Belarus has had a rocky ride at Eurovision over the years. In 2014 it seemed like the former Soviet state had finally found the formula for success, achieving its second consecutive qualification. And then it crashed out of the semis in 2015. Watching the Belarusian national final is comparable to Japanese torture, but, believe it or not, there’s a lot of good music coming out of the Republic. Here are 10 artists that could bring Bielorussia back to the finals. Maybe one of them will even give Lukashenko his happy back.
If Belarus wants a diva then look no further than Tatiana Lipnitskaya – or Bianka, as she’s better known. Representing the republic in the last edition of Wiwivision, she mixes R&B and good ol’ Serebro style slut-pop. We’ve all seen the televote benefits of baring flesh on stage, and knowing Belarus’ loyal friends in the former USSR, they won’t have to worry too much about their jury votes either.
In terms of Belarusian DJs, it doesn’t get any bigger than Arston. Despite only being on the scene for two years, this man has performed on stages as big as Tomorrowland and has his music played on BBC Radio 1. His sound is comparable to that of Europe’s most successful DJs and he could surely give Swedish producers a run for their money. Throw in some hipster vocalist and a couple of lasers and BOOM, top 5.
Singers Artem Lukyanenko & Ksenia Zhuk make up the Minsk-based indie duo NAVI. Their music is simple, soft and very pretty. So basically the last thing you’d expect from Belarus at Eurovision. They released their debut album last year, winning the “Discovery of the Year” and “Best Song in Their Native Language” awards at the Lira National Music Awards. The band are recording a brand new album as we speak, so why not keep one track that 30 seconds shorter so we can see them steal a Common Linnets-style success in Stockholm next year?
This is how they describe themselves and their style on Facebook: “Nagual’s world is that of ethnic surrealism where the personal blends with the folk, where the archaic becomes avant-garde. . .The songs act like mantras opening up particular moods, through which a person comes to the point of the creation of values, to feelings, to the experience of oneself in the world.” Translation? It’s basically six completely bonkers Belarusians playing some funky instruments, singing in gobbledygook and having a good time. What could go wrong? (Yes, that is rhetorical.)
5. NATALIA PODOLSKAYA
Recognise this face? Back in 2005 she represented mother Russia at Eurovision with the rock number “Nobody Hurt No One.” Ten years on, she hasn’t aged one day and is looking more ready than ever to return to Eurovision to represent her actual homeland Belarus. The woman’s repertoire ranges from pop to rock to ballads to dance anthems and all the way back again. But Ms. Podolskaya’s most appetising asset is the fact that she can sing in English AND you can actually understand her! I’ve believe that’s a first for a Belarusian singer!
6. LYAPIS TRUBETSKOY
Lyapis Trubetskoy is undoubtedly one of the most successful bands in the world of post-sov rock. Forming in Minsk in 1990, the band have had a long and rich career, pumping out hit after hit in the former USSR. Their music is fun, brass-derived rock – and the boys certainly know how to put on a show! The group actually disbanded in 2014 (good thing I checked Wikipedia!), although fear not – the old members continue to make music in a new band, Trubetskoy Minsk.
Consisting of singer Julia Bykova and producer Eugene Oleinik, Aura are well known faces in Belarus’ Eurovision bubble. The duo sent songs to the Belarusian national final in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, but are yet to see success. They like big anthemic songs, often with a cheeky bit of cimbalom thrown in – ie. made for Eurovision. They also sing in Belarusian – a language which is yet to grace the adult Eurovision stage. Below listen to the mysterious ethnic ballad “Zakakhanaja”, which failed to pass the Eurofest auditions this year. Could Aura become the Sanna Nielsen of Belarus, or will they continue to be a Lawrence Gray?
8. KAZIMIR RUSSIAN DADDY
Looks like we missed someone from our Six Acts That Could Troll Eurovision 2016 list. One day, grandfather of eight Kazimir Kazimirovich decided that life was too short for playing scrabble and slurping on parsnip soup all day. So what did he do? He became a DJ. Since then, the Belarusian bumpkin has toured all over Europe and Asia and we recommend his next stop be Stockholm’s Globen Arena. Dropping these dirty beats, the man gives the Buranovskiye Babushki a run for their money!
Fellow national final followers will recognise Nuteki from Eurofest 2012, 2013 and 2014. The band has a sound similar to Softengine, mixing EDM with rock music, creating a very appealing final product. Their apparently bottomless wallets mean they always give a flashy performance (anyone remember the ginormous dancing robot in 2013??). The question is, after the fate of Litesound in Baku, will Belarus be willing to take the risk of futuristic rock again?
10. ALEXANDER RYBAK
That’s right! Alyaksandr Iharavich Rybak was born in Minsk, only to move to Norway five years later. As all y’all know, he went on to achieve the biggest win in the history of the Eurovision Song Contest. Of late he’s been going back to his roots, recording songs in Russian and Belarusian and recently achieved second place in the Russian version of Your Face Sounds Familiar. This year Rybak finally sent a Eurovision entry to his motherland – but he did so via his spunky new girlband, Milki. However, in the end that milk turned a bit sour and Rybak was not a happy bunny. The question is, could they just send Alex himself? No frills, no confetti, no dairy products. Just the man and the violin that we fell in love with…
So what do you think – could any of these lot win the contest for Belarus? You can vote for as many acts as you’d like, but you can only vote one time. You can also write in the name of another artist if we left them out.