10 Best Russian Songs for Language Learners

Improve your vocabulary by adding these catchy tunes to your playlist

A performance by Russian singer Sergey Lazarev at the 2016 Eurovision contest.
A performance by Russian singer Sergey Lazarev at the 2016 Eurovision contest. WireImage / Getty Images

Immersing yourself in Russia's vibrant music scene is a fun way to practice your Russian language skills. From rap to rock to classical, there are catchy Russian songs to suit every taste, and putting your favorite tracks on replay is a surefire way to build up your vocabulary. Plus, singing along to Russian music will improve your vocabulary, pronunciation, and listening skills. Get started by adding our collection of the best Russian songs for language learners to your playlist. 

01
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Звезда по имени солнце – Star Called Sun

Released by the band Кино (Kino) in 1989, Звезда по имени солнце is one of the most popular Russian songs of all times. Ever its release in 1989, music fans have puzzled over the true meaning of the mysterious lyrics. Practice your listening skills by attempting to decipher the meaning yourself. 

02
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Последнее письмо (Гудбай, Америка) – The Last Letter (Goodbye, America)

This song, by Nautilus Pompilius, was a last-minute addition to one of the band's albums, but it became an unexpected anthem of the post-perestroika generation. If you want to understand recent Russian history, this song is required listening.

03
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Блюз – Blues

Released in 2005, Блюз was the first song that the Russian rock musician Zemfira wrote in a blues style. The song, which won Best Video during the 2005 MTV Russia Music Awards, is a good example of this famous musician's diverse sonic style. 

04
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Что такое осень – What Is Autumn

Yuri Shevchuk, the lead singer of the band ДДТ, wrote this song after a walk around a cemetery on an autumn day. The track became so popular that the group decided to stop playing it for a while, apparently out of concern that the song would overshadow their other work. 

05
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Несуразная – Awkward

Ironic and upbeat, this song by АлоэВера has a catchy melody and fun, stylish lyrics. The vocabulary is a bit advanced for beginners, but the lyrics can be deciphered fairly easily with the use of a dictionary. The song's delightful message is worth the extra work.

06
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Обернись – Turn Around

This song was originally released in 2007 by the Kyrgyz pop-rock group Город 312. Later, the band re-recorded the song as a collaboration with the rap artist Баста, which made it so popular that it won Best Song 2009 at the Muz-TV music awards. The universally relatable lyrics, which focus on the theme of urban loneliness, are great for in-class analysis or a written response assignment.

07
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Дай мне – Give Me

This song, released by rapper Jah Khalib, was a smash hit in Russia. Like many songs of Khalib's, the lyrics are sexually suggestive, and won't be appropriate for younger language learners. However, the pop culture aficionados will enjoy this taste of the Russian rap scene, and beginners will benefit from the song's easy-to-follow pace.

08
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В лесу родилась ёлочка – A Fir Tree Was Born in the Forest

Written in 1903, this classic Christmas song for children tells the tale of a fir tree that grows up to become a Christmas tree. With its pleasant, simple melody and easy to understand lyrics, this song is the equivalent of the French "Frère Jacques" or the English "London Bridge."

09
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Ой, мороз, мороз – Oh, Frost, Frost

This song is sung from the perspective of a man traveling on horseback, pleading with the frost not to freeze him. A folk song in sound and feel, this classic is attributed to Maria Morozova-Uvarova, a soloist of the Voronezh Russian Choir. The lyrics are quite simple and the melody is traditional and sweet—add it to your playlist if you're new to the Russian language.

10
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Калинка – Little Cranberry

This song has become a symbol of Russian folk music in the Western world. In the traditional Russian folk style, the lyrics address various parts of nature (a pine tree, cranberries, raspberries)—until the last section, where the narrator pleads with a woman to fall in love with him. Калинка was written by the composer and folklorist Ivan Larionov in 1860 and is performed by Russian folk choirs around the world.