Russia holds an enviable record at Eurovision. Since the turn of the century, it has finished in the Top 5 nine times, tying it with Sweden in this regard. And, unlike Sweden, Russia has made every final since the introduction of the semis in 2004. Excluding members of the Big 5, who have an automatic spot in the final, they are the only country to have appeared in every final since then.
But which of Russia’s lucky 9 was the best? It’s easy to say Dima Bilan and his song “Believe” since he won it all. But many would argue that isn’t Russia’s best offering, especially since the level of competition has arguably improved in recent years as Eurovision has gone more mainstream.
So it’s up to you to decide. You can review Russia’s nine Top 5 finishers of the 21st century below. Then vote in our poll. You can vote for as many acts as you’d like, but you can only vote one time.
First up is the amazing Alsou with her beautiful entry “Solo.” Her elegant performance, which landed her in second position, helped take her career to another level. She has continued to deliver hit after hit since then and even hosted Eurovision 2009 in Moscow.
Their record label Universal Music Russia opposed the group’s participation in Eurovision, claiming it was for “young artists” rather than established acts. But the faux lesbian duo went anyway, and took third place with “Ne ver’, ne boisia.” They broke up a few years later. Lena Katina has continued to wow us with song after song in language after language, while Julia Volkova has made offensive comments, which sort of turned us off to her. In any event, the duo reunited to perform at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Three years later Dima showed up and wowed us with his first run at Eurovision, achieving second place with the beautiful “Never Let You Go.” Little did we know this was just his warm-up act.
Sandwiched between Dima’s two entries was Serebro. A really good group with a number of killer songs, but “Song #1” was not their best. And yet they finished in third place anyway.
Dima Bilan yet again
The following year Dima returned and brought home the win for Mother Russia. With the incredibly energetic “Believe” he had all of Europe swaying to that heavy R&B beat. An amazing song from a very talented performer — and one that came with Olympic figure skater Evgeny Plushenko turning tricks on a makeshift mini ice rink.
After a three-year dry spell, we then got the Buranovskiye Babushki with “Party for Everybody.” Yes everyone loved them… except me. I thought they were awful. But despite their lack of a melody and any sense of intonation, they managed an amazing second place and came close to unseating Loreen (in the televote anyway).
The following year Dina Garipova — the first-ever winner of The Voice Russia — turned up with the peace anthem “What If.” It could have easily been lost among the other entries, but the staging, the ensemble and Dina at the center of it made this something that really touched me and wound up in a deserving fifth place. I was right in front of the stage that night and she was just electric.
Polina is a force of nature. She wowed all of Europe with “A Million Voices” bringing home a well deserved second place.
She had the amazing ability to reach out through the TV and grab everyone watching. Her talent has been so obvious for so long that we suggested she represent Russia way back in 2013.
And following Polina we have Sergey Lazarev, who came first with televoters and ended up third in the combined vote with “You Are the Only One.” He brought a level of creativity that has rarely, if ever, been equalled.
Who best represented Russia? Vote your favourite in the poll below and tell us why in the comments.