Unplugged! Kareel "Your Daddy" Blumenkrants leaps onstage during the Air Guitar World Championships 2015, in Oulu, Finland. Blumenkrants became the first Russian to win the competition in its 20-year history. Photo: AGWC
From Tchaikovsky to Rachmaninov to Stravinsky to Ashkenazy to... hmm... t.A.T.u... the Russians have gifted the world with many musicians of outstanding calibre.
Now, you can add Kareel "Your Daddy" Blumenkrants to that list after he strummed, grinded, plucked, and jubilantly threw his air guitar into the air to become the first Russian to own the Air Guitar World Championships (AGWC) since it began 20 years ago.
Held annually in the town square of Oulu, Finland, the grand finale of this year's competition on Aug 28 drew thousands of spectators unfettered by the rainy outdoors to watch the 15 finalists battle it out on stage with their manic renditions of selected songs.
Though contestants may lack the actual skill to wield a real guitar, such learned trickeries aren't at all appreciated at AGWC. In fact, they're frowned upon.
Competition rules specifically state that the "instrument of the contestant must be invisible, i.e. air" and warn that "real musical instruments are forbidden". A guitar pick, however, is OK – but only if used as a prop.
In lieu of actual musical talent, the panel of judges chooses the winner based on merits such as "originality, the ability to be taken over by the music, stage presence, technical merit, artistic impression and airness".
Taken over by the music
This year's competition was especially fierce when a record number of 30 air guitarists from around the world battled it out during the so-called "dark horse" qualifying rounds to allow late entrants a shot at the final.
In AGWC's member countries, which include Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark. France, Germany, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Russia and The Netherlands, the finalists are chosen via national championships.
Qualifying for the finals as a dark horse, Blumenkrants breezed through his exuberant routines, edging out his only real challenger Matt "Airistotle" Burns of the US, who was also a dark horse horse qualifier.
Last year's champion Nanami “Seven Seas” Nagura from Japan could only manage fourth place while the sole Finnish finalist Eero “Oulu’s Own Son” Ojala made it to 10th place.
For excelling in his "ability to be overcome by the music", Blumenkrants goes home as a world champ. And his prize? An actual guitar.
Sources: AGWC, Reuters