Latvian Pop Music & Prāta Vētra Concert

This post was supposed to be about my weekend, but it turned into a post about Latvian pop music. On Friday I went to the Prāta Vētra concert in Arena Riga (where the hockey team plays) with Jānis (my host dad) and Jordan (there was an extra ticket, so we invited him.) I have no pictures from it, nor can I really describe it, but it was amazing. Here's the two main cultural observations I made: 

1) Only in Latvia is there a mourning period in the middle of a concert. One of the founding members of the band (the bassis Gundars Mauševics) died in a car crash in 2004, and they played an instrumental song and had a slideshow of him for about 5 minutes in the middle of the show. It was quite moving, but Jordan and I found it a bit strange. In the US, that would only happen if the band played on the anniversary, or if it were the first couple shows after his death, etc. But 6 years later, they're still publicly remembering. A typical arena concert in the US is not going to be bittersweet, but everything in Latvia is like this. There is always a hint of sadness beneath the surface, but it is embraced instead of avoided.

2) Around two thirds of Prāta Vētra songs have to end in "lalala" or "dadida" or a short phrase repeated multiple times for maximum sing-a-long capacity.

Wikipedia has a fairly informative page on Prāta Vētra here, but basically, they're the biggest band in Latvia. I haven't met a single Latvian who doesn't like them. They've been around since 1989, but the lead singer (Rēnars Kaupers) looks like he's 19 and it's kind of frightening that he's nearly 40. And his vocal range is intense. They sing mostly in Latvian, but often release albums with the same songs translated into English and Russian. They play catchy "rock" songs (I guess the closest comparison for Americans would be piano rock or pop rock) of a quality much higher than most other modern Latvian pop artists. (See my comparison below.) Although on occasion Prāta Vētra wanders into Euro-cheese territory, they are known for their great lyrics. Their songs in English, well... they have titles such as "Lonely Feeling (to be Lonely)", and lyrics like, "It's like a thunder without rain / It's like a week without Sunday." Maybe in Latvia there's never dry thunder... Anyway, when they write their songs in English, they seem to be pressed for rhymes, hence the strange lyrics. In a language with endings (like Latvian), it's much easier to rhyme. That's my theory, at least.

So, here we will start with a horrible Latvian pop song, and then your ears will be cleansed by some refreshing Prāta Vētra. Note: In Latvian (and Russian, for that matter) only the first letter of a title is capitalized. I know, it bugs me too.

Also, I apologize for the way the embedding shows up on the blog; it messes up the layout and fonts, but as I am not a technical genius and I am tired, I will leave it for now.

Aisha: What For? (Only Mr. God Knows Why) Latvia's 2010 Eurovision Entry
Latvia's 2010 Eurovision Entry: "What For? (Only Mr. God Knows Why)" I don't see why Latvia can't just enter Prāta Vētra every year... (Latvia got 3rd in 2000 with Prāta Vētra; they got last in the semifinals in 2010 with this girl.)

Prāta Vētra: Rudens (Fall)

Yevgeny Grishkovets & Rēnars Kaupers: На заре (Na zarye - At dawn)
A collaboration between Russian singer Yevgeni Grishkovetz and Prāta Vētra. Actually, it's just written as a collaboration between him and Rēnars, but they played it at the concert.  Rēnars sang both parts, wearing a yellow scarf when he was pretending to be "Zhenya" and removing it when he was Rēnars again.

Plaukstas lieluma pavasaris (Palm-sized spring)
I couldn't find a good video of this, so enjoy this music video made by the class 10C at Bauskas 1. Vidusskola. At one point in the chorus, it goes, "Aha! Un kā tev iet un ko to dari?" That literally means "And how are you, and what are you doing?" It's kind of the standard text you get from Latvians, although usually there's not so many ands in there. Anyway, it was exciting when I first heard this song, because at that point I didn't speak any Latvian except for being able to ask/answer the questions "Kā tev iet?" and "Ko tu dari?" Also, if someone could explain to me what a palm-sized spring is, I'd really appreciate it.

Lauris Reiniks: Es Skrienu (I Run)
Better than Aisha, but still... The title means "I run", and the chorus is "I run and run some more / I have yet to manage / Before you leave, wait more / So I dance and dance some more / I have yet to manage / Already so late / I should be present as an image / A strange image." (That's just my attempts at translation, feel free to correct me.) The music video for the song is kind of great. The images are very... Latvian. The best parts? 

-When the weird guys tries to get the girls in the car at 2:21, and they enjoy it (and don't get irritated and/or scared of being trafficked like American girls do, and I am totally not talking about myself and my personal experiences with weird Latvian guys.)

-Also, the girl's outfit with the black leggings and hairbow.

-When he is on the horse, starting at 3:45

-The dance routine at 4:40

Prāta Vētra: Mana Dziesma (My Song)
A very patriotic song about Latvia and Latvians; this video is from their performance at the Song Festival.

2 Response to "Latvian Pop Music & Prāta Vētra Concert"

  1. Mama Kangaroo Says:

    Nice...especially enjoyed Bollywood meets Latvian pop ( though could they have just cleaned up his cut face before the dance routine?)

  2. Paul Says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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