A Bite of “Cheesecake”: TEO wins in Belarus
Well, it’s not a National Final in Belarus without a bit of controversy, is it? After fourteen entrants (and a seemingly endless cavalcade of interval performances, including former participants Alyona Lanskaya, Polina Smolova, and Ruslan Alekhno), a split jury/televote decision led to a tie at the top of the leaderboard.
While the public favored Max Lorens and DiDyuLya’s “Now You’re Gone“, the eight-member jury leaned heavily towards TEO’s “Cheesecake”, with their votes being announced nearly an hour after the public results had been announced. Rather than deferring to the voice of the public in the case of a tie, or arranging for a superfinal, it was the jury that had the final say, unanimously casting their votes for the song that the group had favored in the first place.
And that, my friends, is how we’ve got TEO’s “Cheesecake” representing Belarus.
TEO (whose real name is Yuriy Vaschuk), has come achingly close to Eurovision in the past, but not in the way you’d expect. While he’s tried his hand as a performer before (failing to make it to the 2009 Eurofest Finals with “Behind“, a duet with Anna Blagova), he’s had more success as a songwriter. He co-wrote 3+2’s “Far Away“, as well as “All My Life” and “Rhythm of Love” for Alyona Lanskaya, all of which had been originally chosen to represent Belarus on the international stage, but had all been swapped out or disqualified. Looks like TEO was due for a bit of good luck.
But considering the recent trend of BTRC swapping out entries before the March deadline, who knows if we’ll actually hear this song in Copenhagen? At the very least, lyrical tweaks will have to be made, as the references to Google Maps in the chorus break Eurovision’s rule on product placement or commercial messages. This stipulation, Rule 1.2.2.g, is the same one that affected “Facebook, Uh, Oh, Oh” in 2012.
Ok, now that you’ve (hopefully) taken part in the poll, I’ll be honest with you guys. TEO/Yuriy is cute and charming, and his voice isn’t bad, but he’s got a terribly awkward vehicle taking him to Copenhagen. He’s given the ESC world a trio of relatively strong songs in the past, so this feels like he’s just working with the scraps of previous attempts, with his English grammar needing a major polish. The arrangement, in parts, sounds like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, and references to pop culture, as timeless as “Dirty Dancing” might be, tend to put check marks in my “no” column (see: “Beautiful Song”, “Facebook”). Who knows how it will grow on me in the months to come (or if it’s even necessary, if there’s a swap in our future), but as it stands now, despite my sweet tooth, I simply can’t take another bite of “Cheesecake”.