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‘We're staying home today’: The unexpected anthem of Russia's COVID-19 lockdown

Screenshot from the music video of Hadn Dadn's “We're staying home today”, YouTube, 2018.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

As Russia gradually eases its COVID-19 lockdown, a song by Moscow indie band Hadn Dadn is being hailed as the “anthem of self-isolation.”

“We're staying home today,” begins the song of the same name, “We're staying home tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. And the day after that.”

Given the strictness of self-isolation requirements for Russians, particularly in Moscow, it's not surprising that the song's bittersweet homage to being housebound has struck a chord. It incessantly shared on social networks. Independent station TV Rain organised a flashmob with around a dozen prominent female actors, television presenters, and videobloggers singing the song from their homes.

The song's sudden surge in popularity reflects Russians’ changing listening habits under lockdown. Writing on May 5 for Kommersant, radio columnist Dmitry Butkevich cited data from popular streaming service Zvuk, according to which Russians had dropped their party playlists in March and April in favour of more ambient music which could help productivity and relieve stress. Predictably, he also noted a surge of interest in songs specially tailored to these unusual times, such as the dance track Coronaminus by Gidayyat and Gazan, Kis-Kis's Quarantine, Olga Buzova's Let's stay at home, and Byanka's Pandemic.

All of these songs were recorded in the early months of 2020 as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Hadn Dadn's song is unusual in that, despite its popularity, it was actually written in 2017 and released on the group's 2018 Secret Album. In the words of lead soloist Varvara Kramova, the lyrics refer to a visit to the North Caucasus with the band's producer Anton Moiseyenko, who intended to spend the new year with his parents and explore the region. But after four days visiting bucolic spa towns such as Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk, Moiseyenko's parents had had enough. They urged Moiseyenko and Kramova to stay at home rather than visit Zheleznovodsk. But the two pressed on and went alone, distilling their irritation at being denied their wanderlust into a protest song.

When interviewed for BookMate as part of the #СидиЧитай campaign (when celebrities discuss their favourite books during self-isolation), Kramova reflected on the song's humble origins and its subsequent significance:

Мы шли к автобусной остановке, чтобы ехать в Железноводск, и орали отвратительными голосами «Мы сегодня дома! Завтра тоже дома!» и представить себе не могли, что эта песня станет гимном самоизоляции.

As we went to the bus stop in order to go to Zheleznovodsk, we shouted in a disgusting tone ‘we're staying home today! We're staying home tomorrow!’ We could never have imagined that the song would become the anthem of self-isolation.

It was one of several songs written by Kramenko during the trip, and she wasn't initially convinced that it would be an obvious hit.

The reaction appears to have surprised her. For example when Hadn Dadn performed the song in March for the finale of Bol’, or “Pain”, a Moscow music festival streamed online, Kramova says that she was pleasantly surprised by how many of the audience members appeared to be able to sing along to the lyrics. But the musician now believes that the song's significance could prove its undoing, as future listeners associate it with the traumatic times of the COVID-19 pandemic. As she told the independent news outlet Meduza in early April:

Мне кажется, что, когда эпидемия закончится, эту песню будут вспоминать как страшный сон — из-за этой ассоциации она умрет. На самом деле мы уже подустали петь ее на концертах, довольно долго ее играем. Мы с Антоном долго размышляли, что может убить эту песню — отдать ее в рекламу? Или куда-то еще? Мы даже стремились к тому, чтобы этого не случилось — придумывали всякие акустические версии, но, кажется, песня сама по себе умрет.

It seems to me that when this epidemic ends, this song will be remembered like a bad dream. Due to that association, it will die. In fact, we're already tired of singing it at concerts: we've been playing it for a long time. Anton and I had wondered for quite some time about what would kill the song. Allowing an advertisement to use it? Or somewhere else? We even tried hard to ensure that didn't happen; we came up with all kinds of acoustic versions. But it seems that the song will die by itself.

Hadn Dadn's sorrowful lyrics are suited to the moment in a country which now records over 10,000 coronavirus cases every day. And if virologists’ predictions of a second wave are accurate, their words could be resonant for even longer.

But there is some deliverance to these lyrics, as the singers staying home can ask their friends to take a walk on their behalf and pass greetings to their friends. Even if, as one commentator under the official music video remarks, that simple gesture may be prohibited for the time being.

Мы сегодня дома
Завтра тоже дома
Послезавтра дома
Послепослезавтра тоже дома
Вы езжайте там без нас
Погуляйте там за нас
Хорошенько погуляйте
Всем привет передавайте

Мы сегодня дома
Потому что мы устали
Потому что было много
Дел вчера по дому
Вы езжайте, ато что-то
Холодно на улице
А у нас тепло – мы топим
И гуляем на крыльце
Даже в ванной есть вода и горячая всегда
И не нужно ехать в баню, и не нужно никуда
Ну а если вы серьезно, то оденьтесь потеплей
Поезжайте на маршрутке, всего 45 рублей

Да куда вы претесь?
Что опять забыли?
Почему вам надо ехать?
Мы сто раз уже там были
Вы купите мне картину
Выбирайте покрасивей
Буду вечером сидеть
Буду на нее смотреть
Там кафешка у Натальи, у Ахмеда ресторан
Нам вообще не интересно, что не видели мы там
Там фонтан, потом орел, там дорожка вдоль палатки

Мы сегодня дома
Завтра тоже дома

We're staying home today
We're staying home tomorrow too
And the day after tomorrow
And the day after that
Go out without us
Take a walk for us
Have a nice walk
Say hello to everyone from us

We're staying home today
Because we're tired
Because there was a lot
To do at home yesterday
Go out without us, and so on
It's cold outside
It's warm at home, we're drowning
We can step out onto the porch
There's even water in the bathroom, and it's always hot
We don't need to go to the bathhouse or anywhere else
Well, if you're so serious about it, dress warmly
Take the minibus, it's just 45 rubles

We're staying home today
At home tomorrow too
And the day after tomorrow
And the day after that
Go out without us
Take a walk for us
Have a nice walk
Say hello to everyone from us

Where are you hurrying to?
What have you forgotten?
Why do you have to go?
We've been there a hundred times
Buy me a picture
Choose a pretty one
I'll look at it tonight
Natalya has a cafe, Ahmed has a restaurant
We don't care that you didn't see us there
There's a fountain, then an eagle, then a path by the tents

We're staying home today
We're staying home tomorrow too

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