According to CNN, UK pop star Robbie Williams has upset listeners in Russia with his latest song, which satirizes the hedonistic lifestyles of Russian oligarchs. The song, “Party like a Russian,” features lyrics about Russian nesting “dolls,” unsmiling, the super-rich heartless ruling class who indulge in vodka and the drug MDMA, and thugs who settle disputes by putting “the boots in.”
The song samples “Dance of the Knights,” a famous piece of classical music by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev; following the release of this hit on Friday, a number of Russian media outlets have run stories on the track, quoting people who are unimpressed by its stereotyping of modern Russia.
Life News, a pro-Kremlin news channel, spoke with Sergey Knyazev, a member of the National Association of Event Organizers, who said the song would hurt the British singer’s popularity in Russia.
“This will upset those who previously wanted him to perform, who brought him to Moscow, or wanted him to perform at their events abroad,” he told Life News.
“None of these people, big corporations or individuals who want him at their event, want to end up as the butt of this joke. It is a joke about ‘new Russians’.”
Producer Evgeny Fridlyand told state news agency Russia 24 that Williams was trying to cash in on Russia’s constant presence in international news headlines with the track.
“Lots of artists have used Russian classical music and the theme of Russia,” he said. “We are currently at a time when Russia is ‘newsmaker number one,’ and it seems Robbie Williams has tried to increase his popularity with this.”
The track’s opening lyrics also have prompted speculation that it’s targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The song, sung from the perspective of a “modern Rasputin,” begins: “It takes a certain kind of man with a certain reputation / To alleviate the cash from a whole entire nation / Take my loose change and build my own space station.”
But Williams, who rose to fame in the 1990s as a member of British boy band Take That, dismissed a UK newspaper’s claim that it mocked the Russian leader.
“This song is definitely not about Mr Putin,” he tweeted.