You can't rid a song of its words: notes on the hegemony of lyrics in Russian rock songs
Yngvar B. Steinholt
From the mid-1980s, rock music emerged as the leading musical culture in the major cities of the Soviet Union. In writings and research on this ‘Soundtrack of Perestroika’, attention has been primarily paid to the words rather than the sounds. Russian rock critics and academics, as well as those who participate in Russian rock culture, persistently emphasise the literary qualities of Russian rock music and most still prefer to approach rock as a form of musical poetry - ‘Rok poèziya’. This seems out of step with the growing emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach within popular music studies. The aim of this article is to investigate and discuss some of the core arguments that underpin notions of Russian rock music's literary qualities. This may help to uncover some specific national characteristics of rock in Russia, whilst at the same time questioning the need for, and value of, a literary approach to the study of Russian rock.