Eurovision 2016 – Russia

Sergey Lazarev was announced as Russia’s Eurovision participant at the the Russian National Music Awards way back in December 2015. He’d just been named Singer of the Year and is a well-known, popular artist in Russia.

On March 5, 2016, he dropped his Eurovision song You are the Only One. In one week, the video has racked up over 3 million views. That’s impressive. That’s a hit. That could be a winner. Let’s see what all the fuss is about.

Ah yeah! This is what I’ve been waiting for: a great, high-energy song. Something memorable that makes you want to move. Sergey Lazarev has a powerful voice and strong, sexy presence. I suspect some auto-tuning in the video, but since he won Singer of the Year, I’m going to believe he can deliver a great live performance. The video itself uses cool special effects, and is gimmicky and fun.

High-energy songs have been lacking at Eurovision the last few years. Last year, all the dramatic ballads bored me to tears and I wasn’t alone. Israel’s Nadav Guedj made the top ten simply because Golden Boy was energetic and fun. In a better year, it would’ve been in the teens at best.

Sergey Lazarev and You are the Only One are in it to win it. This could be Russia’s year. I’m giving this 10 points. They’ve set the bar high and now other participants are going to have to up their game. Hopefully, this makes for a more exciting competition.

On a side note, I’d like to voice my hope that politics can be kept out of this year’s competition. Last year, my favorite performance was A Million Voices by Russia’s Polina Gagarina. Though I favored Italy, I would have been happy if she had won. The geopolitical situation of her country set her up for failure. Let’s not let that happen again to any artist.

Kisses and best wishes to Sergey Lazarev and the Russian people!

You can read more about Sergey Lazarev here.

Eurovision 2016 will be held 10, 12 and 14 May in Stockholm, Sweden. You can watch the entire contest live on

Eurovision – Russia 2015

Okay, let’s address the elephant in the room. Actually, let’s give the elephant a name: Vladimir… no, let’s not. Elephants are too awesome to be named after a certain homophobic Russian president.

You know who else are awesome? The Russian artists who represent their country at the Eurovision Song Contest. Yet last year, the Tolmachevy Sisters were booed whenever they performed live and that was just plain wrong.  The Tolmachevy Sisters are not Putin and neither is Polina Gagarina. However you feel about the current geopolitical environment, please respect the artists and the people they represent.

Now that we’ve cleared the air, let’s get on to the fun stuff! Polina Gagarina was chosen by internal selection to fly the Russian flag in Vienna with her song A Million Voices.

Very nice. Very uplifting. Polina Gagarina is a beautiful young woman with a powerful voice and strong stage presence. I would like it more if it weren’t for one thing: it is so similar to Russia’s 2013 entry. Take a look and listen.

Of course it’s not the same song, but undeniably similar. It feels like they took the lyrics from 2013’s song, put them in a box, shook it and came out with this song. I really like Polina Gagarina as a performer. I wish they’d given her better material to work with.

Still, Russia does get a lot of votes no matter what they put up there. I’m sure A Million Voices will do well and even make it into the top ten. This makes me happy for Polina Gagarina, but sad for other artists with more original material.

Nonetheless, I wish her all the luck in the world. Best wishes from the USA!

You can find out more about Polina Gagarina here.

Eurovision – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

Checking out the Baltic states now. I don’t know much about these countries, aside from what I’ve read in the web comic, Scandinavia and the World and seen in the anime, Hetalia: Axis Powers.

Kidding! But not really… Typical American. Anyway, onto the songs.

Ott Lepland represents Estonia with the ballad, Kuula.

So nice. Lepland has a strong voice and sings with the power and emotion such a ballad demands. Again, I like it when the contestants sing in their own language. It gives the competition more of an international feel. I looked up “kuula” using Google Translate. It came up with “listen” in English. I do have to add a comment from adlitham on YouTube, which made me giggle. “love this song! even though i don’t understand a thing.. and in norwegian it sort of sounds like a declaration of love to Cola (as in Coca Cola), which makes me like it even more^^”

Anmary represents Latvia with the pop song, Beautiful Song.

I think I would have liked this better if it were in Latvian. The lyrics, about singing a beautiful song, fell flat with me. The tune is catchy and her voice is nice. Maybe I’ll like her live performance better than this contrived video setting. I was a bit disappointed that Mick Jagger didn’t show up.

Donny Montell represents Lithuania with the pop ballad, Love is Blind

Hated the blindfold. Hated it. But I loved his handstand. And the song seemed to pick up energy after that. He’s got a good voice and I can easily see this being remixed as a dance song. For the Eurovision performance, I really hope he forgets the blindfold and gives this song that handstand energy from beginning to end.

Of the Baltics, I’d say Estonia is my favorite. How about you? Any favorites so far?

These videos are from the list of Eurovison 2012 contestants on YouTube.

Eurovision – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

Now that I’m done with the Nordics, I’m focusing on the contestants from eastern Europe. I’m not real familiar with many of these countries, which makes me all the more interested to see what they have to offer by way of music.

I’ll start with a nation that I am more familiar with. After all, I read my fair share of Russian authors back in my school days. Most of that stuff (did I just call Tolstoy “stuff”?) was written in the 19th century. Let’s see what 21st century Russia has to offer.

Okay, so, 19th century it is. This could be considered a novelty act, but don’t underestimate these ladies. They have the highest number of views of all the videos on the Eurovision YouTube playlist. Over 1.5 million when last I checked. That being said, I think the song itself is fun and charming, but I don’t know that it holds it’s charm without the adorable live antics of the Babushki. If this came on the radio, I don’t think I’d keep listening. BTW, what is that thing rotating in the background?

Belarus’ Litesound offers up this rock anthem.

Good-looking guys. Good, standard rock song. It didn’t wow me. Maybe I need to see a less theatrical live or studio version. I was really not liking the whole motorcycle theme. The microphones were a WTF moment. I wish I could think of more to say, but it was so generic. Sorry, Belarus. Maybe your performance in the semi-finals will wow me more.

Representing Ukraine is the gorgeous Gaitana.

Love it. It’s a great dance song with great energy. Definitely want it on my iPod. My only criticism is that this is a music video and not a live performance. I’m not impressed the way I was with Loreen from Sweden. Maybe Gaitana’s live performance in the semi-finals will impress me more.

How about you? Any favorites so far?

These videos are from the list of Eurovison 2012 contestants on YouTube.