Alisa Vox, a well-known Russian pop singer, has been working on a solo career after possibly getting booted from the ska-rock ensemble Leningrad last year. If you don't speak Russian, her new song, "Baby Boy," comes off like a dancy, pop-rock anthem with a visually arresting music video. It calls to mind the James Turrell–inspired colorscapes of Drake's "Hotline Bling," as well as the more avant-garde imagery of videos by Basement Jaxx and Battles.
But the whole thing may be a Kremlin-funded propaganda instrument aimed at teaching Russian youth that protesting is super lame.
According to Meduza, a Latvia-based news blog, people affiliated with the Kremlin seem to have paid Vox and her team about $35,000 in exchange for material attacking the Russian opposition led by anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny. One Meduza source in the music industry claimed the director of the video was anonymous, and the cast suspiciously overpaid. (For their part, two sources in Vladimir Putin's administration denied official involvement in the video, according to Meduza.)
Meanwhile, since its release on YouTube two days ago, the "Baby Boy" video has racked up more than 1.3 million views.
As translated by the English-language weekly newspaper the Moscow Times, the lyrics to "Baby Boy" tell the story of a young loser who gets involved in a protest movement because he's naïve and uneducated. What he needs to do, the song explains, is stop worrying about the government and get his own life together, and his rewards will be sex, money, and power.
"Freedom, money, girls, you'll get it all—even power / So, kid, stay out of politics, and give your brain a shower," the translation says.
Principled opposition to anti-government protests seems like an odd stance for Vox, who as a member of Leningrad in 2014 protested government censorship by stripping down onstage. But according to the Moscow Times, Vox herself now feels that Navalny's followers are being "deceived and misled." She said she wrote the song spontaneously in March when she saw a photo of a protester at a Navalny rally climbing a streetlight and got worried about him—and others like him.
"At the very least, climbing up lampposts is dangerous, because what if you fall from there?" Vox said in an interview with a TV network.
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