Live Blogging the Russian Eurovision Selection Show

Jen here live-blogging the Russian broadcast for their Eurovision entry. This is a must-not-miss of the qualifiers because Russia is one of the big players on the Eurovision circuit. They have the talent, the capacity, and, let’s face it, the interest to put up good songs year after year. 27 songs are vying to represent Russia in the contest this May. Hope we’re in for a good time. All times EDT.

1:53 Do I spot Evgeny Plushenko in the audience? That’s awesome.

1:57 We open with Marija Serifovic, last year’s winner, singing last year’s winning song “Moltiva.” Oh yes, we’re in for some fun tonight. We are amused by the show of solidarity with Serbia that the Russians are demonstrating by having her open the show.

2:03 01 – Assorti. God-awful Pussycat Dolls knock-off, with half the talent. Anna is a naughty librarian. I can tell because her outfit is backless. 6 women, 2 part harmony. Obviously going for 3 part harmony would be a bit complex given their “complicated” dance moves.

2:06 02 – Polina Smolova. Not bad, although I not sure the storytelling that appears to be happening in this song will play well with an audience that doesn’t understand Russian. She totally dissed the dancer with the brooding Russian soul. Makes sense, she needs to focus on her career right now.

2:10 03 – Alsou Zainutdinova. Atrocious vocal. Major warble problem. The costumes and choreography are suggestive of someone who became interested in Indian culture exactly one month ago.

2:13 04 – Zhenya Otradnaya. Best vocal on the night so far, but she needs to rethink the wedding dress. And I just don’t know if “porque, porque porque. Amor, amor, amor” is going to cut it with Russian voters.

2:15 05 – Andrei Mararenko. Wall of Voodoo sings Rick Springfield. A silly song, but it amuses. “Siberia Ba-ba-beria.” The camos make them dangerous.

2:23 06 – Anna Mushak. They’re trying to force rhyme “middle” and “needle.”

2:26 07 – Nora Adam. This sounds like the Minnie Driver vocal from Golden Eye. “Gotta let it go.” Indeed, she gotta let her mike go.

2:29 08 – Natalia Terehova. Cute and catchy. I like this one.

2:35 09 – Evgenia Rasskazova. Why can’t they give us a medium shot of her? I’m curious if she is going to fall out of her unbuttoned wedding dress. Ev gives her mild applause.

2:41 10 – Dima Bilan. You do start to gain an appreciation when the English is good. Dima has sprouted roots from his feet planting himself into the stage, and he grows like a flower. That said, a powerful vocal and a relatively non-stupid English lyric.

2:46 11 – Elena Gorskaya. Are the backup dancers dressed like priests? Why yes, and we even get Christ imagery during the bridge. Christianity and Islam “somewhere on the edge of the world.” Is this a statement on the Russian stance on the war on terrorism?

2:50 12 – Aleksandr Panayotov. Prop work! Big disco balls, and, wait, DIFFERENT SIZED disco balls now! “The crescent and the cross in the sky…” I see we are now entering the political section of our show with another statement on the war on terrorism. Can’t we all just be friends and love each other? Kumbaya, bitches. C’mon people, Eurovision hates politics, and this one puts the “pain” in “painfully earnest.”

2:52 – Chris: this is what happens when you don’t make it into the Bolshoi. Dancing. Holding balls.

Jen: I’d put it as rhythmic gymnastics rejects.

2:56 13 – Pier Narciss and Jam Sherif. “Are we ready to rock a bit?” Well, yes. Actually, I’m ready to rock a lot. Oh, “a beat” not “a bit.” Well, yes, that too. The rough beginning is forgiven because this track has a nice groove. One guy is American and the other, French? (Actually, they’re from Nigeria and Cameroon.) Possibly the only 2 black folks in Russia.

2:59 14 – Yulia Mihalchik. Has this chick been making a living playing funerals? Cuz, you know, you don’t want anything that rocks hard at a funeral.

Eurovision Lesson #1.

Eurovison likes:

  • Slow songs if accompanied by a powerful vocal; or
  • Upbeat songs.

This song fails because it is neither.

3:08 15 – Granat.

“The other side of midnight. No sign of love.”

The good news is they’re trying a more sophisticated harmony than we heard in #1. Of course the bad news is they really shouldn’t be attempting it if their tuning is off.

3:11 16 – Sabrina.

“I see you, in my rear view.”

“Got a vision, it’s a premonition.”

Maybe it’s just a Russian/American culture clash, but in my world R&B does not involve the presence of an accordion.

3:14 Jen: This will be a test for the coveted horndog vote.

Chris: This one is for the old Commies seeing the permissiveness of an open society.

3:16 17 – BK. AC/DC called, they want their wardrobe back. Truly, this vocal, this song, everything, is terrible. I haven’t heard vocals this bad since Kiss.

3:19 18 – Asia. Contrary to how she describes herself (or maybe her influences, my Russian is nonexistent), I don’t hear Sarah Brightman or Mariah Carey. I hear flat.

This is really terrible. She’s sitting on her notes like someone who is trying to make a square become a trapezoid. Too bad she wasted money on collagen injections just for this broadcast. She can’t even moan in tune. Low point for vocals so far tonight, and that’s saying something, because #3 was bad.

3:28 19 – Tamila Bloggy.

Chris: Boy, this is… uh…

Jen: Boring.

Chris: Yeah.

Evgeny wants his haircut back.

3:32 20 – Prime Minister. Uh oh, boy band alert. Seriously, the Backstreet Boys went out of fashion after 1999. Of course, what’s worrying is this stuff has been known to make it through. It’s also kind of a catchy song. Oooo, and they close out with competent 5-part harmony.

3:36 21 – Anatoliy Aleshin. I sense earnest.

3:37 Jen: The long lost and estranged Olsen Brother.

Chris: Are you sure it’s not an Olsen father?

3:38 We’re going a little Meatloaf now, and there’s the telltale Eurovision Key Change (EKC). What’s sad is it’s not a bad Eurovision song, it’s just not executed well.

3:45 22 – Aleksei Vorobiev

“I can’t believe it’s true
I will sing for you
To find a modern sound
That we will sing aloud.”

3:46 YES!!!! KOSSACK DANCERS! On kitsch value this is unsurpassed. And the thing is it’s really catchy. The audience is getting into it too. I have to say, looking at those red costumes, I was not taking him seriously at first but well played, sir. Well played. My favorite on the night so far. This is the first song I’ve heard that felt like an affirmative “yes” as opposed to “eh, that’s not bad.”

3:49 23 – Roman Bezhin. Master class lesson for Roman: sing where you speak. I can’t understand a damn thing he says, and he is singing in English.

3:53 24 – Sergei Lazarev.

“The fly is on the move. You know I’ll get you into the groove”

Oh. The FIRE is on the move. Whatever.

Fireballs. So Wizard of Oz.

3:59 25 – Natalia Astafeva. Influences are Barbara Streisand and Bjork. I don’t see that. I see Christian Siriano. A train wreck of a song and a performance.

Eurovision Lesson #2. The problem with using a mike stand when it’s just you on stage is it creates a static visual picture and roots you to one place. Eurovision doesn’t like that.

4:03 26 – Satsura and Maks Lorens. With all these candles, is he making a ritual sacrifice? The lighting makes it look like it’s raining, in his heart, but not so much that it puts out the candles. I hear the gospel influence and the R&B pop. The harmonies are really nice and the vocals are pretty powerful. Will we get a EKC? Why yes we will! Don’t hate this one.

4:06 27 – Olga Varvus. And we close out the evening with “King of Seduction.” As if Taylor Dayne didn’t look enough like a drag queen.

Jen: Is the one male dancer in the back the King of Seduction?

Chris: Yes. I was hoping he’d wear a crown on his fedora, but it was not to be.

4:15 So now we begin voting for our favorites. It seems as though the judges have some say, and the voters have some say. I guess the judges are like superdelegates (we do have superdelegates on the mind these days). Voters are asked to call or SMS their vote, picking among all 27. That seems like a steep task, but ultimately, more “democratic” than the juried vetting, such as we saw in Britain for example.

In my opinion there are 3 contenders here (#22, #8, and #26), and 3 additional songs that didn’t suck (#10, #13, and #4).

4:22 Now we hear the Belarusian entry, Ruslan. Clearly adopting the Koldun model of touring prior to the Eurovision contest.

4:30 And now the Ukranian entry, Ani Lorak, “Shady Lady”. Goody! It’s a good song, and she can really sing. She could win this thing in May.

4:34 We review our performances one last time. And when voting, we should ask ourselves, who’s good enough to compete with the likes of the Ukranian entry?

4:43 Our voting window is now closed.

4:40 The tallies come in… (Obviously, they all received vote counts, but these are who stood out to me and I managed to write down)

#3 2 points. Ow! Is it possible to get less than 2 points?

#4 50 points. Ooooh! Wedding dress girl did good!

#7 4 points. Ow!

#10 54 points. Nice going!

#12 52 points. WTF?!?!?

#13 16 points. Ow!

#14 43 points. What?! Waaay better than she deserved.

#16 19 points. We don’t play for booze and whores around here.

#22 46 points. Good showing, but sad for what was our and the audience’s favorite.

#23 7 points. Roman did poorly.

#24 48 points. But… but… he was terrible!!!

#26 26 points. Disappointing finish.

4:53 And our winner is … #10 Dima Bilan. I can live with this. He was ok.

4:54 Ev gives him a standing O.

4:57 Wait, is this the guy who went 2 years ago? Sure looks like it. Finished 2nd behind Lordi.

4:59 And the show closes out with us hearing from our winner yet again. Nice falsetto work.