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Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Countdown to Eurovision 2017 - Ukraine's controversial entry in 2007

"Danzing Lasha Tumbai" was Ukraine’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007. It placed second, losing out to Serbia's "Molitva."

The song includes lyrics in four languages: German, English, Russian and Ukrainian. It was performed by Verka Serduchka amid much controversy ... before, during, and since Eurovision 2007.

Verka Serduchka is actually Andriy Danylko, a drag performer of considerable repute in Ukraine and Russia. His selection as Ukraine's representative at Eurovision was fiercely criticized by several media and politicians of different parties.

One of Ukraine's nationwide FM radio stations organized a protest action in February 2007 to express their disapproval of the selection. Some prominent Ukrainians and even members of the Ukrainian Parliament also expressed their disapproval, viewing the character of Serduchka as "grotesque and vulgar" and a national embarrassment.

Another subject of controversy was song's title and lyrics. In early publicity appearances, Serduchka explained that "lasha tumbai" was a Mongolian expression for "whipped cream." His statement was denied by several Mongols, and The Mongolian Embassy in Moscow said that "lasha tumbai" was total gibberish.

There were also allegations that the words were chosen due to their phonetic resemblance in English to "Russia Goodbye,"supposedly a reference to the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine.

Despite the controversy, Serduchka had the full support of the National Television Company of Ukraine. As well as finishing second in a field of 24, Danzing Lasha Tumbai went on to become a major chart hit not only in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, but throughout Europe.

The song performed well on download charts in Ireland and the UK.

On the Irish iTunes Download chart, it had outsold any other entry by more than double – including the winning entry.

On the French charts the "Dancing Lasha Tumbai" single reached #6 and went on to be #28 on The Official UK Singles Chart on 20 May 2007. This was the first time a non-UK non-winning Eurovision entry had made UK charts since 1974.

The song also made it to the movies. It was used in the movie Spy (2015), twice.

And between Eurovision’s two official Youtube videos Danzing…Lasha Tumbai has over 12 million views. Here is one of them.

To hear about all of Ukraine's top ten place finishes in Eurovision, check out the podcast of the April 29th, 2017 Vancouver edition of Nash Holos Ukrainian Roots Radio here.

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