When it was merely rumored that Sergey Lazarev would be representing Russia at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, my reaction was the same as it is with most Russian entries: Dammit, that’s a reallllllllllllly good idea.1. I mean, I’m not made of stone.
Where was I? Oh, yes, Russia’s Eurovision entry. Sergey Lazarev was confirmed a few weeks later and now we know his song, which will be “You Are the Only One”:
This entry is a bit of a head scratcher for me. Russia’s perfect record for making it to Eurovision finals isn’t in danger, but there’s something about this entry that feels a bit…off? It isn’t like Russia to emulate other countries who were successful in the previous year, instead opting for women with power ballads since those are pretty reliable on their own. The video above may be coloring this perception a bit, but it feels Russia and Lazarev are trying to check many of the Sweden/Zelmerlow boxes.
I’m also curious about the backstory as to why “You Are the Only One” was selected. The song sounds like a power ballad usually delivered by a female singer at the Contest, which makes me wonder if this was in the back catalog for Russia’s typical selections (female power ballad singers) rather than for Lazarev specifically.
There is a Greek quality to the song, which undoubtedly comes from the influence of co-composer Dimitris Kontopoulos, who was involved with “Shine” (Russia, 2014) “Hold Me” (Azerbaijan, 2013), and “Shady Lady” (Ukraine, 2008). Two of those songs are in my list of all-time favorites, so it’s weird that my initial reaction to “You Are the Only One” is somewhat subdued. However, this track also reminds me of “One Last Breath”, Greece’s entry from last year, which I did not like at first but grew to love by the time it hit the stage in Vienna.
My initial impression of Sergey Lazarev is starting from a much more positive place2, so we’ll see if I say “You Are the Only One” when it comes time to pick a winner in May.