Since this is a blog written by a crone, often about fellow crones, I’m ashamed to say that until yesterday, when I saw something about it in the NY Times, I wasn’t aware that a team of Babushka-wearing Russian grannies won second place and everyone’s heart with their singing and dancing version of “Party for Everybody” during the recent Eurovision Song Contest on May 25.
In the U.S., we are blissfully unaware of the annual Eurovision Song Contest, but, as I learned when I lived in London in 1969, in Europe Eurovision is hugely important, on the level of the Superbowl here, and is viewed by some 125 million people worldwide. It's now entering its 57th year and the streets of Europe become empty as everybody gathers in front of the TV set to watch the votes coming in, rating the performances of the 26 finalist nations.
As Peter Leonard of the Associated Press wrote on May 25, “A smorgasbord of revealing outfits and onstage preening is expected at Saturday’s final, but gray-haired acts from the U. K. and Russia are stealing most of the attention.”
The U. K.’s entry was Engelbert Humperdinck who, at 76, was the same age as the oldest Russian grannie. He performed wearing a lucky necklace given to him by Elvis Presley.
Known as the "Buranovskiye Babushki" --the Grannies from Buranova-- the six ladies “are almost certainly the first Eurovision contestants to perform part of their song in the obscure Udmurt language, which is distantly related to Finnish,” according to the AP.
According to the Daily Mail, the Buranovo the grannies “dress in traditional Russian garments and have shoes made from lime-tree bark…They hope to win the show so they can raise money to rebuild their village church which was destroyed during the Soviet era."
The contest was held this year in Baku, Azerbaijan, because that country won last year when the contest was held in Dusseldorf. This year the grannies performed with great smiles and enthusiasm and their dance moves even included an imitation of making bread. Although they sang in Udmurt, I was surprised to hear two lines in accented English repeated over and over: “Party for everybody! Come on and dence!”
You can see and hear their performance on Youtube by clicking here: "Party for Everybody".
In the end, the first-place winner was the expected favorite, Sweden’s Loreen, a 28-year-old beauty of Moroccan-Berber descent with her song “Euphoria.” (In the olden days, singers often sang in their native language, but I’ve noticed that now, nearly everyone sings in English, which has become the lingua franca around the world.)
The grannies from Buranovo came in second and undoubtedly will be able to rebuild their village church, because they are planning a world tour, taking their singing and dancing on the road. They are now officially Rolling Crones.
Engelbert Humperdinck and England came in at number 25—second to the last.