Pop singer Robbie Williams accused of stereotyping Russians in new single

British singer Robbie Williams may have lost some fans in Russia with his latest track.

Story highlights

  • New song satirizes the hard-partying ways of Russia's super-rich oligarchs
  • One Russian commentator said it would hurt the UK singer's popularity in Russia

(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, super-rich kleptocrats who indulge in vodka and the drug MDMA, and thugs who settle disputes by putting "the boots in."
Perhaps even more sacrilegiously, the song samples "Dance of the Knights," a famous piece of classical music by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev.

    Critic: 'This will upset' people

    Following the release of the music video 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."

    Singer: Why not joke about it?

    But others were not troubled by the song. Russian singer Yuri Loza, speaking to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, said it should be fine for foreigners to mock the country's oligarchs, just as Russians themselves have.
    "Why is it that when we talk and joke about this, it is OK?" he said. "Why should others also not joke about it? We also have a load of specific humor about all of our oligarchs, about our crazy money."

    Williams: Song is not about Putin

    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.
    "I'm not making fun of anybody ..." Williams told The Sun newspaper, adding that the song is a comment on how Russians are "ridiculously good partiers."