Each month the SRAS newsletter features Russia's current charts for pop, rock, and R&B! Youtube videos of the hit songs are included, as are new, monthly additions to this page.
Modern Russian Music
Classic Rock, Modern Pop, Punk, and More!
another great project of The School of Russian and Asian Studies
The following Library entry is meant to quickly introduce you to the modern Russian music scene. We provide this information with the following warning: music is not known for always being grammatically or politically correct. If you are easily offended avoid the genres that will likely offend you. At the top of each listing, there are three links - 1) the band's (or a fan) site, 2) a streaming audio sample, and 3) an online record store with delivery in America.
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Table of Contents:
- Contemporary Pop
Color Code: Red links are to sites only in Russian.
Gray links have English available.
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Pop Soloists report an error back to top
Irakli Sample Hit: Капли Абсента Store
Irakli Pirtskhalava was born in Moscow to a Georgian family. While he dreamed of playing soccer, his mother insisted that he go to music school. At 13, he left music and played soccer for two years but realized that he was already too old to develop a career in soccer and turned back to music. He recorded his first song in professional studio at 16 and got deeply interested in hip-hop and dance music. He played in several bands eventually became a famous DJ and, later, a successful solo artist.sl
Yulia Savicheva Sample Hit: Высоко Store
Her big break came when she was cast in the lead for the New Year's play at Christ the Savior Cathedral in 2002. In 2003 she won a place in "Star Factory," a popular Russian TV show similar to "Star Search." Her simple, heartfelt songs which center on themes of freedom and flight, as well as her versatile looks, which shift easily between girl-next-door and vixen have captured the Russian pop market. For another taste of Yulia, try her now classic hits "Привет," "Высоко," or "Если в сердце живёт любовь."
Sati Kazanova Sample Hit: Чувство легкости
Sataney Setgalievna Kazanova, better known as Sati Kazanova, was born in Kabardino-Balkaria. Until May 2010 she was one of the three vocalists of the Russian pop girl group Fabrika.
Glu'koza Sample Hit: Ой-ой Store
Glu'koza is sometimes classed as electro-pop-retro-punk. She effectively blends her traditional talents with electronic elements, including having a computer animated counterpart that stars in several videos and sometimes even sits in for her in interviews. In this same vein, her striking good looks are accented by fun punk fashion that reminds one of Cindy Lauper in the 80s. For a quick look at her range, try her slow, jazzy rendition of the Russian classic Москва.
Valeria Sample Hit: Нежность моя Store
With charming and captivating vocals and lyrics that radiant kindness and "express the female Russian soul," Valeria is widely popular. Outside of her talent, she is perhaps even better known for her personal life. Her wealthy husband, who also served as her manager and promoter, abused her for years until she finally left him and told her story to the media. She gave this interview to Amnesty International and now campaigns against domestic abuse.
Dima Bilan Sample Hit: Ночной хулиган Store
Dima is one of the most popular Russian artists today, thanks in large part to a sultry voice, wholesome good looks, charisma, and well-funded PR. Dima Bilan represented Russia in 2006 in Eurovision, a vastly popular annual competition of European pop. Bilan took second place leading one politician to dub him "the pride of Russia."
Alsou Sample Hit: Все равно Store
Alsou's father is a senator in Tatarstan, an independent republic within the Russian Federation and is an ethnic Tatar. She attended several years of college in London and sings (beautifully) in English and Russian. In addition to the hit above, we strongly recommend "You're My #1," a duet with Enrique Iglesias in which she sings in Russian and he in English.
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Zhenya Milkovski Sample Hit: Станция туман
By the age of 10, Zhenya was already playing the piano, signing, and even holding small concerts in his hometown of Krasnoarmeysk, in western Ukraine. At age 14, he was picked to be on the first season of the talent/reality show «Фабрика звёзд» ("Star Factory") and subsequently to live in a house with other aspiring young musicians on the spin-off show «Звездный дом» ("Star House.") Young Zhenya couldn’' quite relate to the drama and backstabbing antics of his housemates and returned home to finish school. That didn't stop his musical ambitions, however. Now 19, Zhenya has turned to playing guitar and writes almost all of his own songs.
MakSim Sample Hit: На радиоволнах Store
The pop singer's real name is Marina Maksimova. The nickname Maksim came from her older brother, with whom she spent much of her time as she grew in Kazan, Russia. Her brother and friends would gather in their apartment building's courtyard to play guitar together and sing and she credits him with a great deal of her musical inspiration.
Maksim Leonidov Sample Hit: Письмо Store
Maksim was considered somewhat of a 1980s heartthrob in his first musical group Secrets, but after the fall of the Soviet Union, he moved to Israel. There, he continued to develop his many talents as a singer but also as an actor – he appeared in movies, theater, and television shows in Israel. He returned to Russia in 2003 and formed a new group, Hippoband, which has a retro rock-n-roll style and upbeat, pop-infused songs.
Vera Brezhneva Sample Hit: Любовь спасёт мир Store
Ukrainian-born Vera Brezhneva began her singing career in the Russian girl group VIA-Gra in 2003 until she decided to leave to pursue a solo career in 2007. Her real name is Vera Galushka but her manager suggested the stage name Brezhneva in honor of the Soviet leader who also hailed from her hometown of Dneprodzerzhinsk.
Anna Sedokova Sample Hit: Верю
Born in Kiev, Anna is fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, and English. She was previously a member of the all-female pop group VIA GRA and because of her language skills and clear pronunciation, she sang most of the groupэs English language songs. She left the group to get married and have a child, but is now branching out into a solo singing career.
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Sergei Lazarev Sample Hit: Alarm Store
Sergei began performing before he was 10, singing in children’s choirs and launching his career in the child group Neposedi. He went on to acting and graduated Moscow’s prestigious Mkhat Theater School in 2004. Sergei has also gained fame overseas, since he has worked with many European artists and sings a great deal of his songs in English.
Mitya Fomin Sample Hit: Всё будет хорошо Store
While enrolled in medical school in Novosibirsk, Mitya realized that his true calling was to be a performer. The same day that he received his medical degree, he flew to Moscow and enrolled in the Russian State Cinematography University’s Acting Department. He began his musical career in 1998 with the pop group Hi-Fi and later began a solo career in 2008.
Shazoda, whose real name is Zilola Musaeva, originally hails from Uzbekistan. She has been a well-know pop artist there since 1998, releasing albums with songs sung only in Uzbek. In 2008, she collaborated with DJ Smash on the song “Mezhdu nebom i zemloy” in Russian. In 2009, she released three albums: one in Uzbek, one in Russian, and one in Tajik.
Tanya Tereshina Sample Hit: Обломки чувств
As a child, Tanya Tereshina studied art, music and ballet classes, and also sang in children’s band as a soloist. After graduating from Smolensk institute, Tanya moved to Moscow, became a model, and began traveling the world. She "accidently" attended casting in 2003 for the pop group Hi-Fi, was immediately accepted. Later she left the band and her first solo single came out in 2007. Tanya designs most of her own clothes and costumes and is planning to release her own clothing line after finishing her next music album.
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Tanya Bulanova Sample Hit: Мой сон Store
In 1989, Tanya Bulanova first came to the stage of Russian pop as a soloist for "Letnyi Sad”(Summer Garden, named after the famous park in Saint Petersburg). Since her music school discouraged students from working, her first recordings were done in secret, but she soon became very popular with her slow, romantic songs and distinctive voice. In 1996 Tanya held her first solo concerts. In 2000 she worked with DJ ЦветкоFF to produce "Moi son" ("My Dream”)which led her to the top of Russia's charts. Tanya holds several music awards, including receiving the Russian state's Honored People’s Artist of the Russian Federation in 2004. Her repertoire is very diverse, from dance to rock to ballads.
Vladimir Presnyakov (mladshiy - Jr.) Sample Hit: Зурбаган Store
The son of two musicians, Vladimir wrote his first song at 11, was singing in church choir at 12 and touring at 13, performing his own songs. Known by his incredibly high voice and catchy dance tunes, he became a first Russian artist to receive a "Golden Key" prize in Monte Carlo for the highest number of albums sold in Russia.
Akula (Oksana Pochepa) Sample Hit: Плачу Store
Born Oksana Pochepa, Akula is a Russian pop artist and model that first began her career at the age of 13 as a member of Maloletka (which literally translates as "Underaged"). This is where she took the pseudonym Akula, meaning "Shark"which she continued to use in the future once she kicked off her solo career. She has reportedly left the pseudonym, however, and will now work under her real name.
Nyusha Sample Hit: Не перебивай Store
The daughter of a musician, Nyusha says she always knew that she would dedicate her life to music. She first entered a recording studio at 5, wrote her first song - in English! - at 8, and in Russian – at 12 years old. At 17 Nyusha became a finalist of "СТС зажигает суперзвезду" project (a Russian version of American Idol). The following year she gained popularity with and awards for her first single "Вою на луну" (Howling at the Moon). Her second single "Не перебивай" (Do Not Interrupt) put her in the top positions of music charts, and the newest hit "Выбирать чудо" (To Choose a Miracle) became a title song for her first album that came out in late 2010.
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Eva Polna Sample Hit: Парни не плачут Store
As a child, Eva Polna loved music and took voice and dance classes. She idolized the American singer Ella Fizgerald and the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. When, later in life, she met Yuri Usachev and became a soloist for his new project "Гости из будущего" (“Visitors from the Future”), she wrote many of the songs for the group, became a stage director for the shows and designed costumes for the artists. In 2009, she announced the beginning of her solo carieer and produced her first single "Парни не плачут."
Hellawes Sample Hit: Королевна Store
Natalia O’Shea (née Nikolayeva), the lead singer, is a professor of Irish language at Moscow State University. She is also a musician, songwriter, singer and harpist who has been performing since 1998. Hellawes is the name of medieval sorceress, a character of the Tales of King Arthur. Natalia gained popularity as folk-rock vocalist, and her songs, shared by her followers through the Internet, became famous across Russia and abroad. Later Natalia married an Irish citizen, an employee of Irish Embassy in Moscow, and has been living and working in Ireland (Dublin) and in Switzerland (Geneva) since 2004, but periodically she returns in Russia to take part in concerts of such like-minded musicians as "Melnitsa," "Clann Lir" or in solo concerts.
Polina Gagarina Sample Hit: Колыбельная Store
Polina Gagarina is a Russian pop singer. She spent her early childhood in Greece, where her mother worked with a local ballet company. Polina took part in the TV talent show “Фабрика Звёзд” (“Star Factory”) in 2003 and won. Her first independent music video to her single "Kolibelnaya" came out in 2005 and full debut album in 2007. She writes and sings her own songs and her texts always reflect the state of her personal life.
Lolita Sample Hit: Ты похудела
Lolita (Milyavskaya) was born in Western Ukraine. Her mother sang in a jazz band and her father was the band’s producer and MC. Lolita’s music career started when she first joined her parents’ performances on the stage when she was only 8 years old, and continued with various back-vocal summer jobs all through school years. After graduating from college with a degree in stage direction, she became well-known in the early 90s as a part of The Humorous Cabaret-Duet Akademia together with her then-husband Alexander Tsekalo. In her career, she has been a singer, composer, producer, TV host, comedian, and an actress in the theater and movies. In 1999, she received a special nomination of for the Ovation Award (a Russian equivalent of the Grammy) as the most diversified stage persona.
Lena Katina Sample Hit: Never Forget Store
Lena Katina has already earned herself a spot in today’s music history as the redhead vocalist from the scandalously famous pop sensation t.A.T.u. Today, after having earned acclaim for the past decade with her band, Lena announces the launch of her solo career and “keeps the horizon high”.
Dan Balan Sample Hit: Freedom Store
Born in Moldova and currently living in New York, Dan Balan is a singer, songwriter, and producer. Performing across a range of musical genres from an early age, in 1999 Dan played a pivotal role in establishing the eurodance trio O-Zone. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles to focus on his solo material, mostly focusing on eurodance and commercial pop music.
Boy Bands report an error back to top
Korni Sample Hit: 25 этаж Store
When on December, 26th, 2002 they were declared winners of the first "Star Factory" series, the Olympic Center in Moscow shuddered with the enthusiastic squeal of several thousand girls. Defying critics who claimed they would not outlast their TV fame, Korni is still a staple on Russian radio, and will likely be around for a long time to come.
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Diskoteka Avariya Sample Hit: Если хочешь остаться Store
These three cheerful guys from Ivanovo (a Moscow suburb) are regularly named "best pop group" in industry and fan ratings. They are known for fun, catchy, humorous songs popular in dance clubs. They have recently appeared in Pepsi ads as well. When the group was first starting out, they couldn't afford musical instruments so they often emceed at local clubs to earn money. One club they performed in, Elektron, was in such a bad state of disrepair, they dubbed it "Diskoteka Avaria" or "Disaster Disco," and later used that as the name of their group.
Ivanushki INTERNATIONAL Sample Hit: Подожди меня Store
These three guys use elements from traditional Russian music arranged into smooth ballads, heavy on the synthesized backbeat. Their style is extremely popular in Russia and this band, in fact, is the creation of one of Russia's most successful producers, Igor Matvienko.
Otpetye Moshenniki Sample Hit: Лето-это Store
"Incorrigible Rascals" are the bad boys of Russian boy bands. Their music and has been described as a "cultural mess" and "little criminal-chaos ditties." They mix rap with traditional Russian folk into hot stage performances. They have built an image of themselves as cultured hooligans who are not only street-savvy, but industry savvy. They must be, as they've been promoting scandal in the music biz since 1996.
Prime Minister Sample Hit: Девочка с севера Store
Born of successful pop producer Evgeniya Fridlyanda, this 5-member squeaky-clean band (known for wearing all-white suits at concerts) has gone through several replacement singers. However, they remain very popular, perhaps because they have retained one of Russia's best sound engineers, Kim Breidburg, and one of its most successful song writers, Konstantin Arcenev, both of whom work with many other pop singers and groups.
Girl Bands report an error back to top
Propaganda Sample Hit: Мелом Store
These four girls are known for living a life that reflects their music and singing music that reflects their lives: independent and capricious. The songs are marked by impeccable harmony and diverse, original tunes - but not all songs are fun and games. The video for the above hit deals with problems facing homeless Russian youths. The song itself is highly abstract, but works well with the issue. They are also better known for the more straight-forward girl-power hit Super детка.
VIA Gra Sample Hit: Биология Store
VIA Gra is a Ukrainian pop group popular across the FSU – particularly on video channels. As their name implies, their music focuses on the flamboyant sexuality of the girls. However, the simple arrangements and vocal parts are well constructed, fun, and catchy.
Blestyaschie Sample Hit: Апельсиновая песня Store
"The Bright Ones," were one of the first girl bands in Russia - in early photos they look a bit like a young TLC. They are now known mostly for cheerful dance songs that couple four harmonious voices with youthful, often moody electronic beats.
t.A.T.u Sample Hit: Я сошла с ума Store
t.A.T.u is one Russian group many Americans recognize. The young duo was marketed as a lesbian couple while they themselves denied it - and regularly French-kissed onstage. They quickly became international stars. Later, on Russian television, they announced the relationship was a marketing strategy devised by former manager Ivan Shapovalov - and since have announced they are bi-sexual. The above song ran on American radio as "All the Things She Said."
Fabrika Sample Hit: Не виноватая я Store
Russia has more than 141,000 industrial enterprises and an industrial workforce of about 16,000,000. "Fabrika," or "Factory" in Russian, sports only 3 young ladies. "We make songs in our Factory," say the girls. Critics would agree the songs are factory-pressed, but they are a lot of fun and good for a night on the dance floor. Fabrika's name hearkens back to the band's beginnings on Fabrika Zvezd, where they first appeared in 2003.
Serebro Sample Hit: Скажи, не молчи Store
Serebro was formed in 2006 by well-known Russian producer Maxim Fadeev. The girl group became famous shortly thereafter after taking part in the Eurovision song contest which made them well-know both within Russia and across Europe. Group member Olga Seryabkina writes some of the group’s songs and has even written songs for other artists and groups such as Yulia Savicheva.
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Contemporary Pop report an error back to top
Gradusy Sample Hit: Кто ты? Store
Gradusy formed in 2008 when friends and roommates Roman Pashkov and Ruslan Tagiev (both singers) joined up with bassist Dmitry Bakhtinov and drummer Viktor Golovanov. The group had only rehearsed together for a month and a half before they began playing concerts. Their first hit "Rezhisyor" ("Director") began getting heavy rotation on popular Russian radio stations in fall 2009 and they shot their first music video for the same song in November 2009.
5ivesta Family Sample Hit: Зачем Store
The group has been together for three years and has had many hits on Russian pop radio and music videos on MTV. They’ve toured around Russia since their group first formed and recently started touring internationally. After playing a show in Israel in April 2010, the group was detained by Israeli airport security for over two hours, apparently because singer Valera’s broken iPhone aroused suspicion. Despite the incident, the group says it will not deter them from touring internationally or from returning to Israel, where they have many fans.
Infinity Sample Hit: Где ты? Store
The couple Tatyana Bondarenko and Aleksei Kutuzov formed Infinity in 2007. Singer Tatyana writes almost all of the music and lyrics, while Aleksei takes charge of the music's arrangement and production. Even though Infinity is fairly new to the Russian pop scene, they were already nominated for a 'Golden Gramophone' award (the Russian equivalent of a Grammy) in 2008 for their first hit song, "Gde Tyi?" ("Where Are You?") Their song "Zamechtalas" ("I Fell into a Reverie") also hit number-one on the 'Golden Gramophone' Hit Chart.
Band'Eros Sample Hit: Не вспоминай Store
Band'Eros is a high-energy pop/hip-hop group which formed in Moscow in 2005. Despite the group's name and previous hits such as "Boom Senorita," Band'eros doesn’t do any singing in Spanish, although they sometimes inject Latin-style beats into their songs. The name is ironic, calling to mind both the Spanish outlaws, and calling themselves essentially a band of lovers after Eros, the Greek god of love. The group does seem to take some of its influence from American music and often scatters American pop-culture references into its songs, as evidenced by their hit "Columbia Pictures Ne Predstavlyait" ("Columbia Pictures Doesn't Present") which, among other things, references Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Beverly Hills while members of the group are dressed up like Superman and Marilyn Monroe in its music video. It's also the title track off of their debut album which has gone platinum by selling over 200,000 copies.
Dance/House/Techno report an error back to top
For more info see: HousePlanet.ru
Delphin Sample Hit: Любовь Store
Delphin dives into ordinary life and brings up pure human pleasure and grief. His music is highly experimental in both melodies and lyrics and is sometimes described as "dreams given the power to converse." Compare the rawness of the better known hit listed above with lonely lyricalness of "Vesna," which appears on the same album.
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Russkii razmer Sample Hit: Юаю Store
This party band named after a vodka brand dishes up true house music. Two of its members, Viktor Bondaryuk and Dmitrii Kopotilov, were born in Kazakhstan. The third, the glamorous Eleonora Markova, is a St. Petersburg native. They have been known for music since 1993, though more recently they've been known for scandal and in-fighting, as members have split and fought over the rights to the band's name.
Ruki vverkh Sample Hit: Наташа Store
Sergei Zhukov and Alexei Potekhin met in 1993 in the Russian city of Samara. By 1996, they had developed a unique sound blending high-energy electronic riffs, sampling, and various world music influences. Their name "Ruki Vverkh" is the common-place call of DJs for dancers to "get their hands in the air." Their music is so well known for its energy that the sportswear company Adidas once employed them as official spokesmen. Known for love songs, they often blur the line between boy band and techno.
Car-Man Sample Hit: Сан-Франциско Store
Bogdan Titomir and Sergey Lemokh first defined their group as an "exotic-pop-duet." It first appeared on Russian TV in the spring of 1990, and by the end of the year was named as The Band of the Year and the Discovery of the Year by the newspaper Moskovski Komsomolets. The “traveling” theme of the group’s name was reflected in their first album "Vokrug sveta" ("Around the World") , reissued in 1994 and 2009) with every song related to a different city or a country: "London Good-bye," "Paris," "Chio-Chio-San." In 1991 Bogdan Titomir left the group to work on his solo career, but the Lemokh continued on and became a symbol of the new highly-energetic dance movement of the 90s.
DJ Smash Sample Hit: Между небом и землей (Remix) Store
Real name Andrei Shirman, DJ Smash spent his childhood years in the recording studio watching his father, who was a professional musician. He claims to have gotten his stage name from opening a Russian-English dictionary and picking random words until he found something he liked. By remixing retro 80s hits with a techno-house flavor, DJ Smash has created his own style of dance music he calls "retrohouse."
DJ Leonid Rudenko Sample Hit: Утренная гимнастика Store
The 23-year old Muscovite is a DJ famous for his dance remixes but doesn't like it when his music is labeled as "electronic." "I have a problem with the term 'electronic music' – nowadays, electronic musical instruments and technology are used in almost every recording in all different genres of music. My compositions are pop songs in a dance format," he explains. His hit, "Utrennaya Gimnastika" ("Morning Exercises"), is an unlikely dance remix of a song originally written and sung by 1960s Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky.
DJ M.E.G. Sample Hit: Только ты
Eduard Magayev, aka DJ M.E.G., first started out in the music scene not as a DJ, but as a member of a breakdancing team called Ice Beat and was a participant on the reality show, "Stars of the Dance Floor." Now, as a member of the production company Black Star, Inc., he collaborates with other well-know musicians from the Russian rap and hip-hop scene, including Timati and B.K., and plays shows not only in Moscow, but all over the world.
T-moor (Timur) Rodriguez Sample Hit: Out in Space Store
Born in Penza to a family of a puppeteer and a translator, T-moor Rodriguez had leading roles in school puppet theater productions and was very active in clubs while in school (gymnastics, choir, and even knitting). His reputation as DJ was also began while still in school. After moving to Moscow, he became famous as a TV host for many popular music shows and as one of the participants of the popular TV show Comedy Club. His official singing career began in 2010.
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Bards report an error back to top
For more info see: Bards.ru
Bards were (mostly) late Soviet dissidents. They sang poetic songs they themselves had written, usually to the accompaniment of a single musical instrument they played themselves. They remain popular even with listeners born after the bards themselves had died.
SRAS thanks Brian Horne for writing and contributing much of this section. Brian is a former SRAS student now studying the bards at the University of Chicago as a dissertation subject.
Bulat Okudzhava Sample hit: Песенка об Арбате Store
Half Georgian and half Armenian, Bulat Okudzhava is considered by many to be the "father" of Russian bardic music (бардовская песня). He began performing his poems to the accompaniment of a seven-stringed Russian guitar in the late 1950s. In the 60s, as the first reel-to-reel tape recorders became available, unofficial recordings of Okudzhava's songs and the music of other bards (барды) were illegally copied, traded, and widely circulated. Okudzhava is also often recognized as the most literary and poetic of the first generation of Russian bards. A monument now stands to him on Old Arbat St. in Moscow, the subject of his best-known song.
Aleksandr Galich Sample hit: Когда я вернусь Store
Born Alexander Ginzburg (Galich is actually a pseudonym composed from his last name, first name, and patronymic: Ginzburg + ALeksander + ArkadievICH), this bard also worked as a poet, screenwriter and playwright in the 1950s and 60s. His songs explored subjects ranging from everyday life to war and concentration camps, and drew great official criticism. When he loudly expelled from the Soviet Writer's Union in the 70s, this non-compliance and his "Jewishness" were sited as reasons (which was one reason that he invented and used the pseudonym in the first place). He was eventually forced to emigrate from the USSR in 1974 and died in France not long thereafter.
Vladimir Vysotsky Sample hit: Банька по-белому Store
An acclaimed stage, television, and film actor, Vysotsky was already a celebrity before he took up the guitar and sang his poetry with a remarkably distinctive, rough, and passionate voice that many singers still imitate. He composed over 600 songs, and achieved a lasting fame in Russia comparable to that of the Beatles or Elvis in the West. When Vysotsky died of heart failure in 1980 while Moscow was hosting the Olympic Games, thousands left the stadiums to pay their respects at his funeral at the Taganka Theatre, where he had frequently performed (later estimates place the number at over one million). Every year, on July 25th, the day Vystosky died, large crowds still gather at his grave in Vagankovskoye Cemetery and at his statue near Pushkinskaya metro to sing his songs and remember his life.
Aleksandr Rozenbaum Sample hit: Гоп-Стоп Store
A graduate of Pavlov Medical School, Rozenbaum began writing songs for student plays in the late 60s. His professional musical career began in the early 1980s, writing songs for rock groups under the pen-name "Ayarov" (largely because the name "Rozenbaum" marked him as Jewish and thus negatively influenced his career). Many of his songs are written in the style of so-called "criminal songs" (блатные песни), such as the hit above, a comedic song about two gangsters.
Paperny T.A.M. Sample hit: Пых-пых-пых Store
This modern day, multimember band is generally recognized as carrying on the bardic traditions. Their lyrics are narrative and figurative (like the bards' often were) and the lead singer's vocal style is obviously heavily influenced by his predecessors'. The band also draws on Rock, Reggae, and Cuban music influences. They are also worth mentioning as they are the founders of Jao Da, one of Moscow's most successful music clubs.
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Igor Rasteriaev Sample hit: Комбайнеры
Igor Rasteriaev, an actor of stage and screen, slowly became popular as a musician after placing a cell-phone-recorded video of his anti-glamour song “Combiners” (open “See more” and scroll down for English translation of the text). In the first 6 months it was viewed only 300 times. The video went viral in August 2010 with 300,000 views in 4 days. It became one of the most viewed Russian videos of 2010 with over 1.5 million views by the beginning of 2011. This and Igor’s other songs, which he usually sings to the accompaniment of his accordion, have now been viewed over 5 million times. All of his songs are about simple people of the “Motherland Russia” and are loved even in the most remote areas of the country. According to the Russian news portal KM, “for the first time in Russia mass popularity was gained by someone singing about the Motherland.” His first album “Russian Road” came out in 2011 and is available for free download on his personal site.
Kirill Komarov Sample hit: Дым Store
Kirill Komarov started writing and translating poetry in college. In 1984 he started writing lyrics for the rock band Присутствие/Prisutstvie (Presence), one of the main bands of Leningrad Rock Club. After leaving the band in 1987, Kirill Komarov started his solo career performing his own songs and touring through central Russia as an acoustic guitarist and singer. He experimented with many different musical styles, from rhythm-n-blues to hard-rock, participated in several bands, recorded several albums, acoustic as well as electric, playing concerts solo as well as with other musicians and bands. He is well known for his meaningful texts and unique style of each song.
Venya D’rkin Sample hit: Кошка
Venya D’rkin (real name Alexander Litvinov) was a Russian bard, poet, singer and writer of fairy tales. He started writing poetry at the age of 7, he learned to play guitar at 12, and founded a school band at 14. When registering for his first music festival he took the pseudonym Venya Dyrkin. After receiving one of the festival’s awards, he became known under this name. He wrote over three hundred songs, only half of which were ever recorded. As usual in the bard genre, the songs bear deep and imaginative lyrics, but, less common for bardic songs, are also very melodic. During the late 90's, he performed some of his songs with the accompaniment of other musicians, notably violinist Veronica Belyayeva. Although Venya died in 1999 (cancer, Hodgkin's lymphoma), his music is still gaining more acknowledgement as time passes. This can be attributed to the fact that before Venya's death, just two of his albums were released, and even those were distributed in very small runs. He also never played in front of a large audience; most of his public performances were in music festivals and small, private concerts.
Alexander Bashlachev Sample hit: Песня ржавой воды Store
Alexander Bashlachev was a Russian poet, singer-songwriter, and guitarist. He studied journalism at the Ural State University in Sverdlovsk. In May 1984, Bashlachev attended the Leningrad Rock Festival in Leningrad. There, he bought an acoustic guitar which he had taught himself to play. In September, he played some of his songs at his friend's apartment in Leningrad and later became a regular in the "apartment concert" scene in Moscow and Leningrad. Apartment concerts were small, private concerts that took place "under the radar" of the Soviet censors. These gatherings were called "kvartirniki" (unofficial home concert; from "kvartira" – apartment). Bashlachev died at the age of 27 after falling from the window of a ninth-floor apartment in Leningrad. The most likely cause of his death was suicide; however there is uncertainty in that claim.
Veronika Dolina Sample hit: А хочешь я выучусь шить Store
Veronika Dolina is a Soviet and Russian poet, bard, and songwriter. She was born in Moscow, graduated from the Moscow State Pedagogical Institute as a French language teacher. Dolina started to write songs and perform them in 1971 at the age of 15 and in a few years became an active member of the Moscow bard scene. She wrote the lyrics for most of her songs, but she also has songs that set the poems of Yunna Morits to music, as well as some songs that were written in cooperation with Alexander Sukhanov. As with many bards, regular publication of her work became possible for Veronika Dolina during Perestroika. Her first album was published in 1986, and shortly after – the second, with over 1 mln copies sold. In 1987, the first book with Dolina's poetry was published in Paris. To date, Veronika Dolina has published 20 books of poetry, released 9 vinyl albums and over 25 compact discs, written over 500 songs, and still travels all over the world giving concerts.
Alexander Dolsky Sample hit: Одиночество Store
Alexander Dolsky is a Soviet and Russian poet, writer, actor, and bard. In 1970s his songs became famous all across Soviet Union, but their content was heavily censored and had to remain mostly as underground art. In the midst of many bards of 70-80s he stands out by his musical and poetic talent and amazing guitar skill. His guitar is not just an accompaniment to his lyrical and very philosophical songs, but it is an equal partner on the stage and often becomes a leading performer. Alexander Dolsky acted in and wrote music for several films, as well as wrote music to the poetry of French, English, American, and Russian poets.
Shanson report an error back to top
For more info see: Chanson.ru
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Mikhail Krug Sample Hit: Владимирский централ Store
Influenced heavily by bardic singer V. Vysotsky (see above), Krug began publishing songs after serving in the Russian army, where he was trained as an auto mechanic. His star rose after he participated in the 1996 "Russian Shanson" festival in Moscow (the festival is still held annually). Like many Shanson artists, many of songs are considered highly offensive. On at least one occasion, production was stopped on one of his music videos because no station would air it. Krug was murdered in his home in Tver in 2002 and the case has never been solved. It is still a lively topic of conversation amongst his fans and "Prospect TV," a cable channel, produced a documentary about it in 2006.
Irina Krug Sample Hit: Тебе, моя последняя любовь Store
Irina Krug is the young widow of Mikhail Krug and one of the youngest rising stars in the world of Russian Shanson. Born in 1976 to a military family in Chelyabinsk, she dreamed of becoming an actress and so studied singing and acting at the local cultural center there. She met Mikhail about the time she gradated from high school and married him about a year later. She produced her lastest album in memory of her late husband with the participation of many more famous singers in the world of Russian Shanson. Mikhail also left behind a young son, Alexander, who still lives with Irina.
Alexander Novikov Sample Hit: Вези меня, извозчик Store
In the late 70's Alexander Novikov was working as a rock musician performing in Moscow restaurants. He went on to found a record label and then made a name for himself performing on self-made electronic instruments. He produced his first Shanson album in 1984. The album was an instant hit and circulated widely within underground circles. Novikov was soon arrested by the KGB who charged that the album was libelous against the state. Public reaction came out in favor of Novikov and the charges were changed to "manufacture and sale of electronic equipment," a crime under communist law. He was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor but released in 1990 when a court under glastnost found that there was no evidence he had committed any crime. Due to the prison sentence, the influence of Shanson on his style was solidified as was his popularity with its fans. He is still producing music and giving concerts.
Grigory Leps Sample Hit: Натали Store
Grigory Leps is best known for his unique, masculine voice and on-stage charisma and humor. His has also been a romantic existence, though differing from others on this short list of artists. Born in Sochi, he began his career there, singing in restaurants. Encouraged by Moscow producers vactioning there, he moved to the capital to find fame, but quickly found drugs and alcohol first. By the time his first hit, Natali, scaled the charts he was lying in the hospital with an alcoholism related illness and not expected to live. He pulled through, however, and has spent the past 10 years sober and making more hits. His last album, Labyrinth, was released in 2006.
Mikhail Shufutinsky Sample Hit: Дороги в небо Store
Mikhail Shufutinsky was born to an educated Jewish family and received classical training on the accordion, the bayan (gypsy accordion), and the piano. His musical career began playing in orchestras in Moscow. However, just before President Nixon’s visit to Moscow in 1972 he was one of several artists that were advised by the KGB to leave Moscow. He moved to the Russian city of Magadane, where he took up Shanson. He emigrated in 1981, moving first to Austria and then to Italy, but always dreaming of going to America. He believed that "only there would a Russian-language singer have the opportunity to resume his career." He moved to New York shortly thereafter. There, he built up a reputation among Russian immigrants, eventually becoming so well known that he was invited to perform in Russia after the fall of the fall of the USSR. He now works mostly in Russia, but still counts America as his home and his family is permanently based there. In what might be seen as twist of irony, Shufutinsky derives his popularity from the fact that he sings "pure" Russian Shanson – only in Russian – and with little sign of foreign influence.
Katerina Golitsyna Sample Hit: Невозвращенка Store
Katerina Golitsyna was born Katerina Yakovlevoi and started her musical career singing pop music in Moscow’s restaurants. In the 1990's she left the pop genre and began experimenting with folk music, including with American country influences, which she was exposed to during a stay in the US. In 2002, in what was apparently a flash of inspiration, she changed her name to Golitsyna and her genre to Shanson. Her first Shanson album was an instant hit. She is known for the strength of her voice, lyrics, and personality by fans that are usually very discerning of who they will accept as "genuine." She is one of the genre’s most prodigious artists.
Classic Pop report an error back to top
Alla Pugacheva Sample hit: Миллион Алых Роз Store
While still in college, she produced her first hit in 1965. She then participated in a slew of popular bands (including "The Jolly Fellows," with whom she cut her first album) and recorded a number of popular songs for Soviet films. Much of her time now is taken up by tv appearances and her duties as part of Russia's Public Chamber (a legislative advisory organ). Although she is still popular enough to have fan clubs across Russia, she is also hated by many as a diva and a relic of the Soviet past that the current government continues to support.
Valerii Leontev Sample hit: Если ты уйдешь Store
Valerii Leontev was a darling of Soviet pop. Born to family of deer herders in the small village of Ust-Usa in the far north of Russia, he went on to study music under the "All-Soviet Masters of Popular Art," and rise to stardom after he won first prize in the "All-Soviet Contest for the Best Executed Song of the Nations of Socialist Brotherhood." He later studied theatre at the Leningrad Institute for Culture and stared in several movies in the 1980s, including two documentaries about himself. He is still producing music (including singing many songs written by Krutoi (above) some of his recent more songs seem to be harkening back to native melodies he must have heard in his childhood. See, for example, Падаю в небеса.
Larisa Dolina Sample hit: Оттепель Store
Larisa Dolina was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, but moved to Odessa, Ukraine when she was three. The began singing professionally in 1971 for orchestras and operatic productions. By 1985 she had garnered enough fame to begin a series of solo performances and in 1991 was invited to Paris to perform. Known for her styling of a wide range of music (which includes American blues and show tunes), she couldn’t have been wholly popular with the Soviet authorities. Judging from the fact that in 1992 she gave a concert entitled “I sing what I want,” (Что хочу, то и пою) she likely didn’t wholly care for them either. She continues to perform and release albums.
Mikhail Boyarskii Sample hit: Зеленоглазое такси Store
Born of famous Soviet actors, Boyarskii seemed destined for fame. He got his start as an actor of stage and screen in the 1970s, wining wide praise for his role as d'Artagnon in the Soviet film The Three Musketeers. He became known as a singer in the 80s with slow ballads and is now best known as a television personality on variety shows and something of a sex symbol among older Russians. As a bit of trivia we can add that he is also known for his trademark hat, which he wears at all events and which helps hide the fact that he nearly completely bald.
Igor Krutoi Sample hit: Печальный ангел Store
His work was mostly academic until 1989 and glasnost allowed him to found ARS, which is still a highly successful musical production company. He writes songs for others and is also famous for performing his own music, much of which is instrumental. He packs some of Russia's (and the world’s) most prestigious concert halls and, in 1996, was named a "People's Artist of Russia" for his achievements in music.
A'Studio Sample hit: Просто прощай
A'Studio was created in Almaty (Kazakhstan), then called Alma-Ata. The name of the band was originally "Alma-Ata Studio" and later shortened to just "A'Studio." In 1989, the A'Studio song "Джулия" ("Julia") caught the attention of the legendary Russian singers Philipp Kirkorov and Alla Pugacheva. Pugacheva invited them to her annual "Christmas Meeting" in 1990 and introduced them as “the best band in the USSR” (which was still in existence at the time), launching the band to fame.
Classic Rock report an error back to top
for more info see: RockMusic.ru
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Mashina vremeni Sample hit: Поворот Store
Mashina Vremeni formed in the late sixties and continue to produce new music today. The group started out singing American folk tunes in English, but quickly switched gears after being inspired by the Beatles. They are known primarily for their versatility and creativity, adding orchestral or folk instruments to rock or blues songs. Despite running afoul of the Soviet authorities several times, their music was featured in many Soviet movies and almost always widely performed and maintained a high production of new music.
Voskresenie Sample hit: Кто виноват Store
Voskresenie began producing music in 1979. Like many bands of that time, they were looking for new sounds and new ideas to place in their music – a whole new concept of rock. Their sound is highly versatile, but their style can be generally described as something like the vocals from the late Beatles mixed with the guitars of early Pink Floyd. Some tracks are pure American blues. They have gone through several break ups and reorganizations, but remain today a staple of Russian classic rock.
Krematorii Sample hit: Сексуальная кошка Store
After running through several names including "The Lady Killers" and "Black Sunday," the group finally decided on "Crematorium." With such a morbid name, it's not surprising that much of their lyrics are also quite dark – and they mix violins and renaissance instruments in for dissonance. The group themselves are also apparently quite moody and were often marked by arguments between front man Armen Grigoryan and co founder Viktor Troegubov. Troegubov eventually left the band and formed another group called "Smoke."
Agata Kristi Sample hit: Красная Шапочка Store
Agata Kristi, named for the mystery novelist, is very late soviet rock. Formed in 1988, the band could be classed within the grunge genre that was gaining popularity at that time (even in the USSR). However, they are usually classed with the classic rock bands – whose mixing of rock and orchestral instruments and styles was a staple of the 1980s. Known for dark, purposefully enigmatic and slightly twisted songs, they live up to their name-sakes. Fans of the Brat films may recognize Секрет from Brat II.
Evgeny Margulis Sample Hit: Когда ты уйдёшь Store
Evgeny Margulis a veteran of the Russian rock scene, having been a member of eight different bands including Mashina Vremeni, Voskresenye, and Nautilus. He’s been a guitarist, bassist, and singer and still collaborates with Mashina Vremeni on albums. His solo work has a distinct classic rock sound and sometimes even bluesy feel.
Kino Sample hit: Песня без слов Store
Kino formed in 1981 in Leningrad. Their songs focus on issues of freedom and tell of the beauty and mediocrity that permeated everyday soviet life. Due to censorship, early songs were heard only by small, private audiences, and thier tapes were copied and circulated illegally by fans. A few songs even made it to the US, released on a compellation CD called "Red Wave." After 1988, as censorship fell, they had two years of unbridled fame until lead singer Victor Tsoi died in a car accident. The band, whose music is reminiscent of The Cure or sometimes The Doors, retains its following even today. We also recommend the much rougher "Электричка," about how much we all hate work and the daily commute.
DDT Sample Hit: Что такое осень Store
DDT (or ДДТ in Cyrillic) is a popular Russian rock band founded by its lead singer, Yuri Shevchuk, in Ufa (Bashkirtostan) in south-western Russia in 1980. The band, named for the deadly pesticide, started its existence with cover-versions of songs by Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and other Western rock-bands. For some time musicians even argued whether it was possible to play rock music in Russian, unaware that many Russian rock groups were already finding success in Moscow and Leningrad (now St.Petersburg). After many changes in group’s lineup and eventual relocation to Leningrad, it became one of the most successful and prolific Russian musical groups of the 20th and 21st centuries. Shevchuk today has also established himself as one of the Russian protest movement's most vocal supporters. He has sponsered concerts for them, written opposition songs, and once even subjected Vladimir Putin to an unexpected argument at a formal dinner they attended together.
Vyacheslav Butusov Sample Hit: Тихие игры Store
Vyacheslav Butusov was the lead singer of the Soviet/Russian rock band Nautilus Pompilius, an influential band in the New Wave, post-punk genre of Russian rock music. Since the group disbanded in 1997, Butusov created his own group U-Piter in 2001, and since 2007 has been pursuing a solo career.
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U-Piter Sample Hit: Песня идущего домой Store
The group was founded in 2001 by Vyacheslav Butusov (ex-Nautilus Pompilius), along with Georgy Kasparyan (ex-Кино), Oleg Sakmarov (ex-Аквариум) and Eugene Kulakov (ex-Пойманные Муравьеды). Since then Sakmarov left the group, but it has continued with the remaining three. With such an all-star cast, the group immediately became very popular and its songs are often heard on Russian radio. The group has toured in Russia and globally.
Kalinov Most Sample Hit: Иерусалим Store
One of the legends of Russian rock, “Kalinov Most” was founded in Novosibirsk. The band first gained popularity in 1986-1987, later nearly broke up and was revived in 1997. In Russian folklore the name of the band “Kalinov Most” ("Fiery Bridge”) symbolizes a place of battle between good and evil. Their songs are written by frontman Dmitry Revyakin, and are known for their unique style. Most often described as “folk rock” they are full of references to Russian folk stories, myths, characters and other spiritual and ethnic references in the vocobularly of ancient Russian and Revyakin's own made-up words.
Tancy Minus Sample Hit: Город Store
Танцы Минус is a group started in 1995 and were first noticed by the music industry at the musical festival "Поколение 96" (Generation ‘96). Shortly after, the band moved to Moscow and performed in bars and clubs, sometimes playing up to three sets a day. By the end of the 90s, the band gained some broader popularity and their single "Город" (City) reached third place on the 1999 compilation "Хит-парада слушателей У1" (U1 Listeners’ Hit Parade). Lately the band “withdrew into the shadows,” giving very few concerts, rare tours, and almost no new song releases, although they faithfully participate in the “Нашествие» (Invasion) – Russian Annual Rock festival.
Gleb Samoiloff & The Matrixx Sample Hit: Жить всегда Store
After the well-known Russian rock group Agata Kristi (named after the mystery writer) disbanded in January 2010, Gleb Samoiloff (the former lead from Agata Kristi) and some other former members decided to create a new band. The result was Gleb Samoiloff & The Matrixx. The band has become immediately popular due to its already-famous members.
Rock report an error back to top
For more info see: Rock.ru
Melnitsa Sample Hit: Дракон Store
Melnitsa (Мельница, the Russian for windmill) is a Russian folk rock band. It was founded in 1999 by Natalia "Hellawes" O'Shea and Alexey "Chus" Sapkov. The band fuses Russian, Irish, and other North European folk influences with guitar pop/rock. Natalia "Hellawes" O'Shea, the lead singer and primary songwriter, is an academic and a specialist in medieval European languages and cultures by day. Her expertise lends the typically complex fantasy-laden lyrics a degree of authenticity.
Bravo Sample Hit: Этот город
Bravo is a rock band founded in 1983 in Moscow, Russia by guitarist Evgeny Havtan. Drawing a heavy inspiration from 1950's western music, Bravo was a part of the Soviet rock explosion of the 1980's and was forbidden and “black listed” along with Alisa and Aquarium. The band, however, survived and continues to make music today.
Secret Sample Hit: Привет
Secret is a rock band founded in 1982 in Leningrad. The band's musical style and image draw heavy inspiration from 1950's and 1960's western music, The Beatles in particular. The band's name was inspired by the Beatles song “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Secret called themselves a "Beat Quartet" and were a part of Soviet rock explosion of 1980's. The original line-up lasted until 1990, when frontman Maxim Leonidov emigrated to Israel. The band continued with different line-ups without great success. However, many Secret hits of the 1980s still receive a lot of airplay on Russian FM stations.
Animatsiya Sample Hit: Родина
Russian rock-band “Animatsiya” was founded in Chistopol, the second largest city of Tatarstan Republic, home of famous VOSTOK watch brand of the Soviet Union. The watch factory is no more, but the band just came out with their new album “Время Ё,” which is characteristic of the current time – turbulent, unbearable, non-uniform, easy and strange at the same time.
Zveri Sample Hit: Для тебя Store
The "Wild Animals" blend strong rock arrangements with often figurative narratives in their lyrics. Their lead singer, Roman Bilyk (who goes by Roman Zveri) is a quiet, unassuming looking lad who comes off surprisingly strong as both a lead singer and a band spokesman. Based largely on his personality, the band has quickly achieved fame across the FSU with songs that mostly explore various forms of love and relationships.
Bratya Grim Sample Hit: Кустурица Store
Identical twin brothers Borya and Kostya Grim are from Samara, in southern Russia. They started producing music in 1999 but would wait several years before their demo was given to producer Leonid Burlakov, who moved the group to Moscow where they would become stars. Their lyrics are more ethereal than anything – blending words and images to bring out the beauty of the sound of the language, rather than build narrative or even attempt to make sense. The arrangements are traditional rock, driven by strong guitar and percussion.
Pilot Sample Hit: Карелия Store
Pilot has been popular for almost a decade, one of a wave of bands to come out of the St. Petersburg music scene. Their music is popular with both critics and the larger mass public, entering heavy rotation in radio broadcasts and earning the lead singer/song writer (known as Ilya Chert) such titles in music reviews as "a successor to the traditions of the Russian soul." The Russian soul has apparently learned heavy guitar riffs and drum solos.
Bi-2 Sample Hit: Последний герой Store
Originally formed in Minsk, Belorussia in 1985, Bi-2 went through various incarnations before subduing all Russia with their aggressive rock arrangements and often epic, often romantic lyrics and vocals. The lead singer has developed an image and reputation as "the hero of maiden dreams," (romantic, heroic, but often sad). The above hit was featured as the theme song to a television show of the same name (Russia's answer to "Survivor").
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Splean Sample Hit: Выхода нет Store
Splean was one of the first Russian rock groups to emerge after the fall of the USSR. They are still wildly popular, singing unusual but addictive songs with sad words and unusual melodies. The group's name means depression in Russian and they insist on its transliteration being spelled with –ea rather than –i, which is a nod to the spelling of the Beatles. According to one Russian critic, "Splean opens doors to the consciousness and what door to enter, where to stay, depends on the decision of your heart." We are also fans of their song "Пыльная быль," which was one of their first big hits in the 90's.
Quest Pistols Sample Hit: Клетка Store
As the bio page on the band's site states, the Quest Pistols are simply three "cool guys" who formed the group three years ago and now tour all over Russia and Ukraine. They experiment with different sub-genres of rock in their songs and have an eclectic sound ranging from hard rock to some purely pop or hip-hop influenced hits such as "Kletka" ("Cage").
Pyotr Nalitch Sample Hit: Баба люба Store
Pyotr Nalitch gained his fame by beginning his musical career solely over the Internet. His song "Gitar," with its tongue-in-cheek lyrics in broken English and primitively-made YouTube video, were what initially made Nalitch well-known. He began making all of his songs available for free on his website in 2007 and played his first concert with his "musical collective" ("Muzikalny kollektiv Petra Nalitcha,"often abbreviated "MKPN") later that same year. Their concerts were nearly always sold out and they decided to release their first album in 2008, which was self-produced by Nalitch.
Myrakami Sample Hit: Нулевой км
This rock-band from Kazan was founded in 2005 by musicians from Solntse-Ekran (Sun-Screen) and Dilyara Vagapova, who was then with the “Narodny Artist-2” (People’s Artist-2). The group immediately began a tour of the Kazan region. In August 2006, they produced their first album Chaiki (Seagulls). The band is named after Haruki Murakami, a Japanese writer whose books are filled with fanciful metamorphoses and delicately intertwines the philosophy of an average person consumed by a megapolis.
Angel NeBes Sample Hit: Настя Store
Angel NeBes is a Russian rock-band founded in 2006 in Tula. In 2008, they moved to Saint-Petersburg to advance their careers further. They refer to themselves as a “theatrical-psychedelic rock-project” and supplement their performances with a whole spectrum of props, such as bedding, phones, globes, saws, folding cots, etc. The name of the group is a play on words which sounds like “angel of heaven” but actually means “Angel – not Demon.”
SLOT Sample Hit: Сумерки (Twilight) Store
SLOT is a popular Russian bands whose style varies from heavy electronic rock to rock-pop. Their first breakthrough came with hit movie “Boomer” when two songs written by SLOT were featured on the film’s soundtrack and became the band’s first official releases. After a joint performance with Jonathan Davis of the American heavy metal band KOЯN, he praise them as “a great mix of Linkin Park and Evanescense.” In August 2011, their first English-language album, Break The Code, was released in US and Canadian music stores. In English speaking markets, they are known as “The SLoT.”
Alt Rock report an error back to top
Uma2rman Sample Hit: Прасковья Store
Yes, they are actually named for the actress Uma Thurman. They say that as huge fans of the actress, they hoped producing music dedicated to her would mean they would some day meet her, which they did, when Kill Bill 2 made its Moscow primer. Apparently Uma even likes the music. The band, composed of brothers Vova and Sergei Kristovsky, is known for lyrical Caribbean-influenced songs about love and modern culture. According to one Russian critic, "some songs amaze as peals of a thunder, some bewitch as a flight of leaves."
Louna Sample Hit: Бойцовский клуб Store
This Russian alternative female-lead rock band was created in August 2008 and made its first public appearance on May 23, 2009 at the famous Moscow club “Tochka.” Their music incorporates a variety of styles and the lyrics dig into serious problems facing modern society. They immediately gained popularity and in the next 2 years Louna played some of the largest Russian and Ukrainian rock festivals. In 2009, the group received a RAMP (Russian Alternative Music Prize) award and was named a “Discovery of the Year.” The name of the group is, as you might suspect, taken from the Russian word for “moon” – or “луна.” However, they decided on use an unusual English transliteration so as to be more “unusual.”
Gorod 312 Sample Hit: Вне зоны доступа Store
Their powerful lead singer belts lyrics about experiences familiar to everyone. Mixing this with haunting, often funky and slightly gritty melodies, the band has developed a wide fan base. The song above was featured on the PiterFM soundtrack, a popular movie that capitalized on St. Petersburg's reputation for romance and art-house music. Сокол is another favorite!
Smyslovye Gallyutsinatsii Sample Hit: Бездна Store
Formed in 1989 in Ekaterinsburg, they are primarily known for mixing electronic and acoustic elements. Their name means "Meaningful Hallucinations," but they are usually simply known as "Glyuki," a slang term that means roughly "Brain Glitch." They rose to super-stardom when their song "Вечно молодой" was prominently featured on the soundtrack of the cult action film Brat.
Zemfira Sample Hit: Трафик Store
Zemfira formed in 1998 and released thier first album in 1999. They were immediately recognized for the uniqueness of their songs. The group, which actually consists of four members, is named for the charismatic lead singer, whose name, in turn, hails from her Tatar heritage. Originally from Ufa, she is now a student of philosophy at Moscow State University in addition to being one of Russia's most cutting-edge singers. Her surreal, intellectual lyrics are complimented by an unusual but very confident musical style. She has become a cult idol, with millions who love her songs and a nearly equal number who "don't get it."
Night Snipers Sample Hit: Кошка Московская Store
Night Snipers formed in 1993 and quickly became favorites of the Saint Petersburg music clubs. Their early songs were an odd but pleasing mix of Rock, Jazz, Soviet, and Japanese influences. Their later releases are less distinctive, especially after they brought Zemfira's music engineer on board. Try listening to "Jazz" or the haunting repetitions of "На границе."
Butch Sample Hit: Чувства-на волю Store
Butch is often more criticized for its members' personal lives than its music. Lead singer Elena Pogrebizhskaya, who is known as "Butch," looks her name – short hair, strong features, and (usually) masculine dress. Their music and Elena's new book Diary of an Artist (she is a journalist by education) have become anthems of Russia's small gay movement. Despite the controversy, they are regularly credited as one of Russia's best groups.
Mumiy Troll Sample Hit: Девочка Store
Formed in last years of the Soviet Union in Vladivostok, this band self-published their first album on cassette to avoid bureaucracy and censorship. After the fall, the band broke up when lead singer Ilya Lagutenko, who speaks both English and Mandarin Chinese fluently, left to work abroad. When he returned a few years later, the band reunited and produced its first successful official album, Morskaya. Their music is full of industrial electronic riffs and Ilya is a delightfully whimsical and distinctive singer. The band is also known for its work campaigning for AIDS awareness and prevention programs.
Chaif Sample Hit: Оранжевое настроение Store
Chaif (Чайф) was formed in 1984 in Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg), Russia. Their name is derived from the word chai, meaning tea, and "kaif", a slang word roughly equivalent to the English slang use of "high." The band first big hits came in 1992 with Don't Hurry (Ne Speshi) and 17 Years Old (17 Let). They are still popular in Russia and recognized as "staples" of the music scene there, occasionally appearing on television shows, giving concerts, and releasing new material. They best known for their wide variety of styles, which generally hold true to folk-rock, but lapse into blues, jazz, and even reggae influences.
Lumen Sample Hit: Государство Store
Russian rock/punk/alternative band was founded in Ufa by three classmates with two guitars and a shaker made out of an empty coffee can. The name “Lumen” (which means "light" in Latin) that they took in 1998 begot their slogan: «Человек человеку – свет» (Man is a light to man). Lumen was awarded the RAMP Prizes (Russian Alternative Music Premium) for Band of the Year in 2007 and 2008 and Album of The Year (for album Pravda?) in 2007. RAMP Prizes are awarded by Russia’s A1 music channel, which is devoted to alternative music.
Posle 11 Sample Hit: Крылья
After 11 – In 1999, at the Saratov Palace of Pioneers, three conservatory students entered a musical contest with their song “Zvezdochka” that they had written for their friend’s birthday. The name of the band was made up 10 minutes prior to entering the stage. After taking first prize, the musicians decided to continue playing together at local clubs and parties and eventually moved to Moscow where their new folk-pop-rock drew a large following.
Surganova i Orkestr Sample Hit: Мураками Store
Surganova i Orkestr, a Russian rock band, was founded in 2003 when Svetlana Surganova (a founder of Night Snipers, another popular Russian band) joined the band Sever Combo. Svetlana Surganova describes band’s style as VIP-Punk-Decadence. Most of band’s songs are written by Svetlana, some are based on the work of famous Russian poets, such as Joseph Brodsky, Nikolay Gumilev, Anna Akhmatova, Marina Tsvetaeva, Osip Mandelstam, as well as modern authors.
Orgia Pravednikov Sample Hit: Наша родина - СССР Store
This group, whose name translates to “Orgy of The Righteous” was formed in 1999 when rock-bard Sergey Kalugin merged with the art-rock band "ARTEL." The peculiar sound of the new band arises from the original combination of acoustic (flute and acoustic guitar) and electric (drums, electric guitar and bass guitar) sessions. From the moment of their origin the band has declared their purpose as forming a completely new style, in which the most valuable and the most interesting achievements of their native Russian musical traditions would be combined with the traditions of global rock music.
Punk report an error back to top
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For more info see: Punk.ru
Leningrad Sample Hit: Я - твой ковбой Store
Leningrad is a postmodernist mix of folk, rock, punk, ska, and shanson (prison songs). Known for politically infused and rebellious lyrics, they are favorites of the artistic/intellectual crowd of Russia's two capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. The band is also remarkable for its size – 13 members playing instruments as diverse as the tuba and harmonica. The band is banned from playing live in Moscow - their crowds tend to get a bit rowdy.
Sergey Shnurov Sample Hit: Sky Whisky Store
Sergei Shnurov, also known by his nickname Шнур (Shnur, a Russian word for “cord”), is a Russian singer and the frontman of such Russian punk bands such as the early pioneers of Russian punk, Ленинград, and Рубль. A controversial and outspoken character, his songs are often offensive - full of expletives and often about PG-13 or R-rated subjects. He has also succored controversy at concerts and in his music videos where he has appeared nude on a few occasions.
Lyapis Trubetskoy Sample Hit: Любови Капец Store
This punk-rock band from Belarus was named after a character in the famous Russian satiric novel The Twelve Chairs. The group formed in 1990 and soon moved from the underground scene to wide popularity. Although known for their pop-culture parodies, their popularity has actually associated them now with the pop-star crowd. So they had to completely shed their image to come back to what everything started from – to a mix of biting satire and powerful chords. In 2011, the group was placed on an “unofficial” black list of artists and performers by Belarus government and currently all the scheduled concerts have been canceled in that country. However, their popularity remains strong.
Tarakani Sample Hit: Украл? Выпил?! В тюрьму!!! Store
"The Cockroaches" formed in 1996, when the band members were just sixteen years old. Within four years, they were touring Europe as punk rock stars. They are known for socially conscious lyrics, which attempt to tackle some of Russia's biggest problems: alcoholism, drug abuse, extremism, and racism. These industry savvy gents have also managed punk festivals, often assist new talent in getting exposure, and have even toured with Marky Ramone of the Ramones. Tфhey were formally known as Chetyre Tarakana - some record stores haven't figured out that it's the same band.
Korol i Shut Sample Hit: Король и шут Store
King and Jester is another veteran group, formed in 1988. Their style blends punk music with the epic stylings and black humor of their apparently vampire-obsessed lead singer Mikhail "Gorshok" (Jug) Gorshenev. ) The group’s songs often have horror story or fairy tale themes. The members cite many Western punk bands as influences and often perform wearing Misfits-style make-up onstage. The band holds a devoted cult following and their albums almost instantly top the charts after release.
Brigadniy Podryad Sample Hit: Всерьёз! Store
This punk-rock band was formed in 1986 in Leningrad, USSR, by three classmates. Its early career was held back by the fact that the USSR officially looked down on punk and rock music. However, the band broke up in the early 1990s, shortly after the fall of the USSR. It eventually came back together with a slightly different compensation. Some think that only songs produced in that first period of band’s existence are truly theirs, nevertheless, they still uphold a reputation as one of the best Russian live bands. Many of their songs also have been covered by other famous Russian rock-bands and artists. Their name "Бригадный подряд", in Russian business lingo, means “Contract Services.”
NAIV Sample Hit: Dehumanized Store
Naiv (Naïve) is anything but. These guys deliver hard-hitting, politically charged industrial-techno-punk. The lead singer screams against fascism and oppression while his band backs him up with brain-rattling distortions, clangs, and riffs. The group formed when two of its founding members, guitarist Maksim Kochetkov and singer Alexander Ivanov, were serving in the army together in 1988. When the two finished their service in 1989, two others joined the group which then began performing and working on their first album. It was released in 1990 on the US label Maximum Rock 'N' Roll and the group gained a following in the US as well. In fact, the group's first album could be found in Kurt Cobain's personal library, who counted himself as a fan. NAIV announced that they were splitting up in 2009 due to "creative differences" and former lead singer Alexander Ivanov has started another punk group called RADIO ЧАЧА.
RADIO ЧАЧА Sample Hit: Вон из дома Store
RADIO ЧАЧА is the very recently-formed project by Alexander "ЧАЧА" Ivanov, former lead singer for the punk band NAIV. In April of 2009, NAIV announced that it was going on a hiatus of unspecified length due to "creative differences" between its members. In early 2010, Alexander announced that his personal hiatus was over and that he was forming a new group called RADIO ЧАЧА. The group's very first performance was in April 2010 in Moscow, and their first album, "Live Slow. Die Old." was released that same month.
F.P.G. Sample Hit: Милиция Store
The punk band F.P.G. was formed in 1993. At first, the group only performed covers of well-known English punk songs and wrote very few of their own songs. Despite how long they have been touring and performing, the group has only released three albums, their first having been released in 1999. The group explains that they prefer to concentrate on touring – they’ve performed in hundreds of cities and small towns all over Russia as well as in dozens of rock festivals and tours with other bands.
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KnyaZz Sample Hit: Человек-загадка
КняZz is a new music project of Andrei Knyazev, a frontman and founder of the wildly popular punk band Korol I Shut (King and Jester). “Knyaz” is also the author of many of that band’s hits. The idea of full-scale independent project was born a long time ago. After releasing a solo album in 2005 which was well received by critics and audience, he is now focused on a new maxi-single "Человек-загадка" (Mystery Man). The new project carries his nickname “Knyaz,” a shortened version of his last name, which also happens to mean “prince” or “duke” in Russian. This seems to be an appropriate title for a project that came out of “King and Jester.”
Alexey Gorshenev and Kukryniksy Sample Hit: Звезда Store
The Russian post-punk band Кукрыниксы (Kukryniksy) was founded in 1997 by Aleksey Gorshenev, the ex-drummer of the horror punk band Korol i Shut (King and Jester) and the brother of Korol i Shut frontman Mikhail Gorshenev (also known as “Gorshok” or “pot”). The band is well-known for their contributions to the soundtrack of the movie The 9th Company (9 Рота). The word “KuKryNiksy” is the name of a Soviet political cartoonist trio from the 1940s-50s (Mikhail Kuprianov, Porfiry Krylov and Nikolay Sokolov). This name was chosen for the band accidentally and temporarily, but has not been changed yet.
Folk Punk report an error back to top
Folk Punk blends traditional elements with punk music. It often focuses on traditional themes and the bands often play full folk songs with accordions, guitars, and traditional instruments. They just speed it up, make it simpler, and in general, wail.
Sektor Gaza Sample Hit: Колхозный панк Store
Sektor Gaza is named for a highly contaminated Soviet industrial zone near Voronezh, the town where the band was formed in 1987. They would not perform publicly until after the fall, as the authorities had banned their music, but performed privately and gathered quite a following. When perestroika hit, the band hit the charts. The lead singer, Yuri Klinskikh (whose stage name we will refrain from printing here) died of sudden heart failure in 2000. His fans still remember him as the "Russian Johnny Rotten."
Babslei Sample Hit: Пташечка Store
Babslei were one of the first successful folk-punk groups in Russia. As nearly all good punk did, the all-woman group got together as a bit of a joke. They all liked folk music but, they said, but could not play it properly – so they played it punk, with simpler cords and just for fun. Their sound is very rough, and is definitely for those who truely love garange-band punk. While the band officially does not exist any more (many members joined Iva Nova, which has a much more mature sound) their music is still available and still recommended.
Iva Nova Sample Hit: Была не была Store
This all-girl punk band from St. Petersburg is another we count among our favorites. Blurring the bounds of genre, they sing mostly Slavic folk tunes or songs inspired by Slavic folk. In their mouths and hands, the tempos are drastically sped up and undercut with punk riffs. As with most punk bands everywhere, thier membership has been a little unstable. We were especially sorry to see Lena Zhorik (right), their accordion player and formerly their strongest stage presence, leave the band to pursue personal interests.
Ska report an error back to top
For more info see: Ska.ru
ELIZIUM Sample Hit: Как Ван Гог Store
The group ELIZIUM, created in 1995 in Nizhni Novgorod, takes its name from Greek mythology; the Elysium Gardens was a place where absolute freedom and happiness reigned. The band, likewise, sings fun-loving, experimental songs that sometimes defy classification in genre or even ideology.
Male Factors Sample Hit: Водочка Store
The group formed in 1998, and is now composed of six guys who go by names like "Skanker" and "El Gordito." Much of their music is influenced by Shanson tradition, with many, many songs about criminals and drinking. In 2000, they were signed to Hobgoblin Records, a label owned by a former hacker who made oodles of cash by producing spoof translations of Hollywood hits and selling them on the black market. He has since turned legit.
Distemper Sample Hit: Троллейбус 27 Store
Distemper, appropriately enough, bears a cartoon mascot of a mad dog. They formed in 1989 as a hard-core punk band, but gradually integrated horns and developed a ska style. Their songs combine optimism, humor, guitars and horns with a gravely and charismatic lead singer. The band is known across Europe (especially in Germany) and has started their own record label: Distemper Records.
Skalpel Sample Hit: Праздник Store
Skalpel formed in 1997 with the philosophy that anyone with a microphone could sing and anyone with guitar could play. However, as the band’s hilarious English language website states, "this happened to be a problem." It took four years of adjustments – and learning their instruments before they began appearing in festivals. Now, they are occasionally joined by members of big-name bands such as Distemper when they cut albums..
Metal report an error back to top
AMATORY Sample Hit: Черно-белые дни Store
Amatory (commonly printed as [AMATORY] to match their logo) is a Russian nu-metal band, formed in 2001 in Saint Petersburg. The band spans several genres, including Death Metal, Metalcore, and Melodic Death Metal. The group won two awards at the Russian Alternative Music Prize in 2005 and has toured across Russia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, Belarus, Ukraine and Finland. Radio or TV exposure has been the main ingredient for a breakthrough by every new artist, but AMATORY gain a devoted fan base of hundreds of thousands of Russian metal fans despite very little media exposure. Their success can be attributed to a grueling concert schedule, about 350 concerts to date in Russia and surrounding countries, and hard work.
Kipelov Sample Hit: На грани Store
Kipelov was formed in 2002 when three members of the rock group Aria broke off from the band to begin their own musical project. Vocalist Valeri Kipelov, guitarist Sergei Terentyev, and drummer Alexander Manyakin used the well-known lead singer's last name as their new group's name because, as they explain, it was an easy to way to promote their new, as yet unheard-of group. Kipelov's music is mostly metal-influenced, although they also have quite a few hard-rock ballads such as "Na Grani." Although the musicians never fully explained why they left Aria other than to pursue a new musical direction, it doesn't seem that it was due to any ill-will among the members: the members of Aria and Kipelov remain on good terms and the two bands even tour together from time to time.
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Ariya Sample Hit: Герой асфальта Store
Formed in 1985, Aria was one of the very first Russian heavy metal bands and the first such band to acquire genuine commercial success. They reportedly chose the name Aria because it is short and easily transliterated. Dubbed the "Russian Iron Maiden" by the media, Aria was at the peak of its success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group even opened their own recording studio, Aria Records, in 1994. Tensions between band members, and also between the members and their management, began in the late 1990s and their 2001 tour was later announced as their farewell tour. Singer Valery Kipelov left the group, along with two other members, to start his own project, Kipelov. However, the band reorganized and still performs with new members who have joined the one original founding member, guitarist Vladimir Holstinin.
Epidemia Sample Hit: Вернись Store
The group released its first album "Phoenix" in 1993 before the members had even decided on a name for their group. Their power metal songs often revolve around mystic themes and in 2004, the group completed and performed the metal opera "The Elven Manuscript" with collaborations from other prominent metal artists like Ariya. The opera significantly boosted the band's popularity and they are currently working on their ninth album.
Piknik Sample Hit: Египтянин Store
Piknik has been around since the 1970s and began to gain real popularity in the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. Their lyrics revolve mainly around Gothic motifs and mysticism which also caused the Soviet authorities to ban the group for a short time at the peak of their popularity. Even though they did not get airplay on TV or radio and were banned from recording albums, the group continued to tour on a shoestring budget until they released their first album in 1991.
Alisa Sample Hit: Плачь Store
Alisa is considered one of the most influential banks in Russian rock. They formed in 1983 in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) and the group’s name is from Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland." The band's songs and lyrics started out as typical themes of rock and roll and social protest, but after lead singer Konstantin Kinchev's baptism into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990, the band's lyrics began to take on the themes of Christianity and Slavic unity. This caused the group to lose some of its "hardcore" fan following but most of the "Alisa Army" (what their fans call themselves) have remained loyal.
Click "Burnt by the Sun 2" for more
about Russian films.
Mordor Sample Hit: Банзай
Mordor is Russian Industrial-metal band, created in 2007 by famous Russian musicians who prefer to disguise their names with fantasy pseudonyms. They present themselves as four raiders of Mordor sent to return fugitives escaped from the kingdom of evil using their own powerful tool - music. They complete their image with name-related legends, heavy make-up, costumes and pyrotechnics show during their concerts.
Rap/Hip Hop report an error back to top
KReeD Sample Hit: Старлетка
KReeD (real name Egor Bulatkin) is Russia’s newest teen sensation. He signed a contract with Russian rap legend Timati and his Black Star label just prior to his high school graduation in Penza, a city in west central Russia. Soon after, he moved to Moscow to record his first album. He states that he became an avid fan of hip-hop, rap and RnB at 10 and started writing texts at 12. He also states that the meaning of his stage name “is a secret that is not yet time to reveal.”
Bad Balance Sample Hit: Московский Old School Store
This is the Run DMC of Russia – they pioneered hip-hop and rap in the Soviet music scene in the 80s and 90s. Their music was considered politically subversive and they did not produce a record until the early 1990s. They participated in the first rap music festival in Russia, "Kolobok," which was held in Nizhniy Novgorod. After that, they produced a slew of popular records. At times, their music feels like it is reaching in all directions at once, to rock, jazz, rap, and hip hop. They are remembered by some as a silly early prototype and by others as pioneers affectionately called "Bad B." They remain influential in the hip hop and rap scene in Russia.
Mnogotochie Sample Hit: В жизни так бывает Store
Mnogotochie is a Russian literary term meaning "argument:" the premises and evidence that prove a conclusion. The band is quite opinionated on social issues and politics and packaged in sophisticated and melodious hip hop. Originally from the small resort town of Essentuki in the Caucus mountains, they are now the front men for Dots Family Records, a Moscow label that markets itself as a collection of like-minded artists working to advance their own and each other's interests. One Moscow listener said, "Mnogotochie speaks about what is hidden behind the depths of consciousness, behind that lie and ordering of the world we live in."
DeTSl Sample Hit: Вечеринка у ДеЦла Store
Detsl is about as controversial in Russia as Vanilla Ice in America. One of Russia's youngest rap artists, his rise to stardom was largely powered by the heavy support he received from hip-hop legends Bad Balance. Despite the criticism, his records do sell well and he has been signed by Universal Records Russia which also supports names like t.A.T.u and Alsou.
Kasta Sample Hit: Ревность Store
Kasta is a group of young rappers originally from Rostov-na-Danu. Having developed a small, local following, they landed a place in the festival "Rap Music 99" and eventually were signed to Respect Productions by producer Arkadiya Slutskovskogo. In 2002, the group achieved super-stardom when "Горячее время" was featured on the big-budget Russian action flick AntiKiller. The next year they were nominated "Best Russian Band" at the MTV Europe Music Awards.
Ligalize Sample Hit: Будущие мамы Store
Ligalize is the bad boy of Russian rap – and as rap goes, that's really saying something. He developed his style after living for year in Congo and learning from French artists there. When he returned to Russia, he introduced rap to the Russian music mainstream, or so his site claims, in 1996. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly his boisterous and confident presence and music that has made him what he is.
Seryoga Sample Hit: Возле дома твоего Store
Seryoga skillfully intertwines rap and the folklore traditions of shanson, a music associated with prisons. He has developed an image of himself as an under-world gangster, about whom little is known except that he must have a lot of money and connections. One thing he is known for is a constant saying: "My main objective is to entertain." He certainly does that.
Centr Sample Hit: Легко ли быть молодым Store
Centr is a rap group formed in 2004 by three Muscovites, known as Guf, Slim, and Птаха (Little Bird). While each also performs separately and release solo albums, their success as a group has been far greater. They released their debut album «Калечи» ("Cripples") in 2007 and the video for their single «Город Дорог» ("City of Roads") became an instant hit, being played heavily in Russia and the CIS. The group's videos have been popular on MTV ever since with their latest hit, «Легко ли быть молодым» ("Is It Really Easy Being Young") from the group's second album, «Ефир в норме» ("Normalized Broadcasting.")
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Pavel Volya Sample Hit: Офигенно Store
Pavel Volya entered into show business in 2001, although it would be another five years before he would be considering a singing career. He started off as a DJ for the Russian radio station Hit-FM and was also a VJ on the Russian music channel Muz-TV. In 2003, he became a regular on the TV sketch-comedy show "Comedy Club" and expanded his acting career with a few small roles in movies, most recently in the comedy "Love in the Big City 2." He began writing songs in 2006 and his first album was released in 2007. The album’s producers initially claimed that many of his songs were not polished enough for mainstream release, but Pavel convinced them to release it without the significant changes they were proposing, and it turned out to be a success.
Basta Sample Hit: Моя игра Store
Basta, whose real name is Vasili Vakulenko, hails from Rostov-na-Donu and is one of Russia's most popular rap artists, as well as one of the first after he appeared on the scene in 1998. After high school, he studied at a music school for one year and was on his way to becoming an orchestra conductor. Although he loved music, he decided that his real passion was not in conducting, but rather in writing rap lyrics and listening to hip-hop. His first big hit "Maya Igra" ("My Game") came in 1998 when he was just 18 years old, and he has been a successful rapper ever since.
Timati Sample Hit: Жизнь игра Store
Timati is of Jewish and Tatar descent and was born in Moscow. He is a well-known Russian rapper who has also began gaining recent popularity in the west thanks to collaborations with such artists as Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and Busta Rhymes on his latest album, "The Boss." He raps in both English and Russian and is also the CEO of his own record label, Black Star, Inc.
Noize MC Sample Hit: Песня для радио Store
Rapper Noize MC (real name Ivan Alekseev) and his caustic lyrics often make the rapper a source of controversy. After taunting police at a concert in July 2010 and singing “Kuri Bambuk,” a song about police brutality, he was sentenced to 10 days in jail for disorderly conduct. One of his most famous songs, “Mercedes-S666” is based on a traffic accident involving Lukoil Vice-President Anatoly Barkov; the accident killed the two passengers of the other vehicle while Barkov denied that he or his driver were at fault.
Guf Sample Hit: Жизнь игра Store
Guf (real name Alexey Dolmatov) began writing songs at the end of 1990s after returning from seven years in China. However, he officially entered the world of hip-hop in 2000 with as part of the duet “Rolex-X,” which then became the group CENTR, formed with two other famous Russian rap artists, Slim and Птаха (Little Bird). In 2006 Guf’s, song “Сплетни” (Gossip), a song about women of show business, soon had everyone talking in Moscow. In song, Guf mentioned his grandmother, who also became famous due to the song, and who later appeared in his very successful solo album “Gorod dorog” (City of roads). In 2009, Guf left CENTR to pursue a solo career.
T-Killah Sample Hit: До дна
T-killah (real name – Alexander Tarasov), a Russian rap-artist, burst into popularity through online videos in 2008. He presents his songs and videos online and they immediately climb up playlists of Russian social network “VKontakte”. Since childhood, Alexander knew he wanted to be a musician, and was especially influenced by Eminem. He has an education in economics, music, and theater arts and previously played professional volleyball for 7 years. He comments on his Internet strategy: “Listeners of my age mostly live on the Net. I try my tracks there and watch the reaction. I make changes based on actual comments of my fans, which is very important. My music is for them so to have it popular with them, I take their advice, first of all, through the Internet.”
Max Korzh Sample Hit: Где я
Макс Корж – born in Minsk, Belarus, he started his music career with hip-hop and opposition rap as a way to express his dissatisfaction with political situation in that country at the time. Eventually, he states, he tired of “being negative” and longed for something “more peaceful.” According to Max, he created his own music style, using hip-hop as a foundation to express simple thoughts and emotions familiar to many people. He quickly became very popular in Belarus and is now rising on Russian charts.
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Not Quite Russian report an error back to top
A few bands that are from places around Russia or are otherwise related to Russia that we thought you'd enjoy....
Brainstorm Sample Hit: Lantern Store
Brainstorm (Latvian: Prāta Vētra) is currently the most successful Latvian alternative rock / pop-rock band. Formed in the summer of 1989 in Jelgava, Latvia by four classmates, then ages 14-15, this ‘school project’ first went through the names “Blue Ink” and “Latvia’s Five Best Guys” before the drummer’s elderly aunt suggested the name “Brainstorm” or, in Lavian, Prāta Vētra. Born in Latvia which was then part of the giant Soviet Union, they experienced a Soviet upbringing, the battle for a freedom and were part of the first generation to embrace the new possibilities freedom brought. Experiencing these two radical systems has shaped their musical style and perhaps helped lead them to an international outlook. Brainstorm has released albums in Europe and Russia, with songs in Latvian, English, and Russian. In 2000, they took 3rd place among 24 contestants in the 45th Eurovision song contest with song “My Star” which then held a place on many European charts for months afterwards. In 2006, they received the MTV Europe Music award for Best Baltic Act. Another good site to visit to sample their unique music is SoundCloud. http://soundcloud.com/pratavetra.
Ivan Dorn Sample Hit: Стыцамэн Store
Ivan Dorn was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, but his family later moved to Ukraine where his father worked at the site of former Chernobyl power plant. Until recently, Ivan was known primarily as a Ukrainian singer and TV host, but now his star is rising in Russia as well. He started singing at the age of six and very successfully coupled his love for music and singing with yachting, tennis, professional ballroom dance competitions, chess, and soccer. From 2007 to 2010 Ivan joined Anya Dobrydneva in a duet called “Para Normalnykh,” a play on the word “paranormal” (in Russian: “паранормальный”) that actually means “a pair of normal people.” In 2010, he started his solo career and in May 2012 came out with his debut solo album Co’N’Dorn (written with English letters). The name of the album appears to be “Dorn and Co” written in colloquial slang and backwards, probably referring to the fact that many of his songs were written in partnership with other artists and wanting to give those partners top billing.
Gogol Bordello Sample Hit: When the Trickster... Store
This Ukrainian "Gypsy Punk" group speaks about problems common to their region and explores cultural misunderstandings between various groups. They do this with intelligence, sarcasm, Kerouac-style ramblings, and purposefully comic English. Highly recommended, at your own risk! The lead singer has also appeared in movies which approach the same issues in the same style. These include a wonderful release called Everything is Illuminated with Elijah Wood as a mono-lingual American who travels to Ukraine to reconnect with his Ukrainian-Jewish heritage.
Okean El’zi Sample Hit: Я так хочу Store
The group was founded in 1994 in Lvov, in eastern Ukraine and hit it big after moving to the capital Kiev in 1998. Shortly thereafter, the band began touring in Russia where they found they already had a large following of fans. Their songs are sung in Ukrainian by frontman Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, who became an official UN Ambassador of Ukrainian Culture in 2003.
Dantes&Oleynik Sample Hit: Мне уже 20 Store
Vladimir Dantes, a former bartender, and Vadim Oleynik, who worked as a store clerk, first met on Ukraine's version of "Star Factory." The two were paired up and performed on the show where they won and decided to continue their work as a duet. After touring with other stars from the show across Ukraine’s major cities, the two set out on their own tour and finished up their first album to be released in summer 2010.
Boombox Sample Hit: Концерты
The group was formed in 2004 in Kiev, Ukraine by Andrei Khlyvnyuk (vocalist), Andrei Samoilo (guitarist), and Valentin Matiyuk (DJ). Although their songs are all sung in Ukrainian, they have gained popularity and a large fan following in Russia as well.
Ruslana Sample Hit: Дики танци Store
After winning "Eurovision 2004" this singer from Lviv, Ukraine was wildly popular in Russia. Her latest effort, "Wild Dances" fuses native music from around the world with ultramodern dance rhythms. Her stage image is of a rough-hewn mystic goddess, but she also has a more down-to-earth side. She served as an Advisor to the President of Ukraine on Youth Affairs, was one of several pop stars to lend support to Viktor Yushchenko after the disputed 2004 Ukrainian elections and, in 2006, won a seat in Parliment under Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine" party. Her stuff is great!
Geegun Sample Hit: Отпусти Store
(Real name - Denis Ustimenko-Vaynshtein) This hip-hop artist from Black Star Inc. (a company founded and headed by Russian-language rapper Timati), got his start as a DJ and MC in Ukraine. He then began to collaborate with several local musicians, which led to creation of his first tracks. Geegun leads a healthy lifestyle and is actively involved in various social programs devoted to healthy nutrition. He is also a master kickboxer and a champion of Ukraine in hand-to-hand fighting.
Nervi Sample Hit: Батареи
Nervi, which means “Nerves” in English with both the biological and psychological implications, is a music band from Ukraine. It was founded by popular soloist Zhenya Milkovskiy, who writes the lyrics and music for the band, and also sings and plays guitar. Officially the band was founded in March 2010, and made first public appearance in March 2011 with their first music video and an official site. Currently they are actively touring throughout Russia and getting ready for the release of their first studio album in May 2012.
Elka Sample Hit: Прованс Store
Elka is Russian for “Christmas tree.” It is also the stage name of Ukraine soloist Elizaveta Ivantsiv. Born to a family of musicians, she started singing when she joined a school choir. Her musical career began in school, when she joined the local KVN team. KVN is a sprawling competitive comedy league spanning much of the former Soviet Union. After participating in many bands over the years, both in Ukraine and Russia, and experimenting with many musical styles, from alternative rock and “heavy guitar R&B” (her own descrtiption), to reggae and pop-music, she has released many albums and received several Russian music awards.
IOWA Sample Hit: Мама
I.O.W.A. (Idiots Out Wandering About) - This group from Belarus wandered into the musical world in 2009. After series of very successful concerts in Saint-Petersburg, they decided to move their band to Russia (Saint-Petersburg) and since then have continued gaining popularity with their concerts and music videos and a unique style that mixes jazz, pop, and R&B.
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We will be adding to this resource as we can. Planned additions include: Jazz, Blues, World/Fusion, Hard Rock, and Heavy Metal. A future Library entry will cover labels, producers, clubs, concerts, etc. in more detail. To be alerted of updates, subscribe to the SRAS newsletter by sending an email with "Subscribe" in the subject field to email@example.com.
In addition, there is a new Yahoo! Group devoted to Russian popular music. Join it here.
What's currently popular in Russia? TopHit.ru has the latest info as well as archives! Or see MTV's Russian charts.
Russian Music Videos is a blog featuring a number of YouTubed Russian language music videos.
Russmus.net offers incredibly professional Podcasts that give detailed band histories and music samples.
Ukiemusic is completely devoted to Ukrainian music.
Far from Moscow provides news on modern Russian bands and sound clips from their latest releases.
Russia-ic.com has lots of history about Russian folk, classical, vocal, rock, and authorial music.
Music.Lib.ru and RealMusic.ru are free music hosting sites - apparently favored by amatuer rappers and shanson singers.
PromoDJ.ru is music hosting site that counts both professionals and amateurs among its uploaders.
Russian Language Podcasts is a weekly service from UCLA bringing modern popular Russian music to your iPod (or computer).
Russian Beyond the Headlines offers a modern music podcast.
Samsung Russia sponsors a legal MP3 website with relatively cheap downloads of a lot of Russian music. If you have a Samsung player, you get 250 MB free!
Also see Zvuki.ru, which has lots of free MP3 tracks.
Want to come to Russia to experience modern Russian culture for yourself?
See the programs at the School of Russian and Asian Studies!
This page was originally compiled and written by SRAS Contributing Writer Olga Dmitraschenko, SRAS Asst. Director Josh Wilson, and others as indicated. Thanks to all! Contact the authors
Each month the SRAS newsletter features Russia's current charts for pop, rock, and R&B! Youtube videos of the hit songs are included, as are new, monthly additions to this page.
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