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Russia: Yuliya Samoylova – Flame Is Burning

Russia are turning up... for now. X Factor runner up, Yuliya Samoylova, will perform Flame Is Burning in Kyiv and will need to escape semi-final 2. Firstly, I think it's rather crass of Russia to exploit a disability to seemingly dispel any criticism of the nation during the Eurovision period. This sort of milking of the sympathy vote not only lowers the prestige of the Contest, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of organisers and fans knowing it's a political facade. Moreover, the folly of yet another peace ballad being sent by a nation with such a heinous regard for ethics, fair play,…
Song Appeal
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Likely Jury Appeal
Cohesiveness of Package


As it's Russia, there will still be a solid tranche of support from the former USSR nations which should see them through to the final.

User Rating: 1.48 ( 50 votes)

Russia are turning up… for now.

X Factor runner up, Yuliya Samoylova, will perform Flame Is Burning in Kyiv and will need to escape semi-final 2.

Firstly, I think it’s rather crass of Russia to exploit a disability to seemingly dispel any criticism of the nation during the Eurovision period. This sort of milking of the sympathy vote not only lowers the prestige of the Contest, it leaves a nasty taste in the mouths of organisers and fans knowing it’s a political facade. Moreover, the folly of yet another peace ballad being sent by a nation with such a heinous regard for ethics, fair play, freedom, human rights and free speech is both duplicitous and down right offensive to the ideals of the Contest.

I’ve always made a point of highlighting my loathing of politics getting in the way of what should be a musical Contest, however, when it comes to Russia, I feel the EBU should act. Whether it’s the olympics or international politics, allowing this nation to turn up and potentially win the right to host is terrifying, while outwardly giving them carte blanche to continue mocking the ethics the rest of us hold so dear.

As it’s Russia, there will still be a solid tranche of support from the former USSR nations which should see them through to the final. But if one accepts Eurovision is a level playing field and judges this song on vocals and musical relevance, then should they make the final? I would like to think not, but we all know there’s virtually zero chance of that happening. Therefore, a Poland 2015 result of 8th in the semi-final might be likely, but with a reasonable chance of 9th-16th once in the Grand Final.

Now while I’m sure Yuliya is a pleasant girl, her vocal capabilities are somewhat hampered by her disability. One has to be honest in that appraisal. Should the juries allow for that? They didn’t in 2015 when Monika Kuszyńska was last-but-one with the juries, or indeed in 2014 when Finland finished last in their semi-final. Therefore Russia really are left with their regional base vote. In 2011, that base vote led to Alexey Vorobyov being ranked last with the juries and 7th on the televote, resulting in Russia’s worse placing since 1995 when Philipp Kirkorov finished 17th. An optimistic assessment would see Russia finishing somewhere around Peter Nalitch and Friends’ 11th.

Is Russia’s recent run of form up in flames?

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  1. One reason this has been sent.To see if anyone dare boo and hiss.If they do then Russia will be able to say ESC is a complete joke and leave,probably mid contest.With now Ukraine and Russia out of the points,where are all those eastern votes going?

    • ‘One reason this has been sent.To see if anyone dare boo and hiss’

      Or maybe they are just ‘celebrating diversity’!!!

  2. Belarus. That will be the difference my gut tells me if Russia make it to Saturday. Those 20+ points and whatever the Ukraine televote gives are absolutely vital because I don’t know where any other big points will come. I actually think they’ll get a later draw just to ensure they can’t cry foul but it might not be enough. The song is absolutely terrible and doesn’t deserve to qualify and I think it will come close 8th- 12th, Borderline.

  3. It’s cheating.

  4. Wow. What is in the waters this year? This is bad. I mean really bad. The kind of entry that gives Eurovision a bad name. If Belgium italy and sweden are cool and contemporary. This is bland generic and out of tune aswell as two decades out of date. Awful.

  5. Catriona colville

    As a wheelchair user I feel disgusted by this emotional manipulation. It won’t work, but the fact they are even trying it is bad enough.

  6. I hoep to god Russia withdraw, I can see right through this and I hope the public can also.

  7. I’m almost lost for words! How cynical can you get? If Yuliya gets booed I can almost imagine the tanks rolling into Kiev the following day. We’ll maybe not quite – but I can imagine the orchestrated political and media ‘outrage’ that will follow.

    If Russia had played Eurovision with a straight bat this year and the song got treated unfairly by the host broadcaster or Ukrainian public, then they would have lost in the contest but retained the moral high ground. As it is they have sunk equally as low they imagine the host nation will.

    I only hope for Yuliya’s sake she doesn’t end up having to be carried on to the stage off-camera as happened to Monika in 2015 – that was an absolute disgrace.

    Now to an assessment of the song. It’s dated – very dated in fact (it wouldn’t have been out of place in the 60s and 70s). It’s also sickly sweet. That said it’s not an awful song. It does have quite a strong and easy to remember chorus. And Yuliya sings it reasonably well.

    I can’t see juries rewarding this at all, but I can imagine it will attract more than enough televotes from Russia’s massive diaspora to see it safely into the final and to finish up at least mid table. So maybe we shouldn’t trouble ourselves too much with speculating where the televotes normally intended for Russia will go instead.

  8. Oh dear…not good for either the contest or my large Russian o/r green. :X

    From a punting perspective the only chance this one has of winning is one hell of a narrative building up around it during Eurovision week.

    • But the televote will still judge the song. As will most impartial juries.

      • I think it will still do pretty well, but I was referring only to winning potential.

        I’d been backing Russia around 18s on the basis that I thought that the temptation to throw the kitchen sink at this years entry and attempt to win the contest on Ukrainian soil would prove irresistible.

        • Agree on the win. I give that virtually zero chance.

          I think the fact Russia were threatening withdrawal signalled they were either serious, or would use Ukraine as a stepping stone to compete on neutral soil next year. It’s next year you want them as your big anti-post green.

  9. I think you are exaggerating, ofc this song wont win but it isn’t as bad as everyone is saying. I really cant understand why it has 1 star in juries and 2,5 in cohesiveness, and 3 in vocals, while weaker singers have 4. Pretty sure this will end up in top 10 in final.

  10. Eh, it’s okay. It’s about as functional as In The Name of Love was.

    I do admire Russia’s audacity at this stage. They sent Sergey Lazarev and My Only One with a straight face last year (ahem) and he was such a good sport. Came within an inch of winning and I wouldn’t have begrudged them. I mean it’s a bit rich to boo a guy like Sergey at Eurovision for the reason that Russia gets booed.

    This is cynical but as an open-hearted plea to avoid being censure it’s kinda touching. Their fourth human sacrifice in a row. I do wonder if the Russian delegation charm offensive is running out of ideas.

  11. I worry just by looking at the comment section here that this will do better than it deserves, the fact so many people have commented on this entry review in comparison to other song’s show that Juliya will get a hell of alot of publicity in May meaning she could run away with the televote especially when you consider there is no stand out song in semi 2 and potentially do something similar in the final when you add in Russia’s allies. Hopefully juries kill this.

  12. It’s not good but it’s far from bad, it’s got a nice melody to it.

    Knowing the likely PR in the run up to the contest, the Russian diaspora will be very motivated to vote for “the sweet girl in the wheelchair standing up to those mean Ukrainians” as will likely be portrayed in Russian-language media throughout the East. Anyone doubting their qualification chances are barking up the wrong tree, I think this could potentially get a top five televote result in the final (and dragged down the scoreboard thanks to the jury, although I think Eastern juries will be slightly more kind to it).

    • Based on last year Eastern Juries will be even more cruel towards it.

      • I’m thinking of the twins a few years ago, their most generous jury support was from the East and I expect a similar thing to happen this year, I think it’s a very typical Eastern ballad that us poxy Westerners just never get.

  13. Would be funny to predict the winner of semi 2, cant wait for your predictions once bulgaria is out. The winner will go to 10/1 odds to win after the semi 2 I think, so there is some money to be won from predicting the semi 2 winner. Also the semi 2 is incredibly open, pity that so many good songs from semi 1 wont make it.

    • The semifinal quality split is so lopsided this year it’s not even funny. It’s not too late to re-do the allocation draw, is it?

  14. Qualification shouldn’t be a problem for this, but yeah, it’s clear Russia don’t have their head in the game. I was thinking along the same lines of Beanie, in expecting them to push for the win on Ukraine soil. After all the whispers that they’d pull out, it’s hard to see this song as the reason for them entering because it’s going absolutely nowhere.

  15. Songfestivalwerk!

    People srill judge the song. And I have a huge Corinna May (Germany 2002) feeling with this one. There is a narrative yes, but the song is entirely dated. Ralph Siegel dated. If Belarus gives 12 points year after year to Russia, then I won’t be surprised that they will ‘punish’ this with 10 points. This won’t do well either. First time no top 13 if you ask me. Even the most loyal disapora won’t help this enough. Max. 140 points (2 times 70 points).

  16. I think Russia will do better than everyone expects.
    Its a very mainstream ballad, accesible from the first listen + she will get votes out of likeability / sympathy ( I am not saying this as a bad thing, I think her effort is decent and people will appreciate it ). A top 10 spot in televote isnt impossible.

    As an entry it doesnt deserve top 8 though. Maybe juries will mark it down like Poland 2015.

  17. It’s the second Russian entry that I warmed up to…so she might get more votes than you think (not from me since I don’t leave in Europe). Yes, I agree it’s a trick from Russia to send Yulia, but while when they sent the Russian grannies I was annoyed as hell, the feeling is different now. She can sing while the grannies could not or anyway their musical skills were limited. Her song is dated, but not bad. Her voice is nice and she’s courageous enough just to attend to this. If I could vote, I’d vote for my favorites of course, but also one vote for her. And I would not consider it is for Russia.
    On another note I personally think Jamala was used as well. While her pain/story was authentic, it did not extend really to an entire Europe. It was more a vote against Russia. I personally did not really care that much for the song, I felt rather sad for her.

    • Songfestivalwerk!

      Sorry, I can’t agree. I think the “This is Russia, so it probably will do well”-sentiment is heating up here. And we all know, Eurovision doesn’t work that way. Each year, new chances.

      I think the biggest problem is actually the song. If the Dutch entry is being compared Ralph Siegel, then this Russian entry is TOP10 worthy? That’s crazy. Song-wise this is OK-ish at best. But even the Russian entries from 2009 (“Mamo”, 91 points, 11th place), 2010 (“Lost And Forgotten”, 90 points, 11th place) and 2011 (“Get You”, 77 points,16th place) I found much more interesting than this year’s Ralph Siegel-ballad. Yes, Russia is certain of lots of diaspora votes, but I think they will get stuck in the points range (times 2) of 2009, 2010 and 2011. I would advise to heavily look on the lay-side of Russia at the Top 10 market.

      Also, and this is something that isn’t really discussed, I think disabled entrants always suffered from a good result. Look at Corinna May for Germany in 2003 (21st place). And please, I do not wish to trash disabled people. But if you can’t look straight into the camera, people unconsciously don’t vote for that. Same with Diana Gurtskaya (2008, 12th place). But the comparison with Poland in 2015 also is relevant. The wonderful Monika (23rd place) is a wonderful singer. But if she would have sung a song that’s more Sia-esque (Australia 2016 for instance), she would have done much better. And then weelchairs aren’t important.

      Lastly, I think Julia is a good singer, but you can hear that she has problems with her vocal chords. Which is obviously related to het handicap/ Again, I don’t have any problem with that. But the televoters on the sofa most likely don’t relate to that. The comparisons with Russia in 2011 therefore are slightly flawed. That entry was a huge joy and breath of happiness. And, also important, the song (or collection of accords), was still utterly memorable and unique. This year’s Russian song isn’t just that.

      Russia will obviously receive a lot of points from its neighbors. But this won’t be TOP 10. This will get 150 (2 times 75 points) max.

      • It’s true that we shouldn’t think “oh it’s Russia, they’d send a song consisting of nothing but a guy farting for 3 mins and still do well”, I mean we used to think that of Turkey and Greece, but we also need to avoid being dismissive just because they’ve sent a weak song. I remember in 2014 when they sent an equally weak song and everyone crowing “oh this is going to be Russia’s worst ever result”, and in the end they actually massively overachieved.

        • Songfestivalwerk!

          I think those twins had a pretty good song. At least superior to this year’s joyless, soulless Siegel-ballad that is only popular because of a woman with a physical handicap.

      • I don’t have that much “Eurovision” knowledge – of course I can watch on YouTube pretty much everything. The only other Russian entry I liked (in the last 10 years) was in 2016 and anyway I think Serghei got enough by winning the popular vote. (Armenia was my fave last year).
        Going back to this year, that’s how I felt for Yulia’s song – it might be sympathy/compassion or whatever. It might have something to do with the fact that her disability is way higher than of other participants (e.g. Monika) or with the fact that I find her sweet and courageous.
        I still wish her good luck.
        You seem more into “Eurovision” than me, probably you’re right and I’m smart enough not to bet on any outcome 🙂

  18. Let aside the song or the fact she sit in a wheelchair,it seems that the Russian singer is also a political statement:

    Let see if the EBU and the Ukrainian organization can get out of this hot mess without getting burned

  19. I don’t understand why this is “exploiting a disability” like you put it. There was no such comments with the Polish wheelchair lady? Or with Finnish PNK? Such double standards.

    • Actually I was vocal on both, but this is blatant. PKN had to win a national final for starters.

      • I think you said Poland will do well because of the sympahty vote. I dont remember you calling out Polish delegation for using that poor girl..

        • I doubt it was in the actual review. Maybe in one of the rehearsal reviews. Even so, that doesn’t escape the political reasons behind Yuliya’s selection. It is exploitative if you judge her and the song against previous Russia entries.

  20. Two questions to you guys: If Russia end up withdrawing in the end (which at this point, is looking like the most likely outcome)…

    1) Who’s going to qualify in 10th place?

    2) Which Eastern entry is going to benefit the most with no Russia there to hoover up a big chunk of the Eastern televote?

    • The way I see it:
      1) one of either: Norway/Estonia/Denmark/Switzerland, possibly Austria/Netherlands if either have good staging/performance

      2) Belarus, Armenia & Azerbaijan and to a lesser extent Romania

      • Songfestivalwerk!

        Regarding my country Netherlands….the song on the radio on first listen to me was indeed a bit underwhelming. It has too many key changes and abrupt modulations that doesn’t do the melody and/or tune any favors. It’s a song that’s tailored entirely on the capabilities of the three vocalists.

        Yet, I mentioned Il Volo to that extend. And although the songs are entirely different -‘Il Grande Amore’ vs. ‘Lights And Shadows’-, they both share a certain lack of being contemporary enough. Not to mention being memorable enough if the actual singers weren’t performing it. Here is the *LIVE* version of ‘Lights And Shadows’: http://picosong.com/pgLh/

        But let’s have a look at semi final #2 then. And I really start to think that this could be the weakest semi final in years. It could very well be that only 2 or 3 qualifiers from this semi will enter the TOP 10 in the final:

        –> AUSTRIA: Personally I love this gentle singer-songwriter entry. I don’t understand why people compare it with Spain, but that’s beside the point. The problem with this entry is, that it lacks the “oomph” that Douwe Bob had. verdict: NQ
        –> MALTA: I’m not going to make any of my comments dirty on this….thing. verdict: NQ
        –> RUSSIA: Well, there’s a diplomatic war going on between Russia and Ukraine. Said about all this. But even if Julia can perform via satellite, I then think Russia has already destroyed all its chances. verdict: NQ
        –> ISRAEL: It’s a nice pop tune, has a big disco beat. But in that same genre I find Serbia and especially Macedonia way more superior. And this isn’t as fresh, Original and uplifting as Israel 2015. verdict: NQ
        –> CROATIA: This country used to be so good in the 1990’s. What happened to them . I feel very sorry about them. verdict: NQ
        –> LITHUANIA: Nicely done, it is at least Original. But the song itself doesn’t really go anywhere. It tries to be so alternative, new age and fresh, but fails completely by trying. verdict: NQ
        –> SAN MARINO: I think it’s time for new EBU rules to not let certain artists and composers return year-after-year based on some kind of long-term contract, thus leading to huge payslips to Ralph Siegel and Valentina. I am against this. Then be like Monaco and Andorra and don’t join. verdict: NQ

        –> SWITZERLAND: Nice song…nice enough. But the leadsinger isn’t the best singer. And after 2 mins the song starts to bore me a bit. It slightly has a fanwank status if you ask me. verdict: BORDERLINE (OUT)
        –> NORWAY: It’s a real nice attempt to do funk at Eurovision. But I think Groove Armada is better. As if I listen to a more accessible, but not better Aphex Twins or Gorillaz. verdict: BORDERLINE (IN)
        –> ROMANIA: It becomes a bit tiresome that Romania can only send these kind of cheap songs. I think juries will grill it, but televoters love it. verdict: BORDERLINE (IN)
        –> DENMARK: Really? People really have this dull pop schlager as a certified qualifier? I think it will struggle similarly to Iceland in 2015. Anja isn’t the best singer either (she screeches way too much. verdict: BORDERLINE (OUT)
        –> BULGARIA: Contemporary pop ballad, but I don’t think it’s memorable on first listen. This is more dependent on staging than last year’s Bulgarian entry. verdict: BORDERLINE (IN)
        –> BELARUS: I think the Belarussians have the best chance to enter the final since 2014’s ‘Cheesecake’. Yet after two minutes the happy folk changes into too much repetition. verdict: BORDERLINE (IN)

        Despite the borderliners, these are…

        01. ESTONIA (this has an audience all across Europe)
        02. F.Y.R. MACEDONIA (I’m surprised myself!)
        03. HUNGARY (wonderful ethnic folk song)
        04. THE NETHERLANDS (this could be a dark horse)
        05. IRELAND (underestimated ballad, sticks better)
        06. SERBIA (good, not as good as Macedonia)
        07. ROMANIA (tacky, but still fun)
        08. BELARUS (fun happy folk thingie)
        09. BULGARIA (goes through, but with difficulty)
        10. NORWAY (lacks the fun Romania and Belarushave)

    • If the eastern block TV stations push the fact Bulgaria have a Russian performer i see a lot of votes going that way.The juries would also be able to do the same given the classy production.
      Armenia and Azer would probably get a lot as well if the voters go for an eastern black country who can actually win instead of Belarus etc.
      The EBU have made a disaster of the whole thing.Russia have run rings around them.ESC rules state delegations need to make sure their artists have the right to perform.The simple answer was she doesnt,so Russia need to select someone who does,or withdraw.

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