For this episode of “Slideback Sunday”, I got to choose a song that got to represent Belarus in Eurovision. The song I went for is not the most popular choice, but I think it deserves a bit more attention. I am talking about “Help You Fly” by Ivan, the Belarusian entry of 2016.
About “Help You Fly”
In February 2016, Ivan participated in the national selection of Belarus. His goal: representing his country during the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. He made the attempt with his song “Help You Fly”. The song speaks about helping somebody overcome life’s obstacles and supporting them, with lyrics such as: “I will help you learn how to fly, how to fly, free, leave all the madness behind, far behind”. After Ivan revealed the idea of performing fully naked with two wolves joining him on stage, EBU refused that as it wouldn’t follow the rules.
At first listen, my impression was not as negative as other eurofans’. I kinda liked that rocky sound and the rough in Ivan’s voice, kind of like a wolf! Eurovision 2016 was, as we all know, a really strong year. Ivan performed in semi final two, so I already took in account that Belarus might stay in the semi final. Surprisingly, he actually came pretty close to qualifying after all. He finished 12th with 84 points. Talking about staging, he of course did not perform naked with two wolves after all. However, some screens on stage protected a similar view from what we could have expected. Original solution you might think! In the end I actually felt a bit bad for him not qualifying, as he did a pretty good job in my opinion.
What do other escxtra-members think?
This is in my top 5 of Belarusian entries! The song itself is really solid, but unfortunately it got overshadowed by the whole wolf part at the start of the performance. A shame, really, because I think “Help you fly” deserved to at least qualify. If you’re gonna start off with a naked man and a wolf, you may as well go all out, and while they definitely wanted to do that with their original staging, this half-assed compromise just came across as weird. Especially since the rest of the performance isn’t much to write home about – not even the gimmicky LED box had much of an impact. In conclusion, I really like the song, but the performance was approximately 15 seconds of notoriety followed by absolutely nothing.
This was a typical Belarus moment. They picked something completely bland in their national final, as they almost always tend to do. When they then get to Eurovision, it’s Belarus who almost always get us talking. And they did, with ideas about real wolves or a naked Ivan. To be honest, none of it actually came through and it was just a major gimmick to take attention away from the blandness that the song actually is. It’s one of those entries that just sits there. Not the worst three minutes of the night, but you’re unlikely to remember anything half an hour later. A totally unsurprising non-qualifier in my book.
Help You Fly is fine. Sorry that I don’t really have a lot to say about this, but it’s fine. Compositionally, it’s fine. Lyrically, fine. Staging was a little weird, but after the first gimmick it was just fine. Vocally is where this shines, as IVAN does some heavy lifting in my opinion. It’s definitely not as bad as a lot of fans still think it is, but 12th in the semi is about where I’d put it too.
The ironic thing is about this song is that I remember Petra & Mans’ joke about Ivan and his wolves, more than I remember the entry itself. To describe it in one word – bland. It really delivered nothing to the table, unlike some of the other songs, and it was no surprise it didn’t make the final. Musically, it needed more of a shift – I would have like to see a massive “moment” at the end. Fireworks and pyros would have set this song alight I think. Overall, it’s really just not a memorable one for me. I wouldn’t necessarily skip it on a playlist, but I wouldn’t choose to play it either.
What is your opinion of “Help You Fly” and Ivan? What’s your favorite Belarusian entry? Share your opinions on social media @escxtra And make sure to come back for another slideback to another Eurovision entry next Sunday!