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Kombinaciya (Комбинация)
Also known as Kombinacia, Kombinatsia, Kombinatsiya
Origin Saratov, Russia
Genres Russian Pop
Years active 1988 - present
Labels Gala
Website http://www.kombinaciya.ru

Kombinaciya (Russian: Комбинация) is a Russian female pop band. The name means "combination," but the Russian word is a double entendre which also refers to a woman's frilly slip,[1] and at the group's 1988 performance in Moscow they were forced to perform under a different name because "Kombinaciya" was considered too suggestive a band title. As former band member Svetlana Kostyko recalled: "A group with this name just had to make a sensation." ("группа с таким названием просто должна была произвести фурор.").[2]


Kombinaciya was co-founded in 1988 by manager/producer Alexander Shishinin (Александр Шишинин) and classically trained composer Vitali Okorokov (Виталий Окороков) in Saratov, Russia. Shishinin, who reportedly was inspired after viewing a performance of Mirage, recruited six local girls, ages 16 to 20, to form the band. Lead vocalist Alena Apina (Алёна Апина) had trained at the Saratov State Conservatory. The other original members of the group were vocalist Tatiana Ivanova (Татьяна Иванова), keyboardist Svetlana Kostyko (Светлана Костыко), guitarist Tanya Dolganova (Таня Долганова), bass guitarist Olga Akhunova (Ольга Ахунова) and drummer Julia Kozyulkova (Юлия Козюлькова). The group underwent various membership changes over the years, with only Tatiana Ivanova continually remaining in the group since its founding. Later band members included Inessa Topiani (Инесса Топиани), Nura Kovaleva (Нюра Ковалева), Svetlana Kashina (Светлана Кашина), Elena Molchanova (Елена Молчанова), Galya Lezina (Гала Лезина), Svetlana Molchanova (Светлана Молчанова), Katerina Bolotova (Катерина Болотова) and Natalia Pushkareva (Наталья Пушкарева).

Lead singer Alena Apina later recalled Kombinaciya's first major concert, which took place on the big stage of the Sports Palace in Volgograd. "When you come out and feel all the tremendous energy of the seven thousand people. It's an indescribable feeling." ("Когда ты выходишь и чувствуешь всю огромную энергию этих семи тысяч человек. Это непередаваемое ощущение.")[3]

In 1990 the group performed two songs in the Russian film "Mordashka" ("Мордашка").[4]

The band's popularity peaked between 1989 and 1993, with major hits such as "Russian Girls", "American Boy", "Accountant" (Бухгалтер), and "Two Slices of Sausage" (Два кусочека колбаски). The latter was a Russian drinking song initially disliked by the group. As former vocalist Svetlana Kashina recalled later, "It was a huge success at the concerts; the fans were chanting: 'Sausage! Sausage!' ...We had to sing it. After each time, I spat." ("Она имела бешеный успех, на концертах поклонники скандировали: 'Колбасу! Колбасу!'...пришлось ее петь. Каждый раз плевались после нее.")[5] "Accountant", about a woman's love for a simple Russian accountant, seems to have been Kombinaciya's most enduring popular song.[6][7]

A major setback to the group occurred in 1991, when lead vocalist Alena Apina left the band to pursue a successful career as a solo performer. Negotiations were being finalized for Kombinaciya to produce an English album and embark on a tour of America, but with Apina's departure from the group those plans were dropped.

Another big setback to the group occurred on March 5, 1993, when manager/producer Alexander Shishinin was murdered, a still-unsolved crime that was rumored to be linked to Russian Mafia influence in the music industry.[8] Without Shishinin's guidance, the band's subsequent new material had limited success, but Kombinaciya continued to intermittently tour using the enduring popularity of its earlier big hits. In 2008, Alena Apina and Tatiana Ivanova reunited for several Kombinaciya 20th anniversary reunion concerts.[9]

In 2007, Tatiana Ivanova successfully sued the music distributor Boomba Music for copyright infringement, after the company reissued Kombinaciya albums without paying royalties.[10]

"American Boy"[edit]

"American Boy"[11] was one of Kombinaciya's major hit songs, released in 1990[12] when the Soviet Union was dissolving and most Russians were experiencing deteriorating living conditions. The song, about an unhappy Russian girl wishing that an American Boy would take her away with him and leave Russia behind, captured public sentiment at that pivotal time in Russian history. The song was mentioned in mainstream American newspapers.[13][14] Later, scholarly books[15][16] and journal articles[17] discussed cultural aspects of the song's viewpoint. The verses of the song are in Russian, but the title and portions of the chorus are in English. A 2008 remake by Ukrainian electropop group Stream was sung with English verses.[18] The song captured public attention in 2011 after Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was recorded dancing to it at a university reunion.[19]

Album Discography[edit]

  • Knight's Move (1988) (Ход конем)
  • Russian Girls (1990) (Русские девочки)
  • Moscow Residence Permit (1991) (Московская прописка)
  • Two Slices of Sausage (1993) (Два кусочека колбаски)
  • The Best, The Best (1994) (Самая, самая)
  • Let's Talk (1998) (Давай поболтаем)


  1. ^ Seplow, Stephen (2 May 1993), "Democracy Plus Music Spells Chaos — Death Threats, Pirated Records, Bogus Bands Mark Industry In Russia", Seattle Times, retrieved 10 December 2009 
  2. ^ Osipov, Dmitry (September 23, 2004), Зося Костыко: По местам боевой славы... (Zosia Kostyko: Battle road to glory...), retrieved 10 December 2009 
  3. ^ Nikolaev, Alexey (March 26, 2003), Алена Апина вне сцены (Alena Apina offstage), retrieved 10 December 2009 
  4. ^ Mordashka at the IMDB
  5. ^ Nizam, Rinat (March 17, 2006), Светлана Кашина вспоминает былое (Svetlana Kashina remembers the past), retrieved 10 December 2009 
  6. ^ "Непотопляемый "Бухгалтер" (Unsinkable "Accountant")", Расчет (Calculation), November 23, 2008, retrieved 10 December 2009 [dead link]
  7. ^ "Алена Апина: "Всегда есть чему учиться!.." (Alena Apina: "There is always something to learn! ..")", Вечерняя Москва (Evening Moscow), October 3, 2008, retrieved 10 December 2009 [dead link]
  8. ^ Seplow, Stephen (2 May 1993), "Democracy Plus Music Spells Chaos — Death Threats, Pirated Records, Bogus Bands Mark Industry In Russia", Seattle Times, retrieved 10 December 2009 
  9. ^ Glukhova, Veronica (18 September 2007), "Алена Апина и Татьяна Иванова: "Продолжение "Комбинации" будет!" (Alena Apina and Tatiana Ivanova: "Continuation" Kombinaciya "will live on!")", Соседи (Neighbors), retrieved 10 December 2009 [dead link]
  10. ^ Солистка "Комбинации" судится из-за "Двух кусочеков колбаски" (Kombinaciya soloist is suing because of "Two slices of sausage"), 23 November 2007, retrieved 10 December 2009 
  11. ^ Note: This is not the Grammy Award winning 2008 "American Boy" song.
  12. ^ Okorokov, Vitali (1996). CD liner notes, The Very Best of Комбинация
  13. ^ Mitchell, Allison (29 July 1991), "The American Dream — Soviets Long For Freedom, Pizza, Schwarzenegger", Seattle Times, retrieved 10 December 2009 
  14. ^ Kelly, Jack (17 February 1992), "Russian women hope for foreign grooms", USA Today 
  15. ^ Hixson, Walter L. (1993), Witness to Disintegration: Provincial Life in the Last Year of the USSR, University Press of New England, pp. 1–10, ISBN 0-87451-618-8  Chapter 1 of the book is titled "American Boy, American Joy", quoting the song lyric.
  16. ^ Ball, Alan M. (2003), Imagining America: Influence and Images in Twentieth-Century Russia, Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 278–9, ISBN 0-7425-2793-X  "Never in the Soviet period had the obstacles to such liaisons been lower, and she hoped to capitalize."
  17. ^ Anashkina, G. P.; Pogodin, S. A. (September 2003). "Брак с иностранцем как новая модель адаптации российских женщин в условиях переходного общества (Marriage to a foreigner as a new adaptation model of Russian women in a transitional society)". Этно Журнала (Ethno Journal) (3). Retrieved 27 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Eremicheva, Polina, Stream: Течение в актуальном направлении (Stream: Flowing with the times), retrieved 10 December 2009 
  19. ^ "It's Disco Medvedev: Russian President becomes YouTube hit with AMERICAN BOY dance". Daily Mail. London. 22 April 2011. 

External links[edit]