After the drama of Russia’s participation in last year’s contest, it was nice to see the country return drama free, or at least as drama free as Russia can be. We were meant to see Julia Samoylova take to the stage last year, but as we all know, Russia withdrew from the competition last minute. As promised however, Julia is returning this year with a fresh new song and a fresh new chance to represent Russia at Eurovision.
We never ended up reviewing Russia’s entry Flame is Burning, since it felt a bit futile, but now it’s a good reference point to which I can compare this year’s entry, titled I Won’t Break. Without going too much into what I thought of last year’s attempt from Julia, all I’ll say is that I Won’t Break is definitely a step up.
Despite that, both entries feel like middle of the road, uninspiring entries. I definitely find this entry more appealing, as it feels a bit more modern, and it feels like some effort has been put in, which last year’s entry lacked. Although this is a step up, this song is lacking some serious oomph, and its generic beat and melody isn’t encouraging to want to listen to it again or sing along.
I do think that Julia is a talented singer, and although probably enhanced at a production level, her English diction has certainly improved since we heard her entry last year. I mean, she has had over a year to prepare, so it’s reasonable to expect some improvement with the assumption she would sing in English – which is also a bit of a shame, as this could have been a good opportunity for Russia to bring back a bit of national language, as that perhaps could have better played to her strengths.
I think it will be interesting to see how this is staged, since the music feature features a lot of natural imagery, even including some strange overlays of Julia on mountains. I could see her being on a platform with smoke billowing beneath her, as it links in with the images created in the music video. Russia always has something up their sleeve in terms of the staging, so it’s safe to expect the unexpected.
All aboard… the second time lucky train!
If we had to pick an entry that Julia would have been better off to send to Eurovision, I Won’t Break is definitely the one, but I just want something more from Russia. They’re a powerful qualifier, and a safe qualifier, but for us they’re just that. Safe. Nothing in their recent history has been a risk, they’ve all been calculated pop entries, so after a while that just gets a bit old.
Saying that, I think this is a safe qualifier from semi-final 2 this year, but I don’t know if I see this breaking into the Top 10 come final.
Our rating: 5/10
If you support Russia at Eurovision, make sure to vote for Julia in our poll! Watch her official video below, and follow our Eurovision 2018 playlist on Spotify.