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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Interview with Ani Lorak & Verka Serduchka

Well, whatever you think of their music and musical personas, you gotta hand it to these two Eurovision entrants (2007 and 2008) from Ukraine. They're out there working hard at being cultural ambassadors for Ukraine. And they come across as genuinely nice, fun folks.


H/T to Bill at UkeTube.


Anonymous said...

Of course life is grand when you don't need to have a 9-5 job.

Having lots of money doesn't hurt either.

Taras said...

Cultural ambassadors for Ukraine? Sorry for trotting out the same old lines, but not all Ukrainians share that view.

That is, not all Ukrainians believe that all of Ukraine’s Eurovision entries best represent Ukraine culturally.

Likewise, not all Ukrainian Canadians appreciate Brad Wall’s rendition
of Ukrainian culture, right?

Unlike Lorak, who has a solid repertoire in Ukrainian, Serduchka rarely speaks Ukrainian. She launched her career as a surzhyk artist, in a Russian-oriented genre that should be called Ukesploitation. Of course, such cultural intimacies don’t make a lot of difference to Western fans of Serduchka who judge her solely on artistic merit.

Lorak made some political mistakes, but she never made a mockery of Ukrainian culture. I respect her for that.

And even though her Eurovision entry misses out on Ukrainian culture, I wish her good luck.

Pawlina said...

You are too funny, Anon!

I guess I've been around the block enough times to have learned that the grass isn't always greener on the other side.

Entertainers work nights and weekends, whereas folks with 9-5 jobs can kick back, relax and, er, be entertained.

So, a friendly word of advice ... be careful what you wish for!

(That doesn't include the part about having lots of money, tho!)

Pawlina said...

Taras ... thanks, as always, for your astute observations and insightful comments.

We're not too far apart on our opinion of these artists. However, their marketing and PR are distinct from their music, and that was the basis of my comment.

I saw their "cultural ambassador" act as a case of "lemonade" from the perspective of a glass half-full rather than half-empty (to mangle a couple of metaphors).

IMHO, these two present a pretty clear illustration of the overall cultural void in the world of commerce (where pop culture was born). But, from the perspective of the only "bad" publicity being no publicity, at least they're out there building awareness of Ukraine.

Ani spoke some Ukrainian into the camera, and Verka's 2007 entry obviously resonated with the music media as fun and upbeat ... which is actually a good association for Ukrainian music. (Very progressive given the current negative state of pop culture.)

I hear you about Verka's self-hating surzhyk act but, then again, it's all about commerce. In which case, perhaps there is a chance that one day s/he will drop that act in favour of one that reflects Ukrainian culture more positively... especially if it's more profitable.

Bottom line is, one step at a time. Rome wasn't built in a day, and Ukraine still has a lot of rubble to clear away after centuries of foreign oppression.

Guys like you make it look like a snap, tho. :-)

Thanks for the inspiration you provide for us in the diaspora, where as you have discovered, Ukrainians are still considered "bohunks." I actually experienced that as recently as a couple of months ago. I must say it is much easier to fight back, tho, when Ukrainians become provincial premiers in Canada, and as Ukraine gains prestige on the world stage (even if some of it comes from "cultural ambassadors" like Ani and Verka).

Anonymous said...

This ESC makes me always confused. I was more then sceptic about Verka 2007 entry and changed my minde when I saw that... overflowing burlesque performance and his/her 2nd place. Kind of the same confusion to me now with Ani. First she appeared to me as way too commercial and too simple, but now all those presentaions and top-5 promissing feedbacks are changing my mind. I agree with Pawlina, ignorance and marginal performing would be much worse to Ukrainians today.

Anonymous said...

B.t.w. you can watch semi final (today!) and final online and offline in good quality (700k)at

Pawlina said...

Thanks, Stan, for sharing that link, as well as your thoughts.

To me, this discussion illustrates an interesting phenomenon created by the internet.

Some time ago, culture was hijacked by commercial forces and (force)fed back to the people as "pop culture."

But now, technology is allowing the people to reclaim their culture.

One thing that hasn't changed over millenia is that people like good entertainment. What is beginning to change is the artificial standardization of what defines "good entertainment" ... and its commercial viability.

I can't say I'm sorry to see that happen.

Taras said...

Thanks for the link!

Astroturfing. I've seen it done in Ukraine but didn't know the exact term for it.

Anonymous said...

Ani was good, if you've seen it. She is #1 in fact. ESC-2008 reporters, BBC chart, ppl in blogs arrounf the World claiming Ukrainian Ani as a top performer. You must admit - she was (is) hot!

Pawlina said...

Taras, you've lost me ... astroturfing??? And what link are you referring to? (You're welcome, in any case.)

Pawlina said...

Stanislav, I agree that Ani is tremendously talented (if grossly mismanaged).

And the voting is over. (Some might add, mercifully.)

Taras said...

It's a few clicks from the Long Tail article that you you linked to. (Peripheral reading can be quite beneficial.)

Pawlina said...


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