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Popular Music in Communist and Post-Communist Europe

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Edited By Jan Blüml, Yvetta Kajanová and Rüdiger Ritter

Through selected topics, the book presents an up-to-date and comprehensive view of the popular music of communist and post-communist Europe. The studies introduce new sources, discuss transformations of the institutional background of popular music of the given geopolitical sphere, its social, cultural-political, or artistic conditions. Thanks to the time span of nearly thirty years since the fall of the Iron Curtain, the authors have in many ways revised or supplemented traditional post-communist perceptions of the issues in question. This is being done with respect to the genres such as jazz, rock, pop, singer-songwriters, hip-hop, or White Power Music, as well as across the whole region from the former Yugoslavia through Central European states to the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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The Desired Ukraine in Ukrainian Female Singer-Songwriters of the 1990s: What It Meant to Sing a New (Utopian) Song

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‘A desirable future must also be a feasible one.’

Terry Eagleton, The Idea of Culture

Abstract: This chapter offers a critical analysis of the construction of a new social imaginary in post-Soviet Ukraine. Acknowledging that the decolonized image of the Desired Ukraine was created largely by female authors of popular music, the paper focuses on the strategies of Iryna Bilyk, Ukraine’s first big pop star and singer-songwriter. Examining why the undertaking to redefine the Ukrainian had to include the poetics of the quotidian, rejection of ‘national’ marginalization, and turning Ukrainian into a trendy language, the article presents the conditions of Ukraine’s popular culture industry as underlying for musicians’ attempts at ‘singing out’ the (utopian) Desired Ukraine.

Keywords: female singer-songwriters; Ukrainian; decolonial; post-Soviet; popular culture industry

The post-Soviet 1990s—a dramatic spatial-temporal combination—was a ‘grey’ area of potentiality that allowed for attempts to construct a new social imaginary in the nations emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Arguing that popular culture was an important arena and a powerful tool for imagining the nations in transformation,1 in this research I turn my attention to the generation of Ukrainian female singer-songwriters debuting at the beginning of the 1990s. The creativity of Iryna Bilyk, Marichka Burmaka, Sestrychka Vika, Maryna Odolska and other authors proved to be so influential that it can be labelled as a transformative social and artistic practice: importantly, this practice was also political. It constituted one of...

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