Country no. 29 on my World Karaoke Tour: I was not a chicken in Kiev

Acccording to the ratings on TripAdvisor, the no. 11-ranking attraction out of 228 things to see in Kiev is a statue of a hedgehog. That’s right: in a city whose origins may trace back to a settlement in the 5th century A.D. — a metropolis that abounds with architecturally spectacular monasteries and churches — one of the most popular sights is a sculpture of a spiny mammal. That’s the kind of quirky and charming place that Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, is. And it was in such a setting that I tied the record for singing karaoke in the most countries.

The aforementioned monument (see photo at right) depicts the protagonist of an animated short film from what was then the Soviet Union, released in 1975, entitled “Hedgehog in the Fog.” While you may not have heard of that particular cartoon, in 2003 it was named the best animated movie of all time in a survey of animators and film critics from around the world. But you don’t have to take that survey’s word for it; you can view “Hedgehog in the Fog” right here, complete with English-language subtitles!

The statue that immortalizes the star of this cinematic masterpiece was erected in 2009 in a small public park. It was created by Ukrainian artist Constantine Skretutsky. Sadly, I learned today that just this month, the sculpture was destroyed or damaged by vandals, and the pedestal on which it had stood is now empty. I don’t know what kind of sick bastards would do such a thing. Anyway, Mr. Skretutsky will restore the beloved hedgehog, and it’s expected to be reinstalled in the same park in May 2014. I feel fortunate that I got the chance to see it in person.

UPDATE (July 1, 2016): I’m pleased to report that at some point, the hedgehog monument was fully rebuilt!

A historic night for my global tour

Paying homage to the most legendary hedgehog in cinema, by visiting its statue, was one of the top items on my itinerary for Kiev; but of course, it wasn’t my highest priority. What I was most looking forward to was achieving a special milestone in my karaoke travels. As recounted in my previous post, my singing appearances in Russia had pulled me to within one of the record for most countries on a World Karaoke Tour. I entered Kiev having sung in 28 autonomous nations, and I was ready for number 29! The scene for my Kievan karaoke appearance was a restaurant with the unlikely name of Mafia (it’s actually a chain of eateries throughout the city, all of which offer the opportunty to sing; and I chose the location that was most convenient to my hotel.)

The Mafia karaoke bar in which I sang in Kiev, Ukraine.

Mafia, the karaoke bar in which I sang in Kiev, Ukraine.

My opening number at Mafia was the newest addition to my karaoke A-list: “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon. Watch it here:

Please excuse the slightly inappropriate videography at the 0:46 mark; I’d given my camera to an exuberant Polish guy named Andy, who at times had his own agenda with the camera. 🙂

My second song on the evening was an encore presentation of “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which I’d previously sung in Moscow. Here’s my Ukrainian version of it:

And that is how, on Monday, May 20, 2013, Ukraine became the 29th country on my World Karaoke Tour. After that night, it was official — I was now tied with Brian Thacker for karaokeing in the greatest number of countries. Before the week was out, that tie would be broken, in the Republic of Moldova.

The Cathedral of the Dormition, on the grounds of the Monastery of the Caves (Pechersk Lavra) in Kiev, Ukraine. Its cupolas are covered with actual gold.

The Cathedral of the Dormition, on the grounds of the Monastery of the Caves (Pechersk Lavra) in Kiev, Ukraine. Its cupolas are covered with actual gold.

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16 thoughts on “Country no. 29 on my World Karaoke Tour: I was not a chicken in Kiev

  1. I literally just discovered that my new life goal is to also be able to say that I wasn’t a chicken in kiev. Amazing. I love this x


  2. That’s awesome that the hedgehog is so popular. The animated film looks cute – I only watched the first few minutes so far…

    Also, Kiev sounds pretty incredible. Didn’t realize it would be so interesting


    • @Adam: Kiev really was incredible; beautiful buildings; great food; and a cheap metro that made it easy to get around. And, of course, first-rate karaoke. 🙂 Although, I liked Odessa even better.

      The hedgehog film is awesome — I like how one of the YouTube commenters described it as “the Odyssey in 10 minutes.”


  3. I’m smiling about the place being called Mafia. Nice that you connected with a Polish guy. How did you find the people in Kiev?


    • @Jenna: Yeah, it’s funny about the name of the restaurant. Its website promises “family values” — and it’s like, what type of “family” are we talking about? 🙂

      The people in Kiev were really nice to me (although the place on this trip where the locals were friendliest was Chișinău, Moldova).


  4. Congrats on the accomplishment! Glad I was able to see you in Toronto and love the song choice. =)


    • @Elaine: Thank you! Yeah, that was a really fun night in Toronto.

      And “Use Somebody” is definitely my favourite song to sing these days . . .


  5. You were right: Use Somebody by Kings of Leon is your strong suit. Good chatting with you at Travel Massive and maybe we can duet some time.


    • @Noah: I think I have many strong suits, but thank you. 🙂 Yes, it was good meeting you last night, and I’m always up for singing in the city (when I’m not traveling, of course). 🙂


  6. one word – rock star… so excited to be along for this ride… congrats on 29 and what seems to be 30.
    stay singing, Craig


  7. W.C.B.F.F.

    You kicked that song’s A$$! Freaking fantastic job, as usual. (and I would know, heh heh).


    • @W.C.B.F.F.: Thank you so much! It’s especially nice of you to give those compliments in light of the fact that I know you’re not a fan of that Kings of Leon song. 🙂


  8. W.C.B.F.F.

    And you make such a CUTE HEDGEHOG! Does that make you the Hedge-Bomb?


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