Sunday, February 25, 2007

The tunes of the Balkans

Found this article over at Yakima's.


Balkanika Music Television is using pop-folk music — a uniquely
post-Communist Balkan blend of Western pop, Euro- dance, traditional folk and
eastern or Turkish styles — to create a sort of cultural unity as well as a
common music market.

So far, the toughest nut for Balkanika to crack has been Croatia. That is not
because of any lack of enthusiasm for pop-folk — or just "folk" as it is called
in the former Yugoslavia — but because of national feelings, said Alen Borbas,
Balkanika's representative in Croatia and Bosnia. Croatian channels, Borbas
said, won't show pop-folk videos because the genre is too closely associated
with Serbia, whose pop-folk industry is the most developed in the
"People say that if you listen to pop- folk, you are not a Croatian
patriot"Still, he said, he can see attitudes changing: "Many people here listen
to pop-folk, even the former soldiers."


Kirk Johnson said...

It's called "Chalga" in Bulgaria for reasons that are not clear to me. Anybody know why? It's basically the same music, and Bulgarians are certainly influenced by the Serbian variant.

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan.

Marin said...

I don't thing that people criticize turbo-folk because it is Serbian. That type of music is quite popular in Croatia, especially among youngsters who are not bothered with the events which happened when they had 5 or 6 years. The fact is that it is very bad kind of music, tasteless, idiotic lyrics, vulgar sexual allusions. But the fact is also that other types of music fit into that category. I see it as a case of cultural snobbery.

Kirk Johnson said...

I don't know, Marin--even in Bulgaria people acknowledge that Chalga (which is often also called "pop-folk") was/is heavily influenced by people who listened to Serbian radio.

I'm not saying you're wrong, and it would be dumb of me to extrapolate too much from my own personal experience.

On the other hand, don't Albanians also listen to--and produce their own--turbofolk? I've heard pop-folk songs in Albanian before.

Marin said...

Everybody produces turbo-folk in the region, some are just better in it. :)

cd said...

it's funny you guys are talking about turbo folk. i liked it sometimes as it was really catchy to me. i taught at a more religious high school in sarajevo and once told the students that "my favorite music is turbo folk." Oh my gosh their expressions and reaction were priceless. Most of them made fun of me for liking this "stupid" Serbian music while some got really offended that I could associate with anything Serbs.

I wrote a post here.

Shaina said...

Thanks for everyone's comments. I personally think the entire turbofolk movement is very interesting to learn about. And I'm not (too) embarassed to admit that while I don't understand the lyrics, I find a lot of the music very catchy as well ;-)

And while as cd has pointed out that in Bosnia, turbofolk still has a great deal of (negative) political conatation,
It seems as if turbofolk in Serbia has been depoliticized to an extent. For example reading about the Ceca tours and concerts, most of her fans are teenage girls who were still in diapers when Arkan was making a name for himself in Croatia and BOsnia. To be sure, I'm sure that there are some fans of Ceca's who are fans of her because of Arkan or for political reasons; but most of her fans seemed more enamored with her "beauty" and her wealthy life style and music videos than her politics.

Ari said...

Bulgarian metropolitan magazine "Egoist" had an entire issue written about "chalga" or "turbo-folk". Thwe issue best explained the reason behind its popularity and its development.
In its beginnings in Serbia, singers like Lepa Brena evolved from bar tip-singers to respectable pop stars, creating a example of thousands of women, who did with much less taste, and much more breasts and more Oriental cliches.