Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Few Notes on Music

Earlier, I wrote about the unnerving popularity of Elvis' "Suspicious Minds" on Macedonian radio. As an American, my music is neatly categorized into "New" and "Old". "New" music is on the radio, unless you're listening to an "Oldies" station. "Old" can never be "New". So that an old Elvis song could be popular now, well, it's just plain disturbing.

To add to this phenomenon, two anecdotes:

I have heard live bands or DJ's in popular Skopje discos play these songs on the weekend:

"Love Shack" by the B-52's
The Friends theme song (!)
"Dancing Queen" by Abba
That song from Grease where they sing back and forth

And I should stress that they are playing these songs entirely without irony. Sure, we'll have an '80's Party' in college, but the whole point of that is to wear ugly sweaters and laugh at ourselves. This stuff is popular here.

Also, I was talking to someone about the soundtrack to Animal House (why? I can't recall) and I asked her if she had ever heard the Sam Cooke song "Wonderful World", which is featured in the movie. "Yeah, of course," she said, "It was a big hit here two years ago."

This is fascinating because people here have always had access to Western music. It's not like the wall came down, and a flood of Zeppelin and the Beatles swept over, and people are still digging around and discovering the 1950's. But, nonetheless, Sam Cooke is still making waves.

Good for him.

5 comments:

Tim said...

Are you referring to "Summer Lovin'" or "You're the One That I Want"? (Please don't ask how I know these. I loathe 'Grease'.)

And here's an article we must needs talk about:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2206016/posts

Jesse Bright said...

My brother noticed the same phenomenon in his Peace Corps stint in Nicaragua. For some reason Air Supply was huge there.

CWest said...

ah yes, well i've encountered a lot of things about this here in albania, and you know i used to focus a lot more on music so...

Honestly, at least here, people didn't have access to Western music. Specifically under Hoxha, there wasn't a way to listen to for example, Michael Jackson, in the 80s. So when I get into a cab and the guy is playing "Beat It" and jamming as though it was just released, for him it is recent. In fact I asked about it and he told me that each day he is still disovering music that before he had no access to.

For this reason Tupac is REALLY popular here because Albanians missed that 90s phase.

However, I don't know how it is in Macedonia. I notice this all the time though over here, and "Dancing Queen" is played like a new hit!

Question: are you ever planning to visit Albania in the near future?

Katie said...

Awesome. I wish I was there. I love that music sans the irony. AIM chat soon.

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