о русской музыки и кино

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last posted May 28, 2016, 1:26 p.m.
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A nice post about пластоманы and western music during the Soviet's Afghan War decade.

(speaking of the Афганская война, it influenced two singers in different directions: цой's кукушка comes across to me as having been a counter-culture anti-war song, and газманов's офицеры as being a pro-establishment but anti-stupid-war song)


I'll return to comedy soon, but as “There Were Roses” was brought up in a non-TS context, I thought it worth mentioning "war orphans": Ксения Гожа - Дети войны


on the lighter side, Sting's "Russians" was apparently composed after having pirated a SECAM signal. I was reminded of that story when running across Группа «Фабрика» on «Улица Сезам» but what I really appreciated is that while there is no shortage of Lolita references in more recent russian work, such as: Вирус Попрошу тебя (judging from the age of these computers and the VCR effect, russian smileys had already lost their eyes and noses by the 90's)

one can even find the reversed trope: Фактор 2 Красавица

(a/ note the Руки вверх cameo; b/ what may appear to be fan service at the end is actually motivated by the final plot point)

come to think of it, the СУПЕРДИСКОТЕКА 90-Х shows often contain "do you remember" segments, and Эммануэль tapes often show up in them. Did Sting's friend build that SECAM decoder with the original intention of watching TV from .su, or from .fr?


another pair of examples regarding « дитя vs ребёнок » and current usage:

Игорь Растеряев thanks the Ребята for helping with the filming of « Плясовая »

(yes, it starts slowly, but I enjoyed the turn at 3:00; those rebyata were probably met at a dance school)

while his song about actual youth is « Песня одетстве».


Ленинград, whose « Молитвенная » was already mentioned over in the russian stream, is currently most famous for the video to their song "exhibition", Экспонат

but my favorite so far (as it uses dark, dark, yumor more than comedy-of-manners wordplay) is ЗОЖ

which has as its central conceit that a corpore sano does little good if lacking mens sana. (a valid point, even if it does come from a punk group who also have a song « бухло » in their catalog)


Space geeks may congratulate Falcon 9 and then stop to remember one of the more famous uses of a phrase which today is more frequently used to finish toasts: Поехали

From 1983 (a year in which my side of the iron curtain featured Van Halen's "Dreams" video) we have some dreams from the other side: the 'Earthlings', singing their award winner, an optimistic 'green grass of home':

Among many other appearances and remixes, the song was used in an old Nu Pogodi episode, and a recent documentary on XXI manned space flight, Трава у дома: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DTNWK_MChM

(this semi-space geek appreciated the "white sun of the desert" cameo, as well as the speed limit sign posted on board мир, ecumenically in both english and metric units)


if anyone still dreams of per aspera ad astra, a new cover of Трава у дома by several members of the russian pop mafia:


Today's тройка is of a traditional song,Порушка-Пораня. It's easy enough to find, from traditional arrangements to less traditional, such as a лезгинка, or with what I guess are gender-swapped dips, Девятова и Варвара@0:54, but the following are my current favorite set of new bottles for this old wine:

Firstly, Silenzium, playing a peasant song on classic instruments in a festival setting (and what is that theme at 1:56?):

Secondly, Ариэль, who perform a version updated for the entry of the internal combustion engine and electrical amplification into rural life:

Finally, from a movie about which I know next to nothing, at a party involving a young Peter II, the landlords reach the point in the evening (~3:00) where they are not above a little cultural appropriation from their tenantry:


a whole nation of comrades in legwarmers

the title here is a line mentioned in an article I'd run across while researching Soviet Disco; I think the original mention was meant to be humorous, but as we can see from the following ad:

the soviets may have taken it more seriously. Admittedly, that's feathered hair, but no leg warmers. No problem; by working backwards from an aerobics-themed song in the current RF: «Утренняя гимнастика»

we find that performance is indeed a cover of a soviet-era song: «Утренняя гимнастика»

which Высоцкий* had presumably composed with reference to programs like: «Утренняя гимнастика»

It took a little poking around, but there you have it:

comrades in legwarmers

  • it's just as well Vyssotsky, like Tsoi, eventually achieved fame despite communist censorship, for his material would never fly on a major western label, either. Not only is he overly fond of enjambment, he even has a single-word multi-syllable line: Общеукрепляющая (obscheykrepliauschaya).

a near miss: if you start to wonder why Фактор-2 features comrades in knee socks, periodic tables, and a drum&bugle corps, see the original video a few cards back.


I Will Survive

In a close decision, the Gaynor classic beat out the wedding staple ВСЕ БУДЕТ ХОРОШО for inclusion in a bollywood-inspired karaoke comedy: (incidentally the highest grossing russian film in 2015 ... despite being released on 25 December. Cinematography geeks: how many cuts in this sequence?)

I was a bit surprised to find an english-language song in a popular russian movie, but I guess I shouldn't have been. As the comrades in leg warmers showed us, the iron curtain was much more permeable to pop culture in its final decades than in its initial, and disco, while it may have died elsewhere, survived* in russia.

A few examples, this time with Carnaval-themed lyrics in russian (original titles in ROT-13 for those who wish to guess)

"V jvyy fheivir"


"Ig'f envavat zra"


  • like in western europe, (but unlike in the US and those middle-eastern countries which had suffered islamic revolutions, evidently feeling that booze, breasts, and brazen lyrics needed to be banned)

Gratuitous periodic tables are not just a hapax graphomenon in russian music; cf

Алена Апина Притончик

(maybe not so gratuitous, the song seems to be about moonshining, which might explain the downvotes for a version performed by a children's choir dressed in Young Octobrist style)

I've never seen "Breaking Bad", but I'm still guessing that on the anglophone side we'd probably have to go back to Tom Lehrer to find anyone other than students doing chemistry-themed song-and-dance.

Might this tendency have something to do with Дмитрий Иванович Менделеев?


Mike Judge, meet Sergey Shnurov, and his meditation on "malt does more than Milton can": В Питере - пить "when in St. Drink-ersville, drink!"? Nice pun шнуров, (and we've even seen Питер пить in another card, at the bottom ... but considering this video was posted on the 1st of May, I'd suggest that sticking it to The Man according to the скрипачки's example, while it might not be any more effective, might well turn out a little easier on the liver in the long run)

As Leningrad was kind enough to buy us the shot, here's Efim Alexandrov with a slightly more optimistic chaser: Над Москвою дожди моросили


What must it've felt like, when the soviets decided there must be more to life than having nukes and mud wrestling with fanatics in the middle east? Best illustration I've yet found is this medley: 2012 Cупердискотека 90-х

Not that the transition was easy; here's a video from a hit song about getting hit on by a guy who can't offer any more than "two slices of sausage": два кусочека колбаски (1992)

but two decades later, (at least judging by production values of this cover, and that the audience can laugh about their younger selves) it looks like everyone is much better off: два кусочека колбаски (2013)

(incidentally, the group into which the first medley segues, with the chorus including the english line "peace and love, rock and roll", Дискотека Авариа, also demonstrates, in going from the low-tech late XX to the new "blue light" in the early XXI, clear progress)


As some of the previous cards have shown, russians enjoy not only covering songs, but also poking a bit of fun at the originals. For instance, крид uses the melody from one of his recent hits when singing a duet with кобзон, whose lines I presume have been set to a tune which was on the charts back when he was крид's age.

Although I wouldn't go so far as to say the following duet has a Lolita subtext, it did strike me as somewhat May-Decemberish ...

... and apparently I was not alone; this father-daughter pair certainly underlines that theme with their cover:


from comrades in leg warmers to Шахматы

The comrades in leg warmers weren't just a figment of my imagination, but were also mentioned in a mid-80's LA Times article about RAND pirating TV from the soviets.

From an occasional flashy aerobics class with slim women in leg-warmers

I think it's legit, because besides the leg warmers, they also mentioned chess:

and a weekly chess show ("horrendous," Griffin said--"instant narcolepsy") ... "Only in Russia would they begin sports news with chess."

and I've noticed that chess is fairly popular in russian music videos.

Not only do provincial policemen play:

ЛЮБЭ "Березы"

but also vacationing hippie-dippies:

Отава Ё - Иванушка-рачек

and even alcoholics/hooligans/parasites:

Гарик Сукачев - Полюби меня

(Сукачев not only plays the down-and-out in that video; he is better known for "my grandmother smokes a pipe", Моя бабушка курит трубку, than for portraying high culture)

There has been one significant exception I've noticed: the protagonist of Leningrad's "Patriot" may have two passports and multiple cars, and even a shiny samovar, but she lacks the chessboard. Ленинград — Патриотка


Цой жив

For VE day (as observed in the RF: much like their US colleagues, a certain demographic among the russian public seems to have a WWII obsession) two war movie clips set to what I've always interpreted as an anti-war song.


(the protagonist of this movie —a joint UA/RU production— also had a song written about her by Woody Guthrie; flattering, if slightly mistitled)


(everyone agrees: the Nazis were the "bad guys" ... but in this TV series, unlike in Bond flicks, SMERSH are the "good guys")

and something slightly different to finish the troika:

Первая Любовь

... a simple song of chagrin, or somewhat more? (in particular, does the pose at 3:26 refer to a definite prior work?)


Today, a Ukrainian troika, starting with the ultranationalistic "Brunette Ver. 2.0":

Смуглянка вер. 2.0

going through the ukra-billy "16 tons"

Шестнадцать тонн

(the Platters cover of 16 tons was apparently very popular throughout the Union since at least its release by Melodiya in 1961; there is even a Moscow nightclub named 16 тонн)

and winding up on a lighter note with the folkloric antics of what may be Ukraine's currently most famous musician, the disco queen Verka Serduchka:

гоп гоп гоп


For a rainy day, three melancholic songs with horses.

The first, I believe (as "Officers" was) to have been inspired by the experiences of the Afghan War:

Есаул (set to Civil War era video)

The second, I know very little about (beyond the "horse" of the title) other than that it is sung beautifully:


Finally, an old cossack song, in which a trooper first has a nightmare and then his captain (his Есаул) explains it probably means they're all going to die...

Ой, то не вечер


Ambiguity: Bikinis? Chess?

...there's no escape from chess; this time appearing in a late-soviet video, and, although not at the beginning of the sports news, for a change of pace, it's played underwater...

Дисплей - Радость движения (ca. 1988)


freedom songs

I have to say "Double wow", so in honor of MLK, this "Russian" music card will be russian artists interpreting non-russophone lyrics.

At first I was surprised to hear Buinov singing "Let My People Go", in english, during an otherwise russophone music special:

Буйнов - Let My People Go

but it turns out it's an old russian choral standard. The current popularity might be due to a synagogue* chorus:

Хор Турецкого. "Go Down Moses"

but as we saw before, The Platters were popular enough that the army choir covered them, and from soviet times until ours, the covers were in english.

Хор МВД - 16 tons

(I'm guessing Paul Robeson also had some influence on the soviet-era performances)

  • as mentioned in my russian stream, I originally started searching RUnet because it's far easier to find yiddish interpretations than on the latin internet. Alexandrov even has a several-hour traveling show of yiddish numbers; which he closes with:

Lomir Ale Ineynim


Going the other direction is a bit more difficult. So far the best US cover of an RU song I've run across has been Chet Atkins:

Atkins - Очи чёрные

I'm sure you all are much more color-blind, and it's just my old-fashioned XX upbringing that caused me some cognitive dissonance in the previous card's collection of pale guys singing "go down moses", but judging by the parodies, russian radio also tends to segment by audience ethnicity:


on the other hand, although russians definitely have fewer integrated acts than western europe, in certain cases it seems to be due to lack of opportunity rather than lack of inclination:

Валенки.Марина Девятова и Пьер Нарцисс.

MC Doni feat. Натали - Ты такой