When the exhaustive history of Eurovision is written, nobody is ever going to have an entry as intriguing as Julia Samoylova’s – and none of it is going to involve her songs.
Quick update on the story so far for anyone who’s just passing through. This was the woman due to represent Russia in Ukraine last year with a song about flames or other. It then transpired (whether engineered in advance by Russian telly or not, the story’s still unclear) that her live appearance in Crimea prior to arriving in Kyiv meant she was unable by law to enter Ukraine following Russia’s annexation of the area in 2014. That made Ukraine’s Eurovision organisers look cruel for denying a wheelchair user who just wanted to sing in a song contest the opportunity to perform – perhaps the biggest victory Russia could ever seek from the event. But let’s leave that sort of discussion to the political analysts.
Now Julia is being given her chance to do this thing properly as there are no issues surrounding her showing up in Portugal as far as we know.
Which means we can just look at her song as far as 2018 is concerned. That and nothing else.
And the sad fact is that when you remove the political sideshow, there isn’t a lot left to discuss.
I Won’t Break is about as interesting as a warmed over blini. Not only does it commit the lyrical crime of rhyming ‘ocean’ with ’emotion’, it’s also set to one of the most unmemorable tunes ever. The template for 21st Century teenies power ballads has been tweaked so often now it’s getting threadbare and this could be the tug that makes it unusable from 2019 onwards.
Bland and uninspiring, the very opposite of what it’s supposed to be, that’s not the biggest problem facing Team Moscow at the moment. It’s not that long since footage surfaced of Julia performing this live at a Russian preview party. To say her performance was painful to listen to is like saying the moon landings were mildly impressive. This was of sub-Jemini levels and yet another reason to fear that a representative more vulnerable than most is going to look exploited come the show night.
Of course, Julia’s mic can always be switched off allowing five backing singers to carry her through but then there’s the setting to take into consideration.
Russia’s first rehearsal in Lisbon is still a few days away but there is a rumour that her stage outfit will reflect the striking final image in the video where Julia is represented as a lush mountain, replete with foaming waterfalls.
If I was Miranda Hart, I’d be doing a side-eye to camera right now.
Surely they won’t do it. Surely they won’t think it’s a good idea to have Julia in a frock on stage which carries on that same theme. Perhaps I’m being over-sensitive but this whole exercise feels like an uncomfortable lesson in exploitation. Julia has finally got her chance to sing at Eurovision but it may end up being an experience she’s sorely glad to out behind her.