Csíkszereda Musings

My life in and around Csíkszereda, also known as Miercurea Ciuc.

Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Fitting in

Posted by Andy Hockley on 22 May, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, during the “Megye napok” (county days), Csikszereda was visited by some vaguely famous musical acts. (For more or less the first time in my memory of the place) One of these was Morandi, who are (at least by Romanian standards) just about as big as they come. Another was a band I’d never heard of called Sarmalele Reci, who, at least on the the basis of a couple of youtube videos I watched, look pretty good. (Good name too – it means “Cold Stuffed Cabbage” but sounds much better in Romanian than in English). We were going to go, but an inability to find a baby sitter put the kybosh on that plan. However, I think almost nobody went and the concert got called off, in the end – at least someone I know showed up 45 minutes after it was supposed to start and nothing was happening.

We did manage it to make it to one concert in the week, though, seeing aged Hungarian Shakin’ Stevens impersonator, Fenyő Miklós. (For Romanian readers who have never heard of him, just imagine a 65 year old Stefan Banica Jr – a horrific thought, no?) Also it is a bit unfair of me to call him a Shakin’ Stevens impersonater since he must hav been cranking out the rock n roll when Shaky was still in blue suede nappies. A better British comparison would probably be Cliff, but without the later career move into schmaltzy ballads and vomit inducing “smooth god” or whatever he calls his particular genre. Anyway, Fenyő was not as bad as I had feared, and was actually very enjoyable (apart from the venue- the sports hall, which was a rubbish place for a concert). You can’t really go wrong with straight up rock n roll though, at least for dancing and the like. The crowd was interesting – mostly people of between 35 and 55 with a few kids (like ours, for example – still no babysitter). This reflects I think the fact that (a) he brings up a lot of fond memories for the Transylvanian Hungarians of a certain age, because as with all Hungarian musicians of the time the act of listening to him was somehow illicit; and (b) that among the young he is tragically unhip (indeed I asked some teenage students about him and they’d never even heard of him).

So there you go. I get more Hungarian with every day. Next week I’ll be wearing a big felt hat riding a horse and having a bizarrely extravagant moustache.

In other fitting in news, we now own two chickens. They don’t actually live with us, since we don’t really have the space to allow them to enjoy their natural wander aimlessly and peck existence, and anyway, it would get tiring to constantly be stepping on eggshells, but they are ours all the same. They live in a friend’s garden with 15 others who all look exactly the same, so we don’t actually know which ones are ours, but these are just details.

Posted in csikszereda, music | Leave a Comment »

Speak, the (unspeakable) Hungarian Rapper

Posted by Andy Hockley on 31 January, 2007

The worst song ever written? You decide.

“Sometimes people start a war, don’t know what it’s for”

Posted in music | 5 Comments »

Speak, the (unspeakable) Hungarian Rapper

Posted by Andy Hockley on 31 January, 2007

The worst song ever written? You decide.

“Sometimes people start a war, don’t know what it’s for”

Posted in music | 4 Comments »

In the Kingdom of the Bland

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 November, 2006

I got a very nice email from a Danish bloke called Hans-Christian (his last name isn’t Andersen, you’ll be saddened to learn), complimenting me on my blog. His wife is Romanian and he’d happened across it in his webwanderings. Anyway, he linked to me here (as well as a very interesting blog from another Danish based Transylvanian), and mentioned how much he’d enjoyed seeing some music videos. Just to add to his collection then I thought I’d mention last week’s (MTV) European Music Awards which were held, coincidentally, in Copenhagen. I didn’t watch it, or pay it much attention, but I do know that DJ Project won the “Best Romanian Act” award, which just goes to show what a bad year it’s been for Romanian pop. Last year, there were seemingly lots of catchy, fun, hummable ditties out there, whereas this year… well, let’s just say there were fewer. (To be fair, it’s obviously not just a Romanian thing – after all Justin Timberlake and the endlessly tiresome Red Hot Chilli Pepers seemed to carry off a number of the bigger awards).

Anyway, DJ Project, while inoffensive and fairly good at what they do, are also pretty bland and insipid. Maybe they’e great live or something, because whatever catapulted them to glory is not apparent from their big hit of this year, Inca O Noapte.

The competition was not up to much though, with the other nominees being:
(a) The dirgelike Morandi (the only good thing about this video for “Falling Asleep”, their hit of this year, is a cool little effect they do (on the video, not the song) with iron filings half way through. One you’ve seen that, you can switch off.
(b) Parazitii, a rap band, who are kind of OK, but of whom I have heard nothing for over a year so I have no idea what they did to get nominated this time round
(c) Blondy, your basic lowest-comon-denominator-bimbo-pop-blonde-with-deep-cleavage. Still, this one is not as terrible as most of what she has done. It’s at least catchy.
and finally…
(d) Simplu, whose song Imi merge bine, was easily the best piece of Romanian pop produced this year (or at least the best that I got to hear). No idea why it didn’t walk away with the award.

Posted in music | 1 Comment »

In the Kingdom of the Bland

Posted by Andy Hockley on 8 November, 2006

I got a very nice email from a Danish bloke called Hans-Christian (his last name isn’t Andersen, you’ll be saddened to learn), complimenting me on my blog. His wife is Romanian and he’d happened across it in his webwanderings. Anyway, he linked to me here (as well as a very interesting blog from another Danish based Transylvanian), and mentioned how much he’d enjoyed seeing some music videos. Just to add to his collection then I thought I’d mention last week’s (MTV) European Music Awards which were held, coincidentally, in Copenhagen. I didn’t watch it, or pay it much attention, but I do know that DJ Project won the “Best Romanian Act” award, which just goes to show what a bad year it’s been for Romanian pop. Last year, there were seemingly lots of catchy, fun, hummable ditties out there, whereas this year… well, let’s just say there were fewer. (To be fair, it’s obviously not just a Romanian thing – after all Justin Timberlake and the endlessly tiresome Red Hot Chilli Pepers seemed to carry off a number of the bigger awards).

Anyway, DJ Project, while inoffensive and fairly good at what they do, are also pretty bland and insipid. Maybe they’e great live or something, because whatever catapulted them to glory is not apparent from their big hit of this year, Inca O Noapte.

The competition was not up to much though, with the other nominees being:
(a) The dirgelike Morandi (the only good thing about this video for “Falling Asleep”, their hit of this year, is a cool little effect they do (on the video, not the song) with iron filings half way through. One you’ve seen that, you can switch off.
(b) Parazitii, a rap band, who are kind of OK, but of whom I have heard nothing for over a year so I have no idea what they did to get nominated this time round
(c) Blondy, your basic lowest-comon-denominator-bimbo-pop-blonde-with-deep-cleavage. Still, this one is not as terrible as most of what she has done. It’s at least catchy.
and finally…
(d) Simplu, whose song Imi merge bine, was easily the best piece of Romanian pop produced this year (or at least the best that I got to hear). No idea why it didn’t walk away with the award.

Posted in music | 1 Comment »

Music videos and Csik from above

Posted by Andy Hockley on 20 October, 2006

An aerial view of Csikszereda (taken in winter obviously)

I wanted to share a couple of videos from YouTube with you, so I went along and attempted to blog them (this is a new verb meaning to stick them up here) but apparently I can’t becase I recently moved this blog over to “beta.blogger” which means that it’s more fully integrated into Google (or some such bullshit). This is, of course, in the week in which Google actually bought YouTube. It baffles me, frankly. (Plus my gmail account seems to be not functioning well at the moment). All in all I am significantly less well-disposed towards google than I was about a week ago.

Anyway, I can’t embed the videos here, but I can give you some links:

Here is Iubire by 3 Sud Est, which you may recall me dissing last week. Now you can see for yourself the boys and their hard-as-nails image contrasted with their not-quite-so-hard falsettos.

Here is Erika’s current favourite. Ghiţa by Cleopatra Stratan. Now I’m usually of the opinion that any record made by a child (or children in the plural) ought to be avoided like the plague. But somehow this one is kind of infectious and nowhere near as obnoxious as it should be.

And finally, Mahala Rai Banda, a gypsy band who are really excellent. This song is impossible to not start tapping your feet to. Mind you, they’ll never make it on to MTV Romania, where I have seen the other two. It’s a shame.

Posted in links, music | 3 Comments »

Music videos and Csik from above

Posted by Andy Hockley on 20 October, 2006

An aerial view of Csikszereda (taken in winter obviously)

I wanted to share a couple of videos from YouTube with you, so I went along and attempted to blog them (this is a new verb meaning to stick them up here) but apparently I can’t becase I recently moved this blog over to “beta.blogger” which means that it’s more fully integrated into Google (or some such bullshit). This is, of course, in the week in which Google actually bought YouTube. It baffles me, frankly. (Plus my gmail account seems to be not functioning well at the moment). All in all I am significantly less well-disposed towards google than I was about a week ago.

Anyway, I can’t embed the videos here, but I can give you some links:

Here is Iubire by 3 Sud Est, which you may recall me dissing last week. Now you can see for yourself the boys and their hard-as-nails image contrasted with their not-quite-so-hard falsettos.

Here is Erika’s current favourite. Ghiţa by Cleopatra Stratan. Now I’m usually of the opinion that any record made by a child (or children in the plural) ought to be avoided like the plague. But somehow this one is kind of infectious and nowhere near as obnoxious as it should be.

And finally, Mahala Rai Banda, a gypsy band who are really excellent. This song is impossible to not start tapping your feet to. Mind you, they’ll never make it on to MTV Romania, where I have seen the other two. It’s a shame.

Posted in links, music | 3 Comments »

Further adventures in Wikipedia

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 October, 2006

I have once more been drawn to Wikipedia – this time because I have discovered that something I wrote is referenced there in an article. I know that probably says quite a lot more about the authenticity of Wikipedia rather than the learned and academic nature of my blogged ramblings, but there you go.

Long term readers (you poor, poor, bastards) may remember a post I made last year regarding music in Romania, in which I mentioned, among other things, the band 3 Sud Est and their very camp video. [At the bottom of the wiki-page about 3 Sud Est, footnote 1]. Well, at this juncture, I am extremely non-committal to announce that 3 Sud Est have a new single out, featuring a significantly more macho video that last year’s effort. [I’d like to kid myself that I am responsible for this image change, because of my mocking of the one for Cu capu-n nori – and let’s face it, since they could have found out about that cruel taunt by simply reading it on Wikipedia, it may just have been so]. So, the new video (the song is called “Iubire”) involves our favourite threesome dressed in sharp suits and wearing wraparound sunglasses, like a group of bouncers in a provincial nightclub*, standing at the back of this hi-tech studio, while a dancing woman cavorts around in the foreground. They (3 Sud Est) never smile throughout the video, thus emphasizing how fucking rock hard they are. The problem of course is that this new image is shattered every time they open their mouths to start singing, as they (all three of them) appear to be castrati.

Frankly, this post is just a pathetic attempt to be the third English language source on the existence of 3 Sud Est, such that I get another Wiki-footnote.

(* By nightclub here, I mean that in the English sense of “discotheque and bar which is open after the pubs have closed” rather than in the Romanian sense: outsiders ought to know that the English word “nightclub” in Romania actually means knocking shop or strip club. I have no idea what bouncers at a provincial Romanian nightclub would look like, or indeed even if there are any, since I have never been to such a place. I swear. It’s just a vicious rumour.)

Posted in music, romania | Leave a Comment »

Further adventures in Wikipedia

Posted by Andy Hockley on 11 October, 2006

I have once more been drawn to Wikipedia – this time because I have discovered that something I wrote is referenced there in an article. I know that probably says quite a lot more about the authenticity of Wikipedia rather than the learned and academic nature of my blogged ramblings, but there you go.

Long term readers (you poor, poor, bastards) may remember a post I made last year regarding music in Romania, in which I mentioned, among other things, the band 3 Sud Est and their very camp video. [At the bottom of the wiki-page about 3 Sud Est, footnote 1]. Well, at this juncture, I am extremely non-committal to announce that 3 Sud Est have a new single out, featuring a significantly more macho video that last year’s effort. [I’d like to kid myself that I am responsible for this image change, because of my mocking of the one for Cu capu-n nori – and let’s face it, since they could have found out about that cruel taunt by simply reading it on Wikipedia, it may just have been so]. So, the new video (the song is called “Iubire”) involves our favourite threesome dressed in sharp suits and wearing wraparound sunglasses, like a group of bouncers in a provincial nightclub*, standing at the back of this hi-tech studio, while a dancing woman cavorts around in the foreground. They (3 Sud Est) never smile throughout the video, thus emphasizing how fucking rock hard they are. The problem of course is that this new image is shattered every time they open their mouths to start singing, as they (all three of them) appear to be castrati.

Frankly, this post is just a pathetic attempt to be the third English language source on the existence of 3 Sud Est, such that I get another Wiki-footnote.

(* By nightclub here, I mean that in the English sense of “discotheque and bar which is open after the pubs have closed” rather than in the Romanian sense: outsiders ought to know that the English word “nightclub” in Romania actually means knocking shop or strip club. I have no idea what bouncers at a provincial Romanian nightclub would look like, or indeed even if there are any, since I have never been to such a place. I swear. It’s just a vicious rumour.)

Posted in music, romania | Leave a Comment »

Eurovision

Posted by Andy Hockley on 22 May, 2006

Lithuanians are really, really into the Eurovision Song Contest. On Saturday night I went out into the old city with Richard, an English bloke who lives here. The first bar we went to, which made its own very good beer, was dead. I think there was one other group of people in there. The second bar, a very cool and trendy place in a cellar, was completely empty. We asked the barman and he said it was because everyone was home watching the Eurovision Song Contest. I thought he was joking, but Richard assured me it probably was the case.

Eventually we spied a bar which seemed to be buzzing, went inside, and discovered that the reason for its busy-ness was that it had a big screen showing the Eurovision. People were cheering, whooping and going crazy, particularly when the Lithuanian number started up.

For any readers not from Europe, I may need to supply a bit of background here. The Eurovision song contest has been going on annually for years and years (I think I heard last night it was the 51st year). It involves every European country selecting a song to be performed in competition with every other country. When I was young this wasn’t too many countries, since the Warsaw Pact didn’t enter, since it was all too decadent or something, and anyway, there weren’t that many countries in Europe back then. Now there are bloody loads and there appears to be one more every year (as I type this Montenegrins are going to the polls to decide whether to start another one). It has always been a fairly rubbish event, that us world-weary and cynical Brits have tended to look down upon, and I honestly can’t remember ever thinking it was a worthwhile competition which one should cheer on ones favourites in. (And it certainly wouldn’t empty the pubs on a Saturday night). But since the collapse of Eastern bloc, the new entrants have certainly taken it to their hearts and really see it as a way to put themselves on the map.

The other big change is in the nature of the songs and the voting system (which may be related). At some point (possibly with advent of mobile phones) the voting went from being some kind of national juries charged with awarding the points from each nation, to being a public voting thing (I’ll leave you to decide whether this is a valuable progressive step towards democracy in everyday life or an opportunity for mobile phone companies to make money from each SMS-ed vote). In tandem with this change, the songs have more and more tended to be all sung in English (so as to appeal to a greater proportion of the pan-European voting public), and the songs themselves have become less and less important as it has become more vital to catch the eye and be memorable (especially since the audience now has to sit through so many songs). Last year, for example, the Moldovan entry (which despite the gimmick was easily the best one) incorporated an old woman wandering round banging a big drum while this mad group of nutters sang about grandma banging the drum. Last nights featured “Lordi” a group of heavy-metallers from Finland in mock horror masks. The most common eye-catcher used by many nations is to try and push the boundaries of what is acceptable in terms of having scantily clad attractive women singing or dancing around the singer in some way.

The Lithuanian entry, which had everyone so excited last night, was 6 blokes in suits doing a number about how they were the Eurovision winners and urging people to vote for them. It wasn’t a song as such, but more of a football chant. I learned later that it was kind of a jokey but deliberate attempt to subvert the format – the blokes are all TV personalities here, and they deliberately didn’t have any women on stage with them. The ended up coming 6th, Lithuania’s best ever performance, which probably says something, though I don’t know what.

The most comical part is the voting. Each country votes separately and then gives points to the top ten vote receivers there. Plus you can’t vote for your own country’s song. What this in effect means (it certainly seems from last night) is that immigrant populations sway the votes considerably. Germany, for example, gave maximum points to Turkey’s entry last night. While Russia finished second largely based on the fact that they got maximum points from lots of the nations of the former USSR which still have large Russian minorities, plus Israel. Also there is a lot of neighbourliness, with Scandinavian countries giving their top points to their neighbours, and even the former Yugoslavia putting aside the past to vote for each other in a touching gesture of post-civil war fraternity. Lithuania got maximum points from Ireland, in what I thought was testament to the Irish love of a good joke, but was told today that it’s because there are loads of Lithuanians in Ireland.

Romania, whose song I didn’t see, pipped Lithuania for 5th place. (Lot of votes from Moldova, surprisingly). Hungary didn’t take part for some reason. Perhaps a sudden rush of good taste, or a feeling of being above it all. Or maybe they just forgot to send in their entry forms this year. They were in it last year; I remember their song, which was quite a good one, though sung badly – in direct counterpoint to the Romanian one which was a bad song sung well.

Oh, and the Finnish horror rockers won by a country mile, despite not having a widely spread diaspora. Obviously the mask thing worked. Or perhaps because Finland produced most of the voting equipment that will have been used by the electors of Europe.

Posted in music, travel | 1 Comment »