Pop Music: The Balkans

Published on November 29th, 2010 in: Culture Shock, Current Faves, Issues, Music, Three Of A Perfect Pair, Video |

By Jim R. Clark

There has been quite a bit of interest in Balkan music lately due to the popularity of such bands as Gogol Bordello and Balkan Beat Box. If you’re one of those music nuts who’s heard everything, then hopefully this article can introduce you to something new. Here is a taste of some of the great musical offerings popular in the Balkans today. Maybe you will get hooked and want to start your own Manele band!

manele big hits

Roma Manele Music

Manele music is a fun, light-hearted, and unique blend of traditional and modern styles made mainly by the Roma (Gypsy) people. The Roma people (or Romani) are a minority group that face great racism and violence in many European countries. If you spend any time at all listening to Manele music, you are sure to run into racists and nationalists posting hateful messages on YouTube.

Manele music and artists are most common in Romania, although very similar music is also found in two other Balkan countries: Bulgaria (where it is known as Chalga), and Serbia (where it is called Turbo-Folk.) Manele music is truly impossible to buy legally in any other format other than digitally through a service like iTunes or Amazon. This is because, despite the popularity, major record labels do not sign Manele artists. As a result, Manele recordings are almost exclusively self-funded and self-published, or, published as compilations of many artists. Although it is hard to describe an entire genre of music in just four or five videos, I will try!

Nicolae Guta, “Gigolo” (Romania)
Nicolae Guta is the always-funny king of Romanian Manele music! In these two videos, he appears in traditional farming villager costume. He is often featured together with other top performers in his songs. Though it may remind you of scenes from Borat, “Gigolo” is one of Guta’s catchiest and most famous tunes.

Florin Salam, “La Inima Mai Ars”
One of the greatest vocalists of the genre, Salam has a unique style which is more Middle Eastern-influenced than many of the other great Manele singers. This may remind some of elements of Sufi Muslim chants and you may note his ability to “warble” or “vibrate” his voice.

Florinel & Ioana, “Doar Pe Mine Tu Ma Vrei” (Romania)
Showing the popularity of love song duets, this current, upbeat song features a combination of two of the most popular male and female Manele singers. This is a very typical Manele-style love song.

Printesa de Aur & Florinel, “Toata Lumea Mie-Mi Spune” (Romania)
This is another current love song duet. The two singers deliver some wonderful harmonies.

Edy Talent, “O minune” (Romania)
While this little man may seem as odd as the dancing man at the end of Twin Peaks, he has a very strong voice and is one the most popular Manele singers. He is often paired with Mădălina and they have made many popular songs together.

Pages: 1 2

Leave a Comment

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.