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'Hey Jude' is out; 'Anti-Hero' is just right: Chechnya bans songs deemed too fast or too slow

Taylor Swift, Beyoncé and the Beatles could be off playlists after the Russian republic instituted limits on musical tempo.
Ramzan Kadyrov dances.
Ramzan Kadyrov with a Chechen girl dressed in a national costume in Grozny, Russia, in 2007.Dmitry Nikiforov / NewsTeam via AP file

The beat goes on, but much of Taylor Swift’s, Beyoncé’s and even the Beatles’ back catalogs could be off playlists in Chechnya after the Russian republic instituted limits on musical tempo.

From now on, “all musical, vocal and choreographic works” will be subject to the new limits, the region’s Culture Ministry said in a Telegram post. Culture Minister Musa Dadaev was quoted in the post as saying they should be 80 to 116 beats per minute, or BPM.

It was unclear how the limits would be enforced, but they could rule out much of the modern pop pantheon, most of which would be too fast.

Swift’s “Shake it Off” and “Cruel Summer” are out, as are Beyoncé's “Single Ladies” and “Run the World (Girls).” However, “Anti-Hero” and “Texas Hold ’Em” would just about make the grade.

The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” would, though, be too slow, as would the grandiose Russian national anthem, which is usually played at a tempo of 76 BPM.

Chechnya’s Culture Ministry said when it made the announcement last week on Telegram that it had been carrying out “a huge amount of work” on the issue of compliance of Chechen musical, vocal and choreographic compositions with the “Chechen mentality.”

“The musical culture of the Chechens was diverse in tempo and methodology,” Dadaev was quoted as saying. “We must bring to the people and to the future of our children the cultural heritage of the Chechen people.”

That includes the customs and traditions and “features of the Chechen character, which includes the entire spectrum of moral and ethical standards of life of the Chechens,” he said.

While Chechnya, a conservative Muslim-majority republic in the North Caucasus, has remained part of Russia after it waged two brutal wars for independence in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it has maintained its distinctive culture, language and traditions.

The Culture Ministry’s Telegram post added that the BPM limits had been approved by President Ramzan Kadyrov, who has maintained a tight grip on power in the republic since he became president in 2007.

Critics have accused the Kremlin of letting Kadyrov, a big supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, get away with corruption, rights violations against women and repression of members of the LGBTQ community.