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Russia: Polina Gagarina – A Million Voices

Having teased us earlier in the week, the Russians have finally published Polina Gagarina's song, A Million Voices. Much hilarity was shared among Eurovision fans when Polina's song was released. Last year, the Tolmachevy Sisters sang about "Telling all the world to show some love", while coincidentally cheerleading the nation's incursion into the Crimea: Living on the edge closer to the crime cross the line a step at a time This year, Russia is again lecturing the world about peace: Praying for peace and healing I hope we can start again We believe We believe in a dream I don't…

Review Overview

Song Appeal
Vocal Strength
Staging Potential
Likely Televote Appeal
Likely Jury Appeal
Historical Support Strength

Vox Populi

It’s a solid top-10, maybe top-5, but certainly not a winner unless the political situation reverses.

User Rating: 3.42 ( 30 votes)

Having teased us earlier in the week, the Russians have finally published Polina Gagarina’s song, A Million Voices.

Much hilarity was shared among Eurovision fans when Polina’s song was released. Last year, the Tolmachevy Sisters sang about “Telling all the world to show some love”, while coincidentally cheerleading the nation’s incursion into the Crimea:

Living on the edge
closer to the crime
cross the line a step at a time

The_Tolmachevy_Sisters,_ESC2014_Meet_&_Greet_28_(crop)

This year, Russia is again lecturing the world about peace:

Praying for peace and healing
I hope we can start again
We believe
We believe in a dream

I don’t usually find myself getting involved in lyrics, but when I listen to A Million Voices and watch the kitsch, politically correct video about love and acceptance, I can’t help feeling slightly angry. How will the rest of Europe react to Polina’s song? The Tolmachevy Sisters were roundly booed during last year’s final (not audible on the live feed) and the audience wasn’t just made up of single blokes, there were families there too. The Danes are quite restrained people, they don’t believe in using a car horn. Yet, during last year’s final, Denmark took a deep collective breath and booed the Tolmachevy Sisters.

Even the voting mirrored the widespread feeling of disgust, with Russia scoring just a handful of points from the West. That wasn’t limited to the televote either. The following juries ranked Russia outside of the top-10: Albania (25), Austria (15), Belgium (12), Estonia (24), Finland (22), France (25), Germany (19), Hungary (16), Iceland (13), Ireland (20), Israel (14), Italy (20), Latvia (21), Montenegro (23), Norway (24), Poland (20), Portugal (20), Romania (24), San Marino (24), Slovenia (18), Spain (23), Sweden (14), Switzerland (19) and Netherlands (17).

A number of national juries were quite deliberate in ranking Russia low, whereas the UK, Denmark and Sweden were more impartial. A Million Voices is a much stronger song than Shine, but Russia backers should acknowledge the political isolation Russia has suffered since its incursion into Ukraine. It’s not as if the situation has improved since last year either. Stockholm was searching for a Russian sub just a few months back. The Baltics, UK and Scandinavia are continually reacting to Russian military aircraft flying close to their airspace and commercial airliners with their transponders deliberately switched off. We’ve also had the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Donetsk Oblast. Tensions have escalated since last year and this will translate into an erratic distribution of points depending how objectively a national jury is willing to act.

I love the song, and without the political tensions listed above, I could see Russia doing extremely well. A Million Voices has everything Dina Garipova’s What If lacked. It’s a solid top-10, maybe top-5, but certainly not a winner unless the political situation reverses.

Can Russia inspire a million votes?

  • Qualification History
  • Final Performance
  • Allies
Since the introduction of the new semi-final format, Russia have never failed to qualify. 100% qualification success.

Highest semi-final score (since 2004): 217 (2006: Dima Bilan – Never Let You Go)
Lowest semi-final score (since 2004): 63 (2014: Tolmachevy Sisters – Shine)
Average semi-final finishing position (since 2008): 5th
Average semi-final score (since 2008): 107 points

Russia has finished in the top-10 six times since 2004.

Highest score (since 2004): 177 (2012: Buranovskiye Babushki – Party for Everybody)
Lowest score (since 2004): 57 (2005: Natalia Podolskaya – Nobody Hurt No One)
Average final position: 8th
Average final score: 148 points

Average Points Received

Belarus – 10.8
Armenia – 10.5
Ukraine – 8.6
Moldova – 8.6
Estonia – 8.3
Latvia – 8.3
Lithuania – 7.7
Israel – 7.4
Czech Rep’ – 7.4
Azerbaijan – 6.7

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54 comments

  1. The best ballad of the year. With effective staging this could be a contender for Sweden.

    • I have to agree. I hate all things Russia with all my heart for political and historical reasons, but I have to admit that wasn’t it Russia, this would be my number 1 one ballad this year 🙁

      • Really guys? You’re hearing something that I’m not I guess. I dont rate it too high myself…

        • Same goes for me Archi. I thought it was nothing special at all.

        • Well, I have the same opinion about Norway 🙂 Most of you praised “Monster Like Me”. I first heard that song only yesterday and it didn’t have anything special for me. It was not even memorable enough so that I could hum it. Russia’s song has everything that Norway’s doesn’t.

  2. I can’t see the EBU allowing the competition to go to Russia given the current political climate. I know that they can only do so much, but I’m wondering what the powers that be might do with this. Also, will Western voters/juries deem this too hypocritical perhaps? I know that didn’t stop Russia in 2013 but the situation wasn’t as harsh back then. Not sure yet. Top 5, yes. contender for victory? No.

  3. If Dina Garipova’s entry for Russia was the caterpillar than this surely has to be the Butterfly.

    Calling it now: It’ll fly to the top of the scoreboard in Vienna.

  4. Another unoriginal old fashioned ballad destined for failure.

  5. It’s good, better than most, but I can’t see it winning. It’ll do well but Western Europe isn’t going to go for it. Checked out the scoring from last year and almost all of Russia’s points in the final came from Eastern Europe (it got 2 from Portugal and 4 from Italy and, depending on what we’re counting Malta as, 5 from Malta). In 2013 Russia got a lot plenty of points from the West (10 from both the UK and Ireland!) but that was pre-situation in Ukraine and gay rights situation, though incredibly awful, wasn’t AS awful. It just seems unlikely that until something changes, Western Europeans will want to show support for Russia en masse. Top 10, sure because it’s Russia and it’s quite good; winning, no chance.

    • Awkwardly just realized I said the same thing as Jonas. Apologies! Well said, Jonas.

    • So the fact that Russia barely scored outside of its region last year had nothing to do with the fact that the song was not fancied and incredibly naff?

      • Spot on Tim. I think the vote from their region last year was just their regular kickstart and outside it people voted according to music qualities which resulted in “only” 7th place. This year they will at least double their points from last year.

      • Fair enough. Shine was an incredibly bland song; I’m *certainly* not trying to defend Russia or claim it was wronged. Russia also benefited from a pretty Western-heavy final. That said, I still think political tension played a part (and may continue to do so).

        Polina’s song is very good. Very anthemic and it deserves to do well. I’m revising my estimate to top 5 but in a ballad-heavy year and given everything going on in Russia, I don’t think this is a winner. Poland’s song, which is not a million miles away from A Million Voices, is weaker but it has the wheelchair USP and judging by history, Spain’s dramatic ballad could do well as well. Best of luck, though, everyone–I could very well be missing something. Certainly a strong entry.

    • If anything, I’d argue that the political situation helped Russia last year. They’ve been know to miss top10 with half-weak songs before; Shine should definitely have been one of them based on quality alone. But somehow the barrage of solidarity 12-pointers was even more intense than usual.

      As for lack of points from the west: it’s not like e.g. Germany would have gotten any western points with that song either. It simply was that poor – no boycott needed to give it 0 points.

  6. For me, I think it’s fair to consider this a contender for victory. I share the scepticisms of Jonas and MI but I agree there is only so much the EBU can do.

    That’s not to say this song isn’t unstoppable.

    What I’ve observed is that this is the third year –in a row– that Russia have sent a Disney ballad playing on themes of purity, innocence and world peace – and you could argue the Babushki kicked off the innocence streak too. It works very well for them, but they are yet to win with this tactic. I believe this is the strongest song they have sent along these lines, but it still will need something extra special to actually win. It’s not romping home by virtue of turning up. Europe is going to want to vote for something a little bit more genuine.

    I also think the 10 to Russia in 2013 from the UK and Ireland was simply because of the same reasons that I highlighted in my 2013 Wipe videos, Dina’s song sounded like a factory talent show winner ballad. I also said it was so trite that we in the UK are sick and tired of it, but clearly it still resonated with us, and that’s why it got the points from us. The Sisters and Polina’s song this year won’t resonate quite as strongly with the UK because it’s not something we’re used to hearing on a structural and melodic level. The closest popular comparable is Let It Go from Frozen.

    In short, this is a contender for the victory, but it is subject to the will of the EBU to host 2016’s contest in Russia, and it also needs some really eye-catching staging that I think only Fokas can really provide. Not even necessarily staging, but it just does need that extra special something to it. I wouldn’t underestimate Russia either. They clearly want to win again and they’re going repeatedly with what’s scoring them the points, they’re not taking part for the fun of sharing their music and culture. There’s nothing Russian about this.

  7. I think its stronger then dina garipova was in almost everyway,better song ,better singer,more telegenic.
    Its going to be interesting to see if the lack of western points last year were purely anti russia,or like tim says maybe the west just didnt buy into last years song,this one is very westen sounding.

    As it stands i think this is a top 5 entry,will be interesting to see if they get fokas on board to really give this entry a push.

  8. The songs structure and melody is probably the best this year.Russia are trying for the best result possible.Even the narrative points to that.
    There was a political element last year,no doubt about that but i think squall is right in that it might of even helped Russia as the loyal countries voted for the motherland.
    Another key for me is the way the scandi/baltic blocks are split.There are five or six songs all capable for fighting for points.Finland for example.Will they give their usual 12 to Sweden?,or Estonia instead.Elina is very popular in Finland.
    Its a top 5 song.With fantastic staging and if the vote splits work out a possible winner.

  9. The UK is more likely to win than Russia. Just so you know, in cased you missed it. The market wouldn’t lie now would it? 😀

  10. It’s more tolerable than What If and the chorus is kinda nice but it reeks of cynicism, no genuine emotion, to steal a joke from someone else: “this song is so calculated this could’ve been made on a TI-83”

  11. This type of song only won last year because of the beard. The ESC has become more modern.

    A diaspora is a great thing if you’ve got a great song it can push you past other great songs. But it’s not enough to help this tosh.

    • I should back up that comment, it sounds a bit curt.

      Last year they got huge diaspora support and finished T10. I expect the same this year.

      However their total points were woefully short for victory. They only received 17 points from countries without large Russian populations – 10 from Greece, 5 Malta, 2 Portugal.

      I don’t see any traditional ballad doing well this year with all the more original competition.

  12. I think this is actually the best song that Russia has sent to Eurovision that I can remember. Possibly ever if I bothered to check and that includes the year they won. It’s the only song that screams winner to me from a Eurovision perspective. Only two things stop this from winning bad staging and politics. From a staging point of view it would have to be as bad or worse than Dina Garipova’s What If to mess it up. From the politics side the situation in the Ukraine would have to get worse than it is at the moment between now and the night of the final or for Putin to go killing more opposition leaders. I’m happy to have this as a five figure green and will keep it that way until rehearsals.

  13. I agree with the general sentiment here – as old fashioned ballads go this one sits on the right side of the fence. Builds well and I find the hooks more memorable than Gravity or other similar entries. In its favour, it can count on solid eastern support – more so than Shine and that alone makes it pretty much a top 10 lock and knocking on the door of top 4. More than that looks unlikely – in terms of mass appeal televoters(and to a lesser extent juries) have moved away from this type of ballad, and with the current political situation it is starting with more of a handicap than most other songs. In summary a whole heap of easy points and another heap of very elusive ones.

    Anyone found much evidence re: vocal ability? What I’ve found seems reasonable.

    • Looking up her live videos she can easily hit the big notes. Should be vocally solid and stunning if everything goes to plan.

  14. Most years we get Ukraine come in to be favourite or close as delegation,or friend of an oligarch friend back them in at some point.They love to be mentioned as “the favourite”,or “one of the favourites”.
    I wonder if this year Russia might follow the same path?.It would be tricky for the EBU to nobble a “favourite”.

  15. Another live performance of A Million Voices here; http://youtu.be/f5UbfeDJ-ug

    It isn’t as good as the last one though, and she’s styled a bit like Sanna Nielsen this time.

  16. Erm, so apparently Polina is singing 13th in the grand final according to the lead singer of The MakeMakes. Skip to 5:35.

    ESCKAZ in Moscow: Interview with The Makemakes (Austria): https://youtu.be/Yul-evshopU

  17. Other than the addition of a backing singer (plural if they lose the pianist), I’d guess that’s Russia’s staging for Vienna. Those guitarists clapping during the bridge looked choreographed, rather than reluctantly joining in.

    • I really doubt she’ll have a full band on stage in Vienna though. She needs backing singers for the background choir part at least.

      • Well recorded and live versions always change. Lose the pianist and there’s room for 2 backing singers. They could add a ‘chorus’ effect to the mic output, which would give the illusion of more singers.

  18. I’d be surprised if this information was disclosed to another performer at this stage and even more surprised if the running order is allowed to stand after the gaffe.

  19. it comes from the Austrian singer who would be close to the planning committees, so it could be a careless slip aided by what looks like a fair bit of alcohol.

    There still a first/second half draw to contest, but it is conceivable that decisions have been made about where to position certain nations, especially those that have a say on the final result.

  20. I think anyone who regularly visits this site fully appreciates how the ‘draw’ is worked, I’m just surprised that the information was relayed to the home contestant in case of a slip like this.

    I suppose a 13th slot makes sense really, not a total hatchet job on the Russians but at the same time trying to ensure the ballad will be long forgotten come voting time. I fully expect Italy and Sweden to be drawn between 18th-25th place.

    • 13th slot would be a best slot from the 1st half so not a total hatchet I would say.

      • Maybe it’s a “contingency plan” dodgy deal just in case Russia gets drawn in the first half.

        Come to think of it, isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that Austria got drawn at number 14, right in the middle?

        • Why is this more of a coincidence than other host countries at other times not being drawn in the middle?

          I do recognize that EBU has their own, not always public, agenda, but at times the discussion has more than just a little bit of 911-truther to it.

    • Seriously guys, ask yourself which is more likely
      :

      1. Draws are manipulated, Russia is manipulated into the 1st half but somehow still given the “pimp slot” in that half, the Austrian contestant is informed not only if the fact that the whole process is a staged lie, but also what what slot Russia is in, AND is stupid enough to blabber about this in a public interview

      Or

      2. He got it wrong

      Occam’s razor…

      • Squall, you’ve missed the most important part…

        He wasn’t so silly to blab to the press. The Russians found out about the draw and offered him a bung to drop the EBU in it and as a result receive a more favourable slot as they try to cover their tracks.

        You know it makes sense!! 😉

    • Personally if I was in charge, assuming Russia gets 2nd half, I would put them on last. Converts the ‘winner bells’ into ‘yay great ending’.

  21. Live on Russian TV…

  22. There is a bit of discrepancy between Russia’s odds, as WillHill is offerin 21 with 1/4 EW (So top4 odds is 6). But @ betfair you can lay Russia top4 @ 3,4-3,8 (Small’ish amount though, and I wouldt take these but rather lay @ 3,2 or so.). This leaves a solid chance for free run with Russia, but I personally dont feel like locking up the money as of now.. I rather wait for bookers to open other markets before locking up money for free runs.

    • Despite very polished performances, the odds continue to lengthen for Russia. I think 28/1+ with each way is a more sensible price. I’m not laying anymore until Vienna, as I’ve locked up a big chunck of my bank laying the likes of Finland, Slovenia & UK et al.

  23. While I think Russia is winning the first semi final hands down, I am not sure it can quite challenge for the win. I know it probably looks great on the TV feed, but my line of thought is actually that of – anthemic stadium pop, world unity themes, static band performance, possible pyros later…

    It all sounds a lot like Children of the Universe.

    No, Russia won’t finish 17th in the final as it’s a stronger song and performance and it comes from Russia, but for a song cheesier than a Swiss fondue, I would expect a bit more of a Teardrops style show with more movement if they really wanted to push for the win.

    One interesting thought that came to me today is that the Russian team may be trying to engineer a fanwank, but not in the traditional sense. I literally mean “let’s do something so strong that they can’t possibly boo us”. Depends how important the propaganda is and how much influence the state has on the broadcaster I guess. Three world peace Disney ballads in a row can’t be a coincidence of true artist’s intent.

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