On Saturday night, Samanta Tina won Supernova with her song, Still Breathing:
In it, Tina depicts what that the average woman is expected to live up to – preparing meals, caring for children, doing laundry, and maintaining a certain appearance through diet and exercise. Brief moments of joy are interspersed through, when Tina cavorts in her lingerie with women who aren’t typical models (but are all still white, cis, and blonde) and treats herself to an entire chocolate cake.
Yet while the visuals depict the oppression of the patriarchy, the ultimate tone of the song is one of hope. Despite all these challenges, Tina sings:
Every day I wake up
Trying to get higher
Be a better woman
Working even harder
And these aren’t lyrics that have been foisted on her by a male songwriter – the song was written by two women – Tina and Aminata, who represented Latvia in the 2015 contest.
The tone of the whole thing strikes me as markedly different from Sadbois. The lament of the Sadboi is usually passive, focused on a woman (often unnamed) and what she did to him and how he’s been wounded and hurt, losing a vital part of himself in the process. Now, I don’t want to downplay heartbreak and grief, but the Sadboi freezes grief in amber, making it a part of their personality.
Tina’s song, in contrast, clearly recognises the challenge posed by all the demands put on women, but refusing to capitulate to it. This is not a song that’s going to wallow in the dreams of a past relationship. This is a song that’s going to get up at 6 AM, even when it’s feeling terrible, because it has to get shit done.
(And yes, Tina is allowed to criticise the patriarchal system at the same time she participates in reaping the rewards from it because what else is she going to do? The system is rigged against women, and it’s not like Tina alone can cause the structural and or cultural change required to tear down that system – so it’s great that she’s calling it out from her place of relative privilege.)
As someone who has mental health issues that often mean I just want to burrow underneath the covers because I’m overwhelmed by the expectations placed upon me as a woman and a person, I love Still Breathing. I love it because Tina exudes resilience. I love it because it’s a woman who’s not beaten down. I love it because it inspires me on days when I’m too tired to fight the patriarchy. It makes me feel seen.
For that, I don’t care how messy Tina is on stage, or how corny her rap is. Still breathing is a brilliant song that we need this Eurovision. Thanks, Samanta and Aminata.