Belarus wants to run with the pack into the Grand Final. Can IVAN get them there?
Song Title: “Help You Fly”
Second Semi-Final: Position #5
Last year’s entry: “Time” – Uzari and Maimuna (DNQ – 12th Place, SF1)
In 2014, Belarus finished fifth in its semifinal and advanced to the Grand Final with a song we lovingly1 refer to as #TwerpyHamsterDate, thanks to some poorly-chosen (and poorly enunciated) lyrics. The next year, the violin-and-voice duo behind “Time” missed the Grand Final by two spots. In retrospect, both of these results were pretty inexplicable. Will this year produce results for the Belarusians that make sense?
I noted earlier this year that “Help You Fly” is not a bad song — just a mediocre one, with a mediocre performance. Belarus apparently decided that they could only work on one of those two issues; instead of fixing (or doing anything, actually) to the song, they’re ramping up the weirdness of their staging in an attempt to distract viewers. As reported last week by SBS, the Belarusian contingent is moving forward with a plan (possibly NSFW) that includes 1) IVAN being completely naked onstage 2) with wolves.2 The Eurovision Song Contest rules clearly state that live animals are not allowed onstage, so it’s a near certainty that piece of the plan won’t pan out. But the rules don’t appear to directly address the issue of nudity. I predict there may be a loincloth compromise, with either digital wolves or perhaps some form of puppetry.
Either way: when a country has to plan on breaking the rules this blatantly to be noticed at Eurovision, it’s a pretty sure sign they don’t stand a chance. It doesn’t help that Belarus is in the first half of the second semifinal, in the midst of a number of strong entries. On the other hand, none of those nearby entries have the same angsty rock/pop feel, three of Belarus’ five best ESC buddies (Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania) are also in the second semifinal, and bookmakers have the odds set at a reasonable 200:1. For perspective, those are better odds than a dozen other countries, none of whom are resorting to live animals onstage.
While this is an entry that absolutely should not qualify for the Grand Final, we’ve seen that anything can happen for Belarus, and perhaps will. This will be an entry I’ll watch with interest on Thursday of the contest week with the hope that it won’t reappear on Saturday … but I wouldn’t bet on that happening.