Wednesday, July 12, 2017

6 Things to Know About Emin Agalarov, Russian Pop Singer at Center of Donald Trump Jr. Email Controversy

6 Things to Know About Emin Agalarov, Russian Pop Singer at Center of Donald Trump Jr. Email Controversy:

A week ago, you would have needed to be a deep, deep fan of the Russian pop music scene to have even heard of Emin Agalarov. Now, though, the once-obscure singer is at the red-hot center of the rapidly expanding probe into Donald Trump Jr.'s attempts last year to collude with agents of the Russian government to spread damning information on his father's then-presidential rival Hillary Clinton.

Agalarov, who once featured Donald Trump in one of his music videos, is a fascinating man whose career has taken him across the globe and, now, into international headlines. As revealed in emails released by Donald Trump Jr. this week, Agalarov's publicist, Rob Goldstone, reached out in June 2016 on behalf of his client (and Trump family friend) promising that Emin could provide something "very interesting." That tease turned out to be a connection to the Crown Prosecutor of Russia, who reportedly wanted to provide Trump's campaign with "some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father."

What's a pop star doing getting wrapped up in potentially illegal international incidents? (Agalarov's attorney had not returned requests for comment at press time.) That story is still unfolding, but in the meantime, here are six things you should know about Agalarov:

He's HUGE

According to Agalarov's official bio, he has "rock star good looks and a clutch of international music awards" and has sold in excess of 1 million albums and regularly sells out shows to tens of thousands of fans. Plus, he is "positioned to do what no Russian male singer has ever done before -- find crossover success in Western Europe and the U.S." Also, he's a cat lover.

He's Worked With Some Heavy-Hitters

Agalarov's 2015 single "Boomerang," which featured guitar from Grammy-winning producer Nile Rodgers, was a top hit on Billboard's Dance Club Songs chart. Agalarov, 37, was also one of the support acts on three dates of Take That's 2105 European tour. The so-called "Michael Bublé of Russia" taped a special in July 2016 from the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia in front of 50,000 fans, featuring Rodgers and superproducer David Foster that found him singing such standards as "You Don't Have to Say (You Love Me)," "You Were Always on My Mind" and "Unchained Melody." He kicked off his Love Is a Deadly Game U.S. tour with Foster and Rodgers in May, which hit theaters in Miami, Connecticut, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. He also opened for Jennifer Lopez at her 2012 show at Baku, Azerbaijan's Crystal Hall.



The Name's Mamedov, Jose Mamedov

In a series of bizarre James Bond-spoofing videos, Agalarov plays the "fearless and dangerous spy" Jose Mamedov. And Mamedov exclusively drinks Carabao Energy Azerbaijan to "get his energy and vitamins in tune."



He Attended a Ritzy New York College

Though born in Azerbaijan, Emin (he goes by one name) moved to Moscow as a toddler and then finished high school in New Jersey before moving on to the prestigious Marymount Manhattan College in New York, where he reportedly graduated at the top of his class. Among the school's distinguished alumni: 1984 vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, actors Alexander Skarasgård, Andrew Rannells, Alexandra Daddario, Laverne Cox, Jenna Ushkowitz and Moira Kelly, rapper Roxanne Shanté, and Princess Marie of Denmark.

He Met the Trumps After a Search for "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World"

In an interview with Forbes earlier this year, Agalarov said he met the Trumps in 2013 when he was looking for the most "beautiful woman -- model -- in the world" to star in the video for his "Amor" single. He logically reached out to the Miss Universe organization (then owned by Trump), and after getting close with the organization and securing the services of 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo, Miss Universe decided to bring the event to Russia's Crocus City Hall in Moscow, which happens to be owned by his family.

"So that same year, in the summer, I believe it was June or July, Mr. Trump invited us to take part of the Miss USA contest, which also belonged to him, which was taking place in Las Vegas at the time," he told Forbes. "We went there with the ambition to sign a contract, which we did. We signed, we shook hands, and at the end of Miss USA, we basically announced that we were going to bring Miss Universe to Russia -- together, Mr. Trump, my father and my entire family were there as well. And we spent a few days in Las Vegas together; that was the first establishment of our friendship. And then he spent a few days in Moscow during Miss Universe, which was also a continuation of this relationship. And ever since, every time I was in America -- in New York, in Miami -- I performed at one of his events at the opening of a golf course, I visited his office, and we stayed in touch. He stayed in touch with my father as well. They’ve exchanged numerous letters. It’s been a great relationship so far."

That friendship resulted in Trump agreeing to a cameo of his Apprentice "you're fired" bit in the video for Agalarov's EDM-lite single "In Another Life," which reportedly took one take and had Trump in and out in under 10 minutes. Also, like Don Jr., Emin's dad is a super-rich billionaire businessman and he has a prominent position (vice president) in his dad's large web of companies, Crocus Group.



He Produced a Music Festival in His Hometown

Though his career takes him all over the globe, in 2016, Agalarov brought it all back home when he organized and produced the first annual Zhara Music Festival in his birth city of Baku. The lineup was packed with Eurovision song contest alumni, including such Eastern European stars as Sergey Lazarev, Samra Rahimli, Polina Gagarina, Ani Lorak, Alex Sparrow and Philipp Kirkorov​.