Russian pop music hasn’t quite got the same reputation as the country’s world-famous classical composers – you may remember All the Things She Said from early 2000s girl group t.A.T.u. – but, believe it or not, Russian pop does have a lot more to offer. In this article, we’ll be running down the best, the worst, and the most memorable stars of Russian pop from recent years.
In a nutshell, Lizer’s music is Russian emo pop-rap for teenagers. Whilst on the surface he gives off a vibe of a teen who has recently broken up with their first girlfriend or doesn’t enjoy doing chores, Lizer’s music goes much deeper.
His most recent album Molodost (Youth) is worth a listen for exactly this reason – at some points it makes you wonder whether Lizer just needs someone to ask whether he’s alright, and at others you’ll be singing along with some catchy hooks we can all enjoy.
Below you can listen to the song ‘“Cigarette Packet” from an earlier album, which starts with the cheerful refrain, “I phone my mum: why do I want to die?”
Tima Belorusskih started his rise to prominence in the Russian music scene at the tender age of 18 with his debut single Mokrie Krossy (Wet Trainers). Now 22 and only growing in popularity, Tima Belorusskih looks set to be one of the biggest artists in Russia.
Originally from Minsk and born Timofey Morozov, the singer added the Belorusskih moniker to his stage name in order to maintain a connection with his home country as his popularity abroad grew. He toes the line between pop and hip hop, but certainly has a distinct sound that’s recognisable throughout his work.
Feduk is one of Russia’s biggest pop stars today, if not the biggest. He churns out hit after hit and banger after banger, and it’s no coincidence that one of the biggest tracks from his newest album Yay is called Banger. With a bubbly beat and slight reverb effect on his voice, you know it’s Feduk from the first note of every song.
His tunes are ubiquitous in Russian clubs and it’s impossible to spend a Saturday night in Moscow without hearing at least one of his songs. Have a listen to his biggest hit Rozovoe Vino (Rosé) below.
Antoha MC has one of the most unique sounds in Russian music; his mix of hip hop and pop, punctuated with trumpet for good measure, makes for a style unlike any other.
His first album came out in 2011 and has released 5 more since then – it’s certainly worth working through his back catalogue and spending some time exploring what he’s got to offer.
Check out one of his most recent offerings below.
Egor Kreed is another Russian artist known for his club bangers, yet strays much further into cheese than the likes of Feduk or Antoha MC. To highlight this, one of Kreed’s most viewed videos is, bizarrely, set in a stereotypical American high school and based around a Nerds vs Jocks basketball game.
His music again straddles the lines of pop and hip hop, although the less said about his rapping the better. The Personal Life section of his English Wikipedia page contains only one sentence: “In 2015, he had a relationship with Moldovian-American model Xenia Deli before he had a relationship with Russian singer Nyusha” and maybe that’s all you need to know.
Lesha Svik belongs to a subgenre of Russian pop that I like to describe as Shisha Lounge Music – a low-key pop/R&B beat, with laid-back, mumbled lyrics on top – exactly as you’ll find in any good Russian shisha lounge. It’s perfectly listenable but, admittedly, not particularly memorable.
Check out his song Dym (Smoke) from a couple of years back below:
Having represented Russia at the Eurovision Song Contest twice – finishing in third place both times – Sergey Lazarev is pop through and through. If you’re looking for artistic integrity, you’re in the wrong place.
Admittedly, that thing he did with the wall at Eurovision was pretty impressive but I’m not sure how much credit he can take for that.
Once you’ve heard one of his songs you’ve heard them all, so I wouldn’t recommend looking any further than the clip we’ve embedded below.
SBPCh, which is short for Samoe Bolshoe Prostoe Chislo (and translates as Largest Prime Number), is Russia’s leading act in their electro-pop scene. Despite being predominantly upbeat and catchy, there’s so much more to the band as you dig a little deeper – their videos are vibrant whilst often carrying dark undertones. Check out the video for their song Zloi (Evil) below for a perfect example of this.
I’d also recommend spending some time going through their back catalogue on Spotify to see how their sound has developed over time, from relying heavily on spoken word to the more poppy sound you hear today; in the process you’ll be sure to find some real hidden gems.
Vremya i Steklo
Vremya i Steklo’s name makes for some excellent wordplay in Russian and their music makes for some excellent pop, no matter the language. The group makes proper unashamed big club pop-dance hits that border on cheesy, but that’s what we listen to Russian pop for.
They’re admittedly well past their peak, with their 2015 song Imya 505 being their biggest tune to date, but they’re still a consistent mainstay on Russian radio. Check out one of their latest releases below, and make sure to explore their channel further as their videos are certainly…something.
Masha Hima actually first came to prominence on YouTube back in 2014 in a viral video entitled Girl raps and sings about love. Masha has grown a lot as an artist since the video that saw her performing just with just her voice and an accompanying guitar in a Russian flat 6 years back.
Have a listen to her song You Won’t Jump with Me below:
IC3PEAK somewhat transcend the traditional definition of pop and give a lot more to the Russian musical and cultural landscape than the majority of artists on this list. An electronic duo known for their dark gothic vibe and imagery, the group comments on a wide range of current political and societal themes within their lyrics and videos.
The video for Smerti Bolshe Net (Death No More) is set outside some of Russia’s most iconic political sites, including Lenin’s Mausoleum on Red Square. It features scenes depicting cannibalism and drinking of blood, with scathing lyrics aimed towards Russia’s ruling class; have a watch below and be sure to turn on English subtitles to understand the full essence of the song.
Check out our articles on Russian post-punk, Morgenshtern and Kostromin to find out more about the Russian music scene.