The Belarus Blues: Rockerjoker – by Anteo Fabris

Rockerjoker’s take on Mickey Mouse. Something your kids will never forget.

I am happy to see that this duo is gaining popularity. However, I am inclined to assume that they are known predominantly among Russian-speakers, probably because they sing in a Belorussian dialect. Their lyrics, however, are not by far the defining trait of their music (although it is a unique aspect of it; I have only been able to translate a few songs with the help of Russian speakers). The first striking quality of their works is their sound: two deep, growling voices (very different from each other despite their similar style) accompanied by an amplified ukulele and an accordion. I was surprised to hear that this instrument combination blended so well. Here are some good examples:

In the second video linked above, “Amerika,” they sing goodbye to McDonald’s and Mickey Mouse (in English) while a man in the video is being mutilated with hair clippers and luggage bands to resemble a nightmarish version of Mickey Mouse as he is being aggressively fed a hamburger. There was something very classy about this video, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on it; it might have been because they limited the hamburger-to-face action to a one hamburger minimum. Or it could have to do with the fact that they used matte rose lipstick on the man’s mouth. Regardless, the video ends with a photo of the man as a happy young man, probably in a graduation book or something, being shown to the camera as the man is being suffocated with a plastic bag behind the photo. I wasn’t sure what to make of this video, just because of what it is. I was, however, pretty certain about its message, which was to point out the corruptive effects of consumerism and idolization on an individual. It somehow resembles a hostage video, which might have been an interesting commentary by the director. I remember that for a few years after the September 11th attacks, hostage videos of captured journalists were incredibly prevalent in the news. I still wasn’t sure why they had chosen to attack American culture; was this in relation to theirs? Or were they simply bashing the U.S? I decided to find out what they were saying.

With the help of a friend I was able to translate the song. Here is the translation of the lyrics:

Momma there are already so many wrinkles upon my face

(unintelligible) will write me a letter

Pimples are making my skin hideous

My face is turning into a grimace

Who will, who will, who will buy me a ticket

Shit, there are no takers

Goodbye America, goodbye McDonald’s, goodbye Mickey Mouse (2x)

You’re goddamn jeans have become too small for me

They taught us for so long

My hamburger is my stretching out my mouth

Goodbye America, goodbye McDonald’s, goodbye Mickey Mouse (2x)

Ok, so it’s about an unhealthy body image… Quite cryptic… Nevertheless, many of their songs have something very soulful and sad. Whether or not you understand them, their singing is certainly very touching.

Since they have started they also have begun using a violinist now and then, as well as an auxiliary percussionist. Some of their songs also feature a small brass section. I found their myspace; of course it’s all in (Belo?)Russian, but they have music on their page:

Also, here you can listen to and/or download their latest album:


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