Russia: Manizha – Russian Woman
Martin: The hastily-organised Russian final was one of the highlights of the season, from the disco remix of Philipp Kirkorov’s 1995 entry to the unexpected interruption for the evening news. Wonderful stuff.
Although hardly the easiest song to get a handle on, “Russian Woman” felt like the obvious winner from the first few notes, and I expect it to do decently enough at ESC – not a victory candidate, perhaps not even realistically in the top 10 mix, but equally not the potential non-qualifier it’s being talked about in some circles.
And actually, I don’t think the disjointed nature of the composition is necessarily a bad thing, because it allows Manizha to show different sides of her personality and her musical character. The Balkan Beat Box involvement here is quite instructive – there’s a musicality at play here that’s more than “just” Russian, particularly in the choral sections, and that could help the song cross over beyond a regional audience.
But the strongest thing about the entry and the thing holding it all together is Manizha. She is a badass, and I think her involvement in ESC is a huge positive, both generally and specifically as a representative under the Russian flag. Not that there’ll be any international fans in the crowd anyway, but they surely wouldn’t be booing this Russian entry.
Shi: This isn’t the first attempt at a feminist Eurovision song, and not the only one in this year’s competition. But its honest, boundary-breaking representation can be felt even through lyrics in a language I don’t understand. Manizha might be singing about – and for – Russian women, but the (batshit crazy, granted) song reaches way beyond that.
Felix: It’s obviously Russia, and very adorable at doing so. Manizha rules over both musical worlds of the song, and with her charm, she will win hearts and respect around Europe. Russia 2021 is building bridges, celebrates diversity, and makes it easy for us to open up to Russia this year.
video and title image source: eurovision.tv