Dalibor Mišina. Shake, Rattle and Roll: Yugoslav Rock Music and the Poetics of Social Critique. London: Routledge, 2013.
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Central thesis: From the late 1970s to late 1980s, Yugoslav rock’n’roll is an outlet for reflecting and commenting on Yugoslav socialism and the differences between the ideal/proclaimed and the existing/real. Yugoslav rock musicians were the “most consequential popular-cultural catalyst of socio-cultural and socio-political critique in Yugoslav society.”
Propositions about Yugoslav rock’n’roll:
- The history of Yugoslav rock’n’roll starts in the mid-1970s, following pre-history.
- The dividing point is the substantive turn, from “substance of style” to “style of substance,” i.e. transformation of music into engagement with existence and reality.
- “Music of commitment,” with its social engagement, non-conformist outlook, and criticism, was the Yugoslav rock’n’roll’s substance.
- “Poetics of the present” was its practical expression.
- New Wave, New Primitives, and New Partisans movements epitomized the music of commitment.
- “Poetics of the real” of New Wave (Zagreb/Belgrade) was an expression of youth’s urban consciousness and a critique of the urban experience. New Wave put youth on the social map as serious agents with identity and location and rock music on the cultural map.
- “Poetics of the local” of New Primitives (Sarajevo) was a militant Sarajevist and Yugoslavist rebellion against cultural hypocrisy. New Primitives emphasized homegrown (local-parochial)—as opposed to imposed (external-cosmopolitan)—local identity as the foundation of existence/self.
- “Poetics of the patriotic” of New Partisans (Sarajevo, “the most Yugoslav city in Yugoslavia”) was a resistance to nationalisms and Yugoslavia’s slow disintegration and an attempt to reanimate the country’s core principles of Yugoslavism.
- Rock’n’roll was youth’s way to assert itself in the Yugoslav socialist community.
- Yugoslav rock was “a commitment to an ideal of genuine socialist-humanist society.”
Yugoslav rock’n’roll was the only outlet for the society to get an alternative view of itself.
Music of commitment emerged as a “cultural reaction to the imperfections of new socialist culture.”
[Its continued popularity today may thus not be just an expression of nostalgia but a resistance strategy: its continued popularity may be a reaction to the imperfections of the current reality.]
Breakup of Yugoslavia rendered the music of commitment moot, as it removed its principal point of reference.
Legacy of the music of commitment:
- transformed from “a progressive socio-cultural praxis to a progressive socio-cultural memory”
- provided standard for evaluating pop culture since the late 1980s
- served as a cultural compass for resisting nationalism, especially during the wars of 1990s
- as memory, reconnected post-Yugoslav societies and “resurrected as the “memory reloaded,” hovering over the post-Yugoslav space and gauging the normalcy of its present…socio-cultural trajectories.”