Monday, February 26, 2007

Every Week Is Turbofolk Week

Via Bosnia Vault and Yakima Gulag, the International Herald Tribune profiles Balkanika Music Television, the pop-folk satellite/cable channel broadcasting to Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Bosnia, Albania and, since January, Slovenia. The pan-ex-Yugoslav reach of TV Pink and the Braća Karić channel is one thing,but IHT's Matthew Brunwasser points out that Balkanika takes the transnational enterprise another step forward:

'Perhaps the most novel aspect of Balkanika is that it is completely multilingual: programming switches back and forth among any of 10 languages. This means most of the channel's viewers at any given time are hearing a language they don't understand.

While Slavic-language speakers can understand each other at least somewhat, Albanian, Greek, Turkish and Romanian are unintelligible to speakers of other Balkan languages.

(Although a travelling cover version is still a travelling cover version.)

Meanwhile, this week's issue of Croatia's Arena magazine reports on falling attendances for Croatian performers in the diaspora (usually thought of as a reliable cash cow) and the trend for the owners of Croatian clubs to hire cheaper and more popular folk singers from Serbia or Bosnia instead. According to Ivan Sokić, the owner of several clubs and bars in Munich:

'There's a new generation of Croatian emigrants coming to our nightclubs now. Most of them speak German in the club, they bring their German and Italian friends and tell them that folk-type [narodnjačka] music is actually the melos of their homeland.' Moreover, he continues, Serbian channels like Pink and OBN Televizija are available in Germany and young people happily watch them.

'Those channels are available in almost all the cable packages. And I have to say they're very neutral. You can also see [Croatian singers] Severina, Goran Karan and Oliver Dragojević on them. You can't feel any national colour, and looking at the SMSs they show at the bottom of the screen I can see that young people of different nationalities are communicating. All that is creating a new atmosphere in which young people want to have fun a different way. Add that to the expensiveness of Croatian showbusiness singers, and the result is folk singers [narodnjaci] in our nightclubs.

To be fair, the same article could have been written ten years ago, when Dragana Mirković first started showing up in Croatian discos around Frankfurt, although with rather less in the way of SMSs...

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At 4:33 am, February 27, 2007, Anonymous steven said...

WOW. I had a look at the official site and I have to say it looks pretty awsome. Beside the political and social implications of different Balkan countries bridging the "Balkan gap" or whatever, blah blah blah, I have to say this makes a lot of sense from the business angle. How many folk music listeners from the Balkans have caught themselves listening to songs from one of the other countries on Youtube or whatever. I know I have... now if only I could somehow pick this station up in Canada.


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