December 01, 2019

Russia's Pop King


Russia's Pop King
Dima Bilan has been active in Russia since the early 2000s. Screen shot from "I'll Never Let You Go" via YouTube

Anyone familiar with Russia’s history in Eurovision knows that there is one name in Russian pop music that stands above others: Dima Bilan. The musical icon has been active since the early 2000s, and his influence continues to be felt not only in Russia, but across the world.

Born in Karachay-Cherkessia in Southern Russia in 1981, Bilan began engaging with music from an early age. He went to a music school for children and competed in multiple competitions for young talent, including the “Young Voices of the Caucasus” award.

When it came time to decide where to go for university, Bilan moved to Moscow and studied at a music academy, Gnessin State Musical College. He worked as a shop assistant while studying, and dreamed of a career on stage. Luckily, during his time at Gnessin State, he met the musical producer Yury Aizenshpis, who recognized Bilan's potential.

According to Bilan, Aizenshpis’ role in his life cannot be overstated, “The role which Yury has played in my life can't be described in just a few words. It was a very large part of my life and now it's deep inside me, in my heart and in my consciousness. I can't pinpoint it exactly, he was more than a producer, he became a second father to me.”

Aizenshpis passed away in 2005, but his belief in Bilan helped launch the artist onto the world stage. Yana Rudkovskaya is Bilan’s current producer.

In 2006, Bilan participated in Eurovision, with his song “Never Let You Go.” He went on to represent Russia at the MTV Europe Music Awards in Copenhagen later that year. In November, Bilan performed at the World Music Awards in London, where he also received the award for Best Selling Russian Artist. Bilan’s rise continued, through collaborations with foreign musicians, including a Spanish song with Nelly Furtado, and another Eurovision performance in 2008. This time, Bilan took first place in the contest.

Bilan has continued to produce music, and has also branched out into other forms of entertainment. In 2010, he produced and starred in a short film called Theatre of the Absurd, which was based on his song “He Wanted To” («Он хотел»). Currently, Bilan is one of the four coaches of the Russian version of The Voice.

Keep an eye out for whatever this talented individual has planned next!

See Also

Alsou Safina, singer

Alsou Safina, singer

She may be just eighteen, but she has been ruling Russia's pop charts for two years. Alsou Ralifovna Safina (known to her fans as simply Alsou, pronounced “all-soo”), daughter of Lukoil's first vice-president Ralif Safin, has taken the music industry by storm. 
Eurovision Revisited

Eurovision Revisited

“It's nice to receive such news from Europe!” - Ukrainian singer Ani Lorak on winning the revote for Eurovision 2008
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar

The fables of Ivan Krylov are rich fonts of Russian cultural wisdom and experience – reading and understanding them is vital to grasping the Russian worldview. This new edition of 62 of Krylov’s tales presents them side-by-side in English and Russian. The wonderfully lyrical translations by Lydia Razran Stone are accompanied by original, whimsical color illustrations by Katya Korobkina.
A Taste of Russia

A Taste of Russia

The definitive modern cookbook on Russian cuisine has been totally updated and redesigned in a 30th Anniversary Edition. Layering superbly researched recipes with informative essays on the dishes' rich historical and cultural context, A Taste of Russia includes over 200 recipes on everything from borshch to blini, from Salmon Coulibiac to Beef Stew with Rum, from Marinated Mushrooms to Walnut-honey Filled Pies. A Taste of Russia shows off the best that Russian cooking has to offer. Full of great quotes from Russian literature about Russian food and designed in a convenient wide format that stays open during use.
Steppe / Степь

Steppe / Степь

This is the work that made Chekhov, launching his career as a writer and playwright of national and international renown. Retranslated and updated, this new bilingual edition is a super way to improve your Russian.
93 Untranslatable Russian Words

93 Untranslatable Russian Words

Every language has concepts, ideas, words and idioms that are nearly impossible to translate into another language. This book looks at nearly 100 such Russian words and offers paths to their understanding and translation by way of examples from literature and everyday life. Difficult to translate words and concepts are introduced with dictionary definitions, then elucidated with citations from literature, speech and prose, helping the student of Russian comprehend the word/concept in context.
A Taste of Chekhov

A Taste of Chekhov

This compact volume is an introduction to the works of Chekhov the master storyteller, via nine stories spanning the last twenty years of his life.
At the Circus

At the Circus

This wonderful novella by Alexander Kuprin tells the story of the wrestler Arbuzov and his battle against a renowned American wrestler. Rich in detail and characterization, At the Circus brims with excitement and life. You can smell the sawdust in the big top, see the vivid and colorful characters, sense the tension build as Arbuzov readies to face off against the American.
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Russian Rules

Russian Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
73 Main Street, Suite 402
Montpelier VT 05602

802-223-4955