PARTY TIME, banner: maid snares Robbie; top: ballet-booted band; above: rather stern drummer (All images from the official video for Party Like a Russian)
Party Like a Russian, and do it in ballet boots – Robbie W.
Party Like a Russian, the video of the first single from Robbie Williams’ forthcoming album Heavy Entertainment Show, has reportedly outraged quite a few real Russians.
They have accused it of crude stereotyping of Russian culture to the point of ‘borderline racism’, and some Russian tabloid newspapers have even suggested Williams would never be able to perform in Russia again.
This seems like a slight over-reaction given the very obvious tongue-in-cheek nature of the whole performance.
But upsetting Russia — intentionally or not — might be as good a way as any at the moment of ensuring a number one hit in many other parts of the world.
That, however, is not why we’re drawing your attention to this catchy little concoction, which British viewers may also have seen Williams performing ‘live’ on the BBC’s Graham Norton Show last Friday.
Nor is it because of the audacious double-steal at the heart of this particular audio-visual extravaganza.
Oh yes. Party Like a Russian doesn’t just nick the idea of a ‘backing band of identical female model/dancer types pretending to be musicians’ from Robert Palmer’s Addicted To Love video.
It also has them perform to a sampling of Dance of the Knights from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet — aka the theme tune of The Apprentice TV show — which provides the song’s memorable hook.
No, our reason for begging your indulgence is that we suspect this video constitutes probably the most impressive appearance of ballet boots yet seen in a music video.
Marvel if you will as the entire ‘band’ (except for the drummer) stand upright, unaided, to perform the whole Party Like A Russian track while ‘playing’ their instruments, with nary a wobble in sight.
Of course in a video production of this quality, you might think that any unsteadiness of foot could easily
be magicked away. But the same ‘band’ were doing the same thing ‘live’ for the Graham Norton performance.
It was so assured, so tightly choreographed, it didn’t really matter that they were only acting.
This can surely only be because these knee-booted ladies (who also wear hussar-style jackets, black tutus and fishnets to complete their fetishy ensembles) are actual ballet dancers by day — or ballet-trained at the very least.
But the whole ballet-fetish theme doesn’t end there.
There are also ‘regular’ ballerinas (of the Swan Lake variety) on hand to offset the antics of the featured kinky quartet.
And the four ‘band members’ also appear in the video as French maids in shiny black lace-up tops, dancing around the singer en pointe, with one hooking a leg over his shoulder in a decidedly dominant fashion.
Towards the end, the band’s ‘drummer’ even uses her sticks to administer a stern but rhythmic beating which might be connecting with drum skins… or might be bashing human flesh.
It’s hard to say, because you never know what these crudely stereotyped Russians are really up to.
You don’t have to be a Robbie Williams fan to appreciate this audacious melding of clever, slightly naughty lyrics, catchy sampled hook and visuals that are a match for anything Gaga or Beyoncé have offered in the fetish department.
In fact, it seems Robbie’s traditional UK fans have been a bit bewildered by it, as it reportedly only ‘limped’ into the charts at number 53 a couple of days ago.
Perhaps Party Like a Russian is a bit too grown-up for them? Or maybe, like the video’s Russian detractors, they just don’t do humour.
BELOW: Watch the official Party Like A Russian video and the Graham Norton Show performance
Published October 6, 2016
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