Russians (song)

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"Russians"
Russians Sting vinyl Commonwealth Realms.jpg
UK variant of standard 7-inch artwork
Single by Sting
from the album The Dream of the Blue Turtles
B-side"Gabriel's Message"
Released29 November 1985 [1]
Recorded1984
GenrePop rock, progressive rock
Length3:58
LabelA&M
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Sting and Peter Smith
Sting singles chronology
"Fortress Around Your Heart"
(1985)
"Russians"
(1985)
"Moon over Bourbon Street"
(1986)
Music video
"Russians" on YouTube

"Russians" is a song by Sting, from his debut solo album, The Dream of the Blue Turtles, released in June 1985, and released as a single in November. The song is a commentary and plea that criticises the then-dominant Cold War foreign policy and doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) by the United States and the then existing Soviet Union.

Background[edit]

In 2010, Sting explained that the song was inspired by watching Soviet TV via inventor Ken Schaffer's satellite receiver at Columbia University:[2][3]

I had a friend at university who invented a way to steal the satellite signal from Russian TV. We'd have a few beers and climb this tiny staircase to watch Russian television... At that time of night we'd only get children's Russian television, like their "Sesame Street". I was impressed with the care and attention they gave to their children's programmes. I regret our current enemies haven't got the same ethics.

Sting performed the song at the 1986 Grammy Awards. His performance of the song was released on the 1994 album Grammy's Greatest Moments Volume I.[4]

Music video[edit]

The accompanying music video for the single was directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino, and was shot in a similar black-and-white, French New Wave-influenced style to his previous video for Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer". The video also prominently featured child actor Felix Howard, who was later featured Mondino's promotional video for Madonna's "Open Your Heart" in 1986.

Composition[edit]

The song uses the Romance theme from the Lieutenant Kijé Suite by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev,[5] and its lead-in includes a snippet from the Soviet news program Vremya in which the famed Soviet news broadcaster Igor Kirillov says in Russian: "...The British Prime Minister described the talks with the head of the delegation, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, as a constructive, realistic, practical and friendly exchange of opinions...", referring to the meeting of Mikhail Gorbachev and Margaret Thatcher in 1984. The Soviet leader at the time was Konstantin Chernenko.

Also in the background, communications from the Apollo–Soyuz mission can be heard.

Reception[edit]

Cash Box said it "features a haunting melody, dramatic lyric and sensational musicianship."[6] Billboard called it a "a sober political/humanitarian message framed in surging chords and Prokofiev quotes."[7]

Legacy[edit]

In a 2021 interview, James Cameron, the co-writer, director and producer of Terminator 2, said that the song inspired him to create the character of John Connor, the 10-year-old boy who would be the central character of the plot: "I remember sitting there once, high on E, writing notes for Terminator, and I was struck by Sting’s song, that “I hope the Russians love their children too.” And I thought, “You know what? The idea of a nuclear war is just so antithetical to life itself.” That’s where the kid came from."[8]

Sting re-recorded an acoustic version of the song in March 2022, during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, with proceeds going to humanitarian and medical aid in Ukraine.[9] In a statement, he said that he "never thought [the song] would be relevant again. But, in the light of one man’s bloody and woefully misguided decision to invade a peaceful, unthreatening neighbor, the song is, once again, a plea for our common humanity."[10]

Track listings[edit]

7″ single
  1. "Russians" – 3:57
  2. "Gabriel's Message" – 2:15
12″ maxi
  1. "Russians" – 3:57
  2. "Gabriel's Message" – 2:10
  3. "I Burn for You" (live) – 4:40

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[32] Gold 500,000*

* Sales figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sting singles".
  2. ^ "Sting's Russians was inspired by illegal satellite viewings". The Daily Express. 15 July 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Russians". Youtube. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. What struck me when I was watching these programs was how much care and attention and clearly love had gone into these programs. And these were our enemies, but they clearly love their children just like we love ours.
  4. ^ "Grammy's Greatest Moments, Volume 1: Various Artists". Amazon. 1994. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
  5. ^ Gable, Christopher (2008). The words and music of Sting. ABC-CLIO. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-275-99360-3.
  6. ^ "Single Releases" (PDF). Cash Box. 11 January 1986. p. 11. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  7. ^ "Reviews". Billboard. 11 January 1986. p. 67. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  8. ^ Alan Siegel (30 June 2021). "The Oral History of 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day'". The Ringer. Retrieved 20 September 2021.
  9. ^ Evans, Greg (25 March 2022). "Sting Re-Records 1985 Anti-War Song 'Russians' To Benefit Ukraine". Deadline. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  10. ^ Chloe Melas. "Sting posts video of himself singing his 1985 song 'Russians' amid war in Ukraine". CNN. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 295. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and 12 June 1988.
  12. ^ "Sting – Russians" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  13. ^ "RPM Adult Contemporary" (PDF). RPM. 22 March 1986. p. 12. Retrieved 14 March 2022 – via World Radio History.
  14. ^ "RPM 100 Singles" (PDF). RPM. 3 March 1986. p. 6. Retrieved 14 March 2022 – via World Radio History.
  15. ^ "European Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 3, no. 6. 8 February 1986. p. 12. OCLC 29800226. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2022 – via World Radio History.
  16. ^ "Sting – Russians" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know > Search results for 'Sting' (from irishcharts.ie)". Fireball Media, via Imgur.com. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Top 3 in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 3, no. 15. 19 April 1986. p. 14. OCLC 29800226. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2021. Retrieved 5 February 2022 – via World Radio History.
  19. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 1, 1986" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Sting – Russians" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  21. ^ "Sting – Russians". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Sting – Russians". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  23. ^ "Sting – Russians". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  24. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  25. ^ "Sting Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  26. ^ "Sting Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Sting – Russians". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  28. ^ "Kent Music Report No 650 – 29 December 1986 > National Top 100 Singles for 1986". Kent Music Report, via Imgur.com. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1986". Ultratop. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  30. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 of the Year 1986" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 3, no. 51–52. 27 December 1986. p. 28-29. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved 4 October 2021 – via American Radio History.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts". GfK Entertainment (in German). offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 5 August 2021.
  32. ^ "French single certifications – Sting – Russians" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 12 July 2022. Select STING and click OK. 

External links[edit]