Pop music in Ukraine

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Pop music in Ukraine is Western influenced pop music in its various forms that has been growing in popularity in Ukraine since the 1960s.



The 1970s saw the emergence of a number of folk rock groups. One of the most prominent was a group known as Kobza which included 2 electric banduras. Initially it started off as an instrumental group playing folk inspired cool jazz. Other groups gradually appeared on the scene primarily from Western Ukraine such as Medikus, Smerichka. Major contributions were made by songwriter Volodymyr Ivasiuk and singer Sofia Rotaru and Nazariy Yaremchuk.

In a development the KGB defined as "radio hooliganism", from the end of the sixties thousands of high-school and college students In Dnipropetrovsk became ham radio enthusiasts, recording and rebroadcasting western popular music. Annual KGB reports regularly drew a connection between anti-Soviet behavior and enthusiasm for western pop culture, but in 1980 conceded that all ideological and police efforts had failed to stem its spread.[1]


After the death of V. Ivasiuk in 1978, developments in Ukrainian pop music almost ground to a halt. Even established folk -rock groups such as Kobza began to sing in Russian. The songs of Ivasiuk were rarely heard on the radio and many of the established singers such as Sofia Rotaru began to sing in Russian exclusively.

Many Ukrainian musicians moved to Moscow, and various Moscow based Pop groups had a pop songs in the Ukrainian language such as the group Samotvety - Verba.

Following Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika reforms, a small number of pop acts such as Russya and Vechirnya Shkola came on the scene, performing the Soviet italo disco pop that was becoming popular throughout the USSR.


The 1990s saw an explosion in the Ukrainian Pop music world. This was brought on by the Chervona Ruta FestivalChervona Ruta Festival]] which was held in Chernivtsi in 1989 and sponsored by the Kobza corporation and Pisennyi Vernisazh - New Ukrainian Wave 92 (Kyiv) sponsored / producing by the Rostyslav - Show Agency. At the end of the 80's it was considered that Ukrainian language based rock would not be effective. The sponsoring of a Ukrainian only festival did much to change this perception. Music groups (hoort) that came to prominence were:

In the 1900s Ukrainian music in itself was not as popular as it is in this day. Green Grey was by far the most popular trip hop group in the country. Green Grey was the first Ukrainian band that was endorsed by Pepsi. The band did many concerts internationally. At the end of the 90 most popular pop singer among teenagers was Yurko Yurchenko. At his concerts was something unimaginable. Many compared the level of fanaticism with the band "The Beatles".


Ruslana performing Wild Dances at the Eurovision Song Contest 2004

In recent times folkloric elements have made a resurgence in modern Ukrainian pop music. Hutsul folk melodies, rhythms and dance moves were used by the Ruslana, winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2004.

Ukrainian pop and folk music arose with the international popularity of groups like Vopli Vidoplyasova, Viy, Okean Elzy, and so on.

The group Kazaky became one of Ukraine's first outfits to achieve a degree of international recognition only weeks after its constitution in 2010 by relying on the impact of its video through the internet.


Despite the deteriorated relations between Ukraine and Russia in 2016, new Ukrainian bands achieved Russian charts success. The wave of Ukrainian artists making Russian chart success has been labeled "UkrPop".[2] Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, Okean Elzy and BoomBox stopped performing in Russia,[2] but they were one of the few Ukrainian artists to do so.[2] Most tried to avoid making political statements and continue to perform in Russia.[2] Ukrainian artists and bands with rising success in the 2010s include Maruv, Kazka and The Hardkiss.

In 2016, Ukraine won the Eurovision Song Contest for the second time, this time with Jamala with the song 1944, which was partly sung in Crimean Tatar.

On 8 November 2018, a law came into force that mandated Ukrainian radio stations to broadcast no less than 35% of songs in Ukrainian. If it plays 60% of its songs in the official languages of the European Union, then 25% is the minimum.[3][4][5]


Russia pop music in Ukraine[edit]

Russian pop (Russian: Русская попса, Russkaya popsa; Russian: Русская эстрада, Russkaya estrada) is arguably the leading music style in Ukraine,[6] post-Soviet countries and Russian diaspora. Ukraine has the biggest Russian diaspora (see Russians in Ukraine). In the Soviet Union, Ukraine used to produce up to half of all Russian speaking pop singers in the World.[7] Among the biggest music promoters in Ukraine is Filip Kirkorov and Arkadiy Ukupnik.[7]

Many singers in Ukraine sing in both Russian and Ukrainian languages.

List of Russian speaking singers[edit]

List of singers in both languages[edit]


Ukrainian rock bands include Braty Hadiukiny/Брати Гадюкіни, Komu Vnyz, Plach Yeremiyi/Плач Єремії, Taras Petrynenko, Viy, Vopli Vidoplyasova, Yurcash, Burning Hearts and others. Opalnyi Prynz/Opalni Prinz/Опальний Принц was, perhaps, the most influential Rock band in the late 80's.[citation needed] Okean Elzy, featuring Slava Vakarchuk has long been among the most popular bands of Ukrainian pop-rock, and has had some success abroad. The pop-singer Ruslana also uses some elements of rock in her work. The Hardkiss - one of the outstanding Ukrainian indie-bands. Interesting in rock music is Skryabin.

The Rock legends of Ukraine is a series of compilations of the best works of known Ukrainian rock groups.

New wave of rock music in Ukraine is represented by such bands as TOL, Skinhate (Hardcore), Flëur, Ya i Drug Moi Gruzovik, Snuff, Pictures Inside Me, Fakultet (New Metal), S.K.A.Y. (Pop rock), Marakesh (Alternative rock), Holy Blood (Folk metal), Kara, FACTOR 150 (Christian Metalcore), Robots Don't Cry (Punk rock), Opozitsiya, xDeviantx, E42, The Homebodies, Jinjer (Metalcore / Prog Metal), etc.

Black Metal[edit]

Influenced by their Norwegian counterparts, Black Metal bands include Nokturnal Mortum, Lucifugum, Drudkh, Hate Forest, Astrofaes, Holy Blood, Blood of Kingu, Raventale, Lutomysl and Dub Buk.

A Cappella vocal groups[edit]

DakhDaughters musical band performing in the genre "freak-cabaret" and theatrical performances.

Pikardiyska Tertsiya, Mensound


Viktor Morozov, Andriy Panchyshyn, Eduard Drach. Юрко Юрченко

Fusion groups[edit]

The band Mandry is known for fusing traditional Ukrainian music with rock, blues, reggae and chansons.


One of the prominent groups is Tanok Na Maydani Kongo ("The Dance on the Congo Square") which raps in the Ukrainian language (specifically the Slobozhanshchyna dialect) and mix hip hop with indigenous Ukrainian elements. Most Hip-hop in Ukraine is however in Russian.

Ukraine's 2005 entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, GreenJolly's "Together We Are Many", had recently been the unofficial anthem of the Orange Revolution. Eurovision required the lyrics be changed for the contest version because of rules against political content.

Recently a new artist named Vova zi Lvova (literally "Vova (Volodymyr) from Lviv"), part of a collective known as Chorne ta Bile ("Black and White"), has entered onto the Ukrainian hip hop scene, gaining attention not only because of his serious lyrics (compared to groups such as TNMK, which frequently sing humorous or joke songs) but also because of his unique usage of the Ukrainian language in his lyrics.

Popular performers in Ukraine[edit]

Music of the Ukrainian Diaspora[edit]

Pop music in the Ukrainian diaspora took off in the mid sixties in Western Canada with cover recordings by the Drifters 5 of Beatles tunes. They were followed by performers such as Mikey and Bunny. In the 1970s Montreal positioned itself as a major centre for Ukrainian Diaspora pop music mainly through the efforts of Bohdan Tymyc and his Yevshan corporation. Yevshan released numerous recordings by Zabava bands such as Rushnychok, Syny stepiv. It is through Yevshan that Luba Kovalchuk recorded here first recordings and started her rise through an album called Zoria (Album cover by Maurice Prokaziuk).

Ukrainian labels[edit]

  • Atlantic music (1991)
  • Audio Ukraina (1991)
  • Zone records (1996)
  • Moon records (1997)
  • Rostok records (1997)
  • Nova records (1997–2001)
  • JRC (Joint Recording Company, 1998)
  • Lavina music (2001)
  • Empire Label (2007-2010)
  • Mozgi Entertainment (2010)


  1. ^ Klumbytė, Neringa; Sharafutdinova, Gulnaz (2013). Soviet Society in the Era of Late Socialism, 1964-1985. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-7391-7583-5.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ukrainian Beats Steal a March on Moscow". 21 April 2017.
  3. ^ Ukraine imposes language quotas for radio playlists, BBC News (8 November 2016)
  4. ^ Special quotas for radio stations to promote Ukrainian songs enforced today, UNIAN (7 November 2016)
  5. ^ Ukraine's Deputy PM: Ukrainian language quotas on radio stations grow to 35%, UNIAN (8 November 2018)
  6. ^ Top-11 Russian stars with Ukrainian roots. Origins of many whom I did not even know! (Топ-11 російських зірок з українським корінням. Про походження багатьох я і не знала!). Ukr.Media. 30 August 2017
  7. ^ a b Tetyana Polishchuk. Russian reanimates its estrada in Ukraine (Росія реанімує свою естраду в Україні). Den. 16 May 2000

External links[edit]

Ukrainian ethnomusocological resources: