10 most important Russian songs of all time

Of the hundreds of great songs known and loved by every Russian we chose 10 of the most iconic, and surprisingly, “Katyusha” is not among them!

1. Main war song – ‘We need one victory’

The immense cultural legacy from World War II is greatly respected by all Russians. When celebrating Victory Day on May 9, people remember their deceased relatives, watch war movies and cry as they listen to war songs.

“We need one victory” was composed in 1970 by the famous Soviet singer and songwriter, Bulat Okudzhava, for the iconic war movie, Belorussian Station.

2. Main Soviet movie soundtrack – ‘The Island of Bad Luck’

Leonid Gaidai's comedy films are classics, and each has a brilliant soundtrack. While it's difficult to choose one over the other, here’s one of the best performances by the talented actor, Andrei Mironov, in the movie, Diamond Arm (1978).

3. Main bard song – ‘My little forest sun’

If a song contains the words 'guitar,' 'forest,' 'fire,' 'hiking,’ and 'mountains' - then it’s probably a song by a Russian bard. Yuri Vizbor was one of the founders of this student travel genre, which later gathered huge crowds at festivals (that were held in forests, of course). “My little forest sun,” which was recorded in 1973, is probably the most iconic of these.

4. Main song of Perestroika – ‘Changes’

Viktor Tsoi, Russia’s equivalent of Kurt Cobain, also died young, and his songs are now a symbol of the Soviet Union’s collapse, which obviously was a period of great change and upheaval. Tsoi was a youth idol at that time, and this song composed in 1986 speaks on behalf of those who wanted change and freedom.

5. Main patriotic song by Putin's favorite band – ‘Kombat’

Composed in 1996, the song “Kombat” (Battalion commander) was devoted to the Great Patriotic War, but Russians also see parallels in the recent Chechen wars.

The band, Lyube, has recorded many melodic songs about military service, heroism and love for the Motherland. If you want to make a Russian cry, just turn on one of these. Oh, it’s also Putin’s favorite band - as he said himself.

6. Main pop song – ‘I’m already 18’

The popularity in Russia of the duet, Ruki Vverkh ("Hands Up!"), and especially its lead singer, Sergei Zhukov, can be compared probably only to Michael Jackson.

This song composed in 2001 is an anthem for those coming of legal age (in Russia, it's 18), when you can do whatever you want. Try to turn on this song in the company of Russians, and all the girls immediately start dancing!

7. Main song of Russian chanson – ‘A Shot Of Vodka’

The genre known as Russkychanson has nothing in common with its French cousin, and it features songs of the underworld criminal culture and other ‘manly’ topics.

The most famous songs of this genre are those about the famous prison, Vladimirsky Central; the so-called ‘gop-stop,’ which means street robbery; and the Moscow Criminal Investigations Department, known by its initials in Russian, MUR.

“A shot of vodka,” composed in 2002, is a hit that has no criminal theme, but it’s still loaded with the pain and suffering of a true Russian macho man.

8. Main children song – ‘There’s nothing better’

‘There's nothing better to behold/
Than for friends to roam around the world’

This incredibly uplifting song from the Soviet animation hit of 1969, the Bremen Musician, proved that nothing is better than friendship. Even if you only have trees but no walls, and if flowers are your carpet, that’s no reason for sadness. Quite the opposite: it’s a sign of freedom. Oh, sweet 1969...

9. Main lyric song – ‘London sky’

“I had a dream about the London sky. In it, I dreamed about a long kiss. We were flying without holding on at all.”

This perfect song for a romantic moment and a slow dance was composed in 1999 by the idol of that generation – the female rock star, Zemfira.

10. Main mockery song of the 2010s – ‘Showpiece’

The band, Leningrad, is famous for joyful songs filled with masterful cursing that Russians like to dance and jump to. This one tells the saga of a woman who wants to impress a sophisticated boyfriend. They go to art exhibitions and the opera, where she tries to outdo all other women with her looks. And to do this, she puts on her best Louboutin shoes and some cool pants. Simple as that.

Read more: 7 popular Russian bands to know

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

Read more

This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more.

Accept cookies