As this will be my first time reviewing a national final, I was originally nervous on which country will be assigned to me. I wanted to have an uncomplicated, straightforward national final that I can easily write something about. Then, I got the Eurofest--the contest that will decide for Belarus. Hmmm, I thought that it was a nice choice for me as Belarus does not usually stir the pot in terms of Eurovision drama. Boy, I was in it for the ride. Controversies and news happened weeks leading up to the final night. There was a contestant who withdrew, lyrics had to be changed in order not to violate the rules, a song previously performed in a different language, and a startling live auditions that was streamed online. Alas, I had to remind myself to only focus on the national final.
Eurofest 2018 took place on Friday, the 16th of February with 10 competing songs vying to represent Belarus in Lisbon. The show was hosted by Teo (who sang Cheesecake) and Olga Ryzhikova. Last year's winning duo, Naviband, served as performers while the scores of the jury and the public votes were being tallied and validated. There were also other singers who performed throughout the competition, who dragged the show longer than it should have been. Anyway, here are my thoughts of the songs:
Song 1: Ty i ya by Adagio
A pop-opera song performed by the country's version of Il Volo. I was not sure if this was the right song to start the competition. Maybe it was set the tone how the night will be--long and dragging.
Total jury and public votes and position: 4 points, 10th place
Song 2: Forever by Alekseev
I do understand why he was the favorite to win: clean vocal performance and on-point staging using lights. But all I can say is that I have seen a performance like this before(i.e., Måns and Sergay). I do want that outfit though.
Total jury and public votes and position: 24 points, 1st place
Song 3: Khmarki by Shuma
Ethnic meets electric, with a DJ too. One might argue that they have the ingredients of a perfect Eurovision song (cue Love Love Peace Peace by Måns and Petra) but this won't go beyond Minsk's dance clubs. I was not even sure if the audience were having fun or making fun of Shuma.
Total jury and public votes and position: 14 points, 3rd place
Song 4: Chasing Rushes by Napoli
I actually had to watch this act twice because I was so blinded by the singer's shiny outfit when I first saw this. Moving past the faux leather, the lyrics pulled some heartstrings. It is a feel-good, awakening song for those people who are tired of ‘chasing rushes’ (whatever that means). The song gave Napoli a chance to show her vocal power.
Total jury and public votes and position: 13 points, 5th place
Song 5: World on Fire by Anastasia Malashkevich
It seems that this is the type of song that will be given to the once-famous singer in an attempt to make her still relevant. I think this was the case. There was nothing special with this performance and the song is forgettable.
Total jury and public votes and position: 12 points, 6th place
Song 6: I Won't Cry by Gunesh
For awhile, I thought I was watching a Scandinavian show. Schlager anyone? Her performance was so emphatic that I wanted to give her a hug after she finished her song. You go girl, you can surpass this pain!
Total jury and public votes and position: 16 points, 2nd place
Song 7: Subway Lines by Radiovolna
The beginning pose, all-white outfit, fedora hat, and an all-male band—you’ll probably discount this song and move on to the next. But that sultry voice (and smile) will make you want to hear more (I might have even said ‘I do’ at one part of the song). This won’t go far in the Eurovision arena, but I will choose this lead singer over Alekseev.
Total jury and public votes and position: 12 points, 7th place
Song 8: I Don’t Care by Alen Hit
This is an upbeat, hip song that has the potential to be a favorite in the clubs and parties. Besides, Alan can appeal to the young adults. But as Alen told me to say this, “I don’t care.”
Total jury and public votes and position: 6 points, 9th place
Song 9: Ain’t You by Lexy Weaver
This did not work for me. I waited and waited for the “aha!” moment, but it never arrived. I really wanted this song (and the show) to end real quick.
Total jury and public votes and position: 7 points, 8th place
Song 10: Déjà vu by Kirill Hood
Definitely a good song choice to wake everybody up. I guess the audience might have been falling asleep after that ninth song and, to be honest, the contest itself was unnecessarily stretched out by this time. But in all fairness, I will save this song in my playlist and listen to it over again. I won’t mind if this song ended up winning.
Total jury and public votes and position: 13 points, 4th place
In the end, the forecasted winner, Alekseev, ended up being the juries’ and the audiences’ top choice. I do wish Belarus and Alekseev all the best and I hope that this song will do well come May.