In 1981, an obscure English punk band recorded a song whose cover by an Istrian punk band became famous in the former Yugoslavia. It took three decades and serendipity for the dots to connect.
This essay first appeared in audio form in the Slovak original on the program “Odinakiaľ” (From Elsewhere) of Rádio Devín, on April 19, 2023.
Rock music is a huge part of Yugoslavia’s legacy. Soon, there will be a place in Sarajevo bringing Yugoslav rock back to life.
Lepa Brena was the most popular and best-selling Yugoslav singer of the 1980s, Yugoslavia’s Madonna. She continues to personify Yugoslavia for many to this day.
…or New Yugoslavism in Contemporary Popular Music in Former Yugoslavia Parallel to Yugonostalgic enjoyment of Yugoslav-era music across the region, another related musical phenomenon emerged in the 1990s: original music glorifying Yugoslavia.
Mitja Velikonja. Rock’n’retro: Novi jugoslavizem v sodobni slovenski popularni glasbi / Rock’n’Retro: New Yugoslavism in Contemporary Popular Music in Slovenia. Translated from the Slovenian by Olga Vuković. Ljubljana: Založba Sophia, 2013.
Petar Janjatović, author of Ex-YU Rock Encyclopedia 1960-2015, discusses the endurance of Yugoslav rock and the political power of music.
Martin Pogačar, PhD, a research fellow at the Ljubljana-based Institute of Culture and Memory Studies, discusses the subversiveness of Yugoslav pop-culture and Yugoslavia’s digital afterlives.
Ethnomusicologist Ana Hofman discusses the history and revival of Yugoslav Partisan songs, performed today by activist choirs around former Yugoslavia. Featuring Partisan songs by Zbor Praksa and KIC Pop Hor.
Pinkove zvezdice is an American Idol-like program of the Serbian TV Pink in which children perform. One of the stars of recent years is Katarina Radulović.
A CD released in 2012 compiled 23 songs by bands from across former Yugoslavia to promote anti-fascism and anti-fascist activism.
Ana Petrov. Jugoslovenska muzika bez Jugoslavije: koncerti kao mesta sećanja. Beograd: Delfi, 2016.
Dalibor Mišina. Shake, Rattle and Roll: Yugoslav Rock Music and the Poetics of Social Critique. London: Routledge, 2013.
A 2012 song and video by the Bosnian rapper Haris Rahmanović AKA Priki, 31, imagined what Yugoslavia may have looked like had it never disintegrated.
In December 2016, The Calvert Journal ran a story about a revival of Partisan songs in the Balkans, driven by “activist choirs.”