Flight to Baku on wings of crystal bird
By Viktar Andreev
Singer Alena Lanskaya is to represent Belarus at the Eurovision-2012 International Song Contest in Baku, as became known after the EuroFest final national selection round. Her performance of All My Life won the crystal Swarowski bird (a symbolic prize). Meanwhile, the TV audience vote and that of the professional jury were divided, with many giving preference to Litesound band. Eurovision-2009 winner Alexander Rybak, a Belarus-born Norwegian citizen, was quite determined in announcing, “Yes, I liked Alena Lanskaya very much. She really performed well. However, I also enjoyed the performance of Litesound band. After listening for just ten seconds I immediately felt that it was a wonderful song.” It remains an open issue as to how Belarus will be represented at the contest in Baku, with a possible combination of Ms. Lanskaya singing with Litesound.
Star shower at Sports Palace
Five finalists competed at Minsk’s Sports Palace for the right to represent Belarus at the prestigious musical forum in Baku: Victoria Aleshko, Alena Lanskaya, Gunesh, Uzari and Litesound band.
Eurovision winners from previous years also performed: Ruslana of Ukraine (the winner in 2004), Marija Serifovic (Serbia, 2007), Belarus-born Norwegian Alexander Rybak (2009) and Ell & Nikki duo (Azerbaijan, 2011), as well as incomparable Greek Sakis Rouvas and the Swiss 2012 entry — Sinplus band.
Lys Assia, who won Eurovision in 1956, performed as the highlight of the event.
Creme de la creme
Litesound band, which is well known abroad, was one of the favourites to win EuroFest, having taken first place at the Festival Internazionale di Maiori in Italy in 2006. In 2007, their Solo Per Te song, recorded jointly with Italian star Jacopo Massa, was broadcast on the radio in Belarus and Italy, topping hit parades in Italy for twenty weeks. Litesound’s songs have twice won Belarus’ Song of the Year and, in 2010, their Solo Per Te video was named among the top ten in the CIS and Baltic States — according to the Mir Interstate Television and Radio Company.
In 2011, their See You in Vegas video won the National Music Award ‘Clip of the Year’, so it was no surprise to see the band receive the loudest applause at EuroFest. Alena Lanskaya even admitted that they are her favourite band, “I believe that each of the five finalists is worthy of going to Eurovision.”
Ms. Lanskaya has already claimed several victories at international contests: in Bulgaria, the USA, Russia and Ukraine, as well as at the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk Arts Festival in 2011. She has practised vocal with Valery Daineko — a great star of the Belarusian musical stage from Soviet times, who used to work with Pesnyary’s Vladimir Mulyavin; he is still a leading musician with the Belarusian Pesnyary band, which remains popular in Russia and neighbouring states. She has begun well and has support from professionals.
Alena is progressing confidently through her career, as is evident. She tells us, “I’ve been fond of singing since childhood, even joining a musical school without telling my parents. They were against the idea, as they thought I should focus on a more serious sphere. In fact, I studied economics on graduating from the Belarusian-Russian University in finance, credit and taxation speciality and even worked at Belarusbank as a head cashier. However, I always achieve my goals and I simply knew what I wanted from life, even as a child. From five years of age, I would perform in public, singing with choirs; my teachers noted my talent and I later sang at discos and with a folk band. Some artistes are ashamed to admit that they once sang in restaurants but I understood it was a job. I may look fragile but I have a very strong character; I always achieve my goals.”
Views for 2013
Ms. Lanskaya is now preparing for Eurovision, being ready to change her image or song if necessary. She notes, “If I come across a stronger song, with a good dance routine, I may use it.” She isn’t certain of winning of course, as she well remembers the unlucky experience of her predecessors. She tells us cautiously, “I’ll do everything I can to finish with a high place.”
Ms. Lanskaya is at the start of a long journey to conquer the hearts of fans across Europe; a tour is planned but her success depends on many factors, including a certain element of luck. Of importance is the person chosen to help her prepare her performance in Baku. Russian pop-king Philip Kirkorov, who has arrived in Minsk, may take her under his wing. The pair were spotted having dinner at an Italian restaurant in Minsk immediately after EuroFest, already discussing their possible ‘tandem’. Mr. Kirkorov has compared Ms. Lanskaya with Ukrainian star Ani Lorak, and previous Belarusian entrant Anzhelika Agurbash.
However, Kirkorov is looking even further into the future. It’s known that, in 2007, he helped Belarusian Dmitry Koldun reach 6th place and has offered his help again to the young singer for Eurovision-2013. “I 100 percent believe that Belarus will win Eurovision in 2013. I have no doubt. I have a song for Dima Koldun, which he hasn’t yet heard. However, he’s promised to think over my proposal,” notes Mr. Kirkorov.
Surely, it can only be a matter of time before Belarus claims victory at Eurovision: if not in 2012, then in 2013. Ukrainian singer Ruslana, who won Eurovision-2004, agrees. She has great hopes for Alena Lanskaya, saying, “She has such a very soft and beautiful voice. It’s clear that she sings from her soul. I noticed Alena back at the Slavonic Bazaar in Vitebsk, where she won the Grand Prix. I’d love to hear her sing more in Belarusian though; the more elements of native language included, the quicker the country will achieve success at Eurovision.” Ruslana’s own winning song was performed in Ukrainian and English.
Alena still has time to consider her decision. A well-known Western musician has already, supposedly, offered collaboration. Of course, the first step towards the Eurovision finals involves the Belarusian representative passing the second semi-final round, to be held on May 24th.