2016 Review: Russia

Rossiya One’s not changing their plans of sending their country’s well-known artists to the competition. This year they internally selected Sergey Lazarev with “You are the Only One.” And while it shares a title with Croatia’s 2004 entry, that’s the only similarity between the two songs.

For starters, it’s not an “ironic peace ballad” or detergent commercial like in 2013 and 2015. I wonder if the selection had anything to do with the artist booing/canned applause in the two years prior due to Crimea and LGBT+ issues. And while Sergey Lazarev can pull off a ballad, another neutral peace/love song wasn’t going to cut it if similar issues were to happen. Rossiya One probably needed to send a new positive stereotype to the competition, so they picked someone who was more widely accepted in Western Europe. With a good enough song and a well-known, popular, artist across all of Europe who can pull off live performances, hopefully Russia would deal with less booing during the voting process.

I’m a little curious to what the composers were listening to and watching prior to writing “You are the Only One.” Maybe they were watching Pirates of the Caribbean, since that ended up in the baseline. Maybe they were also listening to the Herreys’ winning entry in 1984, since “Lightning and thunder, magic and wonder” got changed around to “Thunder and lightning, it’s getting exciting.”

Considering that the song has been #1 in the betting odds to win for weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised at all for the song to qualify and hit at least top 5. But wherever he places, I hope there won’t be any incident similar to last year, where the hosts had to tell off the audience to stop booing, and that for just 4 hours, 200 million people can put politics aside, enjoy the music, and have some fun.

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