Here Comes the Sun flashmob cheers Spanish unemployment office
A flashmob of musicians has cheered up the long queue in a busy Spanish unemployment office by playing the Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun.
During the stunt organised by Carne Cruda 2.0, a programme on the leading Cadena SER network, a small orchestra emerged instrument by instrument from the waiting room in a Madrid unemployment office. All work in the office came to a standstill and many people sang along in English.
Spain is enduring an unprecedented economic crisis caused by a property crash and public debt crisis. Unemployment, already at 26%, is expected to grow. Spain lost around 800,000 jobs last year and more than half of under-25s are unemployed. The Spanish government has resorted to severe budget cuts to reduce its deficit but austerity measures have also depressed the economy. (via guardian.co.uk)
For those who don’t think that Russian music ends with the last accord of balalaika we would like to present our new audio-podcast devoted to the contemporary Russian music. The aim is to show the great diversity of Russian musicians, performing in various genres from jazz to experimental trip-hop. Some of the artists are much influenced by western culture, others try to develop and promote authentic Russian sound and mainly Russian lyrics.
Bulgaria: I Cannot Ban Chalga Music in Schools, says Education Minister
Asked to comment on a video showing uniformed junior students dancing to a song of the scandalous Roma pop-folk singer Azis, Education Minister Sergey Ignatov has said that it is beyond his power to ban chalga in schools.
The video, which shortly went viral thanks to youtube and social networks, is part of a reportage of Radio Vidin, the local program of the Bulgarian National Radio, on March 8 celebrations in Vidin.
To congratulate the women working at the municipal administration and the regional education inspectorate, the children from the “Zvanche” (“Bell”) kindergarten and the “Sofronii Vrachanski” elementary school in the northwestern city of Vidin performed a dance show.
Part of the dance routines were played to a song of Azis, chalga singer and an eminent cross-dresser.
"Is this singer banned by some authority? By the Council for Electronic Media (SEM), for instance? If I introduce a ban on playing his songs in schools in my capacity as an Education Minister, we shall be held liable for discrimination. If I don’t, I shall also face accusations. This is why other institutions need to come up with a pronouncement. That said, my opinion is that appropriate pieces of music should be chosen considering the age of the children," Ignatov told journalists on Wednesday. (via Novinite.com)
Russia refuses to release anti-Putin punks Pussy Riot rock group
Russia on Wednesday refused to free from pretrial detention two alleged members of opposition punk rock group Pussy Riot who face up to seven years in jail for performing in a church.
A Moscow court rejected an appeal and ruled that two women, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, must stay in detention until late April ahead of their trial for “hooliganism”, even though they have small children.
Outside the courtroom on Wednesday, police detained several demonstrators as supporters of the women held single-person pickets against the detentions, while opponents sprinkled them with holy water.
The radical all-female group sings raucous anthems against Vladimir Putin’s regime in public places including the metro and Red Square. Its members wear brightly coloured balaclavas to conceal their faces and use nicknames.
On February 21, five members climbed onto the altar in Moscow’s central Church of Christ the Saviour, often visited by Russia’s rulers, and attempted to shout out a song they called a “Punk Prayer” before being seized by guards.
The women all escaped, but police later detained four alleged members – including one man. They charged the two women with hooliganism in an organised group, a criminal charge rarely applied to opposition protests. (via Telegraph)
Protest Songs: Germany Sees Eurovision as Forum for Civil Rights
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Wednesday that the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan on May 26 and the European soccer championship in June, which is being co-hosted by Ukraine, should be used to protest against civil rights abuses in those nations.
"We should use these events to create a critical public forum in order to talk to people and promote our democratic values," Westerwelle told German newspaper Die Welt. He stopped short of suggesting a boycott, however, saying: "I’m against hastily calling for a boycott of events such as a football tournament and a song competition that don’t have much to do with politics."
The minister was speaking ahead of a visit on Wednesday to the Azerbaijani capital of Baku as part of a trip to the Caucasus region.
The German government’s human rights representative, Markus Löning, who will be joining him on the trip, has in the past criticized Azerbaijan’s civil rights record, saying it is not a free country, that the political opposition is being suppressed and that there are no free elections. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in February, Löning had called on Baku to release all its politicial prisoners before it stages the song contest.
Ukraine, too, has been criticized for jailing former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year prison term for alleged abuse of office. Her sentencing last October was seen by the West as politically motivated and derailed the signing of an association agreement between Ukraine and the European Union.
The rights campaign group Reporters Without Borders said Westerwelle should call for the release of jailed bloggers and journalists when he holds talk with Azerbaijani government officials.
"The Song Contest is a European competition that should be based on European values like freedom and democracy," the group said in an open letter to the minister. "We therefore bear a special responsibility for those who fight for those values in Azerbaijan — in a climate of fear and not infrequently by putting their lives on the line." (via SPIEGEL ONLINE)
Pussy Riot’s anti-Putin agit-punk may have temporarily made them international stars, but explicit political messages are a rarity in the Russian charts, irrespective of whether they’re aimed at the ruling party or country’s powerful business elite. That may not be entirely unconnected to the fact that most of the major outlets for music, including the ubiquitous Muz–TV television station, are owned by oligarchs. Emulation is far more common than confrontation, with the luxurious lifestyle of the nation’s rich a constant source of material for aspirational music videos.
The Tony-Montana-meets-Donald-Trump aesthetic has always had a home in American hip-hop, and it’s unsurprising to see it replicated in the music of a country where billionaire gangsters are a reality, rather than a romantic fiction. Leading the pack is Timati who has become the first Russian act since Tatu to make the top 10 across Europe.
His single Welcome to St Tropez features Kalenna Harper of Diddy Dirty Money and is the latest in a series of releases to have seen the rapper lining up with heavyweights from the US, including Snoop, Busta Rhymes and Diddy himself. It’s difficult not to wonder whether, as with Arnold Schwarzenegger and his Japanese energy drink commercials, the participants expected the results to remain an embarrassing secret only to be viewed by a domestic audience.
Party politics may be off the agenda, but Russian pop has long been engaged in a war of attrition with social conservatism. As in many other countries in central and eastern Europe, a sexually liberal youth culture butts heads with the church and sections of the older generation. The faux lesbianism of Tatu may have prompted eye-rolling in some parts of the world but it’s easy to underestimate how transgressive it could appear in a nation where the battle for recognition of gay rights has further to go. (via The Guardian)
Russian punks Pussy Riot arrested over Putin protest
Russian punks Pussy Riot have been arrested over their February protest at Moscow’s Christ the Saviour cathedral. Beginning on 3 March, the day before the presidential election that saw Vladimir Putin return to power, six band members were charged in connection with hate crimes and violations of public order.
Two of the musicians remain in custody, where they have begun a hunger strike. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhin are protesting against the conditions of their arrest, which will see them kept behind bars until a late April hearing. They both have young children: Tolokonnikova has a four-year-old son and Alyokhin’s daughter is five. The women “will starve in jail until they are returned to their children”, Pussy Riot explained on their website.
If the accused are found guilty, they face up to seven years in prison. “These citizens were taken in on suspicion of committing a crime, one involving a gross violation of public order, including inciting religious hatred as part of a planned conspiracy,” announced the government’s press service. The band members claim they were interrogated for seven hours, beginning at 4am; the investigators allegedly revealed the case was being directed “from the highest levels”, with a focus not just on Pussy Riot’s protest but on “all anti-state activities”.
Pussy Riot comprises 10 members and dozens of supporting “staff”, who have helped organise guerrilla performances in Moscow. Notorious for their colourful balaclavas, miniskirts and tights, they criticise Russia’s authoritarianism, pushing for judicial, educational and cultural reform. “Russia did not have enough explosive punk-feminist groups, pushing people to the development of a culture of protest,” members explained to Gazeta.ru last month. “Our concerts were to become a pure protest saying: superheroes in balaclavas and acid bright tights seize public space in Moscow.” (via guardian.co.uk)
A couple dressed in fifties-style clothes dance during the 18th Rockin’ Race Jamboree International Festival. About 2,300 people attended the four-day festival, which is a music party for rock ‘n’ roll music lovers. (via Reuters.com)
Russia: Feminist punk band Pussy Riot take revolt to the Kremlin
Eight women stood in a line opposite the Kremlin, neon balaclavas hiding their faces, fists pounding the air in rugged defiance. Before police carted them off, the members of Pussy Riot managed to shout their way through a minute-long punk anthem: “Revolt in Russia – the charisma of protest / Revolt in Russia, Putin’s got scared!”
Formed days after Vladimir Putin’s announcement in September that he intended to return to the presidency, Pussy Riot have become the latest symbol of young Russian discontent.
"A lot of us couldn’t sleep after this announcement," said "Tyurya", one of the founding members of a punk collective that has grown, since October, to roughly 30 people, including crew. "So we decided, damn it, we need to do something. We always went to protests and things, but it seemed to us we needed to do something more."
The mid-January performance on Red Square, brazen in its choice of location and lyrics, catapulted the all-female punk band into the pantheon of Russia’s increasingly creative protest movement. (via guardian.co.uk)