When Alla Pugacheva was announced to be the 1997 Russian representative, it felt very exciting and very special in many ways. As a child growing up in Sweden during the 1980's, Alla was about the only singer we ever heard of from the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was a big and scary neighbour to have, but this singing sensation that was Alla made them seem more tangible, more human somehow.
For a few years, Alla was marketed quite heavily in Sweden (and elsewhere around Europe) and this chance to see her again - and in Eurovision! - was intriguing. So was the preview clip: elegant, classy, slightly theatrical and slightly cold. Artistic. And the song was very different.
Alla Pugacheva - Prima donna! (Russia 1997 preview)
In Dublin, Alla had brought along a stunning backing group and gave a most vibrant performance, filling her song with so much passion, emotion and star quality. The ending alone - where Alla drinks from her microphone - is worth the money.
This performance gives me goosebumps every time and judging from the reaction in the hall I'm not the only one loving this.
Unfortunately, with the exception of the Slovenian jury the voters remained cold and left the Russian primadonna in a pale 15th place.
Alla Pugacheva - Prima donna! (Russia 1997)
Unfair in every possible way, but it doesn't matter much when you have a career like Alla's. She was the Queen of popular music in the Soviet Union - impopular with the governing power who regarded her as vulgar and a carrier of un-Sovietic values but loved by the people.
If you are unfamiliar with her work, check her out on YouTube where many of her classic clips are to be found. How about this one, filmed in the Moscow metro?
Alla Pugacheva - Arlekino
This one is one of her most beloved hits - written by Latvian composer Raimonds Pauls - and a true evergreen also in many territories outside of the Soviet sphere. Arja Saijonmaa recorded a brilliant Swedish version and Katri Helena made a good version in Finnish, for instance.
Alla Pugacheva - Million alih roz
And this is perhaps my personal favourite - taken from the album Alla recorded in Sweden in 1985 with songs by the likes of Lasse Holm, Anders Glenmark and Torgny Söderberg. That album - known as "Watch Out" or simply "Alla Pugacheva in Stockholm" - is a must for everyone who loves Alla or the sound of Swedish pop of the 1980's.
Alla Pugacheva - Lousy Party