Okay so take Eastern European folk music, add a dash of polka, and blend with straight-up Punk Rock. This is something along the lines of the recipe for Gogol Bordello.
Led by Ukrainian frontman Eugene Hütz, Gogol Bordello has exploded in popularity since their first single's release in 1999, with tours through Europe and the United States. Their music has appeared in Wristcutters: A Love Story (the character of Eugene, played by Shea Whigham, is based on Hütz) and the band appeared in the movie of Everything Is Illuminated, with Hütz playing the character Alex Perchov. They have played with bands of various genres, including folk-punk bands like Devotchka and Flogging Molly.
The band is best known for their extremely high energy, theatrical shows, "gypsy punk" sound, and cultural diversity (within their songs and within the band itself). Their lyrics are often political, dealing with immigrant life, poverty, and Romani rights. Accordion, violin, upright bass, and other instruments not commonly used in rock are featured prominently.
Tropes related to, invoked by, or sung about by Gogol Bordello:
- Answer Song:
First time I had read The BibleIt had stroke me as unwittyI think it may started rumor
- Within the same album. "Supertheory of Supereverything" begins
Second time I read the bibleI was thinking it's alright
- And "Super Taranta!" (the song, not the album)
- Author Tract: Most explicitly in "Immigraniada (We Comin' Rougher)", "Ultimate", "Your Country", "Not a Crime", and "Tribal Connection," just to name a few.
- Badass Mustache
- Bilingual Bonus: The majority of their songs have some non-English lyrics
- Blunt Metaphors Trauma: A lot of the songs do this.
- But Not Too Foreign: Eugene lived in the US from when he was 15 to a few years ago so speaks near perfect English, despite using the wrong grammar in his songs (mostly for comedy purposes). When he lived in his native Ukraine, he never actually lived as a gypsy, and mostly sings about the culture because he has Romani ancestry and because he admires the sense of togetherness.
- Careful with That Axe (Eugene?): "I Would Never Wanna Be Young Again"
- The Casanova: "Sex Spider". Additionally, Hütz has become somewhat of a sex symbol.
- Citizenship Marriage: "Greencard Husband"
- Crapsack World: The situation described in "When Universes Collide"
- Culture Clash: Many of their songs address the giant differences across cultures
- Determined Defeatist: From "Huliganjetta": "If situation is no-win/Anyhow I'm going to win"
- Development Hell: "Voi-La Intruder" was released locally in 1999, but was not picked up by a label until March 2002. This was after the single When The Trickster Starts A Poking/Occurance On The Border was released in 2001, which was recorded for their second album Multi Kontra Kulti Vs Irony released in Sep 2002.
- Dysfunctional Family: "My Strange Uncles From Abroad"
- Mr. Fanservice: Eugene, according to YouTube.
- Fake Radio Show Album: There are some random interjects in "Not A Crime"
- Funny Foreigner: The band themselves parody and subvert this trope, and there a few songs like "My Strange Uncles From Abroad" which discuss it
- Furo Scene: "Avenue B"
- Genre Adultery:
- Each album will be somewhat folkish punkish but just how much punk and just how much folk is never certain. They've been known to cover some traditional Eastern European folk songs. In the collaboration known as Jüdisch-Ukrainische Freundschaft (J.U.F. for short) between Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat, things take a more dancey turn. The band also have some reggae and dub influences, the song Dogs Were Barking starting off as a frenetic gypsy punk song before having a dub middle section complete with toasting (Jamaican style rapping).
- During their summer tour with Brazilian band Forro In The Dark, they would frequently invite the band onstage to accompany them performing forró (A Brazilian type of rhythmic dance music that incorporates heavy percussion) renditions of their own songs.
- Godwin's Law: "Mussolini vs. Stalin"
- Gold Tooth: Hütz has one
- Indecipherable Lyrics: Sometimes you can't understand it because it's in a different language; sometimes it's just plain impossible to understand in any language.
- Life of the Party: In "American Wedding" the speaker attempts to be one, only to discover that quiet, traditional American weddings are vastly different from the giant, loud weddings he's used to.
- Literary Allusion Title: Yes, it's a reference to that Nikolai Gogol
- Lyrical Dissonance
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: "Gypsy punk," combining punk music with various Eastern-European folk traditions and the occasional bit of reggae and dub.
- New Sound Album: "Gypsy Punks" was much harder rocking than their previous albums, and both "Trans-Continental Hustle" and "Pura Vida Conspiracy" feature the influence of Brazilian music due to Eugene having moved to Brazil.
- Nostalgia Filter: Discussed unfavorably a few times but it's pretty blatant in "Ultimate"There were never any good old daysThey are today, they are tomorrowIt's a stupid thing we sayCursing tomorrow with sorrow
- Ode to Intoxication: "Alcohol"
- Recurring Element: A girl named Sally is mentioned quite a few times. Possibly named after Sally Norvell, though it's obviously not supposed to be her.
- Religion Rant Song: "Supertheory of Supereverything." Retracted in the song "Super Taranta!"
- Re-release the Song: The band rerecorded "Start Wearing Purple" (from Voi-La Intruder) and "Avenue B" (from East Infection) for Gypsy Punks, and rerecorded "My Strange Uncles From Abroad" (from East Infection) for "Super Taranta". Eugene also rewrote his previous band The Fags' punk song "Jung And Crazee" in a slow acoustic style as "Nomadic Chronicle".
- Romani: Hütz discovered that his grandmother has of Romani descent when he was 14, a fact that was kept from him purposefully. He has embraced his heritage and has supported various Romani rights organizations
- Rule of Cool: The clothes, the odd metaphors, etc.
- Rule of Funny: His occasional poor grammar - his English is near perfect as he lived in the US since he was 15.
- Scatting: Tons of songs feature random shouting, las, das, and ah-yah-dahs.
- Shout-Out: Gogol Bordello is a reference to the writer Nikolai Gogol
- Trope Namer:
- Wanderlust Song: "Wonderlust King"
- Word Salad Lyrics: All the time. In various languages.
- Write What You Know: Hütz came to America when he was twenty after traveling extensively through Europe and many of the songs address prejudice against immigrants and people of Romani descent.