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Monday, March 17, 2008

Ukraine's Eurovision 2008 entry

I know Ani Lorak is wildly popular but ... am I the only one who would like to see more "Ukrainian content" in music from Ukraine?? I don't mean just Ukrainian language in the lyrics (altho that would be preferable), but some real Ukrainian soul in the music itself.

So much contemporary Ukrainian music is virtually indistinguishable from what's produced in any other country. And when they sing in English, as Ani Lorak does in this Eurovision entry, it's totally indistinguishable. IMO Verka Serduchka's entry last year (despite being a tad, um, controversial), was far more interesting and colourful than this year's soulless, generic entry.

Mandry, Mariya Burmaka, Ruslana, etc. had a great sound for a while there ... which raised my hopes that a distinctive Ukrainian musical genre would emerge, or even an East European "sound" in which Ukrainian music would be as identifiable a component as, say, Cuban is in the Latin American genre.

Forgive me for imagining how wonderful it would be to see (in this lifetime!) a new generation emerge with the musical and marketing chutzpah of the likes of this classic Ukrainian artist from the 20th century:

Oh well, maybe someday.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see how Ukraine makes out this year in the Eurovision contest.


Taras said...

You’re right to point out that Lorak’s projected Eurovision 2008 act sux.

I must admit that Lorak has some good songs to her credit. But this one clearly lacks that magic spark of Ukrainian-ness that set Ruslana apart from the rest and gave her the victory in 2004.

Well, there’s more to it. In 2004, Ani Lorak, along with a squad of other artists, toured Ukraine to endorse Yanukovych.

After Yanukovych came second in the first round of the election, she assumed a low profile and discontinued her “softcore” involvement his campaign. (Gagging the opposition and stealing votes was “hardcore.”)

Following the Orange Revolution, Lorak’s Yanukovych connection would cost her dearly. She would lose her Eurovision 2005 ticket to Greenjolly, which would score a humiliating 20th.

And yes, Serduchka is controversial. Her repertoire — which has varied from Ukesploitation (throughout most of her career) to same sexploitation (at Eurovision) — may strike a few chords with an unsuspecting Western audience. But not with a culture-savvy Western-oriented Ukrainian audience.

As a Ukrainian, I find Serduchka’s Ukrainian-ness on a downward slope from humor to horror, in a single and shameful direction that wins no applause from me.

IMHO, Lorak would fare much better at Eurovision if she capitalized on a Ruslana-like/Rotaru-like Ukrainian dimension to differentiate herself.

Pawlina said...

Well put, Taras, and I'm so glad you said that.

What struck me when I watched that video clip is how beautiful and talented Ani Lorak is. I mean, what a voice!

But she is wasting her tremendous gifts on what amounts to the music industry's Titanic.

Anonymous said...

I know you wont like what I say... I hate it too, but it is the real life. Before we Ukrainians do not find out how to present our heritage _in modern way_ we better go ahead with Serduchka like "controversial" but winning performance.

Of coure Ruslana flashy performance was outstanding in 2004. I wish she keep that fantasy style, but she lost it next day after contest unfortunately. Be honest, it was rather wild fantasy then Ukrainian ethnic performance.

What I expect from Ukrainian artists it is some modernisation of ethnic and folk as Irish done it. Yes, we need our Michael Flatley to win in modern world with our ethnic reach performance.

Any Lorak she is not bad, not special, just another female pop singer, I don't expect a lot from this ESC for Ukraine. At least we wont be looking as "other Albanians" with ethnic phony dressed dancers jumping in ring with their old fashioned bubons.

By the way, see my recent photos of Vancouver here

Orest said...

This is no better then watching American Idol.

What does Ani Lorak really have to gain from entering the Eurovision contest. She is already established and is unlikely to expand her audience.

There are many other artists that would fare better and more accurately represent Ukrainian culture.

Anonymous said...

Orest, Ani seems to be obsessed with participation in ESC, it is her kind of "kid wish" and her producers made a lot to get her in.

Orest said...

I hope that she's not too disappointed when she doesn't win EuroVision 2008.

But then again she can come over and cry on my shoulder anytime ;-)

Vasyl Pawlowsky said...

For some time my partner and I were entertaining the possibility of putting together an entry for this year's Eurovision, but as time went on in discussion with UT-1, we understood that everything was decided long before and that Ani Lorak would be Ukraine's entry.

Insiders tell me that while Ani Lorak's entry is much stronger than Russia's entry Dima Bilan, but it is still missing the heart and soul that is necessary to garner a win.

And while everyone is gaga about her as an entry in Eurovision 2008 Song Contest, they are not even aware that Haydamaky with their latest CD Kobzar have hit 7th position in the World Music Charts Europe.

Pawlina said...

Hey, nice photos, Stan! Looks like you were impressed with our fair city. :-)

As for your comments re Ukrainian music, we're pretty much of the same opinion. Maybe someday once Ukrainians have reclaimed a little more of their heritage, pride will kick in and they'll start to get a bit more creative.

In the meantime, it's all very interesting to watch!

Pawlina said...

Orest, great observation about Eurovision and American Idol. I think you hit it right on.

However, the former is far more imaginative. Even with so many generic entries lately, there are still some Europeans with the chutzpah to go wild and/or stay true to their roots.

Am I imagining it, or are those the ones that have been winning lately?

Pawlina said...

Vasyl, thanks for sharing this wonderful info re Haydamaky.

I first heard about them from Orysia who is a big fan of theirs. Would love to get my hands on some of their music to share with my listeners. (I love their philosophy as well.)

Fabulous that they are so popular in Europe. You know what they say about prophets and home towns, seems to be the same story with musicians and their home country!

Vasyl Pawlowsky said...

Orest, you are right that it may be Ani's "kid wish", but most serious musicians in Europe consider it to be made for TV kitsch, something which I noted in a blog post after Serbia's win last year.

Orest said...


You are absolutely right about right about Haydamaky - wonderful band in need of recognition. Just got their new CD - tres cool!


If you are in need of some kinds of music, please let me know privately and I will tell you where to get it from online. I have found a couple of wonderful respositories.

And if anyone ever thought that the Ukrainian contestant gets there on talent think again. Everything is fixed or maybe in this case bought.

Pawlina said...

Orest, I doubt anyone harbours any illusions that contestants make it to Eurovision strictly on the basis of artistic merit. ;-)

The days of payola are, as you point out, hardly over in the music biz.

Orest said...

The days of the Record Company are numbered.
As well as traditional Radio.

Orest said...


Just out of curiousity who is the "squad of other artists, toured Ukraine to endorse Yanukovych"?

Taras said...

Aside from Lorak, the squad is as follows:

Verka Serduchka, Iryna Bilyk, Kuzma, Natalia Mohilevska, Yan Tabachnyk, Green Gray, Taisia Povaliy, Druha Rika, Viktor Pavlik, Asiya Akhat, Alibi, etc.

Learn more (in Ukrainian) here, here, and here.

Anonymous said...

So, what's wrong in supporting Yanukovych today? He is not a monster anymore, he is enforced to share power, has American consultants and act as normal politician. Yes, I am not a fan of Mr. Y and his political party, but don't care who support him today. Singing for money that's what (almost) all artists do. ...Mr. Y is part of modern Ukraine and we have to get how to live with this part. Stop our rights violation, but tolerate if they act in normal way.

Pawlina said...

Your question illustrates perfectly why it is said that true democracy is messy. :-)

Adrian said...

I suppose as newcomers to Eurovision Ukrainians could be forgiven for thinking that songs and artists had to be representative of their nation, rather than just represent the nation.

For instance, there is nothing particularly Norwegian about Norway's entry this year, nothing strikingly German about Germany's.. etc.

It's nice when such representativeness happens, but not a requirement. And that will get rarer, because music is more global now.

And, as much as you could complain about that, there would be few ways of finding or hearing new Ukrainian music without that globalised music network, and, indeed, Eurovision.

Pawlina said...

You seem to have missed my point, Adrian.

This year's entry makes it pretty obvious that Ukrainians are under no misapprehension that "representativeness" of their national culture is a requirement at Eurovision.

My point was simply that, IMHO, it is a real shame. The globalization of the music industry is homogenizing the pop music genre, making it bland and boring.

The result is being reflected in the continued demise of the music industry. If American marketing gurus like Seth Godin and Chris Anderson are to be believed, the music industry is losing its Midas touch because it is losing touch with music fans, including folks like me. Who are, in increasing numbers I might add, turning to technology to find music that speaks to our souls.

I just think it's a shame that so many Eurovision entrants try so hard to do American pop. Nothing against American pop, of course, but no can do it better than Americans. It's a matter of cultural authenticity.

The lack of which, perhaps, is why Eurovision isn't exactly a global event.

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