Saturday, March 05, 2011

Wanna make you scream my name

Well, at least Rachel should be happy...

It's felt inevitable that we'd see Alexey Vorobyov at Eurovision one day since he popped up in the 2008 Russian national final. That was the year Dima Bilan won (and would go on to win Eurovision) and the year Sergey Lazarev took fourth, but Alexey still managed to be a standout in a long, messy final.

Even if he'd won, he would never have stood a chance at making it to Eurovision. You actually had to wonder if the people behind him--or the panel in charge of approving the Russian songs--knew anything about the contest other than its name; Eurovision songs must be wholly original and though there are often accusations by fans that particular elements of a song have been borrowed from another, there was no disputing the fact that Alexey's song sampled another: the famous Russian folk song "Kalinka." Why was it indisputable? Well, Alexey's entry was actually called "New Russian Kalinka." Alexey had basically taken the melody of that song and worked it into an R&B-pop song of the "clearly influenced by 2006 Timbaland" sound his competitor Dima was in love with.

Still, even as international fans watched the webstream agog at the fact that "New Russian Kalinka" had somehow made it into the contest, Alexey's performance hinted at star potential. Partly it was the fact that he was a cute young guy; there are, apparently, few things Eurovision fans like more. In addition, though, he managed to hold together the whole patently ridiculous performance, turning what could have been a car crash into a fun three minutes and one of the few moments of the night worth remembering later. He wasn't, metaphorically speaking, a star yet, but it seemed a certainty that that night would set him on the road to becoming a star.

Now comes the news that Alexey will be representing Russia at Eurovision 2011 with a song penned by RedOne. I should be enthusiastic about this. I liked Alexey that night and, though I can't say I've kept close tabs on his career, in the time since he's made indications of growing into the popstar everyone expected (even covering a song from Darin's Break The News at one point). I hope that, when I hear "Get You," I'll finally feel that enthusiasm.

Somehow, though, I'm left feeling...underwhelmed. Maybe it has something to do with the way this whole thing feels like the inevitable fulfillment of what began that night in 2008. There's just something so...expected about it. Russia is clearly seeking to repeat the Dima Bilan 2008 template here: young, cute (to some) guy singing a song by one of the world's top songwriters/producers. There's absolutely no logical reason to hold "inevitability" against Alexey, though--if he stood out in his introduction because he was good, shouldn't I be happy to see a good performer get his due?

I should. I hope I will be. Give me a few days.

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