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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In the Spotlight

On Saturday evening, Russians will decide on the country's Eurovision contestant in a live television show -- and what do you mean, you have other plans? The lineup promises plenty of silicon, men with bouffant hair singing in close harmony and songs that use the works of Tchaikovsky and Bach in vain.

Unfortunately, none of the songs look to provoke any scandal similar to the Georgian "We Don't Wanna Put In" palaver. Gushy ballads rule the day. The interest is more in whether the pop heavyweights will win or whether the opportunity will go to a struggling unknown, or even -- in the most unlikely scenario -- to a Dane.

In a last-minute decision on Thursday, Channel One added a note of politics by including a singer who first applied to represent Ukraine but was rejected for singing in Russian, among other reasons. Anastasia Prikhodko, who won the "Star Factory" talent show in 2007, will sing a song called "Mama."

At this year's national heat, the public will vote by telephone and text message for the top three finalists. Then, the winner will be decided by a jury of music and television professionals.

The smart money may be on Valeriya, the most famous singer on the list. She is trying to get a record deal in the West, so Eurovision must seem a logical step. She told Moskovsky Komsomolets in February that she hoped simply to be invited to represent Russia -- like Patricia Kaas was in France -- and that she didn't want to take part in a "cockroach race."

Her song, "Back to Love" concerns human trafficking -- "We must fight to end this plight of human dignity" -- and uses the tune of a Tchaikovsky piano concerto. It looks to have a good chance of winning as long as it makes the top three. Valeriya's a big fish, and the music producers on the jury won't want to offend her.

Then there's the second-biggest star on the list, Anna Semenovich. The former ice dancer and member of girl group Blestyashchiye is going to sing a song about surviving a breakup with the lyrics "My pin code has changed." Her voluptuous assets are bound to pull in quite a few votes, and it would be fun if she won, if only because she could upstage Dima Bilan and do her own skating in the final.

Moving up on the scale of ludicrousness, silicon-lipped starlet Alexa is presenting a song called "Not Thinking About You." She's an old flame of the equally ridiculous hip-hop singer Timati and took part with him in the television talent show "Star Factory," although neither of them won.

Another suspiciously plumped-out singer, Polina Griffiths, will be competing alongside her boyfriend, the Danish singer Tomas Christiansen. Despite her surname, she is a Russian who spent time in the United States, then returned to sing in the girl group A'Studio. Her song "Love is Independent" is an angry rock number about a cheating lover. Interestingly, Moskovsky Komsomolets showbiz reporter Artur Gasparyan tipped this one to win.

Christiansen has become a minor star in Russia with his band N'Evergreen -- which apparently isn't big in Denmark. His song, "One More Try," samples a Bach prelude and is the kind of weepy ballad that might win. But a Dane representing Russia? I don't think so.

Some people are backing Quatro, a male quartet whose members have coiffed hair, croon in close harmony and wear pastel-colored shirts. Their song is pitched firmly at the middle-aged-housewife demographic and is called "I Love You."

But I rather like the sound of Nano, or Anna Nova, an obscure singer who also runs an art gallery and a jewelry store in St. Petersburg. She's blonde, once sang a song about the football team Zenit and she sells jewelled frogs. What more could you want from a Eurovision contestant?