Russian Language Blog

Five Russian/Soviet Crooners You Should Know About Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in Culture


Are you a fan of “Old Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra? Then perhaps you will enjoy the music of these singers from the former USSR. Naturally, there have been more than five notable singers in the USSR or Russia, so this list is nowhere near exhaustive and should be seen as an invitation to explore on your own and discover the artists you like.

Мусли́м Магома́ев (Muslim Magomaev)

Bio bits: Magomaev was born in Baku (Баку́), Azerbaijan. His popularity peaked in the sixties and seventies.

Notable hits: “Сва́дьба” (Wedding), “Короле́ва красоты́” (Beauty Queen), “Наде́жда” (Hope)

Trivia: Magomaev turned down an offer to join the Bolshoi Theater (Большо́й теа́тр), unwilling to limit himself to opera.


На За́паде совсе́м други́е отноше́ния ме́жду людьми́. То́лько, мо́жет, Ита́лия близка́ нам – они и вне́шне, и по темпера́менту похо́жи на азербайджа́нцев. А францу́зы, англича́не, америка́нцы: у них в жи́зни то́лько би́знес, бизнес, бизнес – и бо́льше ничего́. (In the West, relationships between people are very different. Italy is perhaps the only country close to us — they look and act like Azerbaijanis. The French, the English, and Americans, however, only care about business.)


Эдуа́рд Хиль (Eduard Khil)

Bio bits: Khil was born in Smolensk (Смоле́нск). During World War Two, he was evacuated from the city 1.5 hours before the city was invaded by German troops. Initially trained in a polygraphy vocational school, he went on to study in Leningrad Conservatory and pursue a musical career.

Notable hits: «С чего́ начина́ется Ро́дина» (What Homeland Starts With), «У ле́са на опу́шке…» (By The Forest Edge), «На безымя́нной высоте́» (At A Nameless Height), «Челове́к из до́ма вы́шел» (A Man Left His House), «Это было неда́вно, это было давно́» (It Was Recently, It Was A Long Time Ago)

Trivia: Khil’s scat vocals resembling “trololo” became an Internet meme.


От того, что в жи́зни бы́ло сто́лько негати́вного, и в противове́с э́тому,  чтобы вы́жить, сохрани́ть не́рвную систе́му, стара́лся во всем са́мом плохо́м ви́деть хоро́шее. (Because there are so many negative things in life and despite this, in order to survive and keep my peace of mind, I’ve tried to see something good in the worst things.)


Лев Ле́щенко (Lev Leshchensko)

Bio bits: Leshchenko’s father was in the military, so Leshchenko was practically raised by his father’s fellow servicemen.

Notable hits: «Гла́вное, ребя́та, се́рдцем не старе́ть» (The Main Thing, Fellows, Is To Stay Young At Heart), «Городски́е цветы́» (City Flowers), «День Побе́ды» (Victory Day), «Не плачь, девчо́нка» (Don’t Cry, Girl), «Ни мину́ты поко́я» (Not A Minute Of Calm), «Соловьи́ная ро́ща» (Nightingale Grove)

Trivia: Leschenko sang at the closing ceremony of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.


Я пишу́ в год по 30-40 но́вых пе́сен, пыта́юсь вставля́ть их в конце́рты. Но лю́ди все равно́ ждут “Соловьи́ную ро́щу”, “Нам не жить друг без дру́га”, “Роди́тельский дом” или “Проща́й”. (I write some 30 to 40 songs a year and try to feature them in my concerts. But people keep waiting for [my old songs].)


Вале́рий Ободзи́нский (Valery Obodzinsky)

Bio bits: Obodzinsky was born in Odessa and raised by his grandmother. He worked odd jobs before starting a musical career. He slipped into obscurity in the 80s but made a comeback in the 90s.

Notable hits: «Э́ти глаза́ напро́тив» (The Eyes Facing Me), «Восто́чная пе́сня» (Eastern Song), «Ско́лько девчо́нок на све́те» (So Many Girls In The World)

Trivia: As toddlers, Obodzinsky and his uncle, only 2 years older than him, were almost shot by a German soldier for stealing some sausages.


В моей жи́зни не́ было компроми́ссов и сде́лок с со́вестью ра́ди успе́ха. (Never in my life did I compromise or go against my conscience for the sake of success.)


Вади́м Мулерма́н (Vadim Mulerman)

Bio bits: Mulerman was born in Kharkiv (Ха́рьков). He studied in a conservatory and became famous after winning a song contest.

Notable hits: «Колдовство́» (Sorcery), «Коро́ль-победи́тель» (The Winner King), «Ла́да» (Lada), «Случа́йность» (Accident), «Трус не игра́ет в хокке́й» (A Coward Doesn’t Play Hockey)

Trivia: Mulerman holds a US citizenship.


Горбаче́в приходи́л ко мне́ с цвета́ми и с коньяко́м – пра́вда, еще́ до того́, как запрети́л во́дку. (Gorbachev gave me flowers and cognac, but that was before he banned vodka.)


Of course, there are many more famous singers from the Soviet era, such as Iosif Kobzon or Yuri Gulyaev. Do you have a favorite?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. роза:

    Мой любимый песнь–Олег Погудин

  2. Диля Валенте:

    Предложение об Едуарде Хиле не закончено…

  3. hugo ly:


  4. David Roberts:

    Leonid Utusov (Temnaya Noch and others) and Mark Bernes (especially the beautiful and very moving Zhuravli) are another two I know and like.

    С международным днем женщин!

    • Maria:

      @David Roberts David, good additions in the “oldies” department. Спасибо! I believe they normally call it международный женский день in Russia — ah, the many ways to say “women’s.”

  5. Mike:

    I like the old songs — you can hear the words and you can even understand what they mean! I can see the youngsters, either Russian or American, rolling their eyes at this music! A least my nieces/nephews and grand nephews do when they hear my ‘party’ playlist.