Long before Eurovision stars appeared in the recent Netflix movie, Ukraine’s 2007 act Verka Serduchka was already hobnobbing with Hollywood stars in the 2015 film Spy.
It wasn’t surprising. Verka shines even brighter than the signature star she wears on her head, and has never faded from the minds of Eurofans — her silver tin foil forever blazoned on our retinas.
So it’s with great enthusiasm and unbridled joy that we can share the only news that may make 2020 a bit brighter: Verka’s four-track EP Sexy has landed on Spotify and all other streaming platforms.
Speaking to Wiwibloggs ahead of the release, Verka — real name Andriy Mykhailovych Danylko — said the four songs are meant to provide a bit of sunshine in what’s been a very dark year.
“Sexy is our tribute to all Eurovision fans who have given us so much warmth and support all these years.”
“We want everyone to smile and dance, despite everything we face during this mad time. A glass of cold champagne never did any harm to anybody! Skål!”
Sexy — Verka Serduchka EP review
For a singer known for fizz, witty repartee and a very fulsome laugh, it’s appropriate that the word “champagne” serves as a unifying thread across the EP. Champagne, with all its connotations of delight and naughtiness, appears in three of the four tracks, which are in themselves each worthy of a cheers or santé!
The action kicks off with “Swedish Lullaby” — a song that honours Sweden, the country where Ukraine recorded its most recent Eurovision win with Jamala in 2016. Meant as a salvo for anyone experiencing self-doubt, it’s a call to do away with self-hate and to celebrate all that is right and good.
“No more tears in the champagne, burn down your castle made of shame, only winners in this game, hush, hush, don’t you cry, sing a Swedish lullaby.”
The first step in soothing one’s pain, it seems, is to put yourself out there and to be open to others: “Raise your glass into space and put some make-up on your face, let’s give it up for human race, hush, hush don’t you cry, sing a Swedish lullaby.”
The song includes Swedish lyrics, which come from “Helan går” — a popular Swedish drinking game. Verka repeats “Helan går, sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej, Helan går, sjung hopp faderallan lej,” which translates to, “Drink the whole thing, sing hup fol-de-rol la la la la, drink the whole thing.”
That makes the song a humorous play on words — drink enough, and surely you’ll fall asleep.
Next up is the title track “Sexy” — a sensual number that wouldn’t be out of place in a big club in London or Barcelona. Here, the opening of a bottle of Verka’s favourite drink takes on the overtones of a sexual release. Please, be careful where you point the magnum!
“You’re feeling sexy, you’re feeling hot, bring in the champagne, let’s make it pop, we need no haters, we’re born to dance, all the way from Tokyo and back to Amsterdam.”
The song builds on near Eastern sounds — there’s an undercurrent of Sertab Erener’s “Everyway that I Can” and Luca Hänni’s “She Got Me” in the instrumental. Perhaps as an Easter egg for fans, Verka drops a counting segment in German — giving us all the “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” feels — but this time she goes past drei and cranks it up to fünf. Take us higher, queen!
The bridge is a joyously trashy moment, rhyming in all directions as it encourages everyone to get sexy: “From the east to the west, put your love to test…from the north to the south turn it up, make it loud…”
Feeling sufficiently sexy, it’s time to slip into your “Disco Kicks” — the most overtly throwback of the four tracks. Mixing disco with vintage 80s synth, the song isn’t merely an ode to stylish shoes — it’s about celebrating all genders and letting people walk down the street in whatever they want and moving however they feel comfortable.
Verka, perhaps the most famous drag queen throughout Eastern Europe, honours this with her very presence in television and film. In the chorus a crowd asks, “Who’s that fella or is it a chick, walking on the street in disco kicks?” But Verka doesn’t care what they say. She oozes the confidence of someone in total control of herself. As she sings: “I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sick, I’m the queen of the street in my disco kicks.”
This confidence also comes out in clever wordplay — a hallmark of the Vidbir judge. Verka proves dextrous with the English language, skipping from word-to-word with her tongue planted firmly in the cheek. “I am cool like Al Pacino, hot like cappuccino, I’m the queen of everything,” Verka sings. “I’ve got hips like Cinderella, smooth like mozzarella, watch me do my thing.”
We watch. We listen. And we get ready to drink all the precipitation in the final track, “Make it Rain Champagne“.
The song, the most polished and mainstream of the lot, ties together so many of the musical and lyrical themes that have come before.
Musically, this again mixes pop and near Eastern sounds. Thematically, “champagne” embodies not merely French bubbly, but Verka’s uplifting spirit and philosophy of making each moment memorable: “Sitting in the bath tub, riding on the train, waiting at the bus stop, you gotta make it rain.” No matter how ho-hum the location, you can still seize the day. There’s another subtle point about inclusivity across gender and sexuality: “Grab a lady, grab a fella, together we will make it rain.”
Released in December 2019, the song sent fans into a tizzy at the time with hopes high that it could go to Eurovision. It clocks in at under three minutes, is catchy AF and presents endless opportunities for wild staging. It was also written by two Swedish songwriters: occasional national final contributor Andreas Öhrn and “Euphoria” co-writer Peter Boström.
During an appearance on the Ukrainian TV show The Evening Premiere with Kateryna Osadchcha, Verka told the glamorous host that in case another Maruv-like scandal erupts around the Ukraine national final, “[the] song is, in principle, ready” for Eurovision.
Verka performed “Make It Rain Champagne” accompanied by a band, backing singers, dancers and his ever-present mother. They delivered an explosive performance which had the audience on their feet. Some of Verka’s posse were wearing t-shirts reading “SEX / WORK / MAY” — a parody of an old Soviet-era phrase celebrating International Workers Day on 1 May. But we can’t help also thinking of May as the month of Eurovision.
“I had barely released the song and people were already writing I was preparing [for Eurovision]. Let me just explain it like this: Serduchka wanted it, but Danylko was against.”
Are you loving Verka’s new EP as much as we are? Which track is your favourite? Are you dreaming that Verka might pen another song for Eurovision in the future? Let us know down below!