After a fascinating audition process that was livestreamed on YouTube, Belarus narrowed down their national selection to the top 10 artists – neglecting such art as the Potato Monks, and Carlos Costa, their potential answer to Eleni Foureira. Of the ten that were selected, it’s hard not to think that the odds were stacked in the favour of the eventual winner, Zinaida Kupriyanovich, a 16 year old from Minsk - better known, especially to Junior Eurovision fans, as ZENA.
The pocket rocket is no stranger to the Eurovision audition process, unsuccessfully trying out to represent Belarus in Junior Eurovision in 2015 and 2016, before scoring the all important hosting role for last year’s junior event. In 2019, she goes one better, representing her home nation with an absolute belter of a song, Like It.
The dance-pop tune isn’t particularly lyrically complex – ZENA is out at a club, looking for someone to dance with, and surprise! She finds someone, lives in the moment and in all honesty, gets a bit clingy – but it makes up for that with some huge earworms, making certain that “yes, you’re gonna like it” and "you’re gonna like it" every second of every day for about 7 weeks after you’ve heard it for the first time. Belarus have been a nation who send catchy songs year after year, but since the semi finals were introduced, they have only qualified a disappointing five times! For someone so young (the youngest in the contest this year), ZENA is a vocal powerhouse, with a warm alto tone in the verses contrasted beautifully with her strong belt in the chorus, and could well be their best chance to qualify in years.
ZENA cowrote the song with Yulia Kireeva and Viktor Drobysh. Neither is a household name, but Viktor’s work is certainly household fodder – he produced the 2012 second place banger from Russia, Party for Everybody by the Buranovskiye Babushki. Can ZENA replicate that success… or perhaps go one better in Tel Aviv?