The sight of six grandmothers in traditional peasant wear doesn’t exactly scream YouTube hit. But not all grandmothers are as endearing as the Buranovskiye Babushki (the Grannies from Buranovo).
On March 7 the women — aged between 43 and 74 — defeated 24 other acts to win the right to represent Russia at Eurovision — the pan-European singing contest that is also the world’s most watched nonsporting event. (Think of it as American Idol meets the Olympic Games.) Since then, the video of them performing their song “Party for Everybody” during Russia’s national final has been watched more than 3 million times on YouTube.
The sextet of flamboyant grandmothers hails from Udmurtia, a region in the Ural Mountains, and performed the song in their native language, Udmurt. The rather simple chorus is sung in English: “Party for everybody, dance/ Come on and dance/ Come on and dance/ Come on and boom, boom.” The group first rose to prominence locally when they stopped singing folks songs and started delivering their own rendition of international hits in their mother tongue. They previously entered Russia’s national contest for Eurovision in 2010, finishing third with their song “Sdelat Iz Nee Aishon,” which means “very long birch bark and how to turn it into a turban.”
Forty-two nations will compete at Eurovision this year, and the bookies currently have the group listed as the second most likely to win the entire contest (behind Loreen Talhaoui, a Swedish singer of Moroccan-Berber descent). Despite their rising fame and imminent appearance at Eurovision — the Super Bowl of Russian television — the grannies have their feet on the ground. “We still plant potatoes, grow cattle. We understand that interest in what we do may vanish at any minute,” Olga Tuktaryova, the group’s artistic director, told Russia Today. “Everything in life comes and goes.”
They plan to use any money they receive from “Party for Everybody” to build a church in their village.