It’s become a tradition for the flaneur to ask European friends for favorite choices in the Eurovision Song Contest, which wraps up tonight in Oslo. According to the BBC, the Eurovision finale is the most-watched non-sports TV show in the world – and of course, Americans like me know next to nothing about it.
Thanks as always to Lodro, who pointed me to Drip Drop by Safura, who sings the 2010 entry from Azerbaijan. And to Ingrid, who recommended Lasha Tumbai, the 2007 entry from Ukraine. It may sound like campy nonsense, but really it is a Joycean protest song sung and danced in five languages by comedian Verka Serduchka. “Lasha Tumbai” is a nonsense phrase that may, or may not, mean “Russia Goodbye.”
According to Wikipedia:
Verka Serduchka was chosen to represent Ukraine at the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 in Helsinki, Finland, with the song “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” , and finished in second place. Ukraine was guaranteed an appearance in the final, thanks to the top-ten finish of the previous year’s Ukrainian representative Tina Karol with the song “Show Me Your Love”.
The participation of Andriy Danylko in Eurovision was not without controversy in Ukraine. One of the nationwide FM radio stations organized a protest action in February 2007 to express their disapproval with the selection of Serduchka to represent the country . Some Ukrainians and even members of the Ukrainian Parliament expressed their disapproval with Serduchka’s participation in the contest, which they saw as “grotesque and vulgar.”
Serduchka’s song “Dancing Lasha Tumbai” was sung in 5 languages: German, English, Ukrainian, Russian and the invented words “lasha tumbai”; in which many people heard “Russia Goodbye”. In early publicity, Serduchka claimed that “lasha tumbai” was an expression in the Mongolian language for “whipped cream”. However, several Mongols on a talk show by Channel One (Russia), which was shown just before the Eurovision Song Contest 2007 stated that there is no phrase “lasha tumbai” in their language and one of them pronounced the correct Mongolian phrase for “whipped cream”. The Mongolian embassy in Moscow also said that “lasha tumbai” was total gibberish.