Sergey Lazarev is back in Eurovision and hungry for more
It has been strange, not having Russia in the Eurovision Song Contest final for two years in a row. After loads of controversy, the country withdrew in 2017 when the contest took place in Ukraine and last year Julia Samoylova failed to qualify for the final. It was the first time in history the country crashed out in the semi finals. To make sure this ain’t going to happen again, Russia brought back Sergey Lazarev. He is one of the biggest pop stars of the country and represented them in 2016 with the song ‘You’re The Only One’. He won the televote, but juries placed him lower, causing him to finish in 3rd place overall. This year he is hoping to do even better!
Last time Lazarev performed a typical Eurovision pop banger with a visually spectacular show, but he chose a different approach this time around. His song ‘Scream’ is a dramatic power ballad with a lot of big notes (or ‘screams’ if you will). The song was written by Dimitris Kontopoulos, Phillip Kirkorov and Sharon Vaughn. Kontopoulos and Kirkorov co-wrote Lazarev’s 2016 entry too, while Kirkorov was also part the writing team for Ani Lorak’s ‘Shady Lady’ (2nd place for Ukraine in 2008) and last year’s Moldovan top 10 entry. Their Eurovision experience lead them to compose a song that is suitable for an over the top theatrical staging. ‘Scream’ is a dynamic song with climax after climax, but it almost seems like they forgot to write an actual hook to keep all the drama and big emotions together. In comparison to the Dutch entry ‘Arcade’ (which just pushed Russia to the second place with bookmakers at the time of writing), the emotions ‘Scream’ tries to make you feel are a lot less subtle and the tune itself is not as instantly catchy.
Having said that, we can no doubt count on Sergey and the Russian delegation to deliver a memorable staging and judging by the music video they already have some good ideas. Vocally, he usually delivers, but ‘Scream’ seems like a challenging song to perform live. If Russia wants to win this year, the vocals will have to be pitch perfect. Qualifying for the final will be a formality and reaching top 10 there too as this will probably do well with lots of juries as well as televoters especially in the eastern parts of Europe where Lazarev is already a star. Having said that, I do not hear a winning song in ‘Scream’ just yet.
Review on semi-final performance:
Sergey Lazarev is back with the big old ballad ‘Scream’ with massive notes, tons of drama and of course an expensive looking staging. It is all well executed and professional, but it somehow misses the mark on actually conveying true emotion. We see him performing into mirrors, behind a rainy window and with projections of himself. It all looks stylish and his vocals are mostly strong, but for me personally, there is something missing here. ‘Scream’ is a suspenseful composition and the Russian delegation came up with a beautiful staging, but somehow it does not move me. Of course Sergey did reach the final though and will probably compete for a spot in the top 5 there.
Review on final performance and result:
Russia was the first of the favourites to take the stage. Sergey Lazarev started out with some shaky vocals, but improved himself towards the end with big notes and spectacular visuals. It all looked slick and sounded bombastic, but I did not really feel the emotions the performance seemed to try to convey. Russia scored a decent 8th position with juries and reached the 4th spot with televoters, which delivered him the 3rd place overall, just like in 2016!
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