Kyrgyz Music Friday

Kyrgyz Music Friday is a (sometimes) weekly feature in which I post a pop music video from an artist in Kyrgyzstan. It could be catchy, annoying, funny, insightful, brilliant, awful, or anything in between. It’s what’s playing on the radio, what all the cool kids are listening to these days. Kyrgyz Music Friday is not trying to appeal to your musical taste (which I’m sure is awesome), but simply gives you a glimpse into how pop music is done on this side of the world. Feel free to share your thoughts on this week’s video in the comment section!

Just like last week, I’m not exactly featuring a music video in this post. This week, I’m doing a concert review because I saw Kanykei in concert last Thursday! Yaaaaaaay!

To sum up, she was amazing. Although I would caveat that with a few small, eh, disappointments I guess I would call them. Her voice is powerful and she doesn’t need the ten tons of auto-tune that unfortunately dominate the album I paid 200 som for.

She played two shows last week, on May 30 and 31, to celebrate the release of her full-length album Sadagam (which you may remember the title track from a recent Kyrgyz Music Friday). My friends and I had seats in middle nose bleed section, let’s call them. Not quite as high as we could’ve gone (thank god, because I’m terrified of heights), and situated nearly in the center of the auditorium. We could see everything, just from a distance.

Highlights from the show include:
– her first outfit, which looked like a cross between Bjork and Charlie Brown.

– how people from the audience would just randomly hop up on stage to give her flowers, as if a bouquet was all the permission you needed to give her a hug. One girl took full advantage and just latched on for a full five-second show of sincere adoration.

– the emcee and Kanykei had a weird, semi-scripted banter going on for the show. He would switch between Russian and Kyrgyz, while Kanykei only spoke in Kyrgyz. My friends told me they said things like, “Kanykei, your fans like to dance, wouldn’t it be great if you had a dance song?” “Funny you say that, I do have a dance song that I will sing now!” The emcee was ridiculously cheesy and would also overemphasize the sponsors of the show. Whenever he would “casually” mention a sponsor in their banter, he would stop, look at the audience, and repeat the name and their slogan as if he suddenly transformed into a commercial.

– Special guests! In addition to Oakland and Nurbek (OMG!), Kanykei also sang a cover of Gulnur Satylganova’s song “Nandyn Jyty” with her! She’s another huge pop star in Kyrgyzstan, but on a different level than Kanykei, Omar, Mirbek Atabekov, etc. I’d say she’s like the Madonna of Kyrgyzstan. Or Celine Dion.

– Kanykei played the komuz, a girl of many talents!

Ouf, but no show can go off without a hitch. She messed up the words to one of her biggest songs (Kara Chan, I recorded video of it below), and then when she did a cover of a Victor Tsoy song (a legendary rock star in Central Asia) she set up a sheet for the lyrics and still didn’t get them right. (Update: Okay, okay, she didn’t mess up the lyrics to Kara Chan, as a few commenters pointed out. She was just trying to get the audience to sing along. Neither I, nor the people I was with caught on to that. My group was adamant that she didn’t do justice to the Victor Tsoy song though. Nevertheless, Kanykei is amazing, we all agree.)

There were a few songs where I could tell she was holding back from hitting certain notes with full force, which seemed like a cop-out, although she did gradually get into the performance enough so by the end of the show I would say she was giving it 100%. I was pleased with the show, but several friends told me it was nowhere near on par with some of her past shows, which usually included more elaborate costumes and dances.

And, of course, I am beyond bummed that she did not perform any Cranberries covers, even though she sounds exactly like the lead singer. (She’s done it at past shows, it’s not completely unrealistic.)

Here are some videos I recorded during the show.

Her opening song, I can’t figure out what it’s called 🙁

“Znayu” (in Russian, “I know”).

This was the closing song, “Mekinim Menen” (in Kyrgyz, I’m going to take a guess that it translates to something like “my homeland”?)

One of her most popular songs, Kara Chan.

This is the part of the show where I died of excitement because OMG SHE SANG MALISHKA BEE WITH OAKLAND AND THEN NURBEK CAME OUT ON STAGE. It’s official, every time I go to the Sports Palace for a show, Nurbek shows up and sings. That’s a wonderful coincidence.

It wasn’t on my list, but I feel like seeing a Kanykei concert is a necessary milestone considering how long I’ve been in Kyrgyzstan. I’m really glad I got to experience it, even if other people say it wasn’t her best show. I LOVE YOU, KANYKEI!!

5 replies on “Kyrgyz Music Friday”

  1. Hi Kirstin,

    Thanks for your Friday music post. I just have a comment about your post on Kanykei’s messed up lyrics song – I think Kanykai actually intended to engage her audience and stopped singing at different moments in order to allow the audience to sing and fill the lyrics in. It is hard to tell how successful she was. Did the audience sing along with her? Otherwise, her signature song sounds perfect to me…

    1. It’s possible, though during another song later in the show she did definitely try to engage the audience, trying to get them to sing along, and she walked up to the front of the stage and waved her arms and stuck the microphone out. I was up really high so I don’t know how much the whole audience responded, but the way it seemed is that she forgot the lyrics during Kara Chan. Who knows, she’s still absolutely amazing.

  2. Hi Kirstin, nice page. Do you mean 1:00 minutes in Kara Chan video, she said: ‘together’ and then ‘and now’. anyway, it is good to know she sang live without recordings.

    all the best for your and your family.

    1. Ahh, okay. Perhaps I was too harsh. The whole group I was with (four of whom speak Kyrgyz) all thought she messed up, I’m surprised none of them caught that, but maybe we were just sitting up too high to hear it. Thanks for clarifying!

  3. After visiting a Kyrgyz restaurant in Chicago this summer I was spellbound by the music they were playing there. I found it was Gulnur Satylganova. They had just sold the last CD of her songs and did not know when they were gonna get more. I was so saddened by this. Wish I could find her CD’s online.

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