Hmm… well it wouldn’t be Eurovision without a dark-horse novelty act threatening to de-rail the always-shaky reputation of the contest. This year Russia have stepped up to the plate by sending a gang of grandmothers, in a shocking but somehow inevitable result that denied entry for Eurovision power couple Dima Bilan (who won in 2008 and came 2nd in 2006) and thingy from t.A.T.u. (who came 3rd in 2003). I sure hope they know what they are doing…
Joining the Eurovision family in 1994 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russia Federation certainly owes a lot of its success to its neighbourly relationship with several of the former Soviet states (and other neighbours of which there are many). It finally had its way in 2008 when Dima Bilan won to the chagrin of many Western grumps convinced that the infamous “bloc voting” would seal Eurovision’s doom forever and ever. Subsequently Norway and Germany won, and yet people are still saying it…
Russia put on a spectacular show in 2009 and really upped the ante for future contests. It’s almost a surprise it took so long to get a win, with five top 5 finishes out of 15 entries. With a bit of money behind them, Russia can often secure somewhat bigger-sounding entries, even attracting super-producer RedOne to create last year’s entry. Oddly though this stalled in 16th place, nearly their worst placing yet, so maybe they can’t rest on their laurels as much as we give them credit for.
So the grannies… well the recorded version has its oddball charm: spooky tribal chants jumping into ethno-trash pop, with croaky old women shrieking their way unintelligibly through this Russian-language ‘song’. But then I heard them LIVE! Well let’s just say it doesn’t improve, unless you are particularly fond of the gimmick of BEING OLD and STANDING, which is practically all they can manage – and even some of them seem like they might topple over at any moment.
Maybe it just feels a bit exploitative, some of them look like disoriented Ewoks, like they’ve wandered on stage and forgotten what they were meant to do. Totally tuneless, chaotic and not even really that entertaining. At least with this sort of crap they have a nonsense “la la la / bibby bobby / bang a boom bong” chorus to actually remember, but even the fragments of English (and I suspect the Russian parts) are rendered unintelligible.
My heart sinks at the thought of this threatening to win, on a wave of neighbourly voting and gimmick-blinded idiot voting. Certainly it’s got everyone talking, and that’s no measure of future success, but why would it win? It’s a bad song performed badly, a Russia’s Got Talent audition that’s got out of hand.
The Eurovision ‘fans’ are a doomsaying bunch, and they have already got in a preemptive hissy-fit about this, but will Europe like it as much as Russia? I’m tempted to say no, and the jury vote (which makes up half of the total) will sink this one, and I just hope to God I’m right.
HRRNKKK – If you haven’t visited my Eurovision review hub thing, please click “Eurovision 2012” just under the banner at the top of the screen, to find links to all the reviews I’ve done so far.