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Bollywood nostalgia

Bollywood nostalgia

What the world is listening to, including Chinese state-sponsored hip-hop and the Russian Bob Dylan

What the world is listening to, including Chinese state-sponsored hip-hop and the Russian Bob Dylan

April/May 2016

INDIA
With its brilliant colours and family-friendly fun, the Bollywood musical “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” looks and sounds like a reprise of the 1990s – as does the title track. Himesh Reshammiya’s melody whirls and sparkles with a kind of nostalgic gleam, while the instrumentation recalls the double-headed dholak drum of an Indian wedding. No synthesised beatbox or English-rap bridge here.

Argentina
President Mauricio Macri began his term on the balcony of the Casa Rosada with a euphoric jig to the cumbia classic “No Me Arrepiento De Este Amor” by the beloved singer Gilda. In the 1990s, cumbia was a distinctly blue-collar genre of dance music, its irresistible rhythms settings hips in motion like metronomes. In choosing Gilda, Macri, an establishment figure, has shown just how far cumbia has risen, and made his first tentative tilt at populism.

China
The infectiously cheesy pop number “Little Apple” still tops the charts after over a year. But it’s vying with “The Reform Group Is Two Years Old”, a slick, state-promoted rap video that sings the praises of China’s anti-corruption campaign – and which marks the hip-hop debut of “Big Daddy Xi”, whose speeches have been sampled.
 


Brazil
Brazil’s last living diva Elza Soares surprised everyone last year when she released her 34th album, “A Mulher do Fim do Mundo” (“End of the World Woman”). Pushing 80 and crippled by back pain, the samba star rose from her bed to lend her raw, rasping voice to the strings and electronic bleeps composed by some of the country’s finest producers. Singing from the depths of her tenacious soul on the title track, you believe every word when she pleads to be allowed to continue to the end.
 

Russia
Russians still can’t get enough of Boris Grebenshikov, the Dylan of the Soviet underground who began performing in 1972. Last year he raised over 7m rubles (£61,000) in a crowdfunding campaign for his next album – a large sum considering the recession. He rewarded fans by releasing the meditative guitar ballad “Songs of the Unloved”.

South Korea
The theme tune to a television drama set in the 1980s and which has enchanted the nation, “Don’t Worry, My Dear”, has proved something of a lullaby for disillusioned and overworked Koreans, conjuring happy memories of poorer but more hopeful times. Crooned to the sounds of a softly plucked guitar by Lee Juck, a local singer known for his sweet melodies, it makes a tender ballad about regret, past loves – and fresh dreams.

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