Wiwibloggs continues our series looking at the current competing acts in Eurovision and the reasons why we love them. Next up we touch down in Minsk. Amid all their preparations for JESC, we look at Belarus‘ history at Eurovision.
Belarus debuted at Eurovision in 2004. Since then, they’ve competed every year but have only qualified for the grand final on five occasions. But they have a knack for sending entries that end up being amongst the most memorable each year. Here are 10 reasons why we love Belarus at the Eurovision Song Contest.
1. They can work their magic
In 2007 Belarus sent Dmitry Koldun — noted for his resemblance to Princess Diana — with the song “Work Your Magic”. The song was a bold Bond-style pop track co-written by Russian maestro Philipp Kirkorov. The staging featured wall walking that surely inspired Sergey Lazarev’s wall adventures in 2016. Everything worked. The song placed sixth in the grand final and remains Belarus’ best result to date.
2. The weird, wonderful and wrong acts that are rejected in the national final
Every year, the Belarus national final starts with its doors wide open. The live-streamed auditions attract experienced performers and amateurs alike, all hoping that the judges won’t cut them off after just a few seconds with a curt “spasiba”. Some seem unfairly dismissed, but with others, it’s easy to see why the panel wasn’t impressed.
3. Ivan pushed the limits of the staging rules
The EBU said no to nudity and no to live animals on stage. But that didn’t stop Ivan. In 2016 he had got his kit off and bonded with his furry friend in the privacy of a Belarusian studio, then brought the experience to Stockholm with the power of holograms. “Help You Fly” didn’t qualify for the final, but it still delivered one of the most memorable performances of the 2016 semi-finals.
4. They used a different sort of Swedish expert
It’s not uncommon for countries to hire Swedish experts to beef up their Eurovision entries, but in 2010 Belarus did it differently. Rather than go for Eurovision experts or pop maestros, they called in Swedish pianist Robert Wells, who co-wrote “Butterflies”. The sentimental ballad was performed by the casting show vocal group 3+2, with Wells on piano. While the song made it to the grand final (complete with expanding wings!), it finished second to last with only 18 points, 12 of which came from Georgia.
5. They brought some hot Latin rhythms
Years before “Fuego”, Belarus delivered their own version of fiery Latin beats. In 2013, Alyona Lanskaya performed “Solayoh”. From the moment she emerged from a giant disco ball (was Alcazar watching?), the Belarusian diva delivered an unforgettable performance. “Solayoh” finished 16th in the grand final and is Belarus’ second best result.
6. They’ve only sent one song in Belarusian — but it did really well
Since their debut in 2004, Belarus has always sent songs in English. The one big exception was in 2017, when folk-pop duo Naviband came to Kyiv with the 100% Belarusian lyrics of “Story of My Life”. The song’s catchy rhythms, the shoutalong chorus (“Hey! Hey! Hay-yay-yay-a-ho!) and the natural charisma of real-life couple Arciom and Ksienija ensured the song qualified for the grand final, where it finished in 17th place.
7. They delivered the best caked-themed song of 2014
Latvia also brought a cakey song to Copenhagen, but it was Belarus that, er, really took the cake. Teo showed up looking like a Belarusian Robin Thicke and performed the mambo-pop of “Cheesecake”. The cheeky, cheesy, cakey tune won over audiences, took Belarus into the grand final and gave them a 16th-place finish.
8. Alexander Rybak’s celebration of the Belarusian accent
The Belarusian-born Alexander Rybak had won Eurovision for Norway, but in 2015 he was ready to share his talent with his country of birth. Rybak penned “Accent”, a celebration of the Belarusian accent, performed by the girl group Milki. It was a fan favourite going into the national final and seemed a sure winner. But while it did well with the televote, the dominant jury vote favoured Uzari & Maimuna‘s “Time” and sadly “Accent” never made it to Vienna.
9. They love Belarus
In 2011, Anastasia Vinnikova took to the Düsseldorf stage and declared “I Love Belarus!”. The song was a celebration of all things Belarusian, with Anastasia declaring “We’re gonna fly watching lakes in their full view / Fields are full of gold, and it’s all my land”. While the song didn’t qualify for the grand final, it remains a fan favourite.
10. The magnificent madness of the “Forever” staging
No LEDs? No problem! Belarus ensured that there wasn’t a dull moment while Alekseev delivered the melancholic ballad “Forever”. Highlights included: a rose taking a ride on the camera, the dancer shooting the rose at Alekseev, the rose getting embedded in his hand, an explosion of augmented reality rose petals, and Alekseev turning around to reveal a dozen red roses embedded in his back. It was overkill, it didn’t get Belarus into the grand final, but what a show!
Bonus! Lermont x Julic
It’s really saying something when a song scores nil points in the Belarus national final. But that’s what Lermont x Julic achieved with their house anthem “Heartbeat” in 2017. Ok, the whole thing was a bit of a car crash, but we admire their enthusiasm and energy.
What do you love about Belarus at Eurovision? Share the love in the comments section below!