Club Contact

The new MP3 blog from London's club Contact. The idea is to allow people to hear new music they wouldn't have otherwise found but, if anyone has any copyright issues with a particular song, i'll take the link down. Songs are only available for a limited amount of time.

Monday, May 15, 2006

It's not a particularly good time to be a fan of Russian pop. When you find yourself listening to Esli V Serdse Zhivet Lyubov by Yulia Savicheva six times a day, you know it's time to retreat into the archives for something a little brighter - some old-school Russian techno-pop. Back to the time when all you needed to have a hit was a girl with most of her own teeth to front the group, a Casio keyboard and a finger to play it with. Back when Russia's questionable copyright laws meant you could be confident in getting away with an uncredited note-for-note cover of Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! by The Vengaboys. Back when $1000 jeans and a fur-trimmed bikini weren't a prerequisite for success. The two titans of the late-90s / early-00s for me were Virus and Demo. Personally, they really defined what Russian pop meant in the era before Tatu - a simple, reductive, blend of silly 2-Unlimited-style techno and plaintive, deceptively affecting vocals. It's a formula used by twenty-thousand other acts from Kraski to the now-bizarrely-popular A-Studio but i'm not convinced many have done it better.

I once saw the lead singer of Demo on TV swinging her 18-month-old baby around her head in a display of infant gymnastics that would have led the poor thing to be taken into care in most civilised countries. Naturally, he'll probably grow up to be a Cosmonaut or a MiG pilot, proving the overly-sensitive Western model of child care to be nonsense. Dozhduk is from the Do Svidaniya Leto album.

Demo - Dozhduk

Not only did Virus sound like the archetypal Russian pop group, as the accompanying photograph displays, they looked like it too. The elements are all there - from the sheepish-looking boy with the stock fringe and rynok leather jacket to the grinning girl with luridly-dyed hair to the one in the baseball cap who, you suspect, would rather be in Diskoteka Avariya. Even leaving aside the fact that it would be impossible not to admire a group who followed an enormous hit single called Ruchki (Arms) with one called Nozhki (Legs) my love for Virus has always been immense. Cynics may point out that all their songs sound the same and the ones that weren't knocked-off from someone else probably came as a factory pre-set on their synths, but they'll always have a huge place in my heart. Again, it's the vocals that do it for me - not the lyrics, which were generally as daft and repetative as the music, but the way in which they were sung. There's something honest and direct about them that i can't get enough of. Prosto Ryadom Idi is from the absolutely fantastic Chtobi Solntse Grelo CD.

Virus - Prosto Ryadom Idi


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