Sergey Lazarev (born Sergey Vyacheslavovich Lazarev in Moscow, Russia) spent his youth practicing gymnastics and acting, graduating from Mkhat Theater School in 2004, but it was his vocal abilities that shot him to fame in his home country. As a member of child group Neposedi (who also counted t.A.T.u. among its ranks), Lazarev joined with friend Vlad Topalov and formed teen pop duo Smash!! in 2000. They released their debut album, Freeway, in 2003, which included the Russian chart-topper "Belle." They were a hit in Russian-speaking nations and East Asia, touring Southeast Asia in 2004. Despite their success, they split up in 2004 to pursue solo careers, a mere week after releasing follow-up effort 2nite. Lazarev's debut, Don't Be Fake, was released in late 2005. Full of dramatic pop, Euro-dance bangers, and huge ballads, it was a hit. His sophomore effort, TV Show, was released in 2007, followed by Electric Touch in 2010. With each successive album, the beats got bigger and the hits continued to roll on. In an attempt to further break into the English-speaking market, he even had T-Pain guest on his fourth album, 2013's self-titled Lazarev. In the lead-up to a prized position as representative for Russia at 2016's Eurovision contest in Stockholm, he released a greatest-hits collection, Best, which featured his biggest English-language singles. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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