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From left to right: Temka, Enkush, Jaya, Gala

"Those who study Mongolian music believe one reason The Hu has proved so popular with outsiders is this combining of modern and historical and eastern and western elements."
NPR
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The Hu (also rendered as The HU; Хү in Mongolian) is a band formed in 2016 from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Blending in an unique way metal music and traditional Mongolian folk music (in particular throat singing), the band refers to their style as "Hunnu Rock", with "Hunnu" being the Mongolian word for the Xiongnu, an ancient civilisation located in the Eurasian steppes, that is often identified with the Huns in the Western world.

The band was formed by Bayarmagnai Dashdondog, AKA Dashka, a producer with a long story of collaboration with Mongolian pop and rock bands. With the idea of blending together ancient folk sounds and modern metal music, to create something new and never heard before, he picked the current members of The HU from the Ulaanbaatar Conservatory. So they debuted in late 2018 with two music videos, "Yuve Yuve Yu" and "Wolf Totem".

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To describe their debut a success would be an understatement. Their first two singles gained 7 million views by the end of 2018 and 100 million after a year. Compare that with ethnic Mongols numbering 10 million people. In 2019 "Wolf Totem" made The Hu the first Mongolian band to top on a Billboard chart, with "Yuve Yuve Yu" also present several positions below.

In 2019 the band released their first album, The Gereg; the same year, Mongolian president Khaltmaagiin Battulga personally congratulated with the band for promoting Mongolian culture abroad, awarding them with the Order of Genghis Khan, the highest state award of the country. It can be said that The Hu single handedly brought under the international spotlight a country that was until recently relegated to the periphery of the world.

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Band Members

  • Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar "Gala" - lead throat singing, morin khuur
  • Enkhasaikhan Batjargal "Enkush" - lead morin khuur, throat singing
  • Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts "Jaya" - jaw harp, tsuur, throat singing
  • Temuulen Naranbaatar "Temka" - topshur, backing vocals

Touring members

  • Jambaldorj Ayush "Jamba" – guitars, backing vocals
  • Nyamdavaa aka Davaa – bass, backing vocals
  • Unumunkh Maralkhuu "Ono" – percussion, tumur khuur, backing vocals
  • Odbayar Gantumur "Odko" – drums

Discography

Singles

  • Yuve Yuve Yu note  (2018)
  • Wolf Totem (2018)
  • Shoog Shoog note  (2019)
  • The Great Chinggis Khaan (2019)
  • Sugaan Essena (Original music from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order) (2020)
  • Sad but True (Cover of Metallica) (2020)

Albums

  • The Gereg (2019)
    • The Gereg (Deluxe Edition) (2020)
  • TBA (2021)

This band provides examples of:

  • Ambadassador: "The Gereg" narrates the travel of a Mongol ambassador, as he bears the orders of the Khan to his subject.
  • Animal Metaphor: In "Wolf Totem" the singer compares himself and his companions to leopards fighting back against enemy hordes, who are compared to lions, elephants and tigers.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • The logo of the band represents a snow leopard, an important folkloristic symbol in Mongolian and Turkic culture. It's not a dragon, contrary to what some people mistakenly believed.
    • Gala's morin khuur and Temka's tovshuur have horse head-shaped headstock, which are the cover image for the singles "Yuve Yuve Yu" and "Wolf Totem" respectively.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Jaya keeps very long, smooth hair.
  • Battle Chant: "Wolf Totem" is a veritable war chant, where the singer warns any enemy army threatening him and his fellow warriors, encouraging them to resist and fight back.
  • Braids of Barbarism: Both Gala and Enkush boast these.
  • Conlang: "Sugaan Essena", produced for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, is sung in "Huttese", the language of the Hutts.
  • Contrast Montage: At the very beginning of "Yuve Yuve Yu", scenes of the band members grappling with daily modern life situations are briefly contrasted with Mongolian scenic landscapes, and with the band members playing their folk-inspirated song.
  • Crossover:
    • With From Ashes to New for a rearranged version of "Yuve Yuve Yu".
    • With Jacoby Shaddix, from Papa Roach, for a rearranged version of "Wolf Totem".
    • With Lzzy Hale, from Halestorm, for a rearranged version of "Song of Women".
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: In "The Legend of the Mother Swan", the Mother Swan sacrifices herself to save her cygnets, who are still too young and unable to fly, from freezing to death in the frozen lake.
  • Female Empowerment Song: "Song of Women" is an ode to the wife, described as a compassionate, lovely figure, who brings comfort and peace to the heart of her beloved. The remix version with Lzzy Hale expands the meaning to womankind in its broader sense.
  • Foreign Language Title: Many songs have an English title and "the" is frequently used in pair with Mongolian words, even in the band's name. Curiously, The Hu has never sung once in English.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: "The Great Chinggis Khaan" is dedicated to Genghis Khan, who reunited the disjointed Mongol tribes and led them to the foundation of a vast, powerful empire.
  • Genre Mashup: Between Mongolian folk music and Hard Rock / Heavy Metal. The band refers to this as "Hunnu Rock" , with Hunnu being the word for the Xiongnu or Huns.
  • Hordes from the East: Of course, considering that The HU draw explicit inspiration from, and sing about, the Mongols, the greatest Hordes from the East ever.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: "Yuve Yuve Yu" is about how modern Mongolians can't "rise up" and show the spirit and courage of their conqueror ancestors.
  • Instrumental Weapon: Played with: Temka's topshur is modelled like a bow, and it's the cover image for the single "Shoog Shoog".
  • Longest Song Goes Last: The standard edition of The Gereg closes out with the 7:16 "Song of Women". The bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition, on the other hand, end with the shortest song (a 3:51 acoustic version of "Shoog Shoog").
  • Lyric Video: For "Shoog Shoog".
  • Multilingual Song: The remixes of "Yuve Yuve Yu", "Wolf Totem" and "Song of Women" have lyrics both in Mongolian (sung by The Hu) and English (sung by the featured American singer).
  • My Horse Is a Motorbike: The gang of bikers in "Wolf Totem" is clearly inspired by typical Mongol hordes.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: At the end of the music video of "This is The Mongol" several celebrants arrange themselves around the band in a swastika formation. Needless to point out for the millionth time that the swastika is also a Buddhist symbol, that Mongols are mostly Buddhist, etc...
  • Patriotic Fervor: "This Is The Mongol" heralds a prosperous future for the Mongolian people, who will reclaim their fame, will thrive and "always be joyful". It's telling that the song was performed on the occasion of the Naadam of 2020, a national Mongolian summer festival.
  • Portal Door: At the beginning of "Yuve Yuve Yu", when Gala attempts to leave his bedroom, as he open the door he finds himself in front of the mountainous landscape, where the video takes place.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The band is very much in tune with Mongolian history and the Mongol Empire. The "Wolf Totem" video starts out with a traditional Mongol warrior on horseback before cutting to a motorcycle gang, expressly connecting the past and present. "The Great Chinggis Khan" is, of course, a tribute to the greatest Mongolian warrior of all.
  • Ritual Magic: "Shoog Shoog" is a prayer dedicated to the ancestors.
  • Scenery Porn: "Yuve Yuve Yu" music video gives magnificent views (in 4K no less!) of Mongolian landscapes: mountain passes, vast steppes and deserts. Most of it was shot around Khyargas Lake, aside from other unspecified places. "Wolf Totem" limits itself to a quick, yet impressive, aerial sight of a steppe.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The transcription used in "The Great Chinggis Khaan" comes off as weird to those who are used to the traditional "Genghis Khan", but it's actually more accurate to the Mongolian orthography and pronunciation.
  • Stock Footage: The music video of "The Great Chinggis Khaan" includes scene from the movie Mongol.
  • Title Track: The Gereg has this as its first track.
  • Translated Cover Version:
    • "Sugaan Essena" is a translated version of "Black Thunder", a yet unreleased song, in "Huttese", the language of the Hutts in the Star Wars universe.
    • "Sad but True" is (as expected) a cover version of the Metallica song, with Mongolian lyrics.

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