Merry Christmas Ukraine

Today is Christmas Day in Ukraine. Christmas Day, no matter what day of the year you celebrate it, along with Easter Sunday, marks one of the key Christian religious days that emphasises values such as peace and kindness towards ones fellow man. Sadly, Ukraine has had not much of either in 2014, so my Christmas wish to Ukraine is that peace returns to her shores and that the Russian’s leave as quickly as they invaded this year.

As a small Christmas gift, I wanted to share with you a very cute animation with the soundtrack of a Christmas carol which I bet you never knew originated as a Ukrainian folk song. The enchanting music composed by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych in 1904 based on the original song called “Schedryk”, or “Swallow”This animation is the original Leontovych arrangement animated by the Ukrainian artist Ev Melekhovets

The wider world was introduced to this beautiful carol through the help of American Ukrainian, Peter Wilhousky, and became known to the world as “Carol of the Bells”. Wilhousky made his arrangement following a performance of the original song by Alexander Koshetz’s Ukrainian National Chorus at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1921.

The original song’s lyrics are about a swallow that flew into a master’s household and started twittering to him about the increase of his livestock.

But why on Earth are Ukrainian’s singing about a Swallow in the middle of Winter? Ukrainian swallows spend their winters south of the Sahara. The culprit of this confusion is the Russian Tsar Peter I, who in 1699, with his continued Europification of Russia, established New Year to be celebrated on January 1, following the example of the other European nations. Before that, Ukrainians celebrated New Year around the Spring Equinox.

From pagan times, it was the reawakening of nature that marked the start of the New Year. The ritual songs called “shchedrivky,” which means “bountiful New Years carols,” were meant to bestow all the earthly riches on a master’s homestead and wish him a fertile year – quite a desirable outcome in an agrarian society. It was also Peter I who introduced Christmas trees to be used as a celebration attribute. Before that, the Christmas decorations that Ukrainians used were made from straw. The main one used is called didukh and symbolizes fertility.

Traditional Ukrainian didukh

Traditional Ukrainian didukh

If the swallow around Christmas wasn’t confusing enough, Ukrainians sing these New Year shchedrivky not on January 1, but on January 13 – a result of the Orthodox church using the Gregorian calendar, which runs 13 days later than the Julian calendar used by the Catholic church.

But whatever calendar you use I would like to wish you all a very

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

З Різдвом і Новим Роком

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain Shona duit

Game Of Thrones Medley

Game of Thrones ParodyHerself and I are HUGE fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones series. We’re hooked, and rather than watching it each week, we prefer to gorge ourselves on a marathon viewing over a few nights instead. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to keep up with the various plotlines and sub-plots.

And clearly the guys at The Warp Zone are just as enamoured with Game of Thrones as herself and I as they dress up in all the garb and sing their hearts out in a Titanium, Roar, Monster and Demons inspired parody of the best show currently on the telly.

Watch and enjoy.

New Band – Beans & Fatback

Beans&Fatback

I’m always complaining about the lack of good music acts that come from the Netherlands and who can actually PLAY an instrument as opposed to the plethora of pill-popping Dutch DJ’s who suffer from ADHD.

So imagine my surprise when I discovered this fantastic act called Beans & Fatback who have brought rhythm & blues into the new millennium kicking and screaming. Their music is fresh, full of bass and reminds me of smooth talking used-car salesman talking his way out of a whiskey fuelled bar room brawl…..you know you just want to listen to more after hearing the first song 🙂

Enjoy.

Mumford & Sons – Hopeless Wanderer

Mumford & SonsIndie folk Goliath’s Mumford & Sons new video for their song “Hopeless Wanderer” from their album Babel. But the video stars a rather different cameo appearance of the band.

Whilst setup much the same way as you’d expect a Mumford video – sunset, slow motion shots a barn, hay bales lots of abundant lens flares, which help to obscure the crooners’ faces. But once the song switches to the foot stomping, barn dancing folk beat, all hell breaks loose in a hilarious hijinks Mumford hoedown we all love so well, revealing the impersonators’ true identities.

Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman, Ed Helms and Will Forte are, some would say, remarkably convincing doppelgangers for the band. Whether you’re a fan of the bearded banjo-slinging band or not, you’re sure to have a good laugh.

The hilarious performance from the imposter band mates is what sets the Hopeless Wanderer video apart from others. The actors do a really good job of playing out the real band members idiosyncrasies – from foot stomping to swaying and the ever present Mumford gurn.

It’s great to see the sometimes serious band being able to poke a little bit of fun at themselves.

BTW – I remember when their gigs were still small enough that you could see chat to the band in between songs!

In The Thicke Of It

Mod Carousel

It’s this generation’s “Robert Palmer-esque” music video, with a shit storm of controversy that’s followed it and seen it removed and returned to You Tube. What am I talking about? I’m talking about that Robin Thicke video.

Slated for it’s sexist lyrics and topless models, it’s garnered itself a reputation amongst feminists the world over for its female objectification (and I don’t object at all myself). But Seattle based boylesque troupe, Mod Carousel, have gone toe-to-toe with Thicke and have created a rather funny and sexy parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” music video (see below).

They’re opinion is

“that most attempts to show female objectification in the media by swapping the genders serve more to ridicule the male body than to highlight the extent to which women get objectified and does everyone a disservice. We made this video specifically to show a spectrum of sexuality as well as present both women and men in a positive light, one where objectifying men is more than alright and where women can be strong and sexy without negative repercussions.”

I think they do an awesome job in both parodying the original video and in replicating the sound of the original song.

No matter what way you slice and dice it though, the original video will go down history and join the legendary Robert Palmer video in the hall of fame.

Evolution Of Music

Pentatonix

A big thanks to my friend Tim who passed this one along. Those who know me, know that I’ve got a pretty wide and eclectic taste in music. It ranges from classical all the way through to Rock & Roll. The video below, from Pentatonix, a vocal quintet pairs their intricate acapella arrangements with cleverly re-imagined pop songs through the ages….all the way back to the 11th century!

Ukrainian Music Videos

NikitA 2

Винтаж 2

Via GraI’ve lived in Ukraine for three and a half years, and one of my favourite things about Ukrainian and Russian TV was their equivalent of MTV and the super high quality of their manufactured girl bands and the associated music videos.

My two favourite groups at the time where both Ukrainian. They were А.Р.М.И.Я. (A.R.M.I.Y.A. in English) and HеАнгелы (No Angels in English) both of which underwent constant changes to the line-up and members of the group. But one thing that remained constant was the quality of the music video’s, which were and still are to this day, MUCH racier than what you’d EVER come across in the West.

Now that I am back in Russia, albeit for two weeks out of every month, I’ve been able to reintroduce myself to the latest additions of the Rus/Ukr girl-band stable. The good news is that the girls are still just as pretty and hot as before, the pop songs are still quirky, fun (albeit a little silly sometimes) and the video’s are still just as raunchy. Imagine a cross between a music video and an S&M photo shoot, and you’ll have a fair idea of what I mean.

To give you an idea and show you what I’m talking about, here’s one from some new(‘ish) girls on the block, Серебро (Serebro in English) and another three from groups who’ve been on the scene for a while now, the aptly named Виа Гра (ViaGra) and the sexy groups NikitA and Винтаж (Vintage), who are all from Ukraine.

Somehow, I cannot ever imagine a Taylor Swift or even a über-risqué Britney Spears attempting to pull off something like this 🙂

As with the plethora of driving accident and dash cam videos from Russia, these sexy music vids can also been found on YouTube.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do 🙂