Russia is the biggest country in the contest, both in geographical size and in population, and in recent years has also been a performance giant, with a string of high placed finishes (not least their 2008 win). Last couple of years have seen a wobble, with a withdrawal and a non-qualification, but they are back with the biggest of big bangs with the return of 2016 contestant Sergey Lazarev? Will he triumph this time and give Russia their second win?
Certainly the selection of Sergey Lazarev is marking their intent. His dancefloor banger “You Are the Only One” won the televote and finished 3rd overall and I have no doubt at all that the Russian delegation will be throwing everything and the kitchen sink and more to get the win this year. The 2016 staging was memorable and clearly had a lot money and resource put into it and I’d expect no less this year.
The song itself, “Scream”, is a long way from that 2016 hit, and I think it’s been deliberately decided to move to more of a ballad type song, in order to showcase Sergey’s vocals and ensure this gets (even) more jury votes than his previous entry (which still came 5th in jury vote). It’s a sweeping orchestral ballad, and with his vocal and tone of voice, very much Russian. It feels like this would fit into a musical production.
My own views on this is that I enjoy the song, but more as of a musical number. The orchestral music/sound is something I like though the lyrics are somewhat twee. It’s clearly been written specifically for Eurovision, and with thoughts of that (inevitably expensive and eyecatching) staging in mind.
There is no doubt this will sail into the final. Last year Russia did not make much effort, but this year, I think they are looking for the win – and it’s not inconceivable that they could get it, though I think there are many more deserving songs and more innovative/interesting concepts. Top 5 at a minimum I should think – given Sergey’s huge fanbase across the Russian diaspora and Eastern European countries. What will determine whether this wins is how it chimes with juries, and if it can pick up enough televotes from the other parts of Europe.
Official music video:
Live in Bremen on Sergey Lazarev’s German tour:
My preview video:
Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest
First entered: 1994
Appearances (excluding this year): 21
Best result: Winner 2008
Last year’s result: 15th in semi-final (did not qualify)