Thursday, June 3, 2010

10 Days with Europe's Top 10 Pop Music Scenes. #3.

Number 3: Croatia. 11.11% GREEN (11.11% of that country's charting songs earned top marks on my spreadsheet)

The majority of my three months in Europe earlier this year was spent in Croatia. You've got your beautiful girls, friendly people, and myriad places to enjoy a beer (I recommend paying the relatively steep admission fee in order to enjoy one or three atop Dubrovnik's ancient walls overlooking the Adriatic). I posted several blog entries about my Croatian experiences a couple months back, but for those in need of immediate direction I will emphasize this link to a description of my favorite night out in Zagreb.

Croatia is blessed with plenty of coastline, which is something of a sore point to some of the neighboring countries. "The Mediterranean as it once was," goes the brilliantly accurate (and thus oft-cited) tourist bureau quote. Indeed, it is hard to find reminders of the war-ravaged Croatia "as it once was" only a decade ago. If you wish to wade into that, I highly recommend Slavenka Drakulić's affecting The Balkan Express, a used copy of which you can track down for literally pennies on

Nobody's music better romanticizes the appeal of coastal Croatian living in the former Yugoslavia days than Oliver Dragojević's. Track down a greatest hits collection from this guy.

Oliver made a name for himself at the Split Song Festival (many of his 70s records allude to the festival, usually with the word SPLIT followed by the year the song was performed there). That festival continues to this day, and focuses on Croatian talent (a bit like Italy's San Remo festival). For the more internationally-minded, there is the Soundwave Festival, which was enthusiastically mentioned to me by more than a few Croatians. This July's Soundwave event is already sold out.

Because of the small populations of the former Yugoslav republics and their close proximity to one another, big-name artists don't see much point in touring the entirety of the Balkans, so they often just play Zagreb.

Croatia's music scene is wonderful, but before any of you Croatians out there get too big-headed, let me remind you that not long ago you were doing things like this. ;-)

Some tracks from the last couple of years:

Bijelo dugme - Hajdemo u planine (Karma Remix)
Dus and Kristijan Beluhan - Kao Nekad
Elemental - Nema Ga
Gibonni - Žeđam
Hari and Nina - Ne Mogu Ti Reći Što Je Tuga
Putokazi - Dvojnica
And as a bonus, I recorded some live, more traditional music in Zagreb back in March for your listening pleasure

The rest of the countdown so far:

#4: Slovakia
#5: Bulgaria
#6: Sweden
#7: Lithuania
#8: Ukraine
#9: Slovenia
#10: The Netherlands

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