It would be fair to label Russia as a strong competitor at Eurovision. With a handful of Top 3 finishes, including a win, they have become a dominant figure at the contest, and ultimately, the one to watch year after year. Last year, however, was the first time that the nation had failed to qualify from the semi-final, so this year Russia are ready for revenge, and who better than previous participant and third place-getter Sergey Lazarev to bring Russia back to the final. This year he will be singing the song Scream, but will it fare better than his previous attempt?
Song + Vocals
It wasn’t until months after the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest that I finally started to enjoy Sergey’s entry, You Are The Only One, and I think that this year’s entry will also be a slow burn for me. It’s certainly different from his previous attempt, with Scream being a cinematic ballad that is certainly bound to feature fantastic live vocals.
In terms of ballads at Eurovision, I would say I prefer the simpler ones, this year’s prime example being North Macedonia. Scream is far from that. Scream is the type of song you’d hear on a movie soundtrack – it’s dramatic, intense and atmospheric. Although it didn’t grab my attention upon first listen, now listening to the song, I can appreciate the musicality of the song. I enjoy how the music and melody build over the three minutes, and in terms of creating a dramatic ending, this ticks that box confidently.
The highlights of the song for me are where the verse builds into the chorus, and although the chorus is lyrically simple, it’s the vocals that are the highlight. The other ‘earworm’ moment of this song is the bridge. It really creates so much drama, and the way that the song foreshadows the bridge through the music after the choruses is well considered as that melody becomes familiar to the listener.
What I’m not a big fan of is the lyrics, and I would say that this is the element that gives this song a bit of a pretentious feel. It all feels a bit cliché, and I suppose that is in line with the movie soundtrack vibe Russia have going on. Realistically it’s not a song that people will jump around to or sing along to, but I suspect the stage show will be the memorable part of this performance.
Act + Performance
We have Eurovision precedent to know that Sergey Lazarev will nail this live performance, and we also have Eurovision precedent to know that Russia won’t be settling for a simple staging for this song. That would be the shock of the year if they chose to feature Sergey on stage alone to just sing this song. This isn’t the song to skimp on props, smoke, backing imagery, wind machines (?!) – Everything you can think of would add to this song. More is more.
I don’t necessarily think the song is all that memorable without any imagery, but in the context of a live performance, this will be an entire package that people will remember, not just for the song. The visuals will certainly elevate this song to the point where being high in the odds is justified.
I can see why this is so high in the odds, and although I can’t yet see it winning, seeing the stage show will help make the call as to whether it has real chance of taking that top spot. The song has grown on me, but still remains middle of the pack when I consider the ballads of this year. That said, this will be a certain qualifier.