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BELARUS: Liza Misnikova “Pepelny (Ashen)”

Belarus is one of my personal favourite Junior countries, and they’ve been competing right from the start without ever having missed a contest. They’ve won twice – in 2005 and 2007 – and collected more than a few fantastic results along the way. Last year’s host entry Time may not have done spectacularly well, but it was my number one song of the year. That means there’s a lot for Belarus to live up to as far as this Eurofan is concerned.

Starting with the artist: Liza Misnikova is 14 years old and hails from last year’s host city Minsk. She was born in 2005 – back when Ksenia Sitnik scored Belarus’ first victory – and should still (by my estimations) be in nappies and just forming her first words; but here she is performing in an international song contest instead. Gosh, JESC makes me feel old. Anyway, when she isn’t singing or dancing, she loves to bake like the Buranovskiye Babushki, play the piano like Paula Seling and go to the movies with her friends. Her favourite musical artist is Rihanna, but that’s an influence that doesn’t really come through in her JESC song Pepelny (Ashen) – and that makes it all the more “Liza”.

Pepelny is a strong and slick entry from my P.O.V, co-written by Kirill Good, who’s popped up in JESC and ESC national finals in the past and also wrote Time. It has a similar energy to ZENA’s Like It – which might explain why I do, in fact, like it – and anyone who says it isn’t catchy as heck needs their hearing tested. It taps into the 90s trend that means we’re allowed to wear scrunchies again, but the chorus sounds contemporary enough for it not to feel like a dated throwback. It has pretty much everything I ask for in a dancefloor filler, and if it’s sandwiched between ballads (likely) it’s going to stick out.

Though I am a fan of this track, I can understand why it’s not proving too popular among other fans. Liza’s vocals have a strange quality to them which doesn’t bother me much – I’d call them ‘unique’ – but I can imagine them being off-putting for some people. Language-wise, there’s more of a mix in the final version of Pepelny, but it’s not a change for the better. Liza’s pronunciation needs work, and the English lyrics are questionable. Here we have a situation where something’s been fixed that wasn’t technically broken in the first place…but then, we all know Belarus loves a revamp almost as much as Ukraine, so no doubt they couldn’t help themselves.

I would also say that Pepelny has a fair bit in common with Poland’s Superhero, and that’s bad for Belarus since that song is the host entry (so it’s armed with ready-made support) and it’s arguably superior. If the two are positioned pretty far apart in the running order that would be better, but even so, I think Poland will outshine Belarus for the second year running. Last year’s 11th place might look a whole lot better when the 2019 show is done and dusted, but if the universe wants my predictions to look as dodgy as usual in hindsight, that’s fine. Besides, if I squint, I can see a pathway for Belarus to reach that 9th-12th range. They need to keep the staging fun and youthful, and there would have to be some voters out there who haven’t made up their minds or who are seeing this performed for the first time during the show. Juries won’t love it, but they might appreciate how suitable it is for JESC, how confident Liza comes across and how as a package, it’s cohesive. I enjoy it, even if I’m in the minority. Best of luck, Liza!

Pepelny (Ashen) lyrics:

Belarusian:

Чай на балконе
покрылся льдом.
На телефоне
другой рингтон.
Минуты шли как будто рваные,
и только звезды те же самые.

Между нами ливни, Babe,
Белая вода, да!
Ты промокнешь, Maybe,
Если без зонта, да!
А можешь под дождем промчаться в кайф,
ты хоть немного сделай, change your life

Two, one, zero, do it now
Baby you can’t stop
When crazy party’s over
Everyone wake up
Аnd push the sound power
I will change your color gray
Хэ-эй
Into the silver and ashen gray
Ashen gray ashen gray

Если ты завис
Добавь немного стиля,
Переназови,
И серый станет Silver.
Ты сегодня цвета Gray,
Хэ-эй
А завтра Пепельный, пепельный,
Яркий и пепельный
Хэ-э-эй
о-о-о-о-о-оу-оу

Дай только повод
все поменять.
Проснется город
уже на днях.
Я гарантирую заранее,
Все станет северным сиянием.

Между нами ливни, Babe,
Белая вода, да!
Ты промокнешь, Maybe,
Если без зонта, да!
А можешь под дождем промчаться в кайф,
ты хоть немного сделай, change your life.

Two, one, zero, do it now
Baby you can’t stop
When crazy party’s over.
Everyone wake up
Аnd push the sound power.
I will change your color gray
Into the silver and ashen gray,
Ashen gray ashen gray

Hey, open the door.
Never-never like before.
I’ll let you go.
Never-never, do you know?
Мои летают ноты, будто бы во сне.
Если в мире кто-то
Хоть немного на своей волне!

Если ты завис
Добавь немного стиля
Переназови
И серый станет Silver.
Ты сегодня цвета Gray,
А завтра Пепельный, пепельный,
Яркий и пепельный
Хэй!
о-о-о-о-о-оу-оу

English:

Tea on the porch
Is freezing cold (is cold like snow)
Another ringtone
Set on my phone
And minutes run just like insane
But only stars shine the same

And between us rainy
Only white water
You’re going wet
Without your umbrella
Or you can rush in rain like high
Com on let’s do it, babe, change your life

Two, one, zero, do it now
Baby you can’t stop
When crazy party’s over
Everyone wake up
Аnd push the sound power
I will change your color gray
Into the silver and ashen gray
Ashen gray ashen gray

If you gonna glitch
Just do it way more stylish
Remake everything
And gray will become silver
You’re very gloom today
Tomorrow ashen gray, ashen gray
Bright and ashen gray

Give me a reason
a change of scenery.
The city will Wake up
the other day.
I guarantee in advance,
Everything will be the Northern lights.

And between us rainy
Only white water
You’re going wet
Without your umbrella
Or you can rush in rain like high
Come on let’s do it babe, change your life

Two, one, zero, do it now
Baby you can’t stop
When crazy party’s over
Everyone wake up
Аnd push the sound power
I will change your color gray
Into the silver and ashen gray
Ashen gray ashen gray

Hey, open the door.
Never-never like before.
I’ll let you go.
Never-never, do you know?
My notes fly as if in a dream.
If there is anyone in the world
At least a little on your wave!

If you gonna glitch
Just do it way more stylish
Remake everything
And gray will become silver
You’re very gloom today
Tomorrow ashen gray, ashen gray
Bright and ashen gray
Hey!
о-о-о-о-о-оu-оu

Is Jasmin in the minority?

Will Liza live up to Belarus' great track record, or will it turn to ash(en) and crumble?