reports with some sadness that Romanian gymnast Catalina Ponor
has ditched her floor music based on Greek singer Despina Vandi's mega-hit from 2001, Gia
, in favour of a nondescript instrumental in a bombastic Pirates of the Caribbean
sort of vein.
However, Ponor still has the virtue of not performing her floor routine as if it was a cheerleading tryout, and the even greater virtue of not being called Courtney Kupets
, Shavahn Church, or London (yes, London) Phillips.
You'll know Ponor's floor music as Gia
if you're not Serbian or Romanian. If you're Romanian, maybe you know Gia
as Ponor's floor music. And if you're Serbian, you might know them both as Samo za tvoje oči
(For your eyes only
), recorded by the unsubtle and extremely blonde turbofolk star Jelena Karleuša. Where Gia
is concerned, JK and Vandi have a complicated relationship, which at some point really ought to have included an exchange along the lines of Yeah but, no but...
: Karleuša was under the impression that Gia
had been meant for her
as the breakout hit to kickstart her international pop career, and . Karleuša had, in fact, signed with Greek record company Heaven Music and linked up with Vandi's composer Phoebus, and seemed to be in the frame for Gia
at one point when Heaven and Universal got the jitters about Despina's plans to become a footballer's wife
Despina released Gia
anyway, sent it to the top of the Billboard
dance charts in America, and left Heaven with a big blonde silicone problem. JK's self-titled CD in question, released in 2002, also contains a cover of Vandi's biggest hit which isn't called Gia
, the five-minute Faithless-style Ipofero
, renamed with startling originality Još te volim
(I still love you
This would be more remarkable were it not that a fair few turbofolk songs started their life as Greek or even Turkish hits - and in fact, cynics might say that it was quicker to ask how many didn't
. The Gazette
would get further into this, but doesn't still want to be at the keyboard in three hours' time. It happens far less on the Croatian scene, although Alka Vuica
seems more than ready to compensate for all her colleagues in the Balkan-covers respect.
Ponor notwithstanding, things aren't all so gloomy for south-east European pop and its transnational, sequinned afterlife, as the world champion figure skater Irina Slutskaya
is still haring around the ice rink to the tinkly sound of Maksim Mrvica
's Croatian Rhapsody
. Silver-highlighted Maksim comes from Split, and his original pieces are composed by Tonči Huljić, keyboardist, manager, and all-round impresario of the two-decades-old Croatian band Magazin. They've outlasted their rivals by periodically trading in one blonde lead singer for another (current incumbent Jelena Rozga's nine years have set the record by some way) and by snapping up new sources of exoticism wherever they can find them.
Since attending Eurovision in 1998 and encountering British crossover-classical promoter Mel Bush (the man responsible for Vanessa Mae
), Huljić has kept up a profitable sideline of composing instrumentals for Mrvica, Anglo-Aussie string quartet/girlband Bond, and Anglo-Serbian string quintet/girlband Wild. Oddly enough, a fair few of these
life as songs by Magazin: Briga me
, Ko me zove
became Gypsy rhapsody
, and Magazin's big 2004 hit, Ne tiče me se
, had already
been Bond's Explosive
. Croatian Rhapsody
is no exception, and as Hrvatska rapsodija
, came within four places of sending Magazin to represent Croatia at Eurovision 2000.
A saga which leaves the Gazette
with little to do but look at its watch and wonder when the next round of Who's Going To Be The Next Magazin Lead Singer, And When? is going to get under way...