Playlist: Pilot Episode
Russia: A Man Like Putin
Since this techno-pop propaganda tune became a karaoke favorite in Russia, it has been remade in English.
One of the most widely recognized and translated songs in the world, this stirring worker's anthem was originally written in 19th century France. It became a secular hymn for international socialism and the unofficial national anthem of the early Soviet Union. Listen to its many versions on this web site.
Arise, you prisoners of starvation!
Arise, you wretched of the earth!
For justice thunders condemnation:
A better world's in birth!
"A Man Like Putin" songwriter Alexander Yelin continues his pursuit of another mega-hit — this time around with an all-women heavy metal band, "Free Pack." Check out their song, "My Day" which turns out to be more about their affection for the night.
A new generation of singers like Yana Dayneko and Michail Veselov is reviving Brezhnev-era propaganda songs like this one. Listen to a late Cold War era 1978 version by the pop group Samotsvety.
Nigeria: Black President
The web site Lala hosts hundreds of Fela Kuti songs for you to explore. Get a sample of Fela's Afrobeat sound including these classics.
"Shuffering and Shmiling"
One of Fela's classic songs, "Shuffering and Shmiling" describes what ordinary Nigerians have to put up with and how they mange to survive in a city like Lagos, where authorities often fail to provide the basic necessities of life — from clean drinking water to reliable electricity.
Back in the 1970s, International Telephone & Telegraph was the archetypal multi-national conglomerate. Fela accused them of meddling in Nigerian politics. At the time, ITT was also notorious for backing the 1973 military coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile.
"Teacher Don't Teach Me Nonsense"
Check out the word play, satire and mind games that Fela was famous for. In this lyric, there's "democracy" and then there's "demo crazy" and many other variations.
Album cover artist Lemi Ghariokwu describes this 1977 album title track as a prime example of what Fela called a "D.A." or "direct attack." In this track, Fela ridicules the Nigerian military as mindless, violent "zombies." The military retaliated with a full-scale raid on Fela's Kalakuta commune, beating and arresting the singer and killing his mother.
Fela Kuti's oldest son Femi, a major star in his own right on the world music scene, also uses music to protest corruption and repression in Nigeria. But he is perhaps best known around the world for his high-voltage, non-political dance tunes like "Beng Beng Beng". You can explore more of Femi's music at his MySpace page.
Listen to songs from Fela's youngest son's first album, "Many Things." In the title song Seun serves notice that the Afrobeat torch has been passed to a new generation. Seun's songs echo his father's potent mix of funky music and rebellious lyrics.
The story of Fela Kuti is now being told in a high-energy Broadway musical directed by Bill T. Jones. The show's Web site has a wealth of information about Fela including videos, articles and behind-the-scenes features about the show.
Kazakhstan: Oh Kazakhstan!
In 2008, Erran Baron Cohen came out with "Songs in the Key of Hannukah," an album that reinterpreted Hannukah favorites and included new songs for the Jewish holiday. Listen to Erran talk about the album and his music in this interview on NPR. And watch the hilarious music video for a righteously hip-hop version of "Dreidel" on this site for his band, Zohar.
Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albeniz wrote Asturias as part of his Suite Española in 1883. The piece is well-known today among classical guitarists, but Kazakhstani virtuoso violinist Marat Bisengaliev arranged it for the violin. Listen to a sample of the piece on the home page of Marat Bisengaliev's Web site.
Erran Baron Cohen's beautiful symphony for Marat Bisengaliev comes in three parts. Listen to the piece, with its Kazakh folk influences, in its entirety here.
Global Hit: Mariza
The web site of our Global Hit guest, fado sensation Mariza, is a real treat. Browse through her discography and enjoy translated lyrics, or click on the video section for clips from live performances and behind-the-scenes footage of her creating her album "Transparente."
Mariza's record company, where you can read more about her latest record as well as a number of other world music performers.
Breaking it Down: Afrobeat
Host Marco Werman leads a musical exploration of Fela Kuti and the continuing evolution of Afrobeat.
Like any musical tradition with a long history, fado has taken many turns. Reporter Mirissa Neff takes us on a musical journey into fado's past and present.