August 01, 1999

Drag yourself to this!

Drag yourself to this!

What do plywood and the infamous U.S. duet Milli-Vanilli have in common? No, the duet didn’t start a plywood business after they were stripped of their Grammy a few years ago for lip-synching. The answer is that the group lost their Grammy for singing “to the accompaniment of plywood” (пели под фанеру).

Since plywood is a veneer over compressed wood, whether in furniture or other wood products, it is considered a cheap surrogate for the real thing. Which is why it became a popular slang word for lip-synching, vs. singing live – петь вживую. Someone guilty of “plywood singing” becomes a фанерщик.

In Russian practice, it is singers of cheap pop songs who are most often guilty of фанера. So lovers of true live performances, those who like to hear живая музыка have coined a perjorative name for cheap pop: попса. Singers of попса are called попсовики. Heavy metal fans, meanwhile, are called металлисты, and are the arch-enemies of попсовики – the two often get into ferocious brouhahas after concerts.

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