Musician Dmitro Bohush, his hair dyed gold, makes videos that feature snarling dogs, vinyl-clad women with smeared mascara and verses like "Life is going nowhere."

When he went to Kiev's Independence Square a few weeks ago to observe protests against fraudulent elections in Ukraine, new lyrics began to gestate in his head. "I said to myself, the time has come," he recalled the other day in his hybrid apartment-studio.

In a few hours, accompanied by his three-member heavy metal group De Shifer, he recorded "Chas Pryjshol," which means "As the Time Has Come." It became a throbbing, defiant anthem.

"My heart told me to do this. I had to do something to support the spirit of the crowd. The time had come, period," he said.

Rock, pop and hip-hop were the soundtrack of the unprecedented 15 days of protests in Kiev that ended Wednesday. The protesters claimed the Nov. 21 presidential runoff was a fraud. Their hero: Viktor Yushchenko. Their villain: Viktor Yanukovych, a favorite of the neighboring Russian government, which backed him.

Ukraine's Supreme Court said the elections were loaded with violations, annulled them and set a Dec. 26 date for a revote.

Without the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators who filled the huge square and blockaded government buildings, it is unlikely that the court would have thrown out the vote.

Students and young workers provided the big numbers as well as the stamina to withstand Kiev's slushy and windy late autumn. They moved in and out of the square in shifts, slept on floors in private homes, theaters and in tent cities sprinkled around Kiev. They decorated themselves and the square in orange, the color of Yushchenko's campaign: orange scarves, hats, ribbons, shirts, jackets and balloons, overcoats, sweaters and boots.

A horde of Ukraine's popular musicians rushed to the square to entertain and rouse them. The "orange revolution" was arguably the longest rock concert in history -- music alternated with speeches and even prayers day and night.

Some of the singers are big stars in Ukraine. Ruslana, whose dance numbers can make Britney Spears look like Mother Teresa, made several undulating appearances. She was flanked by a couple of lean, athletic women whose job was to twirl their long, shiny hair, and a big, blond, square-jawed guy whose job was to be a big, blond, square-jawed guy.

Mandri, a group that combines rock, reggae and blues with Ukrainian folk, revived a tune called "Don't Sleep My Native Land."

"For most rock musicians, the decision to participate was simple," said Serhiv Fomenko, Mandri's leader. "We're on the democratic side, not the totalitarian."

For all the marquee attractions, relatively unknown groups and amateur bands provided the bulk of the background music.

Unknowns paraded on the central stage wearing street clothes and the ubiquitous orange. Lots relied on shouts as much as twists of lyric and melody. Their rawness matched the cries of "shame, shame" during the protests.

An obscure band called Sleigh, from the provincial town of Ivano-Frankivsk, created an instant sensation by stringing together the chants of the crowd and laying them onto a hip-hop beat. They called the piece "Together We Are Strong and Can't Be Beat," a main catchphrase of the revolt. A chorus repeats, "Yushchenko, yes! Our president, yes!"

"It was totally accidental," said Sleigh singer Roman Kalin. "It became clear to me that the vote numbers were totally wrong. We went to the main plaza in our home town and started to entertain the protests there. We realized quickly that the crowd didn't need love songs. Normally, we're mellow. We had to think of something else.

"We heard slogans and saw them on the walls and on signs. We own a recording studio at a radio station, and workers at the station helped us to remember them all. We started at 8 a.m. on Nov. 23. It was finished by noon." By 1 p.m., it was being played at Independence Square, initially delivered online.

"Before this, we were totally apolitical. We mostly produced advertising jingles and songs for local artists," Kalin said. "With all this going on, we couldn't just sit home and drink coffee."

Artists big and small said they had nothing to lose by protesting. They complained that the Ukrainian music industry is dominated by powerful producers in Moscow who promote Russian pop and get most of the radio play. Yanukovych is regarded as Russian-friendly. For a while the Yushchenko-Yanukovych matchup was also a battle of the geopolitical bands. Yushchenko used homegrown talent while Yanukovych, advised by strategists from Moscow, imported Russian pop groups.

In some ways, the rockers' motives matched the rationales of the demonstrators. Protesters commonly expressed fears that Ukraine would be dominated by Russia if Yanukovych won and that Ukraine would adopt the tight authoritarian rule developing in the Kremlin. Moreover, they roundly expressed a preference for ties with the European Union, a westward-looking approach that is fundamental to their yearning for a Yushchenko victory.

"The musicians and the crowd shared a desire to reconquer Ukraine for Ukrainians," said Volodymyr Tsybulko, a political analyst. "The fact that everyone was performing for free added a certain dignity to their participation."

Heavy metal musician Bohush, 32, began playing guitar in his home town near the Polish border. He worked as a sound producer and played in a local band. For the past six years, he has focused on De Shifer, whose name he said has no meaning. "The band gets some play on Polish radio, some in Ukraine and none in Russia," he said.

His apartment is in a Soviet-era apartment block. The interior is classic Soviet style: old wallpaper, tatty sofas covered with blankets, and flimsy furniture. During the interview, Bohush wore an orange sweatshirt.

"I lived on the border when I was a kid and had direct access to Western music. Obviously, it changed my life," he said. "We are all living on the border now. We know about the world. Yushchenko backers know what Russia is like and they know what is next door in Europe. They want Europe."

Opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko greets former boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko and singer Ruslana on Wednesday during a rally in Kiev.It's music to them: Outside parliament, Yushchenko supporters dance as they hear of the approval of a compromise that ended the electoral crisis.