Belarus, Bellarosa and Sean Banan (again): catching up on the 2013 season

Now that the JESC 2012 season is over, it’s time for another one to begin – namely, the 2013 Eurovision selection season. A lot of stuff has happened since the last time I referred to something Malmö-related and now, and I’m itching to talk about some of it. Not all of it…I mean, unless you’ve got all day. No? Well then.


Belarus ready for Eurofest 2012

Knowing they aren’t likely to win Eurovision next year, Belarus evidently decided they’d try and win the competition for First Confirmed Malmö Entry instead (to Switzerland’s annoyance). Either that or they’re just making sure there’s enough time to thoroughly investigate and then dethrone their initial winner for cheating. Whichever. The point is that their national final is tonight. Hashtag woohoo!

The field is 10-strong this year, and its fairly high standard puts other line-ups to shame (to Switzerland’s further annoyance). Here are my thoughts on the entries, in running order. Only one – or possibly two since this is Belarus – will be vying for the ESC trophy in May.   

1. I Wonder How You by Vitaly Voronko – The lyrics are silly, his voice and English pronunciations are strange and the song is seriously 90s…but I really (guiltily) like it. It’s just as summery and catchy as it is dated and off-the-wall. I know it has less chance of winning than Jessy Matador in a Dana International lookalike contest, but it’s already won a place on my iPod.

2. I Love Your Charming Eyes by Max Lorens – Aaaaaannd the award for Most Ridiculous Song Title of Eurofest 2012 goes to…this guy! If you love my charming eyes that’s great, but don’t write a song about it because that expression is used by absolutely no one and does not work lyrically. Also, Max sounds like he’s straining to get every word out, and I don’t think a burst blood vessel would be conducive to him winning. Having said all of the above, I do like this song.

3. Rhythm of Love by Alena Lanskaya – Say hello to the best song of the bunch, in my opinion (if you don’t want my opinion, I have no idea why you’re reading this blog). It’s a real shame Alena is still tainted by the whole winning-then-being-disqualified-due-to-rigging thing of last year, because this is a song that actually deserves to win. It’s a polished dance number with a whiff of Love Unlimited, and something unexpected from the woman who made me want to kill myself with her last entry.

4. Letter to Mother by Yan Jenchak – a typical Eastern European ballad very close to crossing the border into Blandsville USA. It’s not quite as depressing as Alena’s would-be-winner, but I’m in the mood for something livelier to go to Malmö, aren’t you?

5. Incredible Girl by Bever Band – I don’t know how I feel about these wacky, almost-novelty songs that crop up in every second national final. I do know that I prefer them when the singer has not been living on a diet of gravel and sandpaper for the last ten years, as Mr. Bever Band apparently has.

6. Catch Me Again by Daria – This is a sweet and sunny song with a retro vibe which for some reason reminds me of Satellite. It’s nice enough – certainly the happier, livelier sound I was looking for – but it doesn’t really impress me.

7. Secret by Uzari – This guy was responsible for one of my favourite songs in Eurofest last year, and again, I’m liking what he has to offer. This song is quite unusual, mystical even (it makes me think Lord of the Rings) and it seems to be better live than in studio, which would obviously be good for Eurovision purposes.

8. One Way Love by Alexey Gross – This song could easily have been ripped from Dima Bilan’s back catalogue, which is fine by me because I am a big Dima fan. The lyrics aren’t too clichéd (‘start’ isn’t rhymed with ‘heart’ in the chorus. Shocker!) and his English isn’t too accent-heavy. I would be happy if this won.

9. Save Me by Nuteki – As much as I liked Litesound, please can we not have another soft-rock entry from Belarus so soon? I’d call this one ‘inoffensive’ which is code for ‘yawn-worthy’. There’s nothing terrible about it, but nothing inspiring or original either.

10. Get Out of My Way by Satsura – I am so naming one of my kids Satsura. And if I don’t have any, I’m going to name someone else’s kid Satsura. That’s how much I love that name, but do I love the song? I think I could. It’s dance, but with toughness. Being the last song out and following on from r & b and rock may work for it.

My top five: I Wonder How You, Rhythm of Love, Secret, One Way Love and Get Out of My Way. There’s a 50% chance one of them will go to Sweden, and if that happens I will be a happy fan. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Alena. As far as I know she had nothing to do with the rigging of her song last year, and now that she’s come back with something better and different she deserves the chance to make it all the way to Eurovision.

So who will win? If Belarus want the best shot at success, they’ll go for Alena, Daria or Uzari. I suspect the victor will be Bever Band (unfortunately), Daria, or Nuteki. In just a few hours, we’ll know for sure.


Belgium backs Bellarosa

RBBFor the second year in a row, Belgium has been quick to internally select a seventeen-year-old brunette as their representative (which worked so well for them in 2011). This time, it’s The Voice Belgique himself, Roberto Bellarosa. Everything apart from Roberto being a dude is looking very similar to last year, which worries me because, despite the promising pick of Iris, we ended up with the dreariest national final ever which resulted in the dreariest entry of Baku 2012. But I for one am willing to give them the chance to redeem themselves. Roberto has a lot going for him – he can sing (duh), he’s young and relatively fresh, and he’s a good-looking guy (kind of like a preppy Eric Saade) which I have to acknowledge despite being too old to think so. I just hope he’s more Tom Dice than Iris.

If the three songs he’ll be performing at the December 16th final are modeled after any of Belgium’s JESC entries, or his debut single Je Crois, that will be great. But even if he comes out and coughs into a vocoder for three minutes he’ll probably do better than Iris when he gets to the big show. Power to him.


The Melodifestivalen line-up complete

Everyone’s favourite national final (fact) and the one that will choose the host entry – and therefore the entry that will receive the wildest round of applause – has published the names, song titles and composers taking part in 2013. As usual, there are more recognisable names than not, and I cannot wait for things to kick off in February. You’ve probably seen the list, but here are the names I’m most excited about.

Yohio – despite being a Swedish teenager, everyone thinks he’s an Asian pop starlet.

David Lindgren – returning with the promisingly named Skyline.

Sean Banan – I loved him last year, bananas/bums and all. He’ll bring some slightly offensive fun to the program.

Tone Damli – she lost to Alexander Rybak in Norway’s 09 NF and recently duetted with Eric Saade. She’s got a partner for this too, and I’m already seeing her in the final.

Martin Rolinski – the former lead singer of Melodifestivalen pros BWO. If we can’t have them, maybe we can have the second-best thing.

Amanda Fondell: all white with being in Melodifestivalen

Robin Stjernberg – Eric Saade’s former bandmate and runner-up of Swedish Idol in 2010.

Amanda Fondell (left) – and who beat Robin in Idol? Amanda. This girl has a really unique voice and her winner’s single All This Way (co-written by Darin, another runner-up, MF entrant and one of my favourite artists) is amazing.

Ulrik Munther – another returnee I loved last year. He came third and must be hoping to do better with a song co-composed by himself and Thomas G:son.

If you’re an MF fan, let me know who you’ll be rooting for come show time.


Malta’s list of choice

Shockingly, next year’s Maltese final will not include Fabrizio Faniello. He entered, of course, along with all the other singers on the island who enter every time, but was booted out at the last stage to make way for such repeat offenders as Danica Muscat, Richard Edwards, Racquela and Klinsmann. Those ladies and gents have all put forward good songs over the last few years, so I don’t mind the Fabrizio sacrifice too much.

The one name that I’m happiest to see made the cut is Kevin Borg, who participated in the 2006/07 finals before moving to Sweden and winning Swedish Idol in 2008. Malta is going to be an easier nut for him to crack than Sweden in terms of getting to the ESC, and I would love to see him there.


Cyprus is in, and they’ve got a name

Or have they? In the space of a few days, Cyprus went from possible withdrawal to confirmation, and an alleged internal selection was quick to follow. Giorgos Papadopoulos has been bandied about as their choice for 2013, but without an official statement, and most worryingly, without his name appearing on the ESC 2013 Wikipedia page, it’s far from carved in stone. As long as they’re going to be at the contest, I don’t mind who they send.


Who’s in and who’s out

So far, we have approximately 16 countries per semi final which is nothing to sneeze at. But with Portugal, Poland and Slovakia out and money troubles plaguing others (including Greece) this could be a more intimate Eurovision than SVT envisioned. I am surprised we’ve got as many as we do at this point, though, what with the scandalous running order situation. I’m guessing Greece will find a way to make it to Malmö (if they start now they could walk there instead of paying for flights) and with any luck we’ll have 40 confirmations in the near future.


I know all of the above is old news, but JESC month was a busy one and I just didn’t have time to discuss anything else (life can get so hectic sometimes). Thanks to Belarus, selection season is about to get underway, so it’s well and truly back to big Eurovision. At least for now, mwahahahahaha!


What’s been your favourite bit of 2013 news so far? Who do you think will win the Belarusian final tonight?


13 Responses to “Belarus, Bellarosa and Sean Banan (again): catching up on the 2013 season”

  1. Annika

    Hi again Jaz,
    I watched the Belarus nf and found it dreadful, the best part being Koldun’s performances. I didn’t like any of the participant songs so I didn’t really care about the results. I find the winner meh and the runner-up shouty and bad, so I guess I won’t be cheering for Belarus next year? Unless they send Alyona with a complete different song that I might like…we will see. It was still exciting to watch the first proper nf of the year.
    The Belgian guy’s style reminds me of Jonatan Cerrada’s. Looking forward to hear the songs.
    MF: It’s pretty much all about Martin Rolinski (I wanted BWO bwaaa 😥 ) and Ulrik Munther for me, but hopefully some of the other people who are still unknown to me will have songs that I’ll like.
    I have high hopes in Cyprus…so I hope it’s official that they are participating and sending Giorgos because I like his face..and the songs by him I found on youtube ofc. I also hope Greece participates, I know the situation is hard and I’d totally understand if they withdrew but that would be too sad. I’m already sad about Poland and Portugal for Slovakia, well, they said the same last year, didn’t they? Maybe they will decide that they are in after all? 😛


    • Jaz

      Alyona was my favourite so I’m happy, but I’m so glad someone else isn’t a Nuteki fan. I mean, their song is okay, but not as strong as ‘We Are The Heroes’ before it got mutated. And Belarus send too many boring-ish rock songs which never qualify.

      Giorgos and his promising face!! The only thing I know about him is that he has nice eyes 😉

      I really thought Poland would come back for 2013. I miss them already, again. Portugal was a surprise, but not that shocking. And yeah, Slovakia always mess around with confirmations and non-confirmations, so we shall see what they’re really doing about five minutes before the deadline.


  2. nprovenghi271

    Well, pending any shenanigans like last year’s, we have our first song of the year! And it was my second favorite! It’s already a better track record for my preferences than 2012. Congratulations Aloyna! May you hold your trophy for more than one week.

    P.S. – Forget her and send Nuteki!!! You’ll win!


    • Jaz

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Nuteki to win?? Are you crazy?!??!

      A-hem. Sorry about that. I just really don’t want Alyona to be replaced by them =( And I honestly don’t think they could do better than her. Maybe the same, but not better.


      • nprovenghi271

        It’s alright. However, Belgium just released their song titles. They’re…
        Be heroes (Litesound reject?)
        Reste-toi (Tooji goes French.)
        Love kills (yawn).

        Based on title, I’d go for the French one. Also, I really hope that Slovakia reconsiders.


      • nprovenghi271

        Sorry for the pithy response above. I was on my phone at school and had a limited amount of time. To answer your question, yes. I’m crazy like a fox. However, I must remind you that Aloyna was my second favorite and that I think that Belarus has a somewhat decent chance of qualifying with either song, sparing a terrible remix effort like last year. Does that make up for anything?
        Also, keeping action in the Baltic vicinity, what about Lithuania? What’s your favorite? Or should I just hold on the questions until the NF in 10 or 11 days?


        • Jaz

          On your phone, at school, doing Eurovision-related things?? I like your style.

          You don’t have to make up for anything! I just really don’t think Nuteki could win. I may actually cry if they end up replacing Alyona…but SURELY that wouldn’t happen again. I mean, it’s a been at least a year since Ukraine’s NF was mired with controversy, so it should be their turn again.

          I can’t say much (read: anything) about Lithuania because I haven’t listened to any of the songs. I like to leave some finals so I get totally surprised by the winner, and cover others. Plus, they’ve had so many heats I can’t keep up! But tell me – what’s the standard like there?? Is it promising? Should I be excited??


      • nprovenghi271

        Why thank you. 🙂

        Oh I can’t believe how I forgot! In odd years, it’s (normally) Ukraine’s turn to be crazy. Yes. Also, it’s been a week without any sort of additional announcement, so I think it’s safe to say that Alyona will be taking the stage in Malmö.

        However, there’s the sad news from Bosnia & Herzegovina and Turkey! What’s happening to Eurovision 2013? We’re probably not even going to make it past Oslo’s 39, by the looks of things. There are some rumours about another broadcaster taking up Bosnia’s case, which would be great but in Turkey, it’s absolutely crazy! I remember when we talked about that crazy guy who called for withdrawal and dismissed it immediately! Oh the Euro-world is crashing down and it would take a musical miracle to salvage the year! *and end scene.*

        That’s a good idea, but with my level of bandwidth consumption, I’m always reading Eurovision-related news, so it would be impractical. As for the standard of the Lithuanian competition, it’s pretty darn low. There are about four or five really acceptable songs and only one that has a feasible shot of doing somewhat well. However, the voting from last week put that song on top of both the televotes and the jury, so that’s promising. I’d say it would be a decent idea to plan on getting excited, if the song is your kind of thing. 🙂


        • Jaz

          Over a week now!! Alyona must be so relieved. I have to say, of all people I am finding it a bit suspicious that she topped the jury and public vote with that song. And her public vote margin was pretty big over Nuteki…hmm. But maybe that’s totally kosher compared to the level of dodginess last time??

          Kudos for your dramatic monologue re: The Withdrawals!! Ahhh, it sucks. I did NOT see B & H or Turkey coming. Apparently Turkey were in talks with someone in particular to represent them right up until they decided to pull out, which seems really strange to me. At what point before or during the negotiations did they think to themselves, ‘you know what?? We’re out’. Laaame. Fingers crossed super tightly that at least BH is saved by the alternate broadcaster. I can’t imagine a contest without the country that sent a bunch of my all-time favourite entries =(

          So, it’s a low standard in Lithuania. Dammit. Whatever that good song it, I hope it wins. Then again, I have warped taste sometimes, so I may hate that and love all the low-standard numbers…

          PS – What are you thinking of Belgium’s pick? It’s getting slammed at the moment, but personally I think it’s a big improvement on the Dullfest that was Iris’ song. Out of the modest radio NF context and into the arena (with all the trimmings) and maybe a slightly jazzed-up version, I think it will be decent, if not a final qualifier. And I can’t help but love Bellarosa. He’s so adorable. Unfortunately as a 21-year-old I have to say ‘adorable’.


      • nprovenghi271

        Well, I’m torn. Roberto seems like a competent singer and can hit all the notes and “Love Kills” sounds like a contemporary radio song. However, he REALLY needs to work on his accent! It’s totally distracting from the song, à la Joan Franka’s headdress last year. Also, they need to clean up that dubstep break before the key change, which they also should probably remove. With all that said, I think he will (somewhat sadly) do better than Iris, even if she had a more competent, albeit boring, performance and song. It’s about a 55/100 on my list and in a far second behind Switzerland (80/100


        • Jaz

          Yes (or should I say ‘oui’), the accent is vair distracting. It’s not as bad as the thick Eastern European accents we seem to get from Belarus every year, but it still needs to be worked on. Personally I’m excited to hear a studio version, and then to see a more polished, reworked performance either on an NF promotion or at Eurovision itself. I think people have been quick to hate on it, which is unfair. First impressions don’t always last…


      • nprovenghi271

        *Switzerland (~80/100) and just above Belarus (~45/100). With quite a bit of polishing, Belgium might make a Saturday appearance once more. Sorry for the double post.


      • nprovenghi271

        That’s sooo true. I know that, for me, the Dutch entry from 2011 (yes, the one that placed 43rd out of 43), totally grew on me after hearing in for the first time. It actually got all the way up to my number two, right behind Iceland. Anyway, back to Belgium. I can totally see this being a great song, so everyone’s presuppositions are premature (surprisingly), at least I think. And at least on the accent, it’s one of the things that enhances a Belorussian entry! It’s something to be expected. Hopefully, Roberto is able to improve. Or just translate the song into French. That would work as well.



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