Spasibo, Russia. We think.

Can we ever really love a Russian entry?

The question has crossed our minds a few times the last couple of years. After all we are engaged in politics and human rights in our regular life and we all know Eurovision is about as political as it gets. No kidding. Stuff a whole continent of countries with their own version of free speech and democratic values together in the most watched live tv show around, and expect nothing less. People will either love or hate you for who you represent.

We have, however, shed a few of our highly regarded principles the last couple of years. Always learning the latest from Strasbourg, we know that all humans have the right to good schlager. That’s why the golden boy last year quickly killed most of our concerns about Israel, as did the long lasting quality of the Azerbaijanis brightening up our days and the delicious slice of cheesecake we once got from Belarus. That leaves us with Russia. The mothership of all countries one should be concerned about.

Then again, Moscow’s independent music scene, once growing out of Gorbachev’s Perestroika and definitely not shutting down anytime soon, is always there to remind us this country has a lot to offer and no one can be blamed for being born in the same country as Putin. We mean, did you ever hold it against Regina Spektor?

And then came Sergey Lazarev. Certainly never accused of being independent, that one, as he is a huge star in Russia and neighbouring countries and continuously trying to establish himself in other European markets, which we figure he’ll have no problem with now. But his song is a true Eurovision hit. He presents intriguing rythms, a great sing-a-long chorus, a key change to die for and schlager potential like nothing else this year. Of course it is hard to do anything but to welcome him to the family of immortal hits in the Euro clubs of this world.

Will he win? Most people seem to think so and it is hard to argue against. Russia has had huge success with much worse songs and there is winning potential written all over Sergey. But is it a little calculated? Just a tiny bit too impersonal and by the book? Will people miss charm and a few unexpected details? Possibly. We cannot get away from the feeling that there is something missing here.

We know the fans love Sergey already, but what will people at home think as they fire up their voting machines? And what about the jury – will they prefer something a little more original? It’s hard to say. For now, let’s just settle for the fact that Russia has a fun, upbeat song that will make people roar with joy both in the dance floors of Europe and in Globen Arena. For that we can only say spasibo.

Question still remains: Can we truly love a Russian entry? Give us some time. We’re getting there.

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