful…

Héctor
Guest

I think a country is only obligued to broadcast the SF in which they take part. So Russia could decide to not broadcast it without problem. If Ireland qualifies, Russia must broadcast the final, though.

Jo.
Guest

I think she’s a lot better now, but the whole package is still not very strong. I hope there will be some lava in the end.

Héctor
Guest

I’m glad Julia is achieving her dream! But all in this performance looks so tacky, dated and cheap… from that foam (?) mountain to the overall concept of the dancers with all the backvocalists in white. Her vocals are really weak, and shouty in the chorus. It’s truly hard to listen the chorus without feeling unconfortable as William points out. I’m sorry to say this, but neither the song or her vocals aren’t enough for the Eurovision stage.

Jake
Guest

It looks like Russia planted a giant zit on stage and had Julia be the white puss coming out of it…discuss…

Xhenne
Guest

What a disgusting thing to visualize but hilarious nonetheless haha

Talentina Monetta
Guest

I’m surprised that the article title wasn’t something like “Julia serving Mount Everest realness”

Valentina
Guest

Oh my… not the troll again!!!

Isa
Guest

Lol . This comment is “funny realness”. It made me laugh. Thank you, because I was having a bad day. 🙂

Rimig
Guest

Wow! What is going on with Russia this year? Is this the best they could come up with after two years for planning? It sounds horrible but it looks even worse. That “mountain” (it looks more like a barnacle to me) is ridiculous.
Anyway, it seems that there are some sort of doors in the mountain, at the highest part. Will there be something happening that we haven’t seen yet or is the mountain just badly assembled?

Héctor
Guest

I saw that too. I think it is just badly assembled, which makes all of it even worse…

Jimsalabim
Guest

maybe some little cute mountain puppies will come out of the doors and dance with Yulia on top?

Valentina
Guest

I can’t believe that I actually grew fond of this! Loved the rehearsal!

Uwey
Guest

Serbia is the worst so far! Even San Marino and Russia were better.

Eurovision2018 is Serbija
Guest
Eurovision2018 is Serbija

That’s not true at all. You may have opinions, but Serbia has a song with a beautiful mix of ethnic and modern music.

My2Cents
Guest

So unfortunate, because the studio version really touches me. It’s miles better than that pretentious 2016 song. It is still salvageable, people are too cruel to this girl. It’s like everyone is just angry at the delegation and the country and forget about this human being who’s already proven in the past that she deserves to be on that stage.

My2Cents
Guest

oh yeah, downvote me for showing some compassion. y’all are heartless.
why not trying to give positive energy towards this so that for once someone with as serious disability as hers can see someone like them on TV and feel hopeful and inspired. we already know this is not going to win.

you know you
Guest

I’m sorry, but ESC fans can be compassionate only when is about refugees. Is Yulia a refugee? No! (sarcasm, I know ESC fans are cruel and hypocrite).

My2Cents
Guest

Im no Russian or Putin supporter or whatever but the amount of hate this disabled woman receives is just merciless and not normal to me

you know you
Guest

Like I’ve said, ESC fans are hypocrites, they cry for refugees because that makes them feel like they are good people, but in reality, they are just hypocrites. And of course France will win, because ESC fans need to feel like they have a good heart. I want to vomit.

Volkov
Guest

RUSSIA!!!

Jurgz
Guest

LOL

MikolasFan
Guest

Horrible and ridiculous…. sorry Julia

Jedy
Guest

Yet, she will qualify and that Mikolas troll will get stuck on the first semi.

P!nk Forever
Guest

I can‘t wait for that mountain prop to be on auction!!!

show
Guest

No final for russia this year

Troy
Guest

You might be underestimating the power of the Russian diaspora combined with sympathy votes.

Rasmus
Guest

Can someone explain why Russia dont focus on their lead singer and ONLY on the dancers? Have that happened before in Eurovision? Russia is very hard to like i think when they do this…

My2Cents
Guest

2018: the year of the mountains

Weißbrot
Guest

Aaaand, she’s being turned into a freaking mountain once again. Great.

Valentina
Guest

You always copy/paste the comments of others.

Weißbrot
Guest

Honey I didn’t. And I never did.

Denis
Guest

As always a slick performance from Russia. But this could be the year without a top 10 for them. It’s not bad but it’s nothing spectacular either. Is Russia really satisfied with the choice??

Cameron
Guest

More like no final

AsAnOption
Guest

Russia is not satisfied with the 2016 juries choice first of all and feels no sense to talk the best artists into participating in ESC. What about this version?