On December 21st 2011, Alyona Lanskaya appeared on stage in a huge ball gown and ridiculously long hair extensions sorrowfully belting out “All My Life”. Immediately, one was reminded of a modern day Rapunzel longing for an ESC victory.
Unfortunately, all the external elements involved in the production of the song proved that this was no fairytale. Weeks after her national pre-selection victory, Alexander Lukashenko (Belarusian President who doubles up as Europe’s last dictator), conducted an investigation into her “unfair” victory.
It was rumoured that her producers had rigged the televoting giving her the 12 points needed to make her the winner. The president ordered an immediate investigation, which confirmed all the suspicion. Shortly after, Alyona Lanskaya was disqualified and instead Litesound, who got second place in the Eurofest preselection, were internally chosen as the new representatives of Belarus in the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku.
Vote rigging or not, “All My Life” echoed Lanskaya’s desperation to perfection. It’s a big ballad that just keeps lingering, long after you’ve heard it. Judging the song on its own may reveal some shortcomings, but a comparative analysis with the other entries—including Litesound’s “We Are The Heroes”—confirms that it isn’t that bad a song. Fast forward to May 2012 in Baku, and Litesound failed to qualify anyway!
However, what many people don’t know about Alyona is that she’s a super driven visionary. I’ll tell you why. She flew out to Azerbaijan and marketed herself. This publicity campaign intensified when Litesound failed to advance from the semi finals. I caught up with her at a rather upscale hotel in Baku (see photo above), and she assured me that she’d be back in 2013. It seemed laughable at the time, but her predictions have come true. Her assertive nature does make me question the legitimacy of her victory. How could she have been so sure, especially after such a scandalous defeat?
Belarus has been plagued with controversies since joining the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004. The most controversial year so far was when former Miss Belarus, Angelica Agurbash, represented the country in 2005. It created a widespread uproar because citizens felt she couldn’t sing, and was simply chosen because of her romantic links with the president. Here’s the train wreck in action:
And they were right! Despite being ranked the bookies’ favourite, Belarus failed to qualify that year and stalled in 13th position (semi-final).
Alexander Lukashenko loves Eurovision. He is perhaps the only European president who openly admits to following the contest. Alyona’s disqualification in 2012 was a national issue, and this was debated and discussed on all political and media platforms. The issue was resolved by decree. A year later, her victory with “Rhythm of Love” is equally riddled with suspicion. She topped both the jury and the public vote with a mediocre song in a hotly contested preselection. She received more than twice as many votes as the second-place finisher. Hmmm.
Alyona clearly has more lives than a Siamese cat. Her dream didn’t become reality by the wave of a magic wand. She’s been working super-hard behind the scenes, and her determination is second to none.
Deban Aderemi is a London correspondent for WiwiBloggs.Com.