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  • Fleur Menezes

Belarus' Five Most Iconic Entries for Independence Day

добры дзень or Dobry dzień!!! Today it is Independence Day for Belarus, the day which Belarussians celebrate the liberation of Belarus from the Wehrmacht during the Minsk Offensive in 1944. The date itself is controversial as many political observers believe other days in the year would be more suitable to celebrate their Independence Day instead. Ahh!!! What is Eurovision without political issues, hey? Regardless, it is the time to celebrate with fireworks, concerts and parades.

Relative newcomers to the contest- Belarus have being mesmerising us with their unique brand of entertainment since 2004. Their must-watch auditions are every bona fide Eurovision fan’s dream but unfortunately their results in the contest are more miss than hit as they have only qualified for the finals 6 times in 16 attempts.

Hopefully one day they will be our heroes, we will like it and head to Minsk in the not too distant future. Meanwhile keep chowing down your sweet cheesecake as we present our Five Most Iconic Entries for Belarus:

1. Anastasia Vinnikova- I Love Belarus (2011- 14th SF)

Well it is Belarus Independence Day so naturally an ethno-banger about Belarussian pride is going to be included here. Also since this is a nationalistic song and it is Eurovision, unsurprisingly controversy was involved. In this case Anastasia Vinnikova was to have entered the competition with a song called “Born in Belorussia” but it had been performed publically before September 01 2010 so it was withdrawn and the similar sounding “I love Belarus” was written.

Anastasia has continued with her recording career and has released numerous singles since.


2. Ivan- Help You Fly (2016- 12th SF)

Best known to ESC fans as the “Naked Wolf Guy”. There was not a chance that we could ignore this one. For some reason, Alexander Ivanov who also co-wrote this song wanted to perform his entry naked with the company of two wolves. The ESC has a “no live animals” policy, so a LED screen was well put to use here. I do wonder what he would have done if he performed in Lisbon but also thankful that he did not take a leaf out of Francesco Gabbani’s manual and perform with two people in wolf costumes.

Ivan may have finished in 12th place out of 18 contestants but he will always be remembered for initial storyboard concept.

3. Petr Elfimov- Eyes That Never Lie (2009- 13th SF)

Petr Elfimov was expected to qualify for the final with his unforgettable performance of this Eurovision rock driven classic but alas it was not to be, finishing in 13th place out of 18 entries. Elfimov continues to work in the Belarussian music scene as a composer, arranger and music teacher. He tours Belarus regularly but has not released any new material since his Eurovision single. He updates his Instagram and YouTube channels regularly which have loyal followings.

4. Naviband- Historyja majho žyccia English translation- Story of My Life (2017- 17th)

Out of the 16 times Belarus has competed in the ESC, they have only sent one song in their National language- and this is it, a lovely catchy folk inspired song about finding yourself, appreciating what you have and looking towards the future. The song qualified 9th from their semi but gained a few more fans to finish 17th in the final.

Indie-folk act Naviband started off as a duo with Arciom Lukjanienka and Ksienija Žuk in 2013 but now includes three other band members. The band has released four albums and has won several awards. English singer and actress Joss Stone has also performed with them.

Lukjanienka and Žuk were married in September 2014 and have a son- Matsei, who was born in May 2018.

5. Dmitry Koldun- Work Your Magic (2007- 6th)

Legend has it that Dmitry Koldun’s mother wished for a baby girl that looked like Princess Diana and instead was blessed with a son that resembled the late princess. Young Dmitry had aspired to become a doctor but then changed his focus to chemistry in medical school. Music must have also been a passion of his and he became the runner up in Belarus’ 2006 National final.

Koldun must have worked his magic in 2007 as he won the Belarussian contest despite coming last with the jury but winning the televote. “Work your magic” is Belarus’ most successful Eurovision song to date as it is the only time they have finished in the Top 10.

He has recorded four albums although the most recent one was released in 2014. Koldun has also dabbled in musical theatre.

So there we have it as we await their 2020 audition season. I know I am hoping for the return of the Potato Monks, are you? Дзякуй (Dziakuj)!!!