A collection of eclectic songs from around the continent (and beyond); including traditional folk, national pop and club tracks and the utterly ridiculous/bizarre.
Flori Mumajesi – “Nallane 2”: Insanely catchy song with two blokes having some car karaoke antics.
Various – “Xhamadani Vija Vija”: Song associated with Albania’s national football team and alludes to the union of Albania and Kosovo. Potentially as provoking for Serbia as the famous “drone incident”.
Aida Doci – “Tallava” : Young, beautiful girl sings amazingly in a traditional style (while managing not to look completely awkward performing while sitting on a couch). Like so many Albanian artists, Aida hails from Kosovo, but rose to fame from Albanian X Factor in 2013.
Nersik & Arabo Ispiryanner – “Pit Pashtpanem” : The lyric of this song refer to the Armenian genocide and the suffering of their grandparents. The video includes scenes from the memorial museum in Yerevan.
Sevak Khanagyan – “Qami (Remix)” : The chilled vibe Armenian song that Sevak sang in Eurovision in 2018, but a remixed version. Should have been a winner!
Gaya Arzumanyan – “Ayayi Erkir Artsakh” : This lady has some set of pipes on her, like the Armenian version of Shakira. The video shows battle scenes from Artsakh.
DJ Davo & Suro – “Du Shat Shar Es” : Because we just have to include a party tune and it features the Armenian parkapzuk (bagpipes).
Dihaj – “Eşqini Aşagı Sal” : I bet you’ve never been to a beach like this one in Baku – nice backdrop of a looming jack-up oil rig.
Chingiz Mustafayev – “Laçin” : Best version of this enchanting Azeri folk song IMO.
Dilara Kazimova – “Start a Fire” : Completely appropriate title from the “Land of Fire” and very moving, even if Armenians defiantly protest at the use of the(ir) beautifully haunting “duduk” instrument.
J.M.K.E. – “Tere Perestroike” : “Welcome Perestroika”, the unofficial Punk Rock anthem of the Singing Revolution against Soviet repression of Estonian language and culture.
Kerli – “Feral Hearts” : This Estonian pop star resembles Lady Gaga but owes her influences to a fusion of inspirations from Imogen Heap to Björk to Aphex Twin.
Jenni Vartiainen – “Duran Duran”: Emotive and catchy song about a romantic encounter to the backdrop of Duran Duran by the stunning Jenni Vartiainen.
Korpiklaani – “Wooden Pints”: Trust me, this will be your new favourite drinking song. Or you can check their songs “Vodka” or “Tequila” according to your tipple.
Nightwish – “I wish I Had an Angel”: An oldie but a goodie with Tarja Turunen as frontwoman. Soundtrack of the film “Alone in the Dark” starring Christian Slater.
Janna – “Sä et Ole Hullu“: Finnish pop star Janna assures us that we “aren’t crazy”. Good to know.
გახსოვს ტურფავ (Gakhsovs Turpav) : Each region of Georgia has, not only their own dialect, but also their own style of singing. This one is a love song from Guria, featuring the yodelling style – krimanchuli.
Dato Kenchiashvili – “Miyvarxar” / დათო კენჭიაშვილი – “მიყვარხარ” : My favourite singer from Georgia; his voice is like a soothing balm. I don’t care that many of his songs sound so similar; it’s a winning formula.
Zviad Bekauri – “Me Koveltvis Mogtsem” / ზვიად ბეკაური – “მე ყოველთვის მოგცემ”: It may sound familiar, as a remix of Röyksopp’s “Here She Comes Again”. It was on heavy rotation when my Georgian partner and I were first courting and it truly stuck with those happy memories.
Danial – “На расстоянии” : Okay, so Danial isn’t Georgian, but the song features a romantic video set in Tbilisi.
“Черная ласточка (Black Swallow)” : Joseph Stalin’s favourite song and a marvellous example of the Georgian polyphonic male chorus. “Fly, fly Black Swallow; you are along the coast of Alazani. Bring as soon as possible the news to me about my brother from the battlefield.”
Guano Apes – “Proud Like a God” : Rammstein, Doro Pesch, the Scopions; all too predictable for the rock/metal feature. Let’s go with something lesser known.
Scooter – “The Question is What is the Question” : I make no apologies for this. It was either Deutsche happy hardcore or Cascada. This one has an infamous jumpstyle dance which had everyone from the businessman to the milkman playing imaginery hopscotch on the streets.
Demjén Ferenc – “Honfoglalás” : Pivotal to Hungary’s pop music culture, Demjén has been singing since the 1960s, belting out power ballads such as this among his extensive, extensive music catalogue.
Pápai Joci – “Origo” : Not only my favourite Eurovision entry for Hungary, but one of my top Eurovision songs ever. The singer caused some internal controversy for the fact that he is of Romani origin but the song is sung in Magyar.
Palya Bea – “Szabadon” : She describes herself as a Hungarian folk and world singer. The worldly influence is definitely evident here with the oud accompaniment. She seems to never age; I want to know her secrets. Her voice would almost suit Celtic style songs too with similar ornamentation.
Tóth Gabi – “Szeretni Jöttem” : What a charming video; a wintery walk in the countryside in Hungarian ethnic style clothing. Perfectly fitting for Reconnaissance Jukebox.
Meccano Twins – “Eating Steel” : Possibly one of my favourite songs of all time- the darkside of Hardcore Italia. From the same hockey-masked DJs a.k.a. Art of Fighters. Other releases include “Shittin’ Steel”, “Theory of Steel” and “Still Stealing the Steel”.
CCCP Fedeli alla Linea – “Curami” : 80s pro-Soviet punk band from Italy formed in Berlin. Their live performances were just bizarre, and not always well-received due to their message of USSR nostalgia. Militant rock indeed…
Rosario Miraggio – “La Macchina 50” : I’m sorry, really I am, but this song gets me dancing around the kitchen every single time. What a cute automobile. I suppose the Fiat 500 or Smart Car would be the modern day equivalent but they’ve certainly come a long way.
Lacuna Coil – “Our Truth” : The best song by these gothic rockers in my opinion is actually “What I See” from the 7-string Karmacode album but as there’s no corresponding video, you wouldn’t be able to ogle over Cristina Scabbia. I never did understand why they needed the second vocalist.
Мирбек Атабеков – “Таласым”: The catchiest song of all time?
Мирбек Атабеков ft. Dj Teddme – “Сүйөм сени”: Another song by the same artist with a feelgood vibe. This song just puts me in a good mood.
Мирбек Атабеков – “Жалынам”: Same artist again, but he has so many great tunes I couldn’t resist including another.
Omar – “Jılama Janım”: A rising artist who represented Kyrgyzstan on Silk Way Star with a mesmerising voice.
Ghetto Geasy feat. Majk – “Ajo” : Albanian pop/rap tunes are currently among the catchiest in the Balkans. This one is no exception.
NRG Band – “Me Gaz e Lot”: From back in 2011.
Era Istrefi – “E Dehun” : Now on the rise to global fame, this is the controversial video that got the Serbian Orthodox Church’s blood boiling.
Dua Lipa – “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)“: This song by British-born Kosovar was chosen purely for the fabulously brutalist Barbican building appearing in the music video.
Kuwait (Beyond Europe)
Kuwaisiana – Bara7a (براحة): Extremely catchy song (about culture shock and bullying) with rock and ska elements written by their Kuwaiti front man and performed by a multi-national lineup.
Jurga – “Smėlio žmonės” : Just seek out one of Jurga Šeduikytė’s playlists and it will set you right for the day. Delightful vocal style and a fusion of electronica, pop and alternative sounds.
Next Time – “Ja Izlezi Gjurgjo” : Could this be my favourite song ever? It just might be; a modern take on a famous patriotic folk song with a captivating video as well.
Toše Proeski – “Zajdi Zajdi Jasno Sonce”: A combination of one of Macedonia’s most revered folk songs performed by their most beloved singer, who sadly passed away aged only 26.
Esma and Lozano – “Pred da se razdeni” : Eurovision duo of Macedonia’s most famous Romani singer and humanitarian, Esma (who sadly passed away in 2016). And Lozano… such amazing vocals.
Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa (Warsaw Village Band) – Chassidic Dance : The band formed to promote Poland’s cultural identity in a contemporary way, as a response to mass culture and narrow-mindedness “which in fact leads to [the] destruction of human dignity” in their view.
Honey (a.k.a. Honorata Skarbek) – Lalalove/Don’t Love Me : Catchy pop song by the youngster known as Honey. She also released a more popular English version to the same video.
Kombii- Pokolenie : The recently reformed 70s Polish rock band with an extra “i” on the end of their name (formerly Kombi). The song is about every generation wanting to change the world and make their voices heard.
Myslovitz – Długość Dźwięku Samotności : 90s rock band who, like Boston and other successful rock bands of the past, took their name from their hometown; in this case a small mining town called Mysłowice.
Ceca – “Djurdjevdan” : Famous Yugoslavian “turbofolk” songstress Ceca sings a classic. Widow of Serbian paramilitary commander, Arkan, Ceca has also been charged with posession of firearms and embezzlement; but adored nonetheless!
Divna Ljubojević – “Agni Partene” : Beautiful, haunting Serbian Orthodox song that gives one goosebumps.
Tanja Savić – “Zlatnik” : I had an upbeat remix of this song as my mobile ringtone for a long time. Slow (original) version works as well.
Desmod – “Zhori vsetko co mam” : Dark love song by Slovak pop-rock band.
Richard Müller – “Po Schodoch” : “Up the Stairs” describes home life and neighbours of one of Slovakia’s paneláky; social pre-fab housing from the communist era.
Slovak National Anthem – “Nad Tatrou sa blýska” : Slovak National Anthem or Hungarian folk song? A debate continues!
Pianoбой – “Горя Чуть Слышно” : Dmitry Shurov a.k.a. Pianoboy and his very catchy melody set to lesbians frolicking in a forest.
Jamala – “1944” : The powerful and controversial song which won Kiev the right to host Eurovision 2017, about the mass deportation of the Tatars from Crimea by Stalin in…1944.
Alyosha – “Sweet People” : This 2010 video is set in Pripyat/Chernobyl. Next best thing if you can’t manage a tour. The small child featured in the video was never present at the actual location.