Mongolians have great music. As a nomadic people, they didn’t have the room to carry around paintings or fancy vases, so music became their art of choice and they have some really interesting styles. Many of their more traditional songs have been revamped, edited, auto-tuned, and put into music videos. I watched a lot of music videos with my host-family on TV during PST, and now I still get to watch them while on long bus trips where they play them from DVDs on a screen in the front of the bus. Most people don’t have ipods, so you have to have something to keep people occupied for +8 hours. And yes, that is a lot of music videos, but I find them entertaining.
I like music from a lot of different places, but Mongolians have a particularly jaunty beat to their recent revamped music, and I really enjoy most of it. That being said, there is a fair amount of repetition of themes and styles I have noticed.
Below is a non-definitive list of music video styles. I should warn you that they are fond of super long intros so you can usually just skip ahead 30 seconds to the actual songs.
Damn, Mongolia is Awesome.
These videos are characterized by horses galloping in slow-motion, men in deels with their arms open wide, and lyrics about the greatness of the Mongolian people.
Young love and babies.
Mongolians are romantics and there are a lot of music videos about young love. A slightly older man and woman narrate a story about a young couple who fall in love and have a lot of babies.
Khodoo life forever.
These kinds of videos open with some kind of conflict between city folks and people who live in the countryside and are an interesting look the the “two Mongolias” that co-exist. These videos usually end with the city folks realizing how great countryside life is.
Moms are so pretty and wonderful.
These are self-explanatory: they celebrate the relationship between children and their mothers.
There aren’t many videos about female friendship (or any that I can think of), but there are plenty about male friendship. If you see men around a campfire singing in the countryside, you might be watching a video about male friendship.
There are a lot of new artists in Mongolia right now, but I’m including this one because it was the big hit last summer and it for sure got stuck in my head. Plus I think it’s cool to see traditional deels looking so hip. Bonus points for the gratuitous use of English.
Finally, I want to reiterate that this list is by no means a comprehensive list of Mongolian music, but simply some common themes that I have seen in my limited experience and some songs I enjoy listening to.