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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Guide To The Stars




If the country needs a pop-idol to ring in the new millennium, I would vote for one young man, a sort of enigmatic Child Harold-meets-Dorian Gray. His name is Ilya Lagutenko, and he is the baby-faced, goofy-looking star of the band Mumy Troll. After the group's first album, "Morskaya," was released in 1997, his distinctive, simultaneously maniacal and sweet voice has brought him the screams of adoring girls and a mass of newspaper headlines.


Lagutenko, 29, is one of the most fashionable people in today's Russia. Whenever people have come back from long stays abroad, people always ask whether they've heard of or read "The Life of Insects" by Viktor Pelevin and heard Mumy Troll's music.


Lagutenko has brought much originality to Russian pop lyrics. His words are at times full of meaning, at times joyfully devoid of meaning. "I want to bring dolphins under my skin," he sings in Mumy Troll's hit "Dolphins." The band's "Vladivostok 2000," which warns of an ecological disaster, was the first song ever played on MTV Russia. Lagutenko, however, is no fan of MTV culture. He says the things he hates most are "The Spice Girls, hamburgers and Bart Simpson."


Though generally unostentatious, Lagutenko provoked a public scandal with his song "New Moon of April" in 1985. The city of Vladivostok banned his music because they considered the song to be mocking the Communist Party Congress of that year. Despite this blow, he defended his motherland, serving at a secret military base in the Pacific Ocean, then working as in interpreter in China, where his perfect knowledge of Chinese was admired by a local party official, who presented him with a Mao jacket. After his stint in China, Lagutenko ended up in London, working for a consulting agenc y and recording the songs that made him famous.


Lagutenko says his dream is to perform on the stage of the school he attended as a boy, but that will have to wait: At a news conference Monday, he said the Dec. 10 and 17 concerts at Moscow's Gorbunov Club "will be the last in this century." Tickets will cost $10, and I'm sure that despite the hard times many will be glad to pay that much to see Mumy Troll. Lagutenko is sure too. "The money is not that important, the most important is that we and you will be together," he said.


To describe the Mumy Troll phenomenon, it is best to borrow Mao's words: "The wind from the East is overcoming the wind from the West."