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Russia: Sergey Lazarev – Scream

Russia has just presented their Eurovision 2019 entry from Sergey Lazarev, who along with the Dream Team, has unfinished business. Judging by the response so far, the market and fans were expecting a typically saccharine Eurovision-by-numbers peace-ballad that would cruise to an easy Eurovision win. What Sergey delivered was an unexpectedly unconventional theatrical ballad. Yes it is calculating, but it is oh so daring. Scream feels like the Dream Team's take on Loreen's Statements, which was a terrible choice for Melodifestivalen, yet even I have to concede it would have done extremely well with Eurovision's juries. Scream is calculating; it…
Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal

Lazarus

It is dangerous to underestimate their voting power and regional influence.

User Rating: 2.04 ( 65 votes)

Russia has just presented their Eurovision 2019 entry from Sergey Lazarev, who along with the Dream Team, has unfinished business.

Judging by the response so far, the market and fans were expecting a typically saccharine Eurovision-by-numbers peace-ballad that would cruise to an easy Eurovision win. What Sergey delivered was an unexpectedly unconventional theatrical ballad. Yes it is calculating, but it is oh so daring. Scream feels like the Dream Team’s take on Loreen’s Statements, which was a terrible choice for Melodifestivalen, yet even I have to concede it would have done extremely well with Eurovision’s juries. Scream is calculating; it is structured to maximise on-stage storytelling and plays to the strengths of the Dream Team’s staging guru, Fokas Evangelinos. That dramatic middle-eight with the explosive drums leading into the rousing, climatic outro promises to be one of the highlights in Tel Aviv. History shows us that the name of the game is to be memorable, and as long as Russia reject their typically garish excesses and turn up with an artistic production, then I question what grounds there are for the juries to penalise them.

Russia has taken a different direction than what was expected by the fandom and gamblers and both groups are still coming to terms with it.  Scream still has the feel of a top-5 entry. Depending on how other nations present their songs in May will decide where Russia eventually ends up. It is dangerous to underestimate their voting power and regional influence, so caution is advised given all of the top-10 songs in the market have question marks over them.

About Gavster

ESCtips Owner   I’m a qualified designer and dedicate a lot of my free time to keeping the ESCtips show on the road. My family routes allow me to support the UK, Ireland and Italy.

54 comments

  1. This sounds so calculated like Bones

  2. My bets were that they would try to make the song more friendly to the jury in order to win in the end. But he made another plastic, but only in the form of a ballad. Although I can’t even call it a ballad. It’s more like a slower song than ‘You Are The Only One’.

    Sergey received 130 points from the jury last time. I have no hope that he will get more this time. As a result, even with a win in televoting, he will not be able to win in the end.

  3. I expected really something different. But to be honest I can see both the 2016 entry and this entry on the same album. To me Sergey Lazarev is being ‘lived’ to much by his dreamteam, whereas what I hoped to see was a bit more artistically reinvention.

    Let’s take Dutch singer Anouk. She is, in a way, a Dutch ‘Madonna’, constantly reinventing her style. ‘Birds’ for instance is 100 times different than ‘Woman’.

    Obviously this will be staged perfectly. But my initial feeling is: “Mehhh”. Come on Sergey! Break free a bit next time. Ask Burt Bacharach to compose some songs for you! Because one thing still stands: Sergey is a wonderful, sweet, charismatic singer (ask Douwe Bob).

  4. If he puts on wings, it will be almost Croatia.:D

  5. Hi Gav. 4 stars really?

    Echoing Gert – my goodness – so dated and formulaic. Really folks – compare this to NL?

    They will stage the hell out of it. But it’s not nearly appealing a song to the public as The Only One.

    I maybe didn’t quite expect to hear the ‘winner’ but I can’t explain how lacking this is in good melody and a catchy song. It’s like some epic but bland tv theme.

    If they couldn’t do it with The Only One then they ain’t doing it with this. Also lyrically NOTHING really for the public to get behind. Sounds like a protest song not a love song.

    Disappointed in a way that I really didn’t expect to be…

    • Stop the clock. It’s happened.

      • For me in contention for the victory at this very moment:

        –> Cyprus
        –> Greece
        –> Iceland
        –> Sweden (John Lundvik)
        –> Switzerland
        –> The Netherlands

        Monday to be released:

        –> Armenia (that one could still cause an upset)
        –> Israel
        –> Malta

        • It stuns me how many people see Greece as a potential winner still its not even in the top 10 in the bets.

          • I think in the end juries and televoters don’t really hear the difference between the Greek entry being perfectly produced/mixed or underwhelmingly produced/mixed. For me there’s still a lot of good staging potential. A positive Dua Lipa/Katy Perry/Beyonce/Florence-and-the-Machines esque entry, with anthemic touches and a rousing climac. Can certainly do a “Dami Im”.

      • Catriona Colville

        You had to expect that with those ratings. After watching that, I’m not even concerned about Russia winning this year. Sweden will be looking very good after tonight.

  6. Long post warning 😉 –

    With each passing year, the songs Kontopoulos serves up at Eurovision become a further year out of date. The production improves but I look at other songs of his- This one by Tamta for example-

    https://youtu.be/kCDFM_A-s1c

    and wonder why all entries he has a hand in are stuck in the past- particularly the last two- Greece 2017, Azerbaijan 2018- when his regular output is not as bad. It’s probably the mistake, and Kirkorov is guilty of this too, of trying to make a good Eurovision song rather than a good song.
    The lyrics are pants of course, but that’s because I’m fluent in the language and can see what a cheesy, clichés, rhyme at all cost nonsense this is. The vast majority of televoters around Europe won’t cringe at stuff like and its that British based cynicism that can’t take these lyrics seriously (Also see Croatia’s, “I dream of love, You dream of Love” for example of something the betfair market struggles to take seriously. So do the lyrics matter? I don’t think it helps getting jury points, which is where this was always going to struggle more. Going for an “epic” ballad was a clear nod to the juries after seeing Dami Im pull miles ahead in 2016, but it misses the problem. “You are the only one” was not held back because it was uptempo, but because it was dated and full of nonsense like “Thunder and Lightning it’s getting Exciting”.
    Finally, you can’t ignore that the same countries–if not more, still have a grudge with Russia, some have even allowed this grudge to keep sending crap songs because of their message (looking at you Georgia). This will be ranked low on purpose by juries in certain countries who can not stomach a Russian win.

    Tl;Dr- This effort does not address why Russia failed with the Juries in 2016 and will not score significantly better with them.

    Which brings us to the televote. The Russian base vote is huge, and combined with the Sergey Lazerev base vote surpasses the 200 points from the public guaranteed. You could argue more depending on your view of the merits of Dima Bilan’s attempts and comparable fame. So yeah, he’ll do well, no arguing there. But I don’t see him scoring as well as 2016. Like I said above, that was probably one of the weakest years and Russia brought a fun, accessible song with wow factor staging. I don’t think this will have the same impact. He’s not the best uptempo number like that year, and crucially he’s not the best heartbroken, lovesick ballad (Netherlands) so will struggle more in western nations. Its also fair to say that losing Bulgaria and Ukraine has cost Russia at least 20 points on the televote. Their absence hurts Russia with the public more than the other countries high in the odds.
    So again, I don’t see this doing as well with the public as 2016, and can’t see it crossing the 300 point barrier either.

    Overall, certain top 10- just cos-, likely top 5, but I don’t think this is a winner at this stage.

  7. Hmm. It’s perfectly fine, the rating feels right, and I’m sure they’ll polish it into a top 5 gem. But it definitely blows the contest wide open. Four to go, and then we can delicately start to play psychic chess.

    It flows well, but I found myself thinking ‘the last minute needs something’ and then we have a music drop and a refrain, and more yelling. Okay fine, maybe he can do a Dami Im and freestyle an ending (Greece and Netherlands will also need to do this).

    A very open year right now. Dima Bilan returned and won with a weaker song. Russia are in contention. But are open to another political/narratve challenger…

  8. Fans are disappointed after all the hype which is understandable, the song isn’t that good. It can still win though, don’t know why are people writting them off

  9. Hi Shlanderous. Yes good you didn’t bet 🙂 There will be sizeable ‘safety’ bets on this but if NL stage well it’s game over.

    The beauty, sincerity and uniqueness of NL compared to the rolling stock of Scream.

  10. Stop the clock for what Gav? Very disappointing to expectations.

  11. Positives: undisputed vocal talent and I also like the orchestral chord progressions and build. But it does feel very “painting by numbers”, calculated and lacking in soul, authenticity. And as Hippo says, it’s shopping in the same area of the market as “Arcade” but with a much less original and goose-bumpy product. I’d be amazed if the Netherlands with Duncan outdo Russia on production and staging and, as Gav noted on his “Arcade” review, the early alarm signals on Duncan’s lack of telemagnetism do give his backers a few wobbles. But there is greater scope for Netherlands to change all that and up their game because they have the better musical product….can we really believe Russia can rely on sheer pyrotechnics and visuals to get this over the line? It didn’t work in 2016 and that was jaw-dropping three minutes of rabbit out of the hat Euro-Panto! I’m not surprised on the early price drift.

  12. Immediate reaction – ‘disappointing’. My other thoughts:

    On the negative:
    A movie soundtrack, formulaic – clearly aimed at Eurovision, dated, for all the bluster of the production not as good as the Netherlands’ more subtle effort, juries -especially Western juries – will mark it down.

    On the positive:
    Still a good song, still jury top 10 maybe top 5, strong televote, Sergey will deliver live (probably better than Duncan), Russia will throw everything at the staging (although this could turn into a negative)

    In short, definite top 10, likely top 5 and still a contender, but if it won ESC it would be a poor winner.

    I thought that with Scream’s release, Eurovision 2019 might be all but done and dusted. Not so. Thunder n lightning it’s getting exciting!

    • As Gert would say, 37 countries in, 4 more to go and a winner is not certain yet. Anybody for a jaw-dropping Malta, or wig-snatching Armenia or market-breaking Israel? We will get to know tomorrow

  13. Absolutely abhorrent song, out of touch, not radio friendly, bland, repetitive, I can go on.

  14. Gav feeling overgenerous with the rating ha? This entry has way more weaknesses than powers:
    ~Not melodical enough
    ~Not a theme that viewers would go behind. Doesnt really fit Sergey, they could use his sexiness and erotism with a love song but instead they went for a protest song. Fokas Evaggelinos always does romance in his presentations, why not give him a love song lol. Just plain wrong
    ~ Its very predictable, its as everyone says, plastic
    ~ Not catchy enough and it doesnt have replay value like Youre the only one
    ~ Theres something ” jury unfriendly ” about Sergey. I cant tell what it is. He is not going to be their favourite for sure.
    As for its powers, Id say they are lucky Fokas Evaggelinos is staging, even if he isnt always able to make miracles when the song is lacking ( Greece 2017 , Aze 2018 ) and that it has a nice instrumentation plus the bridge that is the only interesting part of the song.

    I think that this is the type of song that would be around 8~13 in the bets if it was another country.

  15. Poor considering the team here.Of course i use poor in the way of what we would expect from Russia and this team,not compared to every entry.There it is probably better than half the field,with staging work maybe better than 3/4s.The problem is the song has got very little going for it.Its boring.Whats it about?,i have no idea.It could still win of course given the Russian friends and lack of Ukraine.However i backed Russia (and Sweden) when the markets opened and iv sold off my green on them both.If one wins,or i have to re-back fair enough,but i think both are lacking a lot (im assuming Lundwik wins MF).Its a very interesting year now,with everything to play for.For countries,and gamblers.

  16. Not great. Anyone care to play a game of f where would this finsih if it was the UKs entry?

    It’s not as good Lucie Jones so 16th to 20th…. As its Russia 4th to 10th.

  17. Eurovisiontales

    The ” dream team ” has been bribing juries forever so I wont be surprised if this does well in the jury vote.
    Greece 2017 got 12 points ( semi and final) from the jury from Montenegro and it wouldnt have been suspicious, if the greek jury wouldnt have awarded the montenegrian entry 10 points ( and do you want me to remind you what was the montenegrian entry in 2017? Which juror in sane mind would award that this high? ) and no one, never, cared to look more into this.
    The dream team is really fishy.

  18. Underwhelming and disappointing but I’m not prepared to completely write it off yet. I think the odds are still a bit short but I’m also wary of laying it now in case the Sergeybot returns and pushes the price down further.

  19. Gavster, I totally agree with you on the assessment. It is a solid musical theatre conceived for stage performance. Kirkorov mentioned that it was designed with Sergey’s theatrical side in mind (Sergey is a professional actor and plays on stage if I’m not mistaken ). I get it, it is not your typical safe Eurovision. But then the latter is destined for number two in the final ranking.

    ‘Scream’ reminded me of some rock operas or good Covent Gardens shows; none of them are radio friendly necessarily, could be perceived as ‘outdated’ when compared to your typical pop-songs but both genres are efficient on the night and keep viewers in their seats. I view both, Conan and Sergey, as artists who are taking reasonable risks this year and both might be rewarded for this. I know you might mention Lucy Jones and her ‘theatrical performance’ as a precedent. But I’m sorry, Lucy’s material was just dire and theatrical prompts were limited to a golden oyster shell. There is more ambition here.

    As for results for Russia… who knows, but might be a good option to keep in the portfolio especially once markets drops it significantly in the over-reaction and price becomes more appealing.

  20. There’s quite a simple reason in my opinion on why Russia in 2016 failed with juries and perhaps that same reason could show up this year: Russia is too calculated. Sometimes such an entry does win, think of Sweden 2015. But looking at Portugal 2017 one sees something very different: purity.

    Music is also emotion, in the broadest sense possible, from an emotive singer to, exactly, a pure heartfelt song. To me Kirkorov and his team add a bit too much ‘pastiche’ to their entries and less skin-tingling sensations that could start with a basic studio version of a song. I just….didn’t feel that with Russia.

    Hence on this one I quite disagree with Gavin. Even more so, I think Sweden here clearly wins from Russia on that front. Netherlands perhaps too.

  21. Yes, yes, Sergey will surely be big acting. But in 2016 he also had great acting, only with the best song and even that did not work.

  22. Semi Final #2 is going to be quite an ultimate death match now. Especially the 2nd half. A first…prediction:

    – RUSSIA (1st – 4th)
    – SWEDEN (1st – 4th)
    – SWITZERLAND (1st – 4th)
    – THE NETHERLANDS (1st – 4th)
    – AZERBAIJAN (3rd – 6th)
    – DENMARK (3rd – 6th)
    – AUSTRIA (6th – 9th)
    – NORTH-MACEDONIA (6th – 9th)
    – NORWAY (6th – 9th)
    – IRELAND (8th – 11th)
    – LITHUANIA (8th – 11th)

    But let’s see what Armenia and Malta have for us.

    Semi Final #1:

    – CYPRUS (1st – 4th)
    – CZECH REPUBLIC (1st – 4th)
    – GREECE (1st – 4th)
    – ICELAND (1st – 4th)
    – BELGIUM (3rd – 7th
    – ESTONIA (3rd – 7th)
    – HUNGARY (3rd – 7th)
    – AUSTRALIA (6th – 9th)
    – SERBIA (6th – 9th)
    – SAN MARINO (9th – 12th)

    I ranked on alphabetical order before the ranking possibility)

    • 2nd Semi FInal (funny that you start with nr 2 rather than with nr. 1 – but we know why. Who really cares about semi final nr. 1): I agree with all, except Lithuania. There I have Latvia. And I don’t have Norway because I selected just 10, not 11.
      For 1st Semi Final, I agree with most, except Australia, Iceland and Serbia. There I have Poland, Belarus and Finland.
      Of the “automatic qualifiers,” I find Italy the strongest one.

  23. I think this should be clear favourite instead of second, before seeing all the staging etc. It was an opposable price before the reveal, even lower than it is now, but the team still seem to know what they’re doing in their dotage. Nowhere near a “this wins” like Israel was last year at this time but very strong from a committee, even a calculating committee.

    • Yep, I am waiting for the market to throw toys out of pram first, wail how Dimitris lost plot and musical talent and lower the priice. There are rumors of dramatic ‘darker fairytale’ staging; obviously no proof whatsoever, but the rumour from rehearsals is that there is some kind of ‘a magic lake’ with an island and things (either real or projections) come out of the lake in a dramatic manner. If remotely true, expecting the televote to gobble it down with much gusto.

      • Where are these rumors coming from? I am Russian and there are rumors that Sergey is going to shift the focus from the act to the vocal.

          • Yes.

            And by the way, even the fans of Sergei in Russia have no hopes for his winning. I read their comments on social networks such as “you must listen to this song 5 times before you like it.” The way they try to force themselves to love a song makes me laugh.

          • 3 mill of them have watched it and 89K thumbs up.

          • And?

          • And so it’s meaningless to talk about a couple of comments you’ve read in a forum.

          • Honey, I constantly read comments on Russian social networks.

          • Shlanderous you may not address the King as ‘Honey’. Off with his head 🙂

          • Russian Eurovision fans have gone through several stages:
            1. Russia is so a winner.
            2. Well, the song doesn’t sound like a winner, but the production will save it.
            3. (There are rumors that Sergey will not make a large-scale act) Let’s just hope that the Netherlands flop.

            All this reminds me of Julia Samoilova. Preliminary overhype → failing song → hope of stage production → failing stage production.

    • For all ‘Scream’s’ flaws, a user rating on this site of 1.97 is a ridiculously low assessment of its chances in the contest.

      • Well, since 2014 European-Russian relationships have been dire…to say the least. Obviously that’s reflected in today’s votes. I wonder though, if the jury vote for Russia will slightly suffer from the anti-Russian sentiment (and then profits from a more pro-Russian sentiment in the televote?).

  24. My goodness: this is what a dream team comes up with? I feel sorry for Sergey. He has now become the victim of hype. He let himself become a bit of putty in the hands of self-proclaimed king makers. I believe audiences will see through this. Pretentious and empty, nothing authentic about it.
    Oh, … and it’s not a memorable, distinctive song either. Just more of the same.

  25. Sergey said “Many people left positive comments. Many people didn’t like the song, but this is normal. The song is different from everything that was presented this year at Eurovision. The song will stand out.”

    “We are preparing a bright, unique, interesting production with the same team since 2016. We will try to surprise you even more.”

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ip33zmsrnNc

    Rumors say that Sergei will not be active on the stage, because he wants to hit vocally.

    • I personally continue not to believe in Russia. So far it looks to me like Sergey wants to continue his line “to be different” from You Are The Only One, which at the moment leads to poor results.

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