Choose a bad egg, and you'll end up with yolk all over your crotch. It's a lesson that officials at NTU, Ukraine's national broadcaster, learned all too well while selecting the nation's 2010 Eurovision contestant. Rather than holding a public vote (de rigeur in Eurovision Nation), NTU's director made an executive decision to send Vasyl Lazarovych—a cheesy baritone and a close friend. Freedom-loving Ukrainians cried foul: such nepotism was just so Soviet, and Vasyl was borderline tone deaf to boot. But, as in other great dramas, fate intervened. On February 20, Viktor Yanukovich swept to power, his new government fired the head of NTU, Vasyl was promptly stripped of his title and members of the public finally got to cast their televotes in a nationally broadcast final.
Given all that drama, you can forgive Alyosha, the country's new representative, for her obsession with impending tragedy. In "Sweet People," she rails against environmental degradation and all y'all polluters who have "no love for mankind."
The message is so true. The end is really near. All these feelings take me down. It steals the things so dear. Yes, the message is so real. Don't turn all the earth to stone. Because, because, because, this is your home.
Born just two weeks after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Alyosha filmed her official preview video in Prypyat, a town wiped out by the the explosion. In mostly dark and brooding montages, she walks through a wasteland of abandoned homes and schools, looks at photographs of Chernobyl victims and vogues in front of footage of swimming dolphins.
Oh, sweet people. What senseless game have we all been playing? No one but you to blame?
Alyosha obviously takes her message seriously: she's launched a campaign in the Ukraine called Ecovision 2010 and issued a press release saying her song is a call to action for world leaders. And while plenty of fans respect her message, they worry she delivers it out of tune and wrapped in cliché. That may be true, but what will hold her back at Eurovision is the fact she's singing a rock dirge in a contest where fiddles have come back into style, and where camp has more value than depth. Eurovision voters want fab, not drab. A song about nuclear fallout and deforestation does not a party make.
Of course, things could be much worse—remember Vasyl? The low point of his tumultuous Eurovision journey came on March 8. To celebrate International Women's Day—the Communist-inspired holiday that lingers throughout the former Soviet bloc—he released this rather creepy video (below). Set to his Eurovision ballad "I Love You," he thanks women (yes, all of them) for their existence, and says he wants them to hear "I love you" everyday. That is, I imagine, a euphemism about his own Chernobyl exploding. If you're into pain, you can watch his planned entry here. It makes Alyosha look like a star.
Alyosha competes in the more difficult second semi-final, and will perform immediately after Safura, the Eurovision front-runner from Azerbaijan. Given the spectacle Azerbaijan has planned, voters may still be catching their breath when Alyosha takes the stage.
At the moment, betting agencies have Alyosha listed as finishing around eleventh place, suggesting that she won't make it past the semi-finals. That's a shame. Even if she is occasionally out of tune, she has command of four octaves and she brings a serious message to a competition obsessed with froth. Sadly, that will be her undoing and she'll have to watch the final from the sidelines.