It seems that nothing has changed a bit from last year, except the never wearing passion and obsession of Russia to dominate and even win the show. Last year they have saved their nuclear weapon (Dima Bilan) and sent some tactical missiles to the show (Three hot singers called Serebro, who didn't score mainly because of they were dressed like nuns and their song mainly focused on "shaking their badasses". Somebody forgot to remind them that nobody cared for their badasses unless they saw them shaking live on screen)
One thing you have to know about Russia is that losing a battle is never a problem for them. Winning a battle at all costs (even at human lives...i mean, millions of them) is the focal point. So they didn't break the rules, lost with TaTu, Bilan and Serebro but they attacked again with Bilan and showed all that they were the kings again.
What you need to win in a very cheesy and steadily deteriorating pop music show that started as the only program in 1950s that would be broadcast live in all the networks of the union (Of course that would be music and a music contest with little to contest upon was a splendid idea...even if it created ABBA, Celine Dion and many more to our dear ears), is of course a cheesy pop song with a lot of live action show and (if available) female partial nudity.
From the objective point of view, Russia has it all: It is actually the last refuge of cheesy europop where Modern Talking is still appraised as a mainstream band, even the shortest tv concert is flooded by an army of dancers (mainly ballet dancers on extra time for extra rubles) and I need not say anything more about the talent pool of female nudity. But something was always overlooked and greatly mistaken...they sang in Russian! This language (however I adore and try my best to master) sounds good to the European ears only as the local language of the villains in an Indiana Jones movie. For a stranger, every song in Russian in any tune or melody will ultimately morph into a Red Army Ballad to the Rocket Artillery Corps.
The Superstar of Russian Pop...or so they say
But, as I said before that Russia kept its best in its arsenal, enter Dima Bilan, the justin timberlake-to-michael jackson-esque super-mega-hyper star of Russian pop music. Everything he has on his body including his hyped hair style (even I had it sometime last year...not because I wanted it but didn't have enough Russian to deny this once-default male haircut of those times) to his dance routines were copied nationwide (even throughout the post soviet union from Tadjikistan to Ukraine). Never minding that he had a near miss in Eurovision finals in 2006, Bilan stroke back with a vengeance. This time he had everything right on his side: A song that was engineered by the one-man-hit-factory, Timbaland, an Olympic champion figure skater, Yevgeni Plushenko and a star violin player Edvin Marton...
Bilan keeping it real with Timbaland
The Bilan-cut that dominates Russia...plain ugly
In Moscow, everywhere were the posters of the mega show with Yevgeni Plushenko and Edvin Marton where Plushenko stylized the pop-violin concert of Marton on ice and attracted a rcord number of audience, so the producers have already secured a top 3 position with the combination of Dima Bilan, who undeniably has a star charisma despite his awful hairstyle, a successful show duo of a violin player and a champion figure skater and the ear-catching music of Timbaland.
Plushenko and Marton: The most handsome guys in Russia...really!
Not only Russia had the deadly arsenal of course, Ukraine, the naughty cousins have fired their megacannons with the best ammunition they have: Women! Ani Lorak, a heavenly beautiful brunette with the celestial support of Philip Kirkorov, the former justin timberlake-to-michael jackson-esque super-mega-hyper star of Soviet/Russian pop music (before Dima Bilan). He has backed Dima Koldun of Belarus last year with a james bond-ish song “Day Mne Silu / Work Your Magic” but placed in a mediocre place of 6th. This time he had chosen another post-soviet country, and hopefully with a better pool of beauty and talent. Unlike Bilan, Lorak came with a song that brought the disco sensation back and secured the second position (although not a victory to Ukraine as they have tasted the victory with Ruslana with “Wild Dances” before)
Dress to impress...
As of Turkey, we have definitely been off the winning track after we have won the first title before. This title was oddly welcomed as a victory similar to winning UEFA Cup or the siege of Vienna itself. A standard pop singer, Sertab, was idolized and has received applause from the highest degree of government. I wasn’t surprised because it is the very essence of us that we have a tendency to praise and adore anything and everything that gives us a glimpse of chance in European arena. This year, Mor ve Otesi (Purple and Beyond) which used to be a rather under acclaimed band but caught media attention with their latest stance against authority (and also because of a lack of a good sounding rock band in the market) and also had a lot of beautiful songs, were chosen by the TRT (State Radio and Television Bureau...ahhhh, sounds so soviet). TRT has long abandoned the approach where the candidates to Eurovision finals were chosen by a preliminary contest in Turkey (Our glorious nation is not eligible to send the songs that they like...ahhhh, sounds so soviet again!) but they offer popular bands or singers to represent Turkey in Europe. After they have sent a notoriously ugly and an untalented lady supposedly in relationship with a TRT official and returned with the prize of the worst song of the century, TRT changed its mind and selected from the best selling singers or bands. I don’t think that Mor ve Otesi were expecting a first place but kept cool even when they received a full 12 points where the others were jeering even for 6 points.
What were we thinking?
The scoring system also repeated the inevitable stance that we experienced last year. The newly formed countries from Yugoslavia and Soviet Union exchanged the highest votes between each other (although they were exchanging the most explosive missiles between each other a decade ago) and secured the top ranks. Adding the indifference of the West European audience, who lost their attention even after ABBA won in 70s, slavic and Balkan countries dominated the show. It seems that given the rules stay this way, the resulting scheme will not change for good.
The Russians were also striving for that and ultimately got what they wanted. My congratulations...Let’s see if they would even air the show live next year...the usual loss of attention of course...we won the show, why bother trying again.