ESC 2017 Review: Belarus – Magic Forest Duo

If the Estonian forest spirits couldn’t win Eesti Laul, at least we have these two delightful Belorussian forest sprites instead.

These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of 2017’s Eurovision songs but I’m also going to make some bold predictions about the eventual fate of the song. These will probably be very wrong for a variety of reasons including I have no idea what almost half the artists sound like live or what type of staging and song changes could be made. There’s plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging (2016 Spain for example) so in the end they’re just guesses in the dark.

Country: Belarus
Artist: NAVIBAND
Song Title: Historyja majho žyccia
My Ranking: 12th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 2nd Semi Final
Final placement prediction: 21 of 26

Belarus is an underdog. Since entering in 2004 they’ve only managed to crack the top 10 once. They do like to send magical and colorful things but despite that they haven’t quite figured out how to turn their countries own special brand of magic in to Eurovision points. Even with such wonderful songs as “I Love Belarus” somehow they don’t seem to be reaching a global audience as much as you’d hope. Last year’s entry seemed like it might qualify on sheer novelty and ground swell but then IVAN’s “Help You Fly” was a big NQ despite naked, wolves, and a whole band full of IVAN’s. This year Belarus has pared it down to just one band, NAVIband!

NAVI or NAVIband depending on which press release you’re looking is made up of Artem Lukyanenko, the singer and guitarist and Ksenia Zhuk, the lead vocalist. The band has been preforming together with some in-studio members since 2013 and their feel good folk songs (which are somewhere on the spectrum between folk rock and folk pop) have touched the people of Belarus which such songs as “Abdymi myane” (Give Me A Hug). The pair are just 24 and 25 years old and they were picked through the national song selection where they crushed everyone else not just because the song is adorable and catchy but also because it was the only song worth sending at all.

This is the first time that a song has been sung in the Belarusian language at Eurovision since Belarus entered the contest after the language rule had been lifted and it’s kind of intriguing that it took this long for that to happen. The entry is fully in Belarusian which in other years I might have said would put them at a disadvantage but “

Historyja majho žyccia” (story of my life) is quite an upbeat little ditty and I feel like it’s message can pretty easily be understood even to those who don’t speak the language. I think we’re also seeing a swing back around to being bored of English songs and wanting more diversity of language based on last years winning song some non-English parts.

I think this will probably easily qualify, it’s a short little upbeat folk song that makes you want to dance around a bit and yell the “hey hey” part along with them. NAVI are quite the showmen and the two of them burst out with a lot of joy and energy, reminding me of Sebalter from 2014. I really genuinely like this song but I think the stumbling blocks will start to come in the final and this song will likely get left behind on the tail end of the scoreboard.

As for staging, Belarus went all out last year and it was basically like burning money considering what they got back from it. I’m expecting to see very simple staging. Maybe a forest scene as the backdrop to mirror the video or a few extra dancers who comes to life during the chorus. Ksenia has extremely high energy and she’s always wearing these flowing, hippie-like outfits that make her look like a manic pixie dream girl so I don’t think there will be an overwhelming need to do much to either of them but just to keep the staging true to the folk roots they already are in touch with to make the song feel genuine and fun. Anything more than that is going to start to look tacky and with some people saying the song is too repetitive and too shouty, you don’t want to veer in to tacky staging as well.

I love Belarus and I’m hoping good things for them this year.

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