Belarus have had a mixed history at the contest, however are still yet to crack into the Top 5 since their debut in 2004. They have come close with Dmitry Koldun back in 2007, although no act since then has really captured Europe’s imagination and more importantly Europe’s votes.
This year a national selection was held to decide which act and song would be representing Belarus, and interestingly even though the selection was televised, it was up to the jury to decide on the next Belarusian representative. The juries landed on Zena, a young performer who we have seen in the Eurovision family before, however previously as a host of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2018 when it was held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. The song that Zena will be singing is called Like it, but will this be the song Europe likes enough to call a winner?
Song + Vocals
I remember tuning into the Belarusian audition stage, where countless acts performed the entries they were hoping to take to Eurovision, and I just happened to tune in as Zena began to perform. From that moment, I knew this would be the song that represents Belarus at Eurovision.
This song is youthful, modern and incredibly catchy. The intro successfully grabbed my attention on first listen, and that then leads into a nice melody with strong potential. It leaves you wondering where the song will go, and I think the use of a pre-chorus in this song helps build the song even more. Yes, the chorus is repetitive, but realistically this is the part of the song that will be stuck in your head, and the part you will be singing long after the song is over.
As much as I do love the song as it is, some minor production or instrumental changes could be made to lift the song to intensify the atmosphere. Having said that, at the time of writing this, it’s unsure whether the final version has been released or whether it was being worked on post-national selection. Time will tell.
In terms of Zena’s vocals, I don’t think it’s possible to deny that she has a lot of talent. She is a young performer but gives a confident vocal performance which is one of the things that helped form my strong support even from the audition stage of the national selection. With strong backing singers, I have no worries about how this will vocally sound come Tel Aviv.
Act + Performance
Absolutely one of the draw cards for Belarus this year is that Zena is an incredibly confident performer and really knows her way around a stage. You can tell a lot of rehearsal time has gone into her performance, yet it still seems quite effortless. Even from the audition stage, she has this swagger that is unmatched by anyone in this Eurovision field. I think this also comes down to her age and that she is performing a youthful, upbeat entry.
Ultimately this song lends itself to huge potential in the choreography department. Staging will be key, and as much as the staging in the national selection got her the win, I think they need to come up with something that reflects the youthfulness but also something modern that omits cheap gimmicks. Belarus definitely went down the gimmick path in 2018, and I’d like to see that not repeated this year, but instead something that matches the sheer quality of Belarus’ Junior Eurovision staging from 2018 which is perhaps some of the best the contest has ever seen.
I think this song has huge potential, and admittedly I think this has all the elements of a winning song, provided we don’t get another Alekseev staging moment. Seeing that this isn’t too high in the odds, and knowing that it hasn’t been the biggest hit among fans definitely confuses me, since this is such a catchy, upbeat and modern track – especially for Belarus who have sent some interesting numbers over the years.
Do I see this in the Final? Yes, I do, partially as I see the semi-finals as still quite open, but also because of merit. I think come Eurovision time this will get increased attention, at least increased to what it is having now, and I truly hope this can bring Belarus a record result.