Russia's singing grannies to come gunning for Jedward

Sat, Mar 10, 2012, 00:00

WATCH OUT Jedward: the singing grannies of Udmurtia are out to get you.

Russia’s entry for this year’s Eurovision song contest is as uncompromising as those who perform it.

The six elderly ladies who will sing for the Russian Federation in the finals in Baku, Azerbaijan, are not ethnic Russians and they don’t have shiny white teeth. At least one of them appears to have no teeth at all.

The women who won the competition to represent Russia were chosen by an “expert jury” of leading impresarios and music critics.

They come from the autonomous region of Udmurtia, which is just this side of the Urals and therefore qualifies as being in Europe.

They represent not only the Russian Federation (population 142 million) but their native village of Buranovo (population 658) and they sing in Russian, Udmurt and a language that resembles English.

Part of the refrain contains the undoubtedly English words “come on and dance” (pronounced kam oan en dense) and that ever-present phrase found in popular music throughout the world: “Boom! Boom!” Almost a million people have watched them on YouTube.

There will be many people in Ireland who can understand the Russian lyrics as well as the “Boom! Boom!” But those who wish to get more deeply into it all should immediately start swotting up on Udmurt.

A language distantly related to Finnish and Hungarian, Udmurt possesses a mere 15 cases: nominative, genitive, ablative, accusative, instrumental, abessive/caritative, inessive, elative, illative, approximative, egressive, transitive, terminative and adverbial.

To learn it would be as easy as ABC – if its alphabet happened to have an ABC, which it doesn’t.

The ladies are all Udmurt native speakers, as are almost half a million of their compatriots, who happen to hold a record the Irish once thought to be their own – they are, according to experts on these matters, the most red-headed people on earth.

There’s not much red hair on display from the Buranovskie Babushki (Grandmothers of Buranovo), to give them their official title. There’s hardly any hair to be seen protruding through the headscarves that top their traditional costumes, consisting of long, patterned Laura Ashley-style dresses, comfortable thick woollen socks and sensible wickerwork shoes.

It has been the tradition for competitors in Eurovision to bring some of their best-known national products to the finals, and this just might help the Singing Grannies to do well. For Udmurtia’s best-known product is the AK-47 assault rifle, invented by local hero Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov.

You can watch the Buranovskie Babushki on YouTube.