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!

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