New Wave Music in Yugoslavia
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New Wave Music in Yugoslavia

New wave in Yugoslavia (Serbian: ? , Novi talas; Croatian: Novi val; Slovene: Novi val; Macedonian: ?) was the new wave music scene of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. As its counterparts, the British and the American new wave, from which the main influences came, the Yugoslav scene was also closely related to punk rock, ska, reggae, 2 Tone, power pop and mod revival. Some of its acts are also counted as belonging to the Yugoslav punk scene which already existed prior to new wave. Such artists were labeled as both punk rock and new wave (the term "new wave" was initially interchangeable with "punk").


The Non-Aligned socialist Yugoslavia was never part of the Eastern Bloc and it was open to western influences (the West to some extent even supported Yugoslavia as a "buffer zone" to the Warsaw Pact). The new wave scene in Yugoslavia emerged in the late 1970s and had a significant impact on the Yugoslav culture. The Yugoslav rock scene in general, including the freshly arrived new wave music, was socially accepted, well developed and covered in the media. New wave was especially advocated by the magazines Polet from Zagreb and D?uboks from Belgrade, as well as the TV show Rokenroler, which was famous for its artistic music videos.

This anti-establishment movement was even supported, although moderately, by the Communist authorities, particularly by the Communist youth organisation which often organized concerts, festivals, parties, exhibitions, and other cultural events. The lyrics that were criticizing and satirizing the flaws of the Yugoslav socialism were considered by the authorities as a "useful and friendly critique" and were often tolerated with certain cases of censorship. Especially the Zagreb-based band Azra, who were known for their political and social criticism in their songs. The Yugoslav new wave scene also cooperated with various conceptual or artistic movements related to pop art, avant-garde etc.

Important artists of Yugoslav new wave were: Azra, ?arlo Akrobata, Idoli (famous for their song "Malj?iki" and its respective video in which they ridiculed the Soviet soc-realism), Pankrti (first Yugoslav punk band), Prljavo kazali?te (started as a punk unit; the title of their second album Crno-bijeli svijet, which means "the black and white world", holds a reference to the 2 Tone movement), Elektri?ni Orgazam (punk at the beginning, they moved towards post-punk and psychedelia later and were described as "The Punk Doors"), Sla?ana Milo?evi?, Haustor (mostly reggae, ska and similar influences, but with a more poetic and intellectual approach compared to some danceable bands), Buldo?er, Laboratorija Zvuka, Film (one of the first Yugoslav new wave groups), La?ni Franz and many others. Some of them genuinely started as new wave bands, while others previously adhered other styles (for example the members of Azra were previously into a somewhat hippie style prior to becoming a new wave band).

With the decreasing popularity of 1970s hard rock and progressive rock among the youths after the expansion of punk and new wave, even the cult rock band Bijelo Dugme decided to change its rural folk-ish hard rock style and jump onto the new wave bandwagon. They adopted the 2 Tone style for a short period of time while it was fashionable on their album Do?ivjeti stotu which featured the ska theme "Ha, ha, ha". The chorus lyrics were used as a title for the compilation album Svi mar? na ples!.

Cult symbols of the Yugoslav new wave era are the compilation albums Paket aran?man, Novi Punk Val, Artisti?ka radna akcija and especially the movie The Promising Boy.


As new wave perished into the mid-1980s, some of the bands split or took different musical directions. The period around 1982 is considered especially crucial concerning the decline of new wave in Yugoslavia. There were several other reasons why Yugoslav new wave started to fade beside the notable general decline of new wave around the world: the economical crisis in Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1980s and the political instability, especially in the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo in 1981 after Josip Broz Tito's death. Also, the musical genres such as post-punk, dark wave and gothic rock, as well as New Romantic and synth-pop already saw a great expansion around the world, including Yugoslavia too.

?arlo Akrobata changed from its initial ska and reggae-inspired period, embracing a deeper post-punk sound. They were also a support act of Gang of Four in Zagreb, before they finally split in 1981. Milan Mladenovi?, the band's notable vocalist and guitarist in 1982 formed the cult band Ekatarina Velika which was noted for its dark poetic post-punk style and intellectual attitude. In the same year, his bandmate Du?an "Koja" Koji? formed the group Disciplin A Kitschme (Serbo-Croatian: Disciplina ki?me), a band influenced by a variety of music styles, which later rose to international prominence.

Idoli, Prljavo kazali?te and Film (the latter under the moniker Jura Stubli? i Film) later became pop or pop rock and all of them respectively achieved great mainstream success. During the 1980s, Azra gradually moved to more conventional rock with occasional use of folk rock elements. Johnny ?tuli?'s poetic trademarks were still notable throughout their lyrics; Elektri?ni Orgazam soon became a successful mainstream rock band inspired mostly by the 1960s including artists such as The Rolling Stones.


The Yugoslav new wave period is still considered the golden age of pop and rock music in the countries that emerged after the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav new wave scene gave birth to some of the most important Yugoslav acts ever and it was acclaimed by the Western media (notably by Melody Maker) for its quality and originality as well.

In 2004, Igor Mirkovi? made a film titled Sretno dijete (Happy Child) named after a song by Prljavo kazali?te. The movie covers the events in the former Yugoslav new wave scene.


See also


  • Petar Janjatovi? "Drugom stranom - Almanah novog talasa u SFRJ" (co-authors David Albahari and Dragan Kremer), 1983
  • Petar Janjatovi? "Ilustrovana Enciklopedija Yu Rocka 1960-1997", publisher: Geopoetika, 1997 (in Serbian)
  • Petar Janjatovi? "EX YU ROCK enciklopedija 1960-2006" ISBN 978-86-905317-1-4
  • Dragan Pavlov and Dejan ?unjka "Punk u Jugoslaviji" (Punk in Yugoslavia), publisher: IGP Dedalus, Yugoslavia, 1990.(in Serbian, Croatian, and Slovene)
  • Sretno dijete, documentary film


Related movies

External links

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