I’d be lying if I said I never enjoyed a Russian Eurovision performance. Alexey Vorobyov brought us a great boy-band throwback number in 2011, and who can forget the Babushki from 2012? From a more traditional perspective of Eurovision success, one need only look to the ’00s, in which Russia brought home two bronze medals (including one from t.A.T.u. — yes, THAT t.A.T.u), two silvers, and a gold in 2008.1 My problem with Russia is, every now and then they’ll try to sneak in an entry about Making A Better Planet, and because I actually pay attention to what’s happening in the world, I just completely can’t.2 So, which Russia is going to show up this year, the fun one? Or the suuuuuuper hypocritical vaguely creepy one?
With that buildup, did you really have any doubt? Of course it’s the suuuuuuper hypocritical Russia that will be showing up. Beyond the eye-rolling politics of it, “A Million Voices” isn’t even a very good song. I love the tone of Polina Gagarina’s voice, but the orchestral music behind her is sappy, without the well-crafted lyrics to back up the emotion. For example: “We are the world’s people, different but we’re the same / We believe, we believe in the dream.” What dream are we talking about, here? And then: “Praying for peace and healing, I hope we can start again” while we watch cute kids with balloons look straight-faced at the camera. Yes, trot out the cute almost totally white kids! Lastly: “Your heart is like a beating drum” over a series of snare drum rolls … if your heart sounds like a snare drum rolling, you need to get to a doctor post-haste.
To be fair, I’m biased against issue songs as it is — but I can appreciate them, when well-done. I wrote earlier about Romania’s issue song, which does a pretty great job of creating an emotional connection between the audience and a specific problem. The same goes for Hungary’s anti-war entry. Both songs have something to say, whereas Russia’s entry seems like it doesn’t. Except, maybe, hey look over here and don’t notice the terrible things we’re doing in the world!3 The geopolitical context makes this song laughable, but even outside that context, it’s faux-emotional, trying to provoke a response without actually saying anything. Hopefully this song will end up in the middle or bottom of the pack, where it belongs.
- Fun fact! The Russian entry in 2009 was sung in both Russian and Ukranian. ↵
- Another fun fact! The 2014 entry from the Tolmachevy twins, features the lyrics “Maybe there’s a place, maybe there’s a time, maybe there’s a day you’ll be mine.” Which is of course not creepy at all. ↵
- To be clear, this is exactly the same feeling I get when people sing God Bless America or God Bless the USA. ↵