7 Russian songs worth checking out
Music has been a life long passion for me. Even as a child I would annoy my parents at the dinner table with my singing, leading to them declaring the kitchen a “no-singing-zone”. Maybe my singing was simply that awful…. Anyways, a few years ago I found a new passion: learning Russian. So why not throw music and learning Russian in one pot to cook the strange soup that is today’s post: “7 Russian songs worth checking out”.
And in this soup we’re combining the weirdest of ingredients, as we’re going over a quite exquisit selection of songs from different genres. Quick disclaimer: As the general Russian population seems to have a thing for rock music my Russian song list will feature quite a few rock songs. However, even if that isn’t your cup of tea stick with me. There is plenty for your musical taste buds to enjoy.
1. Звезда по имени Солнце – Kino
How could I start this post if not with a song from possibly the most popular rock band in Russia: Kino. The band formed during the Soviet era when rock music was often times oppressed. However, like many bands they emerged from the underground scene during the “Perestroika”. This era saw Russia’s politics and culture changing due to a series of reforms. The song “Звезда по имени Солнце” (engl. “A Star named Sun”) is considered one of their most popular songs. Its lyrics are about war and fate, so they are rather dark. The Album named after this song would be their last album released before the death of frontman Viktor Tsoi, who died in a car collision in 1990.
2. Вокруг шум – Каста
Up next is the Hip-Hop group “Каста” with a song whose title translates to “There’s noise all around”. Although the lyrics might be a bit hard to follow it is a great way to catch up on some Russian slang. Speaking of which, if slang is something that interests you, it might be worth to check out this short video about Russian slang on Liden & Denz’ YouTube channel.
3. Погудим – RASA
You like to dance? The couple and musical duo RASA has you covered. Formed in late 2017 they almost immediately landed their first hit “Под фонарём” (“Under the streetlight”), which by now has amassed an astonishing 114 million views on YouTube. Although I could have also put that song on this list I decided for their more recent release “Погудим”, “Let’s buzz”.
4. Лесник – Корол и Шут
St. Petersburg is known as the musical capital of Russia. So during my trip last year I had the pleasure of experiencing a lot of performances by young rock bands on the streets. And this song seemed to be on everyone’s setlist. I’m not even joking. The way I found the name of this song was literally by humming it to one of the teachers in school. But with a catchy intro like that I get why it is so popular.
5. Лёд – Niletto
Let’s add something a bit more serious to this Russian song list. Being about a love that didn’t work out, this song really shows what the dancer and singer Niletto is truly capable of. “Бармен, неси мне свежий лёд” he sings with his mighty voice. It might not be among his most famous songs, but quite possibly his most emotional one. And that is why I like it so much.
6. Наружу изнутри – The Hatters
Oh the Hatters. Like the character from “Alice in Wonderland” this band might seem a little strange at first, combining rock music with more classical instruments like violin or accordion. But hey, isn’t it strange how the sometimes strangest of things works out really well? And so it does in the song “Наружу изнутри”, “From the inside out”. If you have been to St. Petersburg you might be able to spot some familiar places in the music video.
7. Старий клён
And finally we’re finishing our Russian song list with something a bit different. I was introduced to the song “Старий клён” during an activity we did in school last year. Liden & Denz organised an afternoon with with a Russian accordionist and together with him we sang two old Russian songs. I’d recommend you to read Alice Bloom’s article about the event if you are interested in this song.
And that concludes our list of 7 Russian songs worth checking out. Of course there are plenty of genres to choose from and such a great variety of amazing songs that I could have also put up here, but I hope that you still found a song or two that you liked. If I left out your favourite Russian song and you would like to share it with me, feel free to do so in the comments. I’m always happy to receive new suggestions on what to listen to. Спасибо за чтение, thank you for reading.
Finn Botjes, currently learning Russian at Liden & Denz Riga