Anti-war playlist: Russian music against the war

DDT – Little Death

The legendary rock band, which was particularly popular in the 80s and 90s, and their frontman Yuri Shevchuk have repeatedly spoken out against the war in Ukraine.

On May 18, Shevchuk told an audience of 8,000 at the DDT concert in Ufa that “the Fatherland, my friends, is not the President’s ass that needs to be drooled and kissed all the time.”

As a result, Shevchuk was accused of “discrediting” the Russian military and two of DDT’s concerts were postponed or cancelled.

The song “Little Death”, released on March 1, describes the death of a little man from the provinces. Shevchuk ends the song by yelling “He wants you dead more than you want to live!”

Little Big—Generation Cancellation

Popular in Russia and abroad, the group Little Big is famous for its catchy melodies and expressive music clips.

The group left Russia in March and released a single titled “Generation Cancellation” on June 24, which featured rich politicians spreading propaganda, ordinary people living in poverty, and airstrikes on civilian buildings. At the end of a clip, a politician presses the red button with the word “Cancel” alluding to the nuclear button.

In the video’s description, the band calls for a halt to the war in Ukraine.


Russian rock star Zemfira left the country for France. On May 20, she released her third anti-war video clip. The song features war drawings by well-known Russian actress Renata Litvinova and describes Russian soldiers as cannon fodder.

She ends the song with, “Where did we come from? / Why did we come here?”

Shortparis – apple orchard

Shortparis, an experimental band from St. Petersburg, has not explicitly spoken out against the war in Ukraine. However, in their concerts and in video clips, the band channels anti-war positions.

The band’s frontman, Nikolai Kamyagin, was arrested at an anti-war protest days after Russia invaded Ukraine. He was fined 10,000 rubles ($181).

In March, Shortparis released a video clip of her 2021 song “Apple Garden.” With a chorus of WWII veterans, Kamyagin sang about young soldiers and the sadness covering the towers of the Kremlin.

At the end of the video, a grave-like hole is dug in front of the singers. Covered with snow, they throw apples into the empty hole.

Bi-2 – Lullaby

On June 27, Belarusian Bi-2 released an allegorical video for their song “Lullaby”.

In the video, the Bi-2 frontman is blindfolded and dragging a row of TVs while another member shaves teenagers’ heads the way military recruits have their heads shaved.

“Bi-2 continues to observe the reality around her,” reads the press release accompanying the music video’s premiere.

ooes – fade

As an up-and-coming solo artist, Liza Ooes has been featured in Times Square and invited to Russia’s biggest late-night show “Vecherny Urgant” (“Late Night Urgant”). She wrote a song about the fear shared by Russian and Ukrainian girls since the beginning of the war.

The video clip was shot in Georgia, where the musician currently lives. In the description of the video clip, ooes invites the listener to support Ukrainian refugees. During a recent interview with an independent music industry development organization, the Institute of Music Initiative, Liza explained that “no music can be outside of politics”.

Boris Grebenshchikov – Voroshba

Boris Grebenshchikov, frontman and founder of the famous rock band Aquarium, has taken an unequivocal stand on the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“What is happening is sheer madness. The people who started this war are crazy. You are a disgrace to Russia.”

As part of the Russes Against War charity tour in aid of the children of Ukrainian refugees, the Aquarium founder performed at the concert of rapper Oxymiron on March 24, a month after the start of the war.

Two new war songs were released on Grebenshchikov’s YouTube channel: “Obidaba” in March and “Vorozhba” (“Witchcraft”), a tragic song in which spells like “There Is No Tomorrow” “made coffins grow in your heart”.

Diana Arbenina – night sniper

Diana Arbenina is the Belarusian-born frontwoman of the group Night Snipers, a very popular rock band of the 1990s.

At her solo concerts after the war began, she declared that she would not emigrate, citing Anna Akhmatova’s poem Requiem: “I was with my people then, where my people were in their misfortune.”

At a concert in Chelyabinsk on April 17, Arbenina sang a new song to a sparse piano accompaniment: “Who will answer for the tears of children, for the madness of adults? The young die like snowbirds. Field of the dead, don’t look back.”

Noize MC ID card

A major European tour called Voices of Peace was organized by Ivan Alexeyev, better known as Noize MC, and Liza Girdymova, known as Monetochka (“little coin” in Russian). Fundacja Siepomaga, which collects humanitarian aid for Ukrainian refugees, received the proceeds from their concerts.

In Warsaw, during one of the benefit concerts, Noize MC shared a new song titled “Ausweiss,” which he described as a “hopeless statement of guilt and powerlessness.”

The ID card is the identification document given to the citizens of the territories occupied by Nazis during World War II.

In his new song, Noize MC repeats the refrain, “Don’t whitewash yourself, you’re guilty too //your ID is a multiple-entry visa to forever hell.”

25/17 – Be happy

The new album by Omsk rap-rockers Neizbyvnost’ is full of references to Kurosawa and Letov.

“For now, be happy, for later – just coffins, coffins, coffins.” The rap group rhymes their own name – two, five, one, seven – with “peace to all” to express how much the band’s worldview has been affected by the war.

Dictophone – Russian

Another song dedicated to the feeling many Russians are experiencing now was written by low-key indie rock band Dictofon.

The catchy chorus keeps repeating “yes, I’m also Russian; yes, I’m also saddened.” The original lyrics were shared by the band’s writer and frontman, Anton Makarov, on the day Russia invaded Ukraine.


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