First of all, I’d like to say thanks to Ben and Mike for inviting me to assist on this year’s Eurovision Song Contest coverage. My colleagues and friends are sick of hearing me talk about the ESC; I’m not sure if this will make things better or worse on that front, but it’ll sure be fun for me.
Next up in the list of way-too-early Eurovision selections1 is Belarus. Their pick for 2015 is “Time” by Uzari & Maimuna. Let’s have a listen:
At first glance, “Time” is an improvement over Belarus’ 2014 entry, “Cheesecake,” by TEO.2 It’s not completely smarmy, and is fast enough to be danceable. But this selection has lots of room for improvement.
For one thing, there is literally nothing happening onstage, other than the violinist trying to look moody while also smiling and shaking her ass. She does accomplish all three of those things, but their effect is, well, more humorous than is probably intended.3 The staging as presented in the national final is too static, but uses only four people: Uzari, Maimuna, and two backup singers hidden in shadow. Maybe they could use the two remaining onstage slots for, I dunno, a man and woman strapped onto opposite sides of a giant clock mounted in a ring of fire, using only their abs to rotate and spin the contraption throughout the performance? Or they could at least do something more fun with the CGI; Israel in 2012 used some Dali-esque clocks for their entry, also called “Time.”
A bigger issue is this song’s lyrics. It’s not a case of the usual awkward-but-somehow-charming English lyrics we usually see. This song just makes no sense. The singer knows that “time is on [his] side,” and then adds that “time is like thunder / ah-ah / hear it like thunder / ah-ah.” Is he a Belorussian version of Storm?4 I honestly don’t get what this song is about. It just seems like a bunch of phrases thrown together to fit the beat, and if that’s going to be the MO, there are a number of more interesting words that could rhyme with “thunder” — under, plunder, blunder, asunder, wonder, etc.
We also have a potential distraction in the works: there has been some drama from none other than Alexander Rybak, the Belorussian native who won the Eurovision title for Norway in 2009. Given the corruption that Belarus has seen in its selection process the past couple of years, he may have a point.
In general, “Time” has good bones. The singer is reasonably talented, charming, and has nice dimples, even if he doesn’t seem to be much of a dancer. The melody is catchy enough that I can see it becoming an earworm for me over the next couple of weeks. Having a violinist onstage has been successful in the past, but they need to find a way to integrate her into the action. Belarus has shown a willingness to make changes, so I will be interested to see how this entry shapes up between now and May.