Let’s dive into the world of Russian music

Let’s dive into the world of Russian music
15 November, 2019

It has been almost two months since I moved to Russia and I can truly say how impressed I am with Russian’s love for music. There is a vast amount of songs, which any Russian person, regardless of their age, knows by heart. I am lucky, because two of my flatmates love singing, playing the guitar and they actually started to write their own songs and music. Since both of them are very musical, they taught me a lot about Russian music and showed me a lot of songs — we actually used to (now it is too cold) sit down on a bench in the center, they were playing and I was just enjoying Russian music and their company. It was during these moments that I realized how musical Russian people are — I often experienced situations, in which random people came up to us, started singing with ‚us‘ or just asked if they may use their guitar and play a song. I was truly impressed, because this was something I was just not used to or did not experience before. If you generally love music and are interested in Russian music and in what people listen to today, check out this article. Here are some of the most famous Russian bands and artists every Russian knows.

1. ДДТ (DDT)

DDT was the first band they introduced me to — it is one of the most popular Russian rock bands, which was founded by its only remaining original member Yuri Shevchuk (Юрий Шевчук – leader singer) in 1980. The band released more than 20 albums, which provide insights into many aspects of life in the Soviet Union and in Russia — They continue(d) to voice the concerns and frustrations of Russian people. In my opinion, it is quite thrilling that a band which was founded during the Soviet Union and was very famous back then still is one of the most listened-to bands in Russia — one of the most prolific Russian music bands of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Here is a beautiful song of theirs, called ‚мете́ль’ (snowstorm; blizzard)


2.  Кино (Kino)

Kino was also a Soviet rock band, which was formed in Leningrad in the year 1982. The band was co-founded and headed by Viktor Tsoi, who wrote the music and lyrics for almost all of their songs. Within eight years, the band has released over 90 songs. However, the main figure in the band, Viktor Tsoi died in a car accident in 1990 and shortly after his death, the band broke up after releasing their last album, consisting of songs that Tsoi and the group were working on in the months before his death. The message in their songs was not overly political, except for the recurring theme of freedom — but they mainly focused on topics, such as love, war, pursuit of happiness and, in general, man’s struggle in life.

Check out their songs ‘Перемен’ and ‘Kukushka’



3.   БИ-2 (Be-2) 

БИ-2 is a Russian alternative rock band, formed by two teenagers, Aleksandr “Shura” Uman and Egor “Lyova” Bortnik in Belarus in 1985. Both of them were amateur actors at that time. At first the band’s name was “Bratya po Oruzhiyu” (Brothers in Arms), then “Bereg Istini” (Shore of Truth), which later on resulted in the abbreviation BI-2. This word Lyova and Shura begun to use as their scenic names, and Shura even changed his passport surname to Bi-II. In the beginning of the 90s the two moved to Israel and received citizenship, because both of them were Jews. Although their paths got separated in 1993, as Shura moved to Australia and Lyova remained and served in the Israel Defense Forces, they continued to compose music together, exchanging their records via Internet and phone. Eventually, in 1998 Leva moved to Australia and they continued working on their music. They were very successful, received some Music Awards and in 1999 decided to move to Russia. The band gained popularity only in 2000, when they recorded the score for the famous movie Brother 2 by Aleksei Balabanov. After that their career went uphill. Both their albums “Meow Kiss Me” (2001) and “Inomarki” (2004) sold gold in Russia. The band has such a long history and up to this date they are very present in the Russian music scene.

Here is the score song from the movie brother 2:


4.  Сплин (Splean) 

Сплин is another very popular Russian rock band, which was formed in Saint Petersburg in 1994. They were and still are one of the most popular rock bands in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The band’s name is derived from the word “spleen” (in the sense of “depression”), and the “ea” spelling in English is a pun on the spelling of the Beatles. In 1996, the band began to play concerts in Moscow and other cities. They recorded a vast number of songs and released many albums — and they still continue to perform throughout Russia and the world. The band frequently experiments and evolves, so the current version of Splean is quite different from its original version.

One of my favorite Splean songs:


Here is a new single of theirs:



5.  Макс Корж (Max Korzh)

Enough with Russian Rock bands — Let us now have a look at some Hip-Hop artists. I would say the most famous artist currently is Max Korsh, a Belorussian singer and songwriter. He always loved music, but did not have much success until the year 2012. Before that he was actually studying at the university, but decided sto quit in order to dedicate his life to music. Today, he is the most famous Belorussian singer and has immense popularity all over Russia — I have not met one Russian person that does not know his songs. Impressing, Max!



6.  MiyaGi & Endspiel (MiyaGi & Эндшпиль)

MiyaGi & Endspiel are one of the most famous Russian Hip-Hop Duos since 2015. Miyagi was actually studying medicine, following the steps of his father. During high school he started listening to American rap, which had such a big impact on his life that he decided to write his own songs. Soon he released his very first single and in 2015 he gave his first solo concert. Endspiel, on the other hand, always dreamed about becoming a professional soccer player. However, at the age of 16 he started rapping and writing his own songs and albums. Only in the year 2015 did the two artists start collaborating. After the death of Miyagi’s baby son, they stopped producing and backed down. Now they are back in the business; working on their own albums, owning a record label and cooperating with other Russian music artists.

The first song Miyagi released after his son’s death. (Very deep and meaningful lyrics)


Russians truly are a musical nation, which is why I decided to dedicate one article on Russian music. It is fascinating to see how bands that were active during the Soviet Union are still very famous among the Russian youth, although some of them are no longer producing and performing. Of course, there are many many other artists, like aquarium, Oxxxymiron, LCP, Баста, etc., but I just picked a few of them that I know, every Russian person knows — I mean younger people up to 30 I would say. I hope you enjoyed the article and liked some of the songs — if not, then go check out other songs of theirs, I am sure you will find your favorite ones!

Posted by Daniela Nuic

Daniela Nuic, Croatian/Bosnian from Austria, studied transcultural communication and is currently interning at Liden & Denz in St Petersburg.

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