Ukraine’s Ani Lorak took the stage in Serbia in 2008 with “Shady Lady,” which might be the prime example of a perfect Eurovision entry.
Song Title: “Shady Lady”
Artist: Ani Lorak
Semi-Final: Performed fourth in the second semi-final, finishing in 1st Place.
Grand Final: Performed 18th in the Final, finishing in 2nd place behind Russia.
Last year’s entry: “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” – Verka Serduchka
Back in 2010, a blog I followed at the time did a post about Ukraine’s 2007 Junior Eurovision entry. I was ever so vaguely aware of the existence of Eurovision, but this sent me down a fascinating YouTube rabbit hole. The next video to load up was Ani Lorak’s performance of “Shady Lady” at the 2008 Contest.
As gateway drugs go, this is top quality. First, it opens with a loving, lingering shot of European stage technology, which America only sorta got a taste of when The X Factor debuted in 2011. The pulsing beat and pop-strings-of-severe-importance kicks in immediately, forcing the audience to pay attention. Ani Lorak starts to sing in front of a screen, which is actually booths containing backup dancers. “Shady Lady” is Lip Sync for Your Life dragtastic, and we are only 20 seconds into the performance. There are wind machines, head bobs, backflips, pyrotechnics: basically, everything that makes a Eurovision performance stand out without being too “Eurovision.” On this past week’s episode of Depi Evratesil, Armenia’s 2017 Eurovision selection program, a contestant auditioned with “Shady Lady” and drew a hearty “YAAAAAAAS” from the folks watching at home.1
2008 was the first year Eurovision split into two semi-finals. Even though Ukraine was a runner-up in 2007, the country had to compete again to qualify for the Grand Final. “Shady Lady” easily won the semi-final, earning six 12s and points from all but two countries. Unfortunately, the rivalry with Russia did not work in Ukraine’s favor, as Dima Bilan’s “Believe” dominated the scoreboard throughout the results portion of the Grand Final. Ukraine scored only one 12 to Russia’s seven and finished only 12 points ahead of Greece to claim the runner-up slot.
Writers and producers do not always get the attention they deserve in Eurovision circles. Dimitris Kontopoulos, who co-produced this track, has an incredible Eurovision résumé.
In 2009, he co-wrote and produced Greece’s entry “This is Our Night,” which finished in seventh place. In 2013, he co-wrote Azerbaijan’s “Hold Me”2 and took second place again. The Tolmachevy Sisters took seventh place in 2014 with “Shine,” which Kontopoulos co-composed. Most recently, Kontopoulos co-composed “You Are the Only One,” which took third place in this year’s Contest. He was also involved with the 2007 entry from Belarus, which had its best finish in sixth place.
In other words, the people behind “Shady Lady” have been incredibly successful in the Contest. Although Ani Lorak did not win, I would argue that “Shady Lady” may be a perfect Eurovision entry.