Category Archives: Russia
JESC 2013 Preview: Part 3
The moment of truth is just about here! Tomorrow, November 30th, young talent from a dozen nations will set foot on stage at the Ukraine National Palace of Arts in the hopes of bringing home this year’s Junior Eurovision Song Contest championship trophy. In our first two previews (viewable here and here), we looked at eight of the acts vying for the title; let’s look at our last group! Read the rest of this entry
Russia: “What If” Released
Only a few days after the announcement that the champion of “The Voice”, Dina Garipova, would be representing Russia, her song “What If” has been released. The ballad, composed by the Swedish/Russian team of Gabriel Alares, Joakim Bjornberg and Leonid Gutkin, was broadcast on Russia’s Channel One on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry
A voice for Russia: Dina Garipova
Russia, like over forty other nations from around the globe, has been swept up by the popularity of “The Voice”. Originally shown in The Netherlands, the format has taken hold worldwide, from Chile to Vietnam to the United States and back again. Over in Russia, one of the four coaches who both guides and judges the aspiring stars was none other than ESC champion Dima Bilan, who hinted all the way back in November that the winner of Golos would be prepped for Eurovision. Read the rest of this entry
Russia has decided: it’s the Buranovskiye Babushki!
Today, in Russia, RTR held their National Final in the hopes of sending an act to Baku that would do their country proud. Maybe it would be Dima Bilan or Yulia Volkova, a pair of globally-famous performers with a Eurovision gold, silver, and bronze between them. Maybe it would be the rap-opera hybrid act of Timati and Aida. Maybe it would mark the return of Polina Smolova… Read the rest of this entry
Preview: Russian National Final
Wednesday, March 7 brings us one of the last major National Finals of the Eurovision preseason, as Russia continues its quest for their second Eurovision title. After an internal selection last year brought them a relatively disappointing 16th place in the Final (their second-lowest placement ever), broadcaster RTR is returning to a televised selection format. Read the rest of this entry
New Videos/Versions for Bulgaria, Russia, Slovenia, Poland, and Belarus
Over the past few days, a number of official videos have been released for some of this year’s entries (and we’re still expecting ones from Israel, the UK, Armenia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan). Plus, we’ve got new translations for a few entries! Let’s get right to it:
Starting off, Bulgaria’s Poli Genova released the official clip for “Na Inat (For Spite)”, and I must say that I’m really impressed!
This new video blends the anthemic pop-rock vibe of Poli’s National Final performance with the universal message of “we can change the world together” that is all-so-prevalent in Eurovision. Those who don’t understand Bulgarian (like me, for example) will be able to hone into Poli’s meaning pretty easily (if Miss Genova releasing a dove at the end doesn’t hammer it home, you might need your head checked).
Next, Russia’s Alexey Vorobyov (aka “Alex Sparrow”) released his video for “Get You”, although it looks to be a poor re-edit of the clip for his song “Bam Bam!“.
If you’re going to use clips from your previous singles for your Eurovision promo video, an artist had better make sure that it’s a convincing edit. The best example of this would have to be the Ukraine’s 2009 clip for “Be My Valentine“, which took pieces from Svetlana Loboda’s earlier songs “Ne Macho“, “Postoy, Muschina!“, and “Mishka“, with only little snippets of new footage. For “Get You”, however, the lip-syncing seems off, and (for lack of a better word), this just seems sleazy. Ok, Alex, we get it. You’re good looking, you likely have your pick of any woman in Russia, and you could probably kick the teeth out of someone who would get in your way. Good for you. Moving on…
Oh, Slovenia…you had such promise. I loved the original Slovene version of your entry “Vaniljia”, and even when it was translated into English, I could look past a few pronunciation errors and still appreciate Maja Keuc’s powerful vocals and dramatic flair. But the official video…
If the cast from “Mission: Impossible” and “Twilight” had a love child and let her run free in a Renaissance Festival, I imagine the result would look a lot like the clip for “No One”. Maja looks beautiful, as always, but this video just makes me just want to scratch my head and go “huh?”. If you remember my commentary on last year’s Macedonian video, the same sentiment goes for this clip.
The Polish delegation has just released the second English-language version of their song “Jestem“. After “First Class Ticket To Heaven” was panned by Eurovision fans worldwide (it was enough of a disaster that all versions of it have been removed from YouTube, in fact!), their second attempt, “Present“, is a significant improvement. The song will still be performed in Magdalena Tul’s native Polish, however.
Finally, the Belorussian team working with Anastasiya Vinnikova has just released a Belorussian-language version of their entry “I Love Belarus”, entitled “Мая Беларусь (My Belarus)“. (That might have set the record for the amount of times that the word “Belarus” has been written in a single sentence. I expect a statue in my honor to be built in Minsk by this time next week.) The song will still be performed in English. Whether that’s a good thing or not still remains to be seen.
More to come!
Russia’s Alexey Vorobyov ("Alex Sparrow") – "Get You" released
After weeks of speculation, Russia’s 2011 Eurovision contribution has been officially presented to the public. Written by international hitmaker RedOne and performed by Alexey Vorobyov (who will go by the stage name “Alex Sparrow”), “Get You” was premiered on the opening night of a Russian reality show:
On a first listen, I kind of enjoyed “Get You”. It’s the kind of sexy, catchy pop entry that Russia has had some pretty major success with in the past (like what we saw with Alsou, tATu, and Serebro). It will, undoubtedly, be a big hit in the Euroclub! However, when I listened to it the second time around (when I generally try to pay more attention to the lyrical content, as opposed to my first impressions of the music), I got almost immediately creeped out. I know, as a woman, that I generally like a guy with some measure of confidence, but the song sounds as if the Big Bad Wolf were being interrogated on an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”. “I’m coming to get you…I know you want me to…If you really want to have fun tonight, just scream!” I know that’s not Alex and RedOne’s intent, but for me, the fun of the song has now been overshadowed by some sketchy lyrics. I admit that I’m probably being just overly sensitive here, and reading too deeply into the words of a pop song, but I’m a bit too skeeved out to really enjoy this song for what it is.
Alexey Vorobyov for Russia!
According to credible sources, Russia has just made the announcement that singer Alexey Vorobyov will represent Eurovision’s largest nation in Germany. The song, which will be publicly introduced to the world during the March 12th, the season premiere of “Star Academy”.
That’s not where the news ends, however: the song has been written by the world-renowned hitmaker RedOne, who has produced hits for artists such as Lady GaGa, Enrique Iglesias, Usher, Jennifer Lopez, and many others. Here’s what RedOne had to say about the collaboration:
Sadly, there is no news on whether or not the Buranovskiye Babushki will be his backup dancers.
Major Monday Updates!
You would think that after a massive weekend like the one we just had, Eurovision nations would let a poor blogger have a break, right? But noooooo…
In the past half-day, we’ve had two official songs revealed (Cyprus and Belarus), one Preselection lineup released (Israel), rumors in Russia, and major shakeups in Georgia and Ukraine. I’ll get to Cyprus and Belarus in depth as soon as I’ve written my pieces on Slovenia and Macedonia, who picked their entries on Sunday, but I can definitely give you the latest news on the Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, and Israeli news.
Russia has been one of the major Eurovision players over the past decade, not only because of the quality of its songs, but also due to the fact that they are the absolute fulcrum of the Post-Soviet Voting Bloc. Votes from all over Eastern Europe often go to Moscow, due to a shared sociolinguistic history and culture (not to mention the omnipresent allegations of political voting). But despite the massive weight of the Russian Bear on Eurovision, we haven’t heard much in the way of their Eurovision plans for this year…until yesterday. According to rumors, we’ll hear about Russia’s official plans sometime this week. It seems that it will either come down to an internal selection or a small-scale National Final, with certain artists having been approached to submit entries for consideration. One of those artists, much to my delight, are the Buranovskie Babushki! Some of you might remember these singing and dancing grandmas from last year’s National Selection, where their performance (in Udmurt!) of “Dlinnaja-dlinnaja beresta i kak sdelat’ iz nee aishon” made my list of favorite Preselection entries. If they end up going to Germany, I will definitely be making a beeline for the Russian delegation’s cocktail party…instead of vodka and blinis, will they be serving cookies and milk? I just want to hug them all!
Anyway, from Russia, we jump over to Ukraine, who, as per usual, has decided to scrap their preselection after allegations of corruption. Some of you likely remember last year’s fiasco, when an internally-selected singer and publicly-decided song was retracted after a political transition, and the winner of the subsequent preselection was rejected due to an early release. (It all turned out ok, though, as Alyosha’s “Sweet People” ended up in 10th place in the Final.) Confused yet? Anyway, after a juror on this year’s panel stated her dissatisfaction with the results, and Eurofans from all over the country have called, written, and petitioned in complaint, a second National Final will be held on March 3, with original winner Mika Newton, runner-up Zlata Ognevich, and fan favorite Jamala to compete against each other. Furthermore, the decision will be made only by a televote, and only one vote per phone number will be allowed. Let’s hope that that puts an end to this madness, or else I will personally go to Ukraine, grab the Head of Delegation by the ear, and make him pick a random name out of the Kiev Telephone Directory. (UPDATE!: Jamala has suddenly withdrawn from the second National Final, citing her unwillingness to be associated with a possibly fraudulent selection. Excuse me while I bang my head against a wall.) (ANOTHER UPDATE!: And now Zlata Ognevich has withdrawn, too! So, by default, Mika Newton will represent Ukraine in Düsseldorf…it’s still unknown if she’ll sing “Angel” or a replacement entry, but I assume the news will come soon.)
Next, we’ve got a shake-up in Georgia! For reasons still unknown, winning band Eldrine has decided to change their line-up. Lead singer Tamar “Tako” Vadachkoria has been replaced by Sopho Toroshelidze, who sang backup for last year’s entry, “Shine”. According to my calculations, three quarters of all Georgian Eurovision participants have been named Sopho…is there some sort of regional law mandating this? Are little girls named Sopho magically imbued with musical ability? Do Georgian men even sing?! Anyway, they’ll be filming the music video for “One More Day” next week in Tblisi.
Finally, we’ve got the official line-up and songs for Israel‘s 2011 preselection, “Kdam”, scheduled for March 8. Ten artists will duke it out for the ticket to Düsseldorf, including Eurovision legend Dana International. The songs represent a number of genres, and almost all of them are bilingual (either in Hebrew/English or Hebrew/French). The candidates are:
Adi Cohen – “Al Ahava“
KNOB – “Ohev et ze“
Chen Aharoni – “Or“
Idit Halevi – “It’s My Time“
Hatikva 6 – “Hakol Sababa“
Niki Goldstein – “Amri itach“
Sivan Bahnem – “Kach Oti“
Michael and Shimrit Greylsummer – “Tu Du Du“
Dana International – “Ding Dong“
Carmel Ekman – “El Gagoai“
More about Slovenia, (FYR) Macedonia, Belarus, and Cyprus shortly!
The Best of the 2010 Preselection (Part Two)
Continuing on where I left off…
From Russia: “Senza Respiro (Without Rest)” by Antonello Carozza
Remember what I had said earlier about Eurovision fans practically begging Italy to come back into the fray? Well, every once in a while it seems that an Italian artist will take the initiative and apply for another nation’s Preselection (or, alternately, a country will sing in an entry in Italian, even if there’s no real reason to. I’m looking at you, Romania!). This happened in Russia this year, with singer Antonello Carozza (who I really can’t find much more information on, other than a 2006 San Remo Festival performance) coming in a respectable 8th place with his fun, bouncy, sexy, half-spoken, half-sung pop number about the fickle nature of fame and celebrity. Can you imagine if this song had made it to Oslo? Between the catchy song, cute singer, the former-Soviet Bloc voting that somehow propelled “Lost and Forgotten” into 10th place in this year’s Final (yeesh…), and the desire to see Italy return to Eurovision…we could have had a major ESC hit on our hands with this one.
From Finland: “Annankadun Kulmassa (On the Corner of Anna Street)” by Heli Kajo
Ok…if the French film character Amelie were a jilted lover in Helsinki, I imagine she’d be a lot like the impossibly cute Heli Kajo. The first line of the song translates to “Why do you pass out alone, on Sunday nights, pants down, on the corner of Anna Street?” Her pain and anger, blended with the innocent sweetness of the song as a whole, gives this fantastic contrast that I know I had to listen to a few times. By the time the tune builds to its understated climax, translated to “Why do you only say ‘I love you’ after a double whiskey?”, you just want to give Heli a hug and tell her to kick her boyfriend’s worthless ass to the curb. “Annankadun Kulmassa” came in 6th place in this year’s Finnish preselection.
From Israel…the entire Kdam!
We all know how much I raved about Harel Skaat’s “Milim (Words)” this year, and how I think he was basically robbed (although winning all three of the Marcel Bezençon Awards mitigates the blow a bit). In the Israeli preselection (or Kdam) this year, there were three other songs that could have easily gone to Oslo. The four tunes presented were all crafted for Harel, and there really wasn’t a bad one in the bunch. I think I’ve already mentioned the gorgeous “Le’an (Away)” and its incredible final high note, but the ballad “Le’hitkarev (Closer)” and the more uptempo “Elayich (Towards You)” were also fantastic songs that really highlighted Harel’s range and showmanship. Israel really has a tough act to follow for the 2011 event; they set the bar incredibly high with this past year’s Kdam.
From Sweden: “Kom (Come)” by Timoteij
As I’ve mentioned before, bits and pieces of a previous year’s winner often come through in the entries vying for the next year’s Eurovision crown. In the case of Alexander Rybak, we were given a string-heavy, yet upbeat number that balanced folk and pop. One of the best examples of that in this year’s Swedish Melodifestivalen was Timoteij’s “Kom”.
This fun, summery pop number only came in 5th place in this year’s Melodifestivalen, but it was selected as the Swedish representative for the OGAE Second Chance Contest, where ESC fans from all over the world select their favorite “also-rans”. “Kom” won by a pretty heavy margin. Considering that Sweden didn’t make it to the Eurovision Finals this year for the first time since 1976, should Timoteij have represented them, instead?
What were some of your other favorite preselection entries? Let me know what you think!