RIGA - It's fair to say that the contemporary Russian pop music industry operates with the same breathless efficiency as a 1930's Soviet steel factory. It ceaselessly churns out a vast quota of catchy songs, producing formulaic hit after hit, and star after star, only for today's big thing to be quickly supplanted by the next even bigger thing.
Little wonder then that Russian legend Alla Pugacheva is constantly referred to as "legendary" after 30 years at the top in the fickle music business.
Pugacheva will be swinging by Tallinn on Dec. 29, Riga on Dec. 28, Vilnius on Dec. 25, as well as several other regional venues, in a series of Baltic dates that will doubtless delight her legions of adoring fans in this part of the world.
Pugacheva is probably as much loved for her turbulent life story as she is for her music, although many a teary-eyed Russian will claim that no one sings from the soul quite like she does.
Born in Moscow, 1949, Pugacheva's life has always revolved around performing. She studied for years at the Ippolitov-Ivanov Music School and the Lunacharsky School of Theatrical Arts, and then spent several more years searching for success.
Her first big break came in 1974 when she came third in a U.S.S.R.-wide pop competition thanks to songs like "Posidim Pookaem"(We Will Sit Down and Moan About Our Lives) and "Ermolova From Clear Ponds."
Over the next 20 years Pugacheva went on to achieve every conceivable measure of success as a singer, as well as becoming the most-talked about celebrity in Russia. Her marriage to fellow legend Filip Kirkorov in 1994, for example, who is 18 years her junior, attracted more inches of media coverage than Boris Yeltsin's entire time as president (10 years on, Russia's biggest celebrity couple is still together).
Her first album "Alla Pugacheva and Happy Fellows" came out in 1976 but by 1997 Pugacheva had reportedly sold as many as 250 million records - perhaps even more than Michael Jackson - although nearly all her record sales were in Russia and the other countries of the former Soviet Union. To date she has released more then 40 albums, and she shows no signs of slowing down with age. And don't rule out a duet with Michael Jackson at some point in the near future.Alla Pugacheva City Hall, TallinnDec. 29, 8 p.m.Tickets: 250 kroons (16 euros) - 750 kroonsKipsala Hall, RigaDec. 28, 8 p.m. Tickets: 10 lats (14 euros) - 70 latsSiemens Arena, Vilnius Dec. 25, 7 p.m. Tickets: 80 litas (23 Euros) - 300 litas