Song Reviews – Russia and Turkey

Posted: 17/4/2006 in:

RUSSIA
Song: Never Let You Go
Artist: Dima Bilan
Up until now, Russia were one of only a small number of countries who had yet to encounter the semi-final, having had a decent run of results in recent years (the best being with Tatu’s much-hyped but ultimately disappointing performance in 2003). Last year, however, their luck ran out and as such they’re facing the semis for the first time. But what have they come up with this year? Well, as far as Team Eurovision is concerned Russia is one of the most consistently interesting new countries in Eurovision (they’re usually worth watching even when they miss the mark), and it’s surely only a matter of time before they score a victory – so naturally we had very high hopes for this year’s effort. And we haven’t been disappointed. With all the wackiness that seems to be punctuating this year’s contest – whether it’s Finland’s metal mayhem, Lithuania’s self-promotional nonsense or Iceland’s satirically inspired effort – it’s all too easy to overlook some of the more straightforward entries. And as such, we had to listen to Dima Bilan’s mid-paced rock ballad several times before we realised just how good it is. OK, so perhaps it’s not the most exciting song in a contest which is certainly full of excitement – but this is a slick, very contemporary tune with a memorable chorus, and there’s something very appealing about Dima too (although that mullet haircut has got to go). We’re still not convinced by the video, which features a veritable chorus of tutu-ed ballet dancers and some rather over-enthusiastic dancing which seems a tad out of place given the leisurely pace of the song – but we have no doubts that this will sound very effective on the Eurovision stage and should score a lot of votes. Barring any last-minute upsets (a terrible performance on the night, for example, and we’re sure that won’t happen), expect this one to breeze through to the final.
For It: A decent song which wouldn’t sound out of place in the charts, this is one of those entries which has universal appeal.
Against It: In theory, its place slap bang in the middle of the running order should help its chances, but the fact it’s right in the middle of a string of good, potential qualifiers (Macedonia and Poland on one side, Ukraine and Finland on the other), might mean it gets a bit lost in the pack.

TURKEY
Song: Superstar
Artist: Sibil Tuzun
Oh dear. Turkey are another country making their debut in the semi-finals this year after a run of great results (Sertab’s winner in 2003, Athena’s bouncy ska tune in 2004), and given how much fun they’ve been to watch in recent years we naturally had high expectations for this year’s effort. Unlike the Russians, however, the Turks have left us a tad underwhelmed on this occasion. They’ve certainly spared no expense in bringing us their entry – at least if the video is anything to go by – but beneath the glitz and visual flashiness that’s on offer here the song itself is very little to write home about. We wanted to like this, we really did, but after repeated listens we just can’t get excited about it. For Superstar is little more than a mish-mash of styles – a dose of Jamiroquai here, a dollop of Madonna’s Vogue there, all mixed up with a bit of ethnic drumming – which when thrown together just don’t work. Sibil Tuzun does her best to give the whole thing a bit of spark – complete with sexy spoken bits and lots of posing and posturing in the video – but the whole thing ultimately feels like a triumph of style over real substance. As you might imagine – for this is a country who’ve done consistently well in Eurovision in recent years – Superstar is being heavily tipped for a place in the final, but we’re going to stick our collective necks out here and say that of all the favourites to make the final this is the one that’s most likely to miss out. Given just how much of an effort Turkey have made to deliver consistently decent tunes in recent years, this has to rank as one of 2006’s biggest disappointments.
For It: It’s commercial enough, and a decent visually flashy performance may help its cause. Plus let’s not forget the large Turkish population living in Europe who’ll be able to vote for it.
Against It: There’s no disguising the fact that the song just isn’t that good, and as with Russia, it’s right in the middle of a run of strong potential finalists. Bearing all that in mind, it’s going to have to rely on a great performance even more so than some of its rivals.

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