Last night the Wiwi Jury—our in-house panel of music un-professionals—flew to Moscow to protest government reprisals against political dissidents and to review Dina Garipova’s Eurovision 2013 song “What If?” Did she inspire us with her message of peace and solidarity? Or did we gag on all the cheese? Read on to find out…
HK Dick: Along with Armenia’s “Lonely Planet”, “What If” falls into the “let’s all love one another and spread global harmony” genre. People may well sit up and take more notice of this than the Armenian entry because this is a real cracker of a song with a great key change and, along with the usual votes from the Russian bloc, is rousing enough to even get some Western Europeans to pick up the phone and vote, too. The video is super sickly and the song a little formulaic. But if enough people believe in love thy neighbour then it may well be worth sticking a Euro or two on Russia to reclaim the Eurovision crown.
Vebooboo: When I was a child, I used to eat a whole lot of Velveeta macaroni & cheese, but I stopped when I realized how bad for you it was. This song takes cheese to a whole new level, with lyrics like ‘What if we chose to bury our guns?’. Worse yet, the music video features people from all different backgrounds coming together and holding hands. This is Eurovision in 2013, not a Coke commercial in the 1970s. It is not a small world after all, and Dina’s cheese-fest needs to go. I wonder if Putin knows what the lyrics mean…I’m guessing not, because Dina is still alive. Bottom line, come on, people, this is NOT an Aesop’s fable sing-a-long, this is Eurovision. To win you’ve gotta be fierce, and all this peace blah-blah just ain’t cutting it for me. Dina may be in the running to be Eurovision’s Next Top Model, but her song is not beautiful. A good voice alone does not a winner make.
Deban: “What If” is the only song in the contest that fully embraces this year’s slogan, We Are One. As I kept hearing this song, I immediately thought that it would make a lot more sense if Dina was either representing a politically neutral country, or, she was permanently stationed at Tsandryphsh (the border town between Georgia and Russia), belting this at full volume. Listening to this, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Russia is a country that perpetrates an alarming number of hate crimes, border violations and regional invasions. Full of political flavour and bursting with peace-loving morals, it’s laughable that this serves as its 2013 entry. That said, “What If” has a melody that ties the lyrics together, and unusually, they’ve chosen the right starlet to sing this message. Dina Garipova is a great singer. She sings with clarity, and delivers her high notes unstrained. Her mature looks will win votes from older audiences who are tired of seeing waif gimmicky acts in the contest. She’ll go far in the competition and will without any doubt, have a glittering career ahead of her.
Bogdan: I liked it and even defended at the beginning, but in the meanwhile the song’s cheesiness has got the better of me. The video made things worse. Then came the plagiarism claims (just listen to the chorus of this song), which made me like Russia’s entry even less. Not to mention that the lyrics themselves are ironic, seeing as this song represents a country that is very far removed from the utopia of “What If” (at least “Solayoh” is a fantasy planet!). No, it’s just too much. I’ll give Dina points for her voice, but that’s it.
Mr Häggkvist: Finally: A song from Russia that will get points because it’s a damn good song, and not simply because Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Azerbaijan are its neighbours. This is simple, classic and beautiful. Dina has an amazing voice and will deliver a touching performance. She’s great and she’s on my list of potential winners.
Alexander: Russia is probably going to qualify this year, but I honestly don’t think it deserves to. The lyrics are incredibly cheesy, even if they carry a good message. It would be really nice if the people with social, economic, and political power in Russia actually believed this stuff, but alas, actions speak louder than words. The music is generic and sounds like it would fit in a family movie soundtrack. I do like Dina’s voice, however.
Wiwi: If Dina wins Eurovision her song will make the perfect anthem for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The cynic in me thinks Russia’s Eurovision team thought of that ahead of time and saw a potential way to cash in on the Games. In any case, Dina sings this song with conviction. I’m not sure she’d be so happy clappy if Vladimir Putin made her a political prisoner….but I respect her sentiments nonetheless. I initially wrote this song off as pure cheese, but then I remember that I’m a big fan of edam, comte and gruyère. Dina’s live vocals are flawless, and I like that she breaks the mold of the traditional pop star. This is a real woman expressing real emotions, and I would be happy to see this land in the Top 5. Mother Russia has found a song for her daughters.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 6.64/10