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

Total
3
Shares
76 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Maria
Maria
2 years ago

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
Lady Gaga
2 years ago

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
AngieP
2 years ago

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?
Fun or ban?
2 years ago

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

oscillate
oscillate
2 years ago

Better? are you joking right?

Katerina
Katerina
2 years ago

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
Thiago
2 years ago

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
brennan
2 years ago

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
Kit Kat
2 years ago

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…

Jamala
Jamala
2 years ago

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

ted
ted
2 years ago

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
Sabrina
2 years ago

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
BelieveinLove
2 years ago

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
Hristo
2 years ago

I want braaaake
For my car
Ieeeee

Fun or ban?
Fun or ban?
2 years ago
Reply to  Hristo

I won’t bake
yeeeee

Mowarich
Mowarich
2 years ago

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.

Ely
Ely
2 years ago

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

susan burke
susan burke
2 years ago

if this song qualifies the contest is one big JOKE

susan burke
susan burke
2 years ago

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
Thiago
2 years ago
Reply to  susan burke

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

Julie
Julie
2 years ago

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
Euphoric
2 years ago

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
Mowarich
2 years ago
Reply to  Euphoric

Absolutely agree

oscillate
oscillate
2 years ago
Reply to  Euphoric

could not agree more

Elsa Alves
Elsa Alves
2 years ago
Reply to  Euphoric

Thanks for this message! Finally someone gets it!

Anita
Anita
2 years ago

Dear , please delete this insulting comment! from james

Polegend Godgarina
Polegend Godgarina
2 years ago

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

Jimsalabim
Jimsalabim
2 years ago

is this confirmed she didnt like the concept herself?

Kris
Kris
2 years ago
Reply to  Jimsalabim

Yes she spoke so in interviews

Anita
Anita
2 years ago

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!

Anitta
Anitta
2 years ago

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
NickC
2 years ago

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

Yulia
Yulia
2 years ago

Oh dear.

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

Malin
Malin
2 years ago

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
Miguel
2 years ago

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
Jimsalabim
2 years ago
Reply to  Miguel

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
Miguel
2 years ago
Reply to  Jimsalabim

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.

Isa
Isa
2 years ago

To refer to the Polish singer as a cripple is so disrespectful! You should be ashamed. There is no need for it.

Rimig
Rimig
2 years ago
Reply to  Isa

Cripple
a. Old fashioned, offensive : a lame or partly disabled person or animal
b. one that is disabled or deficient in a decidiese manner

You forgot to copy the “offensive” part

Netta is a feminist, bad bad. Im not a toy.
Netta is a feminist, bad bad. Im not a toy.
2 years ago
Reply to  Rimig

I agree James, it is very sad that there are many awful songs are in the semi 2.

Rimig
Rimig
2 years ago
Reply to  Rimig

I simply don’t understand the comparison. There are hundreds of millions of people that cannot sing or cannot pronounce English well. Why do you need to compare Yulia with that particular Polish singer? Because she was sitting in a wheelchair? You could also compare her with Polina Gagarina, because they are both blonde, or with Franka, because they both have boobs, or with Cesár Sampson because they both have a thyroid gland…

Kappes
Kappes
2 years ago
Reply to  Rimig

Disabled. But why even mentioning it or making it a part of your evaluation in the first place? What has her being in a wheelchair to do with her vocal ability, her pronunciation or the staging (which is indeed kitschy in my opinion)?

Rimig
Rimig
2 years ago
Reply to  Kappes

You were talking about singing and pronouncing; not a single word about staging in your comment:

“She is a wheely bad singer and her English pronunciation is awful. At least when Poland sent that cripple in 2015 she had a good voice and you could understand what she was saying”

JeffD
JeffD
2 years ago

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
Roy Moreno
2 years ago
Reply to  JeffD

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

Jo.
Jo.
2 years ago
Reply to  Roy Moreno

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

Roby08
Roby08
2 years ago
Reply to  Jo.

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

Nika
Nika
2 years ago
Reply to  Roby08

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

Roby08
Roby08
2 years ago
Reply to  Nika

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

Héctor
Héctor
2 years ago
Reply to  Roy Moreno

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.
Jo.
2 years ago

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
Héctor
2 years ago

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
Jake
2 years ago

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

Xhenne
Xhenne
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake

What a disgusting thing to visualize but hilarious nonetheless haha

Talentina Monetta
Talentina Monetta
2 years ago

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

Isa
Isa
2 years ago

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

Rimig
Rimig
2 years ago

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
Héctor
2 years ago
Reply to  Rimig

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

Jimsalabim
Jimsalabim
2 years ago
Reply to  Héctor

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

My2Cents
My2Cents
2 years ago

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
My2Cents
2 years ago
Reply to  My2Cents

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
you know you
2 years ago
Reply to  My2Cents

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
My2Cents
2 years ago
Reply to  you know you

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
you know you
2 years ago
Reply to  My2Cents

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.

MikolasFan
MikolasFan
2 years ago

Horrible and ridiculous…. sorry Julia

P!nk Forever
P!nk Forever
2 years ago

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

show
show
2 years ago

No final for russia this year

Troy
Troy
2 years ago
Reply to  show

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

Rasmus
Rasmus
2 years ago

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
My2Cents
2 years ago

2018: the year of the mountains

Weißbrot
Weißbrot
2 years ago

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

Denis
Denis
2 years ago

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
Cameron
2 years ago
Reply to  Denis

More like no final

AsAnOption
AsAnOption
2 years ago
Reply to  Denis

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?