In normal circumstances we’d be in Belarus next, but things all went wrong in Lukashenko’s little dictatorship last year which means they can’t play. Belarussian boomer-pop sensation Galasy ZMesta popped up in February 2021 with a back catalogue of problematic songs about women and attempted to enter a song called “I’ll teach you” that included the lyrics “I’ll make you dance to the tune, I’ll make you rise to the bait, I’ll make you walk along the line, you’ll be satisfied and happy with everything”.
We’d been there before of course. Armenia changed the title of “Don’t Deny” in 2015 to “Face the Shadow” after neighbouring countries Azerbaijan and Turkey claimed the lyrics were about their denial of the Armenian genocide. And Georgia was asked to change the lyrics to “We Don’t Wanna Put In” in 2009 due to the suspicion that “put in” was a reference to the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, but the country’s public service broadcaster refused and withdrew.
Alex Tracer from reddit reckoned “I’ll teach you” was just sarcasm and in fact the song was about “an entity” that “lures people to its side” by the promise of “freedom and material stuff like gadgets”. He continued:
“And the wording that is used in the text means that such promises of freedom is just a bait and a way to manipulate people. So the message of the song is do not look for freedom, do not do new things, do not be modern, stick to your history and tradition” and “if you don’t then you will be exploited. And yes, that bad entity that lures people by gadgets and material things is a reference to Europe (and Democracy in general)”
That might not have been the defence of the song that Alex thought it was, but either way the EBU were having none of that and said “try again”. Lukashenko then personally intervened (he’s the sort of dictator that would KNOW who Lorraine is) and said “We’ll make another song… you see that this is all politicized”, and then three days later said songs leaked and was revealed to be about how democratic protesters (in the song described as” bunnies”) are too young and stupid, should listen to the government, and that Svetlana (the opposition leader against Lukashenko, in the song being described as the “fox”) should be locked up.
So yes, they’re not in it this year, or next. And so to Belgium.
I had a terrible dream last night. Charleroi 2022. Jean Claude Van Damme is hosting with a script in rhyming triplets. The venue puts mayo in the beer. Every song is a ballad. Technotronic do “Pump up the Jam” in the interval act dressed as that statue of the boy taking a piss whilst three English fans sing along with the words to “Pump up the Bitter” (brew it brew it) instead. It’s worse than that year Ireland held it in a cowshed. Belgium. The Aldershot of Europe.
In 2009 Belgium entered an Elvis Presley impersonator that claimed that he invented being Elvis Presley before Elvis Presley and that Elvis Presley was stealing his soul even though he’s dead. With a Jive Bunny video. In 2010 we had to sit through a kind of low rent Marc Cohn doing a low rent Walking in Memphis, 2011 saw it entering some smug acapella beatbox with sideburns, and in 2012 they sent a warbling child wittering on about burglary.
In 2013 they sent a man to sing a song called “Love Kills” in a strong Belgian accent, resulting in the whole of Europe hearing Roberta Bellarosa singing “Love keels, over and over”, over and over again.
In 2014 they sent Paul Potts lookalike Axel Hirsoux singing about his actual mommy, in 2015 they ripped off Adam Rickett’s “I breathe again” and robbed it of any melody, in 2016 we got eleven year old Laura “Tesco” Tesoro doing a Tesco Value version of Fleur’s Sax (itself a Tesco Value version of Uptown Funk) in 2017 a terrified woman called Blanche had a three minute panic attack in an inappropriate octave all alone in the danger zone, in 2018 a woman called Sennek rhymed station, combination, imagination, and sensations into the sort of thing you don’t want to hear being played in the lobby of a hotel you can’t afford, and then in 2019 we got a boy called Eliot who said his dismal song was a “call to youth to improve the state of the world and mobilize for peace – the awakening must be collective but it needs a trigger”. Sadly as it turned out “Wake up” was more of a “trigger” to pop to the toilet and take a long streak of piss, and he went home after semi-final one.
To be fair last year Belgium’s biggest indie band of the 90s Hooverphonic (best UK Charts placing: 91) wasn’t terrible, although the title “we’re in the wrong place” turned out to be prophetic given they came a dismal 19th in the final.
That then gets us to 2022, where a lad called Jérémie Makiese (the winner of Season 9 of Belgium’s The Voice) is doing a Belgian Bond theme. There’s very little else to say – we’ve heard it a million times before, it’s one of the songs in this year’s contest that somehow gets less interesting during each of its three tedious minutes, and the most interesting thing about Jérémie appears to be that he once sustained a dislocated elbow while goalkeeping.