21 Famous Russian Songs

Although most Russian songs aren’t well-known outside the country, a few of them have become international hits thanks to their undeniable greatness. Here are some of the most famous Russian songs ever.

“Aristocrat” by Morgenshtern

Song Year: 2021

A hip-hop hit, Aristocrat follows a noticeably Russian pacing style while focusing on its flow. In the tune, Morgenshtern emphasizes wealth and the power that comes with it, making specific references to the riches of the United Arab Emirates and Dubai as a point of comparison.

Like many rap songs, Aristocrat is relatively crude, although some of the swears and rap bars can be easy to miss without fluency in Russian. It also shows that while the country is better known for more somber tunes, artists occasionally break through with something else entirely.

“Exhibit” by Leningrad

Song Year: 2016

With nearly two hundred million views since its initial release, Leningrad’s “Exhibit” is easily one of the most popular Russian songs ever released. The song satirizes life in Russia, adding a catchy beat to flow with the expertly-done music video.

The lyrics discuss the singer’s feelings that she’s a genuine standout, whether in an art exhibition or in a crowd of other women. It’s far more pop than most of the other songs on this list, but you don’t get as popular as Exhibit by accident.

“Love Your Voice” by Jony

Song Year: 2019

This pop hit mixes English and Russian lyrics for an upbeat, classic styling that’s easy to sing along to once you know the words. The lyrics focus on the singer finding comfort in the voice of a loved one, which isn’t a big surprise when you consider how central sound is to many singers.

The Russian part of the lyrics talks about dangers and storms outside, and how the voice of someone the singer loves brings protection and salvation from such troubles.

“Pikachu” by Mia Boyka and Egor Ship

Song Year: 2020

Yes, this really is a song about the iconic Pokemon characters. This smash hit in Russia is a clear parody of Pokemon, using the mascot of the famous monster-collection franchise as the central theme of an upbeat bop about love. Several of the lyrical tricks in this song work in Russian and English, including “chu” and “choose” sounding the same.

“Pikachu” is a love song at heart, emphasizing romance and the importance of choosing love. The lyrics have a somewhat more international feel than some of the other best Russian songs on this list, so “Pikachu” is a great place to start your journey into the nation’s music.

“Ey, Ukhnem!” by Unknown

Song Year: ~1866

Also known as the Song of the Volga Boatmen, “Ey, Ukhnem!” was originally sung by barge haulers working along the iconic Volga River. The original author is unknown, but Mily Balakirev collected it for a book of folk songs published in 1866, and it was later set to music by composers like Igor Stravinsky.

Like many working songs, this tune emphasizes timing and instructions for the singer to aid in their work along the river. It’s especially valuable for coordinating singers, and today it’s most popular with people who can sing in the bass range.

“Polyushka Polye” by Lev Knipper and Viktor Gusev

Song Year: 1935

Considered a classic Russian song, Polyushka Polye goes by many names outside the country as people have tried to figure out the best way to translate it. The lyrics are essentially a wistful love tune, discussing women's emotions as they watch their partners leave for a long time.

Notably, this song came shortly after the start of a dispute with China. However, that wasn’t nearly as big of a conflict as Russia would find itself in a few years later. Polyushka Polye became much more popular when World War II spun up, as people felt it fit the times.

“Korobeiniki” by Nikolay Nekrasov

Song Year: 1861

Based on an older poem by Nekrasov, Korobeiniki has been set to music multiple times in many styles. The name refers to peddlers who used to trade wares throughout the area, and the lyrical version of the song focuses on a girl who refuses to purchase a peddler’s wares unless she can marry him.

Korobeiniki is also internationally famous because it’s the main theme of the classic video game Tetris. Many other singers and bands have remixed the song, too, so there’s a good chance you’ve heard it in several places.

“Alyosha” by Eduard Kolmanovsky

Song Year: 1966

Composed by Kolmanovsky in cooperation with poet Konstantin Vanshenkin, Alyosha is about a monument set up in Bulgaria in recognition of losses during World War II. It’s enduringly popular in both countries, where memories of that war have had a huge impact on the lives of all citizens.

Like many Russian songs, the tune is somewhat somber overall but emphasizes ongoing friendship and vigilance between Bulgaria and Russia. Up until just before 1990, Alyosha was also the anthem of Plovdiv, the city hosting the monument, and they often played it on local radio.

“Rumka Vodki na Stole” by Grigory Leps

Song Year: 2012

You can’t talk about famous Russian songs without vodka coming into it somewhere. This song is mainly an allegory for alcohol and oppression by one’s circumstances, including the feelings people have when they depend on something that isn’t necessarily good for them.

Vodka is a significant part of Russian culture and has been for ages, in part as something to help ward off the pervasive chill throughout their cold climate, so the lyrics are something almost everyone there can relate to.

“Farewell of Slavianka” by Vasily Agapkin

“Farewell of Slavianka” by Vasily Agapkin

Song Year: 1912

Written to commemorate the First Balkan War, which started the same year of its composition, the “Farewell of Slavianka” is a tribute to the women saying farewell to their husbands heading away to fight. Just two years later, this patriotic melody experienced a surge in popularity with the start of World War I.

Agapkin’s song has remained a favorite since then, often played on boats and the Trans-Siberian Railway as entertainment for the passengers.

“Kombat” by Igor Matvienko

Song Year: 1996

Released on an album of the same name, Kombat is a patriotic pop song, mixing

martial culture with the popularity of cigarettes, vodka, and a call for people to take decisive action.

Kombat also references wives and girlfriends remaining behind, which is one of the most common motifs in famous Russian songs across the decades, especially in songs written around the World Wars.

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