The Orange Revolution that gripped Ukraine in 2004 pales in comparison to the upheaval unfolding this evening in Kyiv. For reasons still undisclosed, NTU—Ukraine’s public broadcaster—has stripped Vasyl Lazarovich of his Eurovision title and will restage its national selection contest tomorrow. The move comes just weeks after the Feb. 14 election of president Viktor Yanukovych, suggesting that regime change at the top is filtering down through to the NTU. (If you recall from Wiwi’s recent trip to Junior Eurovision in Kiev, defeated presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko worked hard to score points via Eurovision, too.)
Politics aside, Lazarovich, a cheesy baritone selected internally last month, hoped to wow European audiences with his saccharine ballad I Love You. The song, which features the rather monotonous chorus “I love you, I love you, I love you…” has been mocked throughout the blogosphere for weeks and was destined to finish last at Eurovision. Lazarovich hurt Ukraine’s chances when he released a rather creepy video in which he comes on to all of the world’s women by thanking them for being “inspirational,” no doubt a euphemism for making his Chernobyl explode.
Speculation is already mounting about who will replace Lazarovich in Oslo. Many a reader want Ukraine’s 2008 representative Ani Lorak (that’s Karolina backwards) to represent the former Soviet state. Her sexed-up dance tune Shady Lady finished second in 2008, and is regarded by many as one of the best Eurovision songs ever.
Lorak, however, is an outside possibility. The NTU will accept submissions from any songwriter over the age of 16 until 6pm tomorrow. A professional jury will then choose the 20 best songs to present on the prime time program Shuster Life tomorrow evening. The public will listen to the 20 songs and vote for their favorite.
Wiwi is thrilled that the NTU (whether because of Yanukovych or not) has stepped in. Lazarovich’s bland ballad was a sad departure from Ukraine’s colorful Eurovision tradition. Who can forget the glory of Ruslana’s dancing cave men (2004), the fashion faux pas of Verka Serduchka (2007) or the hamster-in-a-stripper-wheel called Svetlana Loboda (2009)? Not Wiwi!
So bring it, Ukraine! For god! For country! For Eurovision!
UPDATE (March 19, 2010):
Wiwi can now confirm that regime change did play a role in Ukraine’s Eurovision re-do. Wiwi’s friends at Eurovision Song Contest Kazakhstan are reporting that President Yanukovych sacked the head of the NTU for selecting Vasyl internally rather than staging a national contest with public input—de rigeur in Eurovision nation. A number of leading artists and officials from the NTU took their complaints directly to Yanukovych ahead of his decision. Looks like his campaign promises to serve the people weren’t just hot air.