Turbo-folk is subgenre of Serbian contemporary pop music that initially developed during the 1990s as a fusion of techno and folk. The music glorified the lavish lifestyle of gangsters such as Arkan who were allowed to proliferate during the rule of Slobodan Milošević.[1]


Turbo-folk grew in Croatia in part due to the popularity of the Croatian singer Severina's fusion of turbo-folk in her music. Turbo-folk is seen as a part of everyday life in Croatia and serves a means of social release and reaction to the effects of globalisation in Croatia.[2]


Graffiti against Ceca's music in Imotski, Croatia: "Turn off all the 'Cecas'/Light up the candles/Vukovar will never/Be forgotten" (with stylized letter U, like a Croatian fascist and anti-Serbian movement Ustaše)

Although very popular, turbo-folk is described as pseudo-folklore, while often linking it to Serbian involvement in Bosnian and Croatian conflicts during the nineties.[1] This liberal section of Serbian and Croatian society explicitly viewed this music as vulgar, almost pornographic kitsch, glorifying crime, moral corruption and nationalist xenophobia. In addition to making a connection between turbofolk and "war profiteering, crime & weapons cult, rule of force and violence", in her book Smrtonosni sjaj (Deadly Splendor) Belgrade media theorist Ivana Kronja refers to its look as "aggressive, sadistic and pornographically eroticised iconography".[3][4] Along the same lines, British culture theorist Alexei Monroe calls the phenomenon "porno-nationalism".[5] However, turbo-folk was equally popular amongst the South Slavic peoples during the Yugoslav Wars.[4]

As long as I am the mayor, there will be no nightclub-singers of [cajke] or turbo-folk parades in a single municipal hall.

— Anto Đapić, former mayor of Osijek and leader of the Croatian Party of Rights[6]

The resilience of a turbo-folk culture and musical genre, often referred to as the "soundtrack to Serbia’s wars",[7] was and to a certain extent still is, actively promoted and exploited by pro-government commercial TV stations, most notably on Pink and Palma TV-channels, which devote significant amount of their broadcasting schedule to turbo-folk shows and music videos.

Others, however, feel that this neglects the specific social and political context that brought about turbo-folk, which was, they say, entirely different from the context of contemporary western popular culture. In their opinion, turbo-folk served as a dominant paradigm of the "militant nationalist" regime of Slobodan Milošević, "fully controlled by regime media managers".[8] John Fiske feels that during that period, turbo-folk and its close counterpart Serbian Eurodance had the monopoly over the officially permitted popular culture, while, according to him, in contrast, Western mass media culture of the time provided a variety of music genre, youth styles, and consequently ideological positions.[9]

Upon introduction of Billboard Croatia Songs chart on 15 February 2022, it became apparent that mainstream music from Serbia and other former Yugoslav republics (which is all classified as turbo-folk or more commonly "cajke" by its critics in Croatia) dominated the music taste of the people of Croatia, as the only Croatian artists featured on the chart were Eni Jurišić, Matija Cvek, 30zona, Kuku$ Klan, Jelena Rozga and Grše, and the only Western artists featured on the chart were Glass Animals and Red Hot Chili Peppers.[10][11]

See also


  1. ^ a b "In These Times 25/07 -- Serbia's New New Wave". Inthesetimes.com. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  2. ^ Cvoro, Urosh (2016). Turbo-folk Music and Cultural Representations of National Identity in Former Yugoslavia. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 1317006062.
  3. ^ "Film Criticism". Filmcriticism.allegheny.edu. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Komentari". Nspm.rs. Retrieved 23 April 2017.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Central Europe Review - Balkan Hardcore". Ce-review.org. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Catherine Baker, "The concept of turbofolk in Croatia: inclusion/exclusion in the construction of national musical identity"" (PDF). Eprints.soton.ac.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  7. ^ Gordana Andric (15 June 2011). "Turbo-folk Keeps Pace with New Rivals". Balkaninsight.com. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  8. ^ "Explore Taylor & Francis Online". Maney.co.uk. Retrieved 3 June 2018.
  9. ^ John Fiske, Television Culture, February 1988, ISBN 0-415-03934-7
  10. ^ "Croatia Songs (Week of February 19, 2022)". Billboard. 15 February 2022. Archived from the original on 17 February 2022. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  11. ^ Marjanović, Hrvoje (18 February 2022). "Billboard Croatia nikad neće biti Билборд Кроејша". Index.hr (in Croatian). Retrieved 20 February 2022.