Home About Criteria Lyrics Analysis Conclusion More


This project analyzes the political and thematic content of Soviet rock song lyrics from the 1980s in the attempt to understand the degree of dissidence that these songs explicitly reflected.

Soviet rock music, and especially the underground rock scene, is often interpreted by historians, anthropologists, and sociologists as a site of protest through “non-participation,” or an attempt by Soviet youth to carve out their own “authentic” sphere within Soviet society that was outside of, or otherwise unaffected by the political, economic, or ideological influences of Soviet power structures. For many rock musicians, existing “outside” of Soviet political and ideological influences was best accomplished by simply not acknowledging them, and by adopting an apolitical attitude in their music. For others, outright political or subversive content seemed impossible to avoid.

Through this project, we are able to take a closer look at this struggle between adopting apolitical versus political content, and better understand just how “dissident” Soviet rock music was in its direct message. At the same, we are also able to explore the exact means by which this message was conveyed in the song’s outlook and lyrics, whether through the use of particular themes (of nature versus industry, fear versus hope, etc.), satire, metaphors, references to politics and culture, and so on. Moreover, we can examine the appearance of these themes over time and contextualize them historically in order to better understand how political, subversive, disaffected, or hopeful Soviet rock musicians were at various times during the 1980s.

Songs that we find to have been less political or dissident in nature are still valuable and interesting for the purpose of understanding what major topics or events were making their way into a public dialogue through rock music at different times. By understanding what rock musicians were primarily discussing and making music about, we can better understand what was on the mind of Soviet citizens, and especially young people, during the 1980s.