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Sing, Dance and Get Lucky Posted by on Nov 15, 2013 in Culture

Have you watched it yet? If not, do so now because a) am I to suffer from this ear worm all by myself?! b) it’s time to forget тверкинг and c) it’s now a viral sensation. Lots of great vocabulary today thanks to the YouTube clip of Russian “police” singing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”.

Almost immediately after the video gathered its first million views, some blogs started saying that it взорвало интернет (made a big splash; lit: blew up Internet). I don’t know about such a global claim. But watching the military choir in their parade uniforms with medals sing “I’m up all night to get lucky” might qualify as взрыв мозга (mind-blowing experience).

By the way, although the Choir is usually referred to as the Police Choir, it is not. Its official name is Академический ансамбль песни и пляски ВВ МВД РФ which in itself is a mouthful and a взрыв мозга. So let’s get some clarity:

академический (academic) –  it’s an honorific bestowed on the group as a sign of the approval from the highest authorities and a reward for exemplary professionalism and high standards of performance. Another meaning of академический is pertaining to learning as in академический час (study hour, 45-50 minutes), академический отпуск (a year-long break from studying), академический интерес (interest in something, usually not arising from practical need).

ансамбль (ensemble) – a group of several musicians or dancers, such as a music band, a choir, a dance company. Ансамбль sounds a whole lot more dignified and grounded in proper musical education than, say, рок-группа (rock band). Back in the Soviet days, an officially recognized music group would be designated as вокально-инструментальный ансамбль (vocal-instrumental ensemble) or ВИА for short. It is the “ВИА” in the girl band ВИА Гра (pronounced just like виагра, the magic blue pill)

песня (song) and пляска (dance) frequently go together and right after the word ансамбль as in Ансамбль песни и пляски Российской армии (the guys who sang Skyfall) and ансамбль песни и пляски Северного флота (the guys famous for their пляска “Яблочко” (sailors dance).

Speaking of “song and dance”, how would we say in Russian that someone was “giving a song and dance about something” or telling a long, complicated and untrue story about something? We can say нести вздор о чём-то (lit: to carry on some nonsense about something) or рассказывать сказку (to tell a tall tale).

And now back to deciphering the name of the choir. It’s time for the alphabet soup that is ВВ МВД РФ:

РФ – Российская Федерация – Russian Federation

МВД – Министерство Иностранных Дел – Ministry for Internal Affairs is charged with law enforcement, however several agencies within the ministry perform these duties.

ВВ – Внутренние войска – Internal Troops is a National Guard-like force. It does support police, but does not deal with many of the duties and responsibilities that are usually associated with police work.

So these guys are part of the Internal Troops of the Ministry for the Internal Affairs of Russian Federation and are not policemen. But we won’t hold this against them since they did a pretty good job singing кавер (cover) of Daft Punk’s song.

By the way, the Skyfall-singing Army Choir (referenced above) says they не пойдут по стопам коллег and will continue bearing the standard of high musical culture. There is some bad blood between the two choirs. Yep, it’s like Glee, but set in Russian силовые структуры (defense and law enforcement services) instead of an American high school.

We are going to ignore the tiff and concentrate on the rich vocabulary instead:

идти по стопам (to follow in one’s steps) – could be both a good thing and a bad thing, depending on whose steps are being followed. For example, сын пошёл по стопам отца (the son followed in his father’s footsteps) is good if the father was доктор, but terrible if the dad was бандит. In the former situation, we proudly exclaim он весь в отца! (he takes after his father), while in the latter situation, we might shake heads ruefully and say that яблоко от яблони недалеко падает (an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree).

коллега (colleague) – this one is too easy, right? So let’s liven it up. How many different colleagues can we have? Well, we can have коллега по работе (co-worker), коллега по профессии (fellow professional), коллега по оппозиции (fellow opposition member), коллега по сцене (fellow performer), коллега по партии (fellow party member), etc.

Finally, let’s talk about reactions to the Get Lucky video. Проигнорируем (Let’s ignore) the usual nonsensical YouTube squabble over which country is the best and such. Many Russian-language comments approved of the video, calling the performance зажигательный (rousing), юморной (with a sense of humor). Some said that ролик (video clip) повышает настроение (lifts one’s mood) and is милый (cute). Overall, the reaction has been positive, in keeping with an old adage легко на сердце от песни весёлой (a fun song makes one light-hearted).

The Choir director said that in choosing the popular song, the Choir wanted to attract attention of the young generation. Once they have the youngsters attention, they plan on coming back to such classics as Калинка. Just like they did here:

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  1. Sheila Sim:

    Thank you so much for your lovely blog posts, I’ve really enjoyed looking at these video clips 🙂

  2. Catherine:

    The Daft Punk reprise: je compatis!

  3. Sheena:

    МВД – you probably thought министерство внутренних дел. love your blog, it’s a great way of refreshing the knowledge of russian language. keep up the good work!