Ivo Skoric on Tue, 18 Apr 2006 08:38:58 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Serb folk music strikes chord in postwar Croatia

True. Youth in Zagreb is crazy about bootlegged CD-s from Serbia. I 
liken that to upper middle class white youths in US being crazy about 
black gangsta rap. Turbo folk also changed since its beginning. Today 
it is mostly house and the lyrics are really good - cynical, 
critical, right to the point.


On 17 Apr 2006 at 12:19, Shebar Windstone wrote:

Thanks to East Ethnia (http://eastethnia.blogspot.com/) for this


Serb folk music strikes chord in postwar Croatia

By Zoran Radosavljevic

ZAGREB (Reuters) - People's arms go up in the air, their eyes close and their bodies start
to sway to the deafening, hypnotic rhythms.

The music, known as "turbo-folk", is unmistakeably Serbian but none of the ecstatic young
Croats in the Sova (Owl) nightclub, who lip-sync the words of each song, seem to care.

Until recently, for most Croats Serbia was the enemy they fought in the 1991-95 independence
war and all its products were shunned. Turbo-folk, synonymous with Serbia, was considered
politically incorrect.

With its lyrics about unrequited love, adultery and revenge set to folk melodies, strong
beats and synthesisers, turbo-folk started in the 1980s. It was generally ignored in urban
areas, but became popular in rural parts of Serbia and Bosnia.

However, times are changing and turbo-folk -- blasted, or even ignored, by critics who say
it has no musical value -- is conquering the very heart of the Croatian capital, where
semi-secret folk clubs have mushroomed in the past year.

The Jutarnji List daily's rock critic describes it as "a mixture of mutated Balkan melodies,
howling vocals, idiotic lyrics and sampled disco and house rhythms".

Not that that puts the fans off.

A survey in Jutarnji List showed that 43 percent of 17- and 18-year-olds in the biggest
Croatian towns regularly listen to turbo-folk, often at home.

"The youths are fascinated. It is a real turbo-folk fever. I have tried playing some
different music, but the audiences would boo and go home. They want this," said Ivica Sovic,
the owner of Sova nightclub on the outskirts of Zagreb.

"I can't really explain it. In the war years, no one dared play Serbian music. The war ended
10 years ago, we've had a long vacuum without that music and now folk is 'in' again," he


Contrary to what some might expect, his audiences are smartly dressed young urban Croats.

"In this era of wild capitalism, widespread frustrations over money, jobs and harassing
bosses, a lot of young and middle-aged people born in towns deliberately confront the
desirable cultural norms by going to turbo-folk clubs," said sociologist Drazen Lalic.

He said that war-related migration in the 1990s had changed the urban population's make-up
and brought a new culture and turbo-folk music to towns.

And somewhat surprisingly, he added, turbo-folk was even more popular with Croat
nationalists, who usually oppose everything Serbian, than with the liberals.

"Hardline Croat nationalists are by their culture very similar to Serb nationalists. Hence
they are more prone to turbo-folk," he said. The fact that the languages are almost
identical helps.

Turbo-folk is often associated with ostentatious nouveau riche, many of whom made their
fortunes during the war.

Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan, the husband of a top turbo-folk star Ceca, who is popular in
Croatia, led the notorious Serb militia, the "White Eagles", in Croatian and Bosnian wars.
He was gunned down in a Belgrade hotel lobby in 2000.

"Turbo-folk is today a mass synonym for folk music that glorifies the 'get-rich-quick'
philosophy...nouveau riche wealth, big guns, big cars, fur coats and fake designer items,"
the Jutarnji List said.

"The youngsters consider the image of turbo-folk stars as a cool new trend."

While the critics pan it and the sociologists muse on its popularity, the audiences in Sova
and other clubs seem utterly indifferent to the origins of the music they adore.

"Hey, the times have changed. Everyone I know listens to turbo-folk. This music comes from
Bosnia and Serbia but most young people do not know or care," said Petra Koscevic, a
black-clad 17-year old.

Impeachment is too good for George W. Bush -- he should be sentenced to mop floors in a V.A.
hospital for the rest of his life! Shebar Windstone <shebar@e271.net> CHMOD
www.e271.net/~shebar/chmod/ www.JoanNestle.com www.VisionOfTibet.com www.ChushiGangdruk.org
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