Serbia may be a tiny, landlocked, Balkan nation in Central Europe, but it is full to the brim with a diverse, vibrant mix of Serbian musicians from a wide range of musical genres. From traditional folk music to modern rock, Serbia has produced a plethora of talented musicians who have left a lasting impact both locally and internationally. This time, we will delve into the mellifluous world of Serbian music, highlighting some of the most popular singers and musicians and discussing the evolving music scene in Serbia.
Traditional Serbian Musicians
Serbian music has deep roots in traditional folk songs and dances, reflecting the country’s historical heritage and cultural diversity. Traditional Serbian folk music is characterized by its heartfelt melodies, poignant lyrics, and the use of instruments like the tamburica, gusle, and accordion.
Artists like Lepa Brena, Zdravko Čolić, and Šaban Šaulić are renowned for their contributions to traditional Serbian music and have achieved, and continue to achieve, enduring popularity among both young and old generations. Šaban Šaulić, for example, had a career that spanned five decades to massive commercial and critical acclaim, and will forever be known as the “King of Folk Music” (“kralj narodne muzike”).
The enduring popularity of traditional music in the modern day is perhaps best illustrated by solo artist Milan Nikolić, an accordion player, who was the Serbian pick for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest with his song “Cipela.” Although he didn’t win, the Serbian singer-songwriter did get to perform in the second semi-final of the televised singing competition.
Željko Joksimović is another singer-songwriter associated with Eurovision. In 2004 he came second with “Lane moje.” He also composes music for films, television series, and theater shows.
There can be no real discussion about the Serbian music scene without mentioning the controversial genre known as turbo-folk. Combining traditional folk music with elements of pop, rock, and electronic music, turbo-folk gained immense popularity in the 1990s. Although criticized for its extravagant performances, provocative lyrics, and association with criminal and political figures, turbo-folk artists like Serbian vocalist Ceca Ražnatović and Serbian pop-folk singer Jelena Karleuša have achieved great commercial success and a dedicated fan base.
Serbia has also been a breeding ground for talented rock musicians who have used their music to express rebellion and dissent. The Serbian rock scene emerged during the 1960s and 1970s, inspired by Western rock music but infused with local influences. Đorđe Balašević (Serbian Cyrillic: Ђорђе Балашевић), who was a member of the band Rani Mraz and who also had a very successful solo career, remains one of Serbia’s best-loved artists. He was a prominent anti-war voice during the wars in former Yugoslavia and a critic of Slobodan Milošević – a risky thing to be at the time!
Bands including Riblja Čorba, Bijelo Dugme, and Ekatarina Velika became synonymous with the Serbian rock movement and left an indelible mark on the music scene of Eastern Europe. Today, bands like Van Gogh, Partibrejkers, and Orthodox Celts continue to carry the torch of Serbian rock, captivating audiences with their powerful performances and socially conscious lyrics.
New Wave And Alternative Music
In recent years, Serbia has witnessed the rise of the new wave and alternative music scene, encompassing a wide range of genres and styles. The movement includes artists like S.A.R.S., who blend reggae, rock, and pop, and the alternative rock band Artan Lili. These artists, along with others such as Repetitor and Brkovi, have gained popularity not only in Serbia but also on the international stage.
The electronic music scene has also gained significant traction in Serbia, particularly in the capital city of Belgrade. Festivals like EXIT and Lovefest have attracted renowned international DJs and electronic composers, and music enthusiasts from all over the world. Serbian DJs and producers such as Marko Nastić, Tijana T, and Vladimir Aćić have made waves in the global electronic music scene, cementing Serbia’s reputation as a hub for electronic music.
The Romani or Gypsy community has had a profound influence on Serbian music, particularly in the genre of Romani music known as “Romano Horo.” The Romani music tradition, characterized by its lively rhythms, soulful melodies, and virtuosic instrumental performances, has produced celebrated popular singers like Šaban Bajramović and Esma Redžepova. The fusion of Romani music with other genres, such as jazz and rock, has created unique and captivating sounds that have found a special place in the hearts of the Serbian people.
Balkan Brass Bands
And finally, no exploration of the Serbian music scene would be complete without mentioning the country’s beloved Balkan brass bands. These ensembles, characterized by their infectious rhythms and vibrant melodies, have become synonymous with Serbian music. One of the most renowned groups is the Boban Marković Orchestra, led by the trumpet virtuoso Boban Marković. Their energetic performances blend traditional Balkan sounds with contemporary influences, captivating audiences worldwide.
Useful Serbian Music Vocab
|Heavy metal||Hevi metal||хеви метал|
|Electronic||Elektronska muzika||електронска музика|
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