“Rasputin” became one of the songs we listened to the most on TikTok, you probably remember it and relate it to one of the challenges that became popular during the pandemic. The song became trending again after its appearance in one of the episodes of the sixth season of Black Mirror, one of the favorite series in the Netflix catalog.
This song is not only a track with quite an infectious rhythm; its lyrics hide a sinister story starring one of the most popular and eerie characters in Russian history.
The Story Behind “Rasputin” by Boney M.
Boney M. released “Rasputin” on August 28, 1978, as the second single from his third studio album Nightflight to Venus. Although the album had other good songs, it was this track that broke the charts worldwide. Boney M. composed ‘Rasputin’ to talk about one of the best-known characters in European history, Grigori Rasputin, although they portrayed him in a very different way than he is known.
The song talks about Grigori Rasputin, a legendary Russian mystic who had a reputation as a healer through his prayer; his popularity was increasing, and people went to him to heal diseases that were no longer curable by doctors. Even Rasputin was called to cut the bleeding of Aleksei, the son of Tsar Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia.
Tsarina Alejandra Fiódorovna had the hope that the man would completely cure Alekséi, the heir to the throne, who had hemophilia. Rasputin’s relationship with the young boy and the alleged improvement of his health gained him great influence over Alejandra and the Romanov family.
It was even said that Grigori Rasputin was Alejandra’s lover, a rumor that sounded a lot at that time since some political enemies of the mystic took advantage of the closeness of both to discredit his name. Even, this gossip is also mentioned in Boney M’s song. “Ra, ra, Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen,” is heard in the song.
Rasputin and the Russian Monarchy
The song also talks about how Rasputin became an extremely popular figure in Russian history, even saying that his political power surpassed the Tsar himself. This is also recorded in Russian history, which states that Nicholas II had to pass some of his decisions to the eye of his advisor.
According to history, it is said that when his alleged sexual escapades and political acts became intolerant, men of higher rank “plotted his downfall.” When his power over the Tsar and his family got out of control, Prime Minister Aleksandr Trepov offered him money to return to his people. Grigory Rasputin refused and would not accept the 200,000 rubles he was offered to stay away from the Russian monarchy, so several politicians tried to assassinate him.
However, it was until they tricked him into a supposed meeting with Duchess Irina Alexandrovna, Felix Yusupov, Vladimir Purishkevich, and Dmitri Pavlovich, that they took the opportunity to poison and shoot him. Rasputin managed to survive; however, it was a fatal shot to the forehead that killed the 47-year-old mystic, whose body was found lifeless on December 30, 1916.
“Rasputin” Was a Worldwide Hit
“Rasputin” by Boney M. was a worldwide hit, even topping the charts in Germany, Austria, and Australia, while in the UK and Switzerland, it was second place. Although it was also a huge hit in the Soviet Union, Boney M. was banned from integrating the song into their release, and they were not allowed to play it live during their ten performances in Moscow in December 1978.
Decades after the premiere of “Rasputin,” TikTok revived the track by taking it once again to the top of the charts. This happened in early 2021, when the #Rasputindancechallenge emerged, which consisted of users showing off their muscles to the rhythm of the song.
“Rasputin” and Black Mirror
The Black Mirror team decided to include “Rasputin” as the main theme of one of the chapters of the sixth season. To be exact, in the fifth episode of the series, called ‘Demon 79’ which, in fact, the plot is totally related to the lyrics of the song.
Without spoiler alert, the episode centers on a young Middle Eastern saleswoman, who accidentally releases a demon in training to doom a soul to Inferno to become a full demon. The being threatens to bring about the apocalypse if the girl refuses.
Many years have indeed passed since the creation of “Rasputin;” however, thanks to TikTok and the magic of the series, it has returned to the top of popularity once again.
Story written in Spanish by Kate Nateras in Cultura Colectiva