Blimey, there’s lots of countries beginning with A getting involved this year. Anyway, on to the B’s. Which involves a singer beginning with A. It’s not ABBA, is it?
Alas, no. As we stand calmly at the crossroads with no desire to run, we can reveal that it’s Alekseev who will be showing the continent what his voicebox has got on behalf of Belarus this year.
And by jimmy, they’ve got themselves something interesting this year.
At time of writing, Forever has been revamped more times than Michael Jackson’s nose. Thankfully, with each coating of the mixing desk equivalent of Turtle Wax, it has yet to lose the melancholic lustre that gives this one an indefinable something setting it apart from a lot of the 2018 field.
Like a hipster swan, Alekseev seems lost in a lackadaisical approach to presenting his song. Oh… must you point that camera at him? He’s far too busy doing performance art with a fountain pen, wandering about with his morning mug of Mellow Birds, not buttoning his shirt properly and making sure you spot his vinyl collection and fags to do any actual singing.
Of course, we all know that’s a cunning ruse. This is a careful, military precision level of plotting which adds to his appeal. After all, who else empties a jug of water over their head before doing press-ups in a raglan tee?
It’s this level of posturing which may just help Alekseev in Lisbon. The song has enough melodic identity to keep you interested, including the surprisingly catchy minimalist chorus. In that respect, it’s the best song of its kind Belarus has sent to Eurovision since the bombastic Work Your Magic in 2007. But 11 years is an aeon in pop so to make this work for 2018, the presentation will have to be everything Work Your Magic wasn’t.
A tousled grumble-bum won’t be too chuffed about conjuring tricks and pyros punctuating every progressive chord sequence (not that it’s his call to make). But the approach Bulgaria took with Kristian Kostov’s staging last year (it didn’t look like lots was going on – but it really, really was – it’s that swan again) could pay dividends here.
When Salvador Sobral accepted the winners’ trophy last year he made a now infamous speech about fast food music. Through conscious effort or sheer coincidence, very little of those cheap earworms have filtered through the national selection process this year. Instead we’re getting a lot of quality pop instead. Like this little nugget from Alekseev. Hopefully he’ll be a bit more smiley at the welcome party.