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In the spotlight

Published: November 23, 2007 (Issue # 1326)




  • Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

This week, Ogonyok and Russian Newsweek magazines took a pop at the feeble state of the Russian music industry, or specifically the singers penchant for lip-synching and the producers penchant for switching the lineup of their girl groups a musical genre that one described as singing knickers.

The poster boy for Ogonyoks article on lip-synching was old-stager Filipp Kirkorov, pictured in a fetching pair of high-waisted silver trousers. He wont be particularly pleased, since he starts a nine-day residency at the Operetta Theater this week, celebrating his 25-year-long career in show business, at least some of which has presumably involved singing. However, he is quoted in the magazine protesting a recent decision by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov not to pay performers who lip-synch at municipal events. Thats all very well, he says, but the city authorities wont stump up for the sound equipment needed for live performances

The magazine reprints a quote that Kirkorov originally gave to RIA-Novosti in October, where he said that he usually has to do municipal concerts at venues that only have a mini-disc player and a remote where half the buttons dont work. Anyone who has experienced City Day, when the greatest hits of Zolotoye Koltso reverberate ear-bleedingly over Tverskaya Ulitsa, would suspect that this is true, although surely more Kirkorov-friendly venues such as the Kremlin Palace have at least some working microphones. For the record, though, Kirkorov did tell RIA-Novosti that hell sing live at the Operetta Theater.

The Ogonyok article had some nice stories about the illustrious history of lip-synching in Russia. A sound-man who worked with Laskovy Mai, a group popular in the late 1980s, recalled that the group had a recorded soundtrack that even included comments to the crowd such as I cant see your hands! and Everyone says that we lip-synch, but you can see that its not true. Another Soviet-era group, Mirazh, had four or five different lineups of attractive, but similar-looking girls, who toured provincial cities at the same time, miming to the same songs.

When it comes to girl groups, the rules should be relaxed, the producer of bikini-clad quintet Strelki, Igor Selivesterov, told Ogonyok, explaining that a blanket ban on lip-synching would be like saying Andy Warhol isnt an artist because he didnt draw like [Russian artist Ivan] Shishkin. All the girls in Strelki actually sing on their recorded soundtrack, he boasted, but on stage theyve got better things to do, like dancing and showing off their sequins. People call this genre singing knickers and I dont see anything insulting in that, he summed up.

As long as the elastic holds up, the producers of such groups can change the lineup as often as they like, Russian Newsweek wrote. Subtly named girl group VIA Gra has had nine changes of lineup in its 7-year history, while everyone has given up counting with Blestyashchiye and Strelki. None of the original members are left in Blestyashchiye some left to marry rich, others such as Anna Semenyovich, to appear on every second television show but no one in the audience asks for his money back, said music agency director Tabriz Shakhidi, who books Blestyashchiye among others. The group is very popular and successful.

Interestingly, Blestyashchiye has even become a dynasty, with the younger sister of one of its most famous alumni, Zhanna Friske, joining the group in October. Natalya Friske, a 21-year-old law student, is lucky enough to enjoy the full support of her sister, who has since gone on to a solo career and reality shows. Friske Senior told 7 Dnei magazine that I hope she has enough brains not to give up her studies.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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