The Russian language seems to have been invented for pop music. Throw in the legacy of communism, which made the Eastern Bloc a creative force upon its dissolution, and combine that with the number of people in the region and you have one amazing talent pool.
The artists I’m listing below are ones that have been performing for some time. They are not merely the hottest pop stars of the last month. Why? Because singers come and go, and the ones that stay at the top have something special – a presentation that appeals to people over time, and therefore across generations and cultures.
Vitaly Kozlovsky & Varda
If Russia can enter a song like this and stage it in a similar way to this video, then Russia has ESC so won that the only question is who will come in second. This is a fantastic song with two exceptional voices. They own the screen, and their team have dreamed up a production so incredible that viewers will forget what else is on the show.
They capture the changing nature of emotions in any relationship. It paints a complex picture. Yes, it’s highly charged. But it also has depth and nuance. It packs an incredible emotional punch, one that anyone who’s been in love will find compelling.
Natasha Koroleva is easily the most talented Russian artist from the last 10 years. Her songs are good, her voice is incredibly compelling and she owns the screen. She is also incredibly versatile with a wide range of numbers that make you move. What she sings and how she emotes is simply perfect for Eurovision. She may not be a guaranteed win, but she would definitely be a heavy favorite. Judging from her Maxim photo shoot (above), she would also know how to work the publicity machine.
Zhanna Friske is another singer that has been doing an awesome job for the last 10 years. She has a compelling voice that really grabs you. She also exudes more sex appeal than almost anyone else on the planet, yet does so in a subtle way. Compared to most pop stars, anyway.
Valery Meladze has also been causing a stir for longer than he probably wants to admit. As with the previous two artists, he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he’s been sitting at the top for so long people think it’s too effortless for him. He does a superb job of pulling the viewer in to his songs and that counts for a lot at ESC.
Ok look: There are four amazing talents listed above. Pick one of them. Any of them will easily get to the top three with a very good shot at winning. But if all four are unavailable (yeah – right), then consider…
A very sweet song in this style would fit in well in any 50’s Falling in Love movie set in Italy or France. There’s a lot of us old farts that vote in ESC and this will appeal to us. Probably not top five, but it could be top ten.
Most of her songs are not great. But this one is amazing and she emotes so well in this. If her ESC number was presented similarly to this, she would do quite well. Not first place, but well.
Hey, Svetlana Loboda rode raw sex appeal to a first place finish in Ukraine. ESC may be in the mood for that again: numbers like that tend to do well when the financial system is imploding. People like escapism. Maybe not the proudest way to win, but a win’s a win.
This song grabs you. Part of it is Polina’s voice. Part is her face and how she presents the song. It packs one hell of a punch.
Not on the list?
There are some artists that I think are amazing, but I don’t think that their presentation can get them into the top five at ESC. That’s not to say anything bad about them. It’s more about the limited approaches that work for ESC. Artists like Jasmine, Julia Savicheva (I love her but ESC didn’t), Vera Brezhneva, Nikolai Baskov, Alsou (awesome but ESC does not like repeats), and Valeria are all really good, as are many others too numerous to mention.
Russia: You have an amazing breadth and depth of talent. But you need to send the right act forward. Peter Nalitch was a national embarrassment (11th place was the result of pity votes). The Buranovskiye Babushki were an inexplicable one-off, and Alexey Vorobyov showed that sending the flavor of the month does not work. I’m going to be very annoyed if you send someone sub-par.
David is a North America correspondent for WiwiBloggs.Com.