Let's say I'm a Russian student in my mid-twenties.
August 28, 2009 3:58 AM   Subscribe

Let's say I'm a Russian student in my mid-twenties.

What Russian music am I likely to carry around on my mp3-player? Which Russian movies am I likely to have seen and discussed over the last few years, and which Russian books am I likely to have enjoyed?

I'm sure Russians are as exposed to foreign culture as anyone else, but that's not what I'm looking for here. Apologies in advance for my general ignorance.
posted by klue to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Viktor Pelevin may be a writer that your 20 year old has read. He has allowed all of his writing in Russian to be available on the internet for free. May be a bit old or passe for all I know for that age group (being a 30 something non Russian myself).
posted by Gratishades at 5:26 AM on August 28, 2009

Can you narrow it down a bit, or tell us a little more about your student? What's he/she interested in?
posted by mdonley at 6:17 AM on August 28, 2009

Gratishades, I loved Viktor Pelevin when I was an 18-year-old non-Russian; I think he's a great suggestion.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:52 AM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: If this is a young, somewhat nerdy guy, he may have thought the Nightwatch series, the books and the movie, were awesome.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2009

Kamenskaya was really popular when I was in Russia in 2002 - 2003. It was a tv show about a female detective in Moscow. I wonder if it's still on?
posted by zizzle at 7:32 AM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: Oh, and I meant to add that Zemfira was incredibly popular in Russia --- her concerts were always sold out. She was probably the most popular singer when I was there of anyone else.

I imagine she must still be popular.

Masanya was also really popular. We'd gather around the computers in the library hoping it'd be updated. I doubt it's still going.
posted by zizzle at 7:40 AM on August 28, 2009

Alla Pugacheva is an old-time favorite. Also, Kino and DDT.
posted by orrnyereg at 9:42 AM on August 28, 2009

I would be very surprised if twentysomethings in Russia were big fans of Alla Pugacheva; people generally tend to reject their parents' music. Pelevin? Maybe, but again I think he's the icon of an earlier generation. Frankly, people who are not Russian twentysomethings and are not in close contact with Russian twentysomethings should not really be trying to answer this question. Just imagine someone trying to guess what Americans of comparable ages might be interested in based on the Greatest Hits of the '70s and '80s.

This blog is an excellent way to keep up with current Russian literature, though that presupposes that your Russian student has literary tastes (i.e., in American terms, reads the books in the NY Times Book Review rather than, say, comix). I have no idea what music is currently popular in Russia, and I'll bet nobody else who's responded so far does either.
posted by languagehat at 10:24 AM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Fair enough, languagehat (I still have a HUGE crush on Victor Tsoi). Here are some blogs on Russian music and films.
posted by orrnyereg at 10:39 AM on August 28, 2009

Best answer: When I started my current job in 2006, the Russian co-op student whose computer I took over had a whole bunch of Leningrad on it. I don't understand a bit of it but it's very good ska-punk IMHO.

Wikipedia and my other russian friends tell me that the band is quite ... uncouth, but I hear that some students don't mind a bit of vulgarity and that the band itself is quite popular nonetheless.
posted by man why you even got to do a thing at 11:43 AM on August 28, 2009

English-language Russian culture blog. Here's the music bit. Russian-language Russian culture site. Here's the pop music bit.
posted by londongeezer at 2:35 PM on August 28, 2009

Depends on your taste. Here's a few songs from the last year or two. Nikolai Voronov. Syava. Band Eros. Boombox. Peter Nalich.
posted by londongeezer at 3:15 PM on August 28, 2009

I don't really know how to answer this question and here's why: it's kind of like in the US, where five years ago (or so) they were playing Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton on the radio more or less constantly, and now no one knows who they are, and when I was in high school you were either for Britney or for Christina and now one of them is Xtina and I haven't even heard her last album, and the other one is famous for being crazy. So I can tell you that in 2003 they were playing Blestiashche and Via Gra and various other trashy girl singing groups all over the place and pretty much every single music video had a token lesbian make-out session in it and there was some song called "Shokoladny Zayets" (Chocolate Rabbit) by a guy originally from Africa and the music video was so intensely racist (with the role of Creepy Pervert played by some guy that looked just like Lucius Malfoy) that I cringed every time it came on the air and none of my Russian friends could understand why, but all of these things are so flash-in-the-pan popular that I am sure that anyone currently living in Russia would stare at you blankly if you mentioned them. Except maybe the Blestiashche thing, because one of their members played a vampire (and also, amusingly, herself) in the Night Watch movie.
Among other things to keep in mind are personal inclinations, social class/educational background, and location. Russia's a big country. And a lot of things that were very popular-- many of the soap operas, or serials, in Russia were and probably still are huge ratings draws-- were also things that a lot of the intellectual types I knew turned up their noses at. I knew twenty-something girls who were addicted to soap operas like Evlampia Romanova or something, and I knew others who would recoil the minute you mentioned them: "That? That is trash!" I only knew one Russian girl who listened to Zemfira (whose music I also love), and a couple of boys who listened to Leningrad simply to upset the teachers (some of Leningrad's language cannot be repeated in public). There is a huge variation in what is out there, and there is also a huge variation in what people like, and what people like at any given moment in time.
posted by posadnitsa at 8:19 PM on August 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm a 20-something in Russia now. It's pretty hard to find the average Russian student... pretty much everyone I know has their own particular tastes and there's not that much overlap. So I asked a 20-something Russian student what he thought the average 20-something Russian student would be listening to, reading, and watching.

His answer was "for guys, underground rap like Nagano, Mnogotochiye and Центр". I'd add that DDT are widely known and liked in terms of singalongs. In terms of more pop stuff, Макsим is on a lot. This was being played pretty constantly, too. And Uma2rman's gig here last year was pretty popular.

All the girls are crazy about Twilight. (not Russian, but extremely popular here)
SF/Fantasy is popular - I was given the Strugatski brothers as a good example. People have recommended Pelevin to me, but I got a blank stare when I mentioned him today. Boris Akunin still gets some love.

Most popular channel is TNT. KVN is still a student favourite, as is Comedy Club and Nasha Russia. The equivalent to Big Brother is "Dom-2": everyone says they hate it, but they seem to know who's on and what they're doing ;-)

In terms of native Russian cinema, the most popular recent serious film was Taras Bulba. Russian comedies like Hitler Kaput are not particularly well-regarded by anyone I know. Oh- Stilyagi was good and popular. Also, relatively recent Oscar hope 12 should be mentioned.

Anyway, I would guarantee that any given Russian will hate at least some of the stuff above, but they will know it. Also, I've tried to stick to Russian stuff here, but (especially in cinema and books), foreign is extremely popular.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:20 AM on August 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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