Listening to Russian music is a great way to improve your language skills and understand culture. So, with just a few weeks of summer left, just keep scrolling and you’ll find embedded youtube videos, commentary, and fun facts!
According to RuWiki, Curd Lake is a Soviet-Wave group. What’s Soviet-wave? Good question. Soviet-wave is a musical genre that emerged in the mid-2010’s featuring throwbacks to features of Soviet music or culture. Apparently, Curd Lake’s writing recalls the striking images and poetics of the шестидесятники Shestidesyatniki writers, the Soviet generation born between 1925 and 1945, who were adults during Khrushchev’s оттепель (thaw). Think Bella Akhmadulina.
Let’s take a look at the opening lines:
Солнце, подобно ветвям,
Извивается в твоих волосах,
Яркой кистью рисует узор на обоях сквозь тюль.
Sun, like branches
twists into your hair,
casts bright paint through lace into patterns on the wallpaper
Definitely some strong, vivid images. The resemblance to Joy Division, however, may be more apparent.
Bi-Bi Taxi is the debut single of old-school hip-hopper, singer, DJ, and producer Lika Olegovna Pavlova, who performed as Lika Star or Lika MC. In her day, Ms. Pavlovna was actually a star of particular magnitude and infamy, as she posed for Russia’s Playboy. Her image and career began to decline after a feud with the famous Alla Pugacheva, who was the mother-in-law of Lika MC’s lover Vladimir Presnyakov. Scandalous!
The video is an absolute must for anyone looking to improve their old-school dance game.
When this song plays in a Russian bar at 1:30, everybody sings. There’s a reason why the song is so popular. It’s so darn catchy and the lyrics are quite clever. The chorus reads:
Завтра мы идем тратить все свои
Все твои деньги вместе
Tomorrow we’re gonna spend all our
all your money — together
This one’s for the heat of summer.
St. Petersburg’s own Shortparis are all the rage. I saw them perform at Moscow’s music festival Боль Bol’ (Pain), and was struck by their elevated boy-band aesthetic.
To be в курсе v kurse “in the know” on St. Petersburg’s current music scene, Shortparis is a must.
Лето в городе is the pet-project of Vladislav Parishin of the more well-known group Моторама Motorama and the act Утро Utro (Morning).
The song Сердце is a melancholy daze. It’s a little nap. I understand the lyrics, posted in the song description, as a perspective on the fall of man from Eden.
If you’re into The National and other groups with droning baritones and thoughtful writing, you’ll like this song.
This synth-pop banger riffs on a familiar scene in Russian disco-bars: a single woman with an attitude in a black cocktail dress attracts attention with her animated, solo dance moves.
Go ahead, be the badass you want to be. Get out there on that dance floor. This one’s for you. Other people’s judgments are not your problem.
Of course, Viktor Tsoi and Kino, Russia’s rock superstars, are a must on this playlist.
Monetochka is a pop-star, but don’t let that fool you into thinking she lacks substance. On the contrary, her lyrics are an earnest take on the paradoxes of Russian identity in the internet age. As Meduza points out, she is “no longer ‘post-’ or ‘meta-’”, which a Western audience might find refreshing.
Her hit “The Last Disco” is a dark, yet somehow whimsical, take on the last high school dance, complete with images of “топор судьбы topor syud’byi (the ax of fate)’” “пол в осколках pol v oskolkakh (the floor shattered to pieces)” и “узоры кровавых ссадин uzoryi krovavikh ssadin (blood-patterned scrapes).” The song benefits from collaboration with hip-hop producer Vitya Isaev.
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