Top 8 Ukrainian Artists You Need to Listen To Today
All opinions in this post are mine. I am no music critic but I sure love to talk about stuff. So, if you don’t agree with me or think that I missed out on some amazing Ukrainian artists - please leave me a comment below. Thanks!

The Ukrainian music scene has always been some sort of a Narnia to me. Let me explain: I haven’t had any friends growing up who were into Ukrainian music specifically - we kinda all listened to anything and everything. We called Britney Spears our queen and it all went downhill from there. However, there were some songs that stuck with me since childhood and I enjoyed them greatly. The Ukrainian language is just so melodic that given the right hands of a talented artist it can flourish even more. Plus Ukrainian traditional instruments are rad as well. You combine two and two together and voila! amazing product. Unfortunately, that did not seem to work in Ukrainian show biz. What people ended up hearing on the radio and on TV was rather basic and did not involve too much artistry. Yet, thanks to YouTube and the word of mouth (also thanks to being an expat cause when you miss home you have this need to listen to something familiar and you discover some awesome gems) I re-indulged into the Ukrainian music scene...and I was very pleasantly surprised with it. So, without rambling for too long, here are 8 artists I think you should definitely listen to.

8. Okean Elzy (an oldie but goodie)
One of the most successful Ukrainian bands, if I may say so myself. They have been around since 1994 and had been supplying the nation with some badass Ukrainian rock. Growing up I never really understood the obsession people had over Okean Elzy but that was only because I was young and carefree. Their lyrics are incredible and super touching. Here is an oldie from their 2005 album Gloria called Без Бою (Bez Boyu aka Without a Fight):

7. Pianoboy (aka Dmytro Shurov)
So, once upon a time Dmytro Shurov was a keyboard player for the one and only Okean Elzy. Then he went solo. While working at Kyiv Post one of my assignments was to interview Pianoboy. The aura of this human is so strong and pure - it was a pleasure talking to him. Plus we bonded over our foreign exchange past. If you are interested in the things I talked to Dmytro about - here is a link to our interview. He sure is charming and helluva talented musician.

6. The Hardkiss
This is a relatively new band (formed in 2011) with the lead singer Yuliya Sanina. I think the reason people are so mesmerized by The Hardkiss is because when they stepped onto the Ukrainian music scene they were loud, mildly aggressive, and very confident. They opened for Hurts and Solange Knowles in Kyiv (sadly, not the touring openers but still!). The style they are carrying is more of a progressive pop-ish but definitely something Ukraine lacked.

5. Dakhabrakha
The genre this amazing quartet is performing in is called Ethno-Chaos. Do you even need an explanation why I love them? ETHNO-CHAOS. That’s basically the title of my autobiography (not yet published but we are working on it). I am not even going to talk about them for long - here is the magic that they did for the famous NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert:

4. Boombox
It is like a Ukrainian funk/rock/pop band that everyone listens to but no one admits that they do, you know? The guilty pleasure. Wow, when these dudes appeared on the scene - they made a boom. However, before we go any further - they are terrible live. Well, their lead singer is. He makes it a point to not make too much effort during his shows I guess? I only saw them live once but have heard the same sentiments from my friends. Nevertheless, here is one of my favs (a collab with Pianoboy):

3. Fontaliza
How did I discover Fontaliza? Well, all of my cool friends were listening to them. Like, those friends who you can’t really believe you are friends with ‘cause they are waaay cooler than you are? Yeah, so I checked these guys out. Turns out: Ukraine can do alternative music! They are also from Eastern Ukraine which makes my love for them almost instantaneous. Check it for yourself!

2. Jamala (these are in no particular order - did I mention that?)
JAMALA. Oh boy - where do I start. I mean, one listen to her incredible voice gives me chills. As in right now Jamala became a strong voice for a generation. You see, she is Crimean-Tatar and if you are reading my blog you probably know what that means with Crimea being illegally annexed and all… But! This year Jamala won Eurovision with this song! Ukraine will be hosting the competition in Kyiv this May. Just have a listen:

1. Dakh Daughters
It is not even a band it is a freak-cabaret. Yep, you read that correctly. Listening to their recordings is cool but nothing (and I mean NOTHING) can beat seeing them live… These 7 girls have magic powers. I was very honored to meet them (they were headlining a festival I helped organize). All of them are super humble, super smart, and super talented. Honestly, a part of me was trying to get as much of the same air as them as possible on the odd chance I will get at least an atom of their awesomeness. So far it is not working. But I will keep you posted.

@I really do not remember who took this...

And there you go! Hopefully this lesson on Music Education - a Musication! - did not go to waste. If you want to read more pieces like this - let me know. If I left someone super important out - let me know as well. This is the Internet - you can be rude without much consequence. So don’t be shy. Love y’all!

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