Last weekend the Wiwi Jury—our in-house panel of musical unprofessionals—traveled to Moscow to attend a performance of Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theatre. After admiring the footwork and the bulges, we sat down to review the Tolmachevy Sisters and their Eurovision 2014 song “Shine”. Did this song blind us with its beauty? Or did we find it rather generic, dull, dim, and gauche? Read on to find out…
Angus: The instrumental on ‘Shine’ feels like it could underscore the introduction for a KGB-spy flick set in 60s in neo-noir, with the Twins as the ominous and emotionless trench-coat sporting fembots of doom. The song might feel ‘From Russia With Love’ but it’s so cold and emotionless it’s more like ‘From Moscow with Morbidity’. The song is also truly a repulsive affair and only wins marks for imitating Western blonde singing sisters Aly & AJ. If only the song was more ‘Like Whoa’ and less…like…no.
Bogdan: “Shine” does anything but shine. It’s not atrocious, but it’s also very far from brilliant. The only interesting thing about the Russian twins this year is that they’re, well, twins, but that’s about it. The Tolmachevy sisters also look and sound nothing like what they used to back in 2006, when they deservedly won JESC in Bucharest. Like other Eurovision songs called “Shine”, I hope this, too, will stay in the semi. There are a lot better entries that deserve to go through and it would be a pity if Russia advanced just because it’s, well, Russia. Especially this year. Oh and don’t get me started on the Crimea-alluding lyrics. NTG!
Wiwi: The Tolmachevy Sisters ask us to shine into their darkness. They should really ask us to shout. That way people may not hear their song, which is filled with lyrical clichés, a dated melody, and annoying bells. The Russian version of this song is so much stronger than the English one. It sounds more authentic and more soulful, and could have easily made the Top 10. The English version is generic and cheap. But at least it will allow the masses to comprehend the rather loaded lyrics.
Vebooboo: Were it not for a smaller field this year and the concept of bloc voting, I am pretty sure this song with the same name as Austria’s last year would face the same fate. Duets tend to do well at Eurovision, but this one just never really goes anywhere. It is sung well, the sisters are pretty, and I’m sure Russia will pump rubles into special effects (fire, lights, whatever). But you’ve gotta have a good song too, and this one just never really builds or has any meaning. Don’t get me wrong, this is heaps better than some of the others this year. But it just ain’t spectacular.
Billy: That’s nice! I like the lyrics and the music, and it has a nice beat. But I really would prefer to hear someone else performing it! Russia will deliver a nice performance on stage, maybe asking some popular director to take up this project. Even though it’s nothing new, it is catchy enough to earn a respectable placing.
Deban:The Tolmachevy twin sisters from Kursk bagged the Junior ESC crown back in 2006, and this clearly influenced the Russian State broadcaster to internally select them to compete at the main contest this year. Although ‘Shine’ sports a recycled title, the Englishversion has been accused of veiling a political message. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Russian version of this song trumps the English version. Still, there is an unmistakably rousing quality to the song in any language, that almost borders on being anthemic, especially with repeat listens. This entry will shine even brighter during the re-cap.
Katie: Let’s be honest, no matter who represents Russia this year and no matter what song they sing, not a lot of people will like it. It’s annoying, but it’s simply because Vladimir Putin is an arsehole and he’s ruined the reputation of his country (nice one Cyril). But the bias against Russia is less annoying when the song is pretty bad too. It’s a repeat of Dina and the sucky ballad, only with guitars this time. It sounds like something a primary school choir would sing and there’s no excitement or sophistication to it.
Francheska: Russia’s on a disappointment streak for me. I hated “What If” (most ironic song, y’know, COMING FROM RUSSIA EXCUSE ME EXPANSIONISM MUCH?), and this is just continuing on that downward spiral. The Tolmachevy Twins are stuck in their JESC days (they say that child stars stop maturing when they turn famous, this theory holds true in songwriting apparently). The song provides nothing, and one could argue that it’s promulgating Russian expansionism (what the bloody hell else could “closer to the crime” mean? Unless they’re dealing heroin). Musically, it’s boring. The twins are boring. Yet, for some bizarre reason, I’m compelled to listen to this song. It’s oddly pleasant, and is somewhat an improvement from Dina, so this is adding to my frustration. Russia/Putin: you better send me a shirtless duet between Dima and Alex Sparrow, because otherwise I’m gonna have a bitch fit from all of these girls pretending to have some greater message.
Padraig: Ok, first up I’ve a confession to make – I’ve never watched the Junior Eurovision. And aside from Gaia Cauchi I hadn’t even listened to a JESC song. Shame on me. So in the interests of furthering my euro-education I decided to carry out a background check on the Tolmachevy’s entry from 2006. Gosh, they were a precocious duo. Irritating, but vivacious and bubbly. Wait. This does not compute. The “Shine” twins I know and … erm … know, are dull and lifeless. They’re completely unrecognisable from the perky duo of 7 years ago. What’s changed? My guess is that they might be a bit pissed about being lumbered with such an insipid and vapid song. Either that or they’re merely human shells inhabited by an alien race, who are set to commence their invasion of earth in May. Both theories are equally plausible.
Zach: I feel the Tolmachevy Twins are getting a lot of unwarranted hate because of Putin, and Eurovision should never be judged on politics, no matter how controversial. That being said, this entry is so-so for me. In comparison to their JESC entry they appear to have “grown up” musically, and it shows in a positive way. But it just seems so tame. There’s no big spark, no surprises, although I feel they’ll vocally deliver it well. The lyrics are nonsensically uplifting in an effort to “mean something”, but it kind of just comes off cheesy. However you can’t deny the two feed off of each other’s energy, and work perfectly as a duo. Maybe the stage show will bring an extra something, but right now it looks like a qualification mainly by name for Russia.
All 19 members of our jury rate each song. However, we only have room to share 10 written reviews. Here are the remaining nine scores.
James L: 3/10
Maxim Montana: 9/10
William C: 5.3/10
The highest and lowest scores are removed before calculating the final score. We have dropped a low of 1 and a high of 9.
The Wiwi Jury Verdict: 4.43/10
You can check out our latest Eurovision 2014 reviews and rankings on the Wiwi Jury page. You can keep up-to-date on the latest Eurovision news and gossip by following the team on Twitter @wiwibloggs and by liking our Facebook page.