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Sovietwave (also styled Soviet wave[1] or Soviet-wave[2]) is a subgenre of synthwave music and an online aesthetic which originates from a number of post-Soviet states, primarily Russia. It is characterized by themes emphasizing the technology and development of the Soviet Union (such as the Soviet space program and retrofuturistic Soviet era architecture and art) and is part of the cultural phenomenon of nostalgia for the Soviet Union.[1] Linguist Maria Engström described the subgenre as the post-Soviet counterpart to vaporwave, evoking a similar nostalgic critique of the "contemporary collapse of futurity", and the longing for the lost optimism of a bygone era.[3]


The first attempts to bring Soviet nostalgia to modern music began in the 2000s, when trance music was at the peak of its popularity. Trance music duo PPK used the melodies of Soviet electronic music as the basis of their compositions. "Electrosound nostalgia" appeared in the mid-2010s, which is when the genre started to become more well defined.[4] The main inspirations for composers of Sovietwave are often the emotions and collective cultural memories associated with the Soviet Union during the 1980s.[5] Lyudmila Shevchenko, a scholar from the Jan Kochanowski University, notes that the genre is one of the manifestations of the "nostalgic myth", a "vivid, sensual and lively" mythical image based on the recent past.[6] Sovietwave became popular in most post-Soviet countries in the second half of the 2010s.[7] It is related to the global proliferation of the synthwave genre, and the phenomenon of nostalgia for 1980s Soviet culture in the former Soviet republics.[8]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sovietwave experienced a growth in popularity, along with other subgenres of vaporwave, synthwave, and, to a lesser extent, doomer music.[9] This upsurge was driven, in large part, by the success of the Belarusian post-punk band Molchat Doma on the social media platform, TikTok, where the group's song Судно (Борис Рыжий) from the album Etazhi became a popular meme which, according to Cat Zhang of Pitchfork connects with Generation-Z's "deep pessimism towards the future".[10] As lockdowns continued across the Western world, Molchat Doma's propulsion of Sovietwave into the mainstream spawned multiple compilations of the genre on music streaming websites, such as Spotify and YouTube,[11] which feature more overt nostalgia for Soviet and space age aesthetics, despite the Belarusian group's criticism of the genre for "fail[ing] to recognize the harsh realities of life in the region".[12]


Sovietwave music is characterized by an emphasis on cultural and scientific aspects of Soviet life.

Sovietwave is based on modern electronic music trends such as lo-fi, ambient and synth-pop, as well as the electronic music of the late Soviet Union.[13] Despite Sovietwave's widespread use of sampling from radio programs and speeches, the genre is not overtly political.[13] Sovietwave music is characterized by an emphasis on the cultural, political and scientific aspects of Soviet life,[7][14] with excerpts from educational films and speeches by Soviet statesmen being used primarily to create a nostalgic experience for the listener.[7] Sovietwave usually includes themes about space and technological progress which disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet space program, together with positive childhood reminiscences and technological utopianism of the Space Age.[7][14] The genre is one of several expressions of Soviet nostalgia in the modern cultural space which value the Soviet past for its futuristic speculations.[15]

The genre is influenced by the music of old Soviet films and cartoons, such as The Mystery of the Third Planet, Guest from the Future, The Adventures of the Elektronic, Courier, Leopold the Cat, Moscow-Cassiopeia, Office Romance, One Hundred Days After Childhood, Three from Prostokvashino, comedies of Leonid Gaidai, old episodes of Yeralash, and others. Common influences of the genre are Soviet composers Eduard Artemyev, Aleksandr Zatsepin and music groups Zodiac,[13] Alliance,[14][16] Forum, Mayak, and New Collection. However, the genre is also influenced by the work of western artists popular in the USSR, such as Depeche Mode, Digital Emotion, Modern Talking.[8]

Critic Ivan Beletsky, in an article about the ten greatest albums of the genre, noted that "sovietwave does not like to dig into archives and look for rare material for sampling; Gorbachev's speeches, radio calls of "Mayak" or Gagarin's "Let's go!“» seems to be enough for them.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Russia's musical new wave embraces Soviet chic: Nostalgic young musicians seek connection to culture of the past", The Guardian
  2. ^ "MUSTELIDE – "В Mustelide мне безумно нравится быть одной" – Звуки.Ру". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  3. ^ Engström, Maria (2022). Miazhevich, Galina (ed.). Queering Russian Media and Culture. New York: Routledge. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-367-48706-5.
  4. ^ "SOVIETWAVE – interview by Peek-A-Boo magazine". Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  5. ^ A Guide to Sovietwave: Six Artists to Know|Bandcamp Daily
  6. ^ Szewczenko, Ludmiła (8 August 2019). "Ностальгия в системе базовых оппозиций "добро" и "зло" в автодокументальных произведениях Людмилы Улицкой "Детство 45–53: а завтра будет счастье" и Светланы Алексиевич "Время секонд хэнд"". Studia Rossica Posnaniensia (in Russian). 44 (44 t1): 53–62. doi:10.14746/strp.2019.44.1.6. ISSN 0081-6884. S2CID 212909669.
  7. ^ a b c d REVIVAL OF SOVIET ELECTRO // «Boombarash» magazine № 7/2015 Интервью с группой «Артек Электроника»
  8. ^ a b Краснощеков, Владимир Александрович (22 September 2017). "Евродиско в России: из мейнстрима в андеграунд". Обсерватория культуры (in Russian). Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  9. ^ Kahlert, Hanna. "Zombies and vaporwave: Consumer vibes in 2020". MIDiA Research. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  10. ^ "How Belarusian Post-Punks Molchat Doma Became a TikTok Meme". Pitchfork. 25 June 2020. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  11. ^ "NewSovietWave – YouTube". Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  12. ^ "Meet Molchat Doma, the austere post-punk band from Minsk". WePresent. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  13. ^ a b c Ridus. RU. Andrey Krasnoshchekov: Electrosound nostalgia. In Russian
  14. ^ a b c Yandex.Zen. Musical hearse: SovietWave – Nostalgia in every note. In Russian
  15. ^ Hutton, Patrick (2016). The Memory Phenomenon in Contemporary Historical Writing: How the Interest in Memory Has Influenced Our Understanding of History. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan. p. 143. ISBN 978-1137494641.
  16. ^ «Причём объявил нас сам Эдуард Артемьев!». In Russian
  17. ^ Совиетвейв: десять главных альбомов самого ностальгического жанра. In Russian

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