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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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