ESC 2017 Review: Russia – My Ears Are Burning

Currently we’re in limbo with Russia’s entry to Eurovision. For good reason but I wrote this last week so we’re going to just run it anyway.

Just a reminder: These are my own PERSONAL rankings of what I think of the 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 changes could be made. There are plenty of songs that have been let down by their staging so these reviews are based solely on what I’ve heard from the artist so far or seen at a national final.

Country: Russia
Artist: Julia Samoylova
Song Title: Flame is Burning
My Ranking: 40th (out of 43)
Semi Final: 2nd Semi Final
Final placement prediction: NQ

Russia. What the hell am I supposed to do with you? I’m going to disclose that I have no particular love for Russia’s style in the Eurovision song contest and they (like France) always freak out and write a lot of articles about how their song was the best and the thing is rigged after every losing year. To add to that, while last years 3rd place seemed about right, their runner up place in 2015 baffles me. In terms of ESC they tend to put all their eggs in the performance side of the basket and forget you have to make a good song. Never the less Russia has had a streak of qualifications and fairly high marks over the past 10 years and I suspect this year might be the combo breaker. I listened to this song without the visual first (on a streaming service) so my entire impression was to be completely underwhelmed by what is basically a repeat of every boring “peace” ballad sent before with no innovation and honestly, a weak vocal with terrible enunciation that is 100% supported by back vocals or maybe even an echo.

It’s very hard for me to believe that Russia, who sent super star and mildly good singer Sergey Lazarev last year, would send this except that it’s to Ukraine. There’s a lot of ways that Russia has always used ESC to politically leverage themselves against the rest of Europe and its unfortunate that when it happens it’s pretty transparent. Russia is sending a woman who sings pretty poorly in English, a song with no chance of winning, or maybe even qualifying, except on the grounds of many countries having a voting block with Russia and the cherry on top is that this woman has entered Crimea through Russia which is illegal under Ukraine law which is something Ukraine made clear they would not tolerate. There’s plenty of famous people Russia could have sent, even some of them with this mediocre ballad who had not directly violated the Ukraine governments laws (and posted shit about Ukraine on FB too) but they didn’t. Russia also waited to annouce their artist until the very last minute to make sure Ukraine had to scramble if they wanted to disqualify her that it would be over the submission deadline. Julia is also disabled so any actions against her by Ukraine are going to be painted by the Russian government and media as bullying. These all feels like extremely transparent moves to me that will end with Ukraine blocking Julia from the country and Russia either submitting a new contestant as the EBU tried to mitigate the damage or Russia withdrawing from the contest and blaming the Ukraine [a move which will really hurt Ukraine world image for the small percent of people who give a shit about Eurovision and don’t understand political ambitions of the Russia government]. All of this is really a shame but at the end of the day Julia willingly and knowingly violated the law and may have to pay heavy consequences for this.

Juliya is a 27 year old singer who has done her share of the reality singing TV show circuit like many of the other contestants and has been making music in various forms for years. She’s also a song writer though she didn’t write this song (I feel confident her songs are less twee garbage because nearly everyone’s songs are). At least in the music video we’re given, Russia has gone simple staging in 2015 notably but Polina also gave one of the best vocal performances of the contest making all those “extras” unnecessary. I want to write more about the song but like Malta, there’s just not much there. I actually had some trouble listening to this song for the 5-6 passes I needed to write this article and I kept pausing and un-pausing it and yet it’s still leagues better than “Do it for your lover” so hopefully the folks at home won’t make me endure both songs during the final – I’m counting on your Europe, do the right thing.

Maybe I’m a just a Russia hater but even if this qualifies it’s C level material and possibly lack of staging will led it to a low score from the audience if nothing else.

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