by Alex Cosper (5/24/13)
The pop music of Greece has its roots in traditional folk music that goes back many centuries. One of the characteristics of this monophonic music is the 7/8 time signature. Greek musical instruments include the lira, lute and bagpipes. Folks songs are sang in groups who clap and dance with the music. By the 1940s rebetiko was a popular type of song that shaped by working class values, imagery and fantasies. Athens had become a center for new music during this period. Although historians began to study Greek music history at this time, Greek folk music did not emerge as an important part of education in schools.
One of the most popular modern Greek songs has been "Zorba the Greek," which was popularized by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass in the 1960s after it was written by Greek songwriter Mikis Theodorakis, who scored music for the 1964 film of the same name. The song is also known as "Syrtaki Dance." As a cultural leader of the underground left movement, much of his music was banned or shunned by the establishment. He also scored the music for Serpico in 1973. He was part of a musical revolution in the 1960s that brought Greek artistic roots to the masses. Theodorakis, who has written over a thousand songs, was elected to the Greek parliament in 1964, 1981 and 1990.
Folk music emerged as the voice of youth throughout the 1960s. Dionysis Savvopoulos helped popularize the singer-songwriter folk movement of the mid to late sixties. His music had a political message fused with psychedelic influences. A folk subgenre that has gained popularity since the sixties has been entekhno, which has a soft pop/rock orientation. This subgenre made up a strong component of what was called "Greek New Wave" from the mid-sixties through mid-senventies. Artists associated with Greek New Wave included Arleta, Kostas Hatzis, Mariza Koch and Giannis Poulopoulos. Some of the top pop artists of that era were Vlassis Bonatsos, Elpida, Vicky Leandros and Demis Roussos.
SInce the 1980s Greek music has blossomed into many different pop, rock and modern styles including acid house, trance and metal. Pop ballads have been a strong core of the nation's top artists such as Bessy Argyraki, Christos Dantis, Mando, Sophia Vossou and Michalis Rakintzis.
In 2005 Greece produced the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Elena Paparizou, who was originally from Sweden. Her song "My Number One" was the nation's only winner in its history with the contest. She began getting attention after entering the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest. By 2003 she has a big debut hit song in Greece called "Anapandites Kliseis." She went on to have several big hits in Greece.