You can’t have competition without a bit of ruthlessness and for every success story, there is a tale of broken hearts and thwarted dreams. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vintage girl band or a bunch of cartoon pigs, ambition can turn deadly if it isn’t kept in check. The artists of the new Russian republic thought they had freedom of expression until the rise of Stalin and their subsequent suppression is well documented in this month’s London exhibition.
The propaganda was there also, but it was clothed in abstract forms and was more aimed at individual expressions of freedom. This exhibition charts the rise and the abrupt fall of the movement, just before Stalin took power and suppressed anything that was not state approved.
From pigs to porcupines, each contestant brings their own sense of quirky fun as they cheerfully butcher soft rock classics and hip hop remixes with equal abandon. There’s a subplot about saving a failing theatre in there somewhere, but the contestants are so funny that you could miss it and still enjoy the film.
Three girls start out as equals in a dynamic singing group. Once a svengali has signed them, they are groomed and trained before the prettiest one is singled out for stardom, leaving the more talented member in her wake. Ambition, envy and great songs add up to a dynamite evening of classic soul.
The band also come into their own as they have more space to add a bigger string section which gives the ballroom numbers extra warmth. The show will be compared by recent contestant, Anita Rani and will feature judges, Craig Revel Horwood and Len Goodman plus some surprise guests.