Help Me Find Pop Songs with Gypsy, Jewish, or Eastern European flavor
January 14, 2014 11:03 AM   Subscribe

While reading in a coffee shop (ok, so it was a Starbucks) I was introduced to Leonard Cohen's song Dance to the End of Love. I've been obsessing about it ever since. It's plangent melody, which sounds like something Eastern European or Jewish in melody, is wonderfully endearing and catchy. I've also heard Mary Hopkins' song "Those Were the Days" which is based of an old-Gypsy song Dorogoi dlinnoyu (("Дорогой длинною"). I'm looking for other pop songs that trade on Gypsy or Eastern European melodies and motifs. They need not be American songs , or even have lyrics related to rustic surroundings (Cohen's song, for instance, doesn't) but they should have that same melodic sensibility. I don't have a technical knowledge of music but most of us can atleast sort of agree what songs sound "eastern europeanish" or Gypsy-ish or Jewish (see Dve Giatari for example or Tumabalalaika for a Jewish example) They need not be American songs as well. Anything really will do.
posted by RapcityinBlue to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Start here, I think.
posted by janey47 at 11:11 AM on January 14, 2014

I think you might like Beirut.
posted by mochapickle at 11:16 AM on January 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Gypsy Kings?

Lambada Music.

A lot of Shakira's music will do too.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:18 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, there is Romanian muzica populara. Its an ongoing musical style that is listened to by a lot of people over here. See here for some examples.
posted by cantthinkofagoodname at 11:20 AM on January 14, 2014

Definitely Beirut. Also A Hawk and a Handsaw is really great, mostly instrumental but inspired by Eastern European and Balkan sounds.
posted by teamnap at 11:21 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Klezmatics?
posted by hoyland at 11:22 AM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

There's always Gogol Bordello, Gypsy Punk via Brooklyn.
posted by Oktober at 11:29 AM on January 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Gogol Bordello, if you're into that sort of thing (on preview, too late).
Shantel, Bucovina Club.
Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire.
Balkan Beat Box.
posted by Behemoth at 11:31 AM on January 14, 2014

Fields of June by Emily Barker, feat. Frank Turner.

Fabulous song, and catchy as hell.
posted by penguin pie at 11:35 AM on January 14, 2014

V.Vysotsky "Моя цыганская"
also feel free to browse this.
posted by pyro979 at 11:37 AM on January 14, 2014

Deep Forest's album Boheme, if you are into ambient "ethnic electronica" (not my term!).
posted by gyusan at 11:41 AM on January 14, 2014

I'm not sure if it's what you're looking for but I loves me some DeVotchKa.
DeVotchKa - Such a Lovely Thing
posted by tresbizzare at 11:59 AM on January 14, 2014

Nthing A Hawk And A Hacksaw (not "Handsaw" if you're having trouble Googling) and Beirut.

There's also a metric ton of contemporary klezmer and klezmer-influenced bands that play with this sound. Just off the top of my head:

Geoff Berner
Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird
posted by griphus at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Arik Einstein will remind you of Leonard Cohen.
posted by Wordwoman at 12:13 PM on January 14, 2014

My first thought is Taraf de Haïdouks, who play such vibrant, irresistible music that when I heard them over the sound system of a NYC record store I immediately bought the album (which I think was the Nonesuch compilation Taraf de Haïdouks). Muzsikas do a lot of great Hungarian Gypsy music, and in general you should find these Amazon listings helpful.

> I've also heard Mary Hopkins' song "Those Were the Days" which is based of an old-Gypsy song Dorogoi dlinnoyu (("Дорогой длинною").

That's not a Gypsy song, it was written by Boris Fomin, a Russian composer. In general there's a lot of quasi-folk Russian music from a century ago that was labeled "Gypsy" because Gypsy bands (often without any actual Roma) were fashionable then.
posted by languagehat at 12:35 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you end up enjoying Gogol Bordello, World/Inferno Friendship Society and/or Firewater might work for you.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2014

Flamenco is almost pure gypsy music and there is so much good stuff out there.
posted by JJ86 at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2014

How do you feel about brass? I'm a big fan of Fanfara Ciocarlia, they have a habit of doing covers that would be familiar to western audiences.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:26 PM on January 14, 2014

Seconding Devotchka. Their cover of Venus in Furs (originally by Velvet Underground) is what got me into them.

Seconding Andrew Bird. 50 Pieces

You might also like some Duke Special: Our Love Goes Deeper Than This (A live version with Tim Minchin.. yes... Tim Minchin.)

Else Gabby Young and Other Animals: In Your Head

Will definitely be watching this thread ;)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2014

Slavic Soul Party (NB: autoplaying music), maybe? Definitely Beirut and A Hawk and Hacksaw, as noted above.

Some of Regina Spektor's songs scratch this itch for me, too, like Après Moi.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

The title track from Tom Waits' Rain Dogs has a nonspecific pan-European sound that might work for you.

(There's also a really, really good album of Hebrew Tom Waits covers, although it may be a slightly different flavor of Jewishness than what you're going for.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2014

Seconding Firewater. They're what would happen if a klezmer band crashed Shane MacGowan's wake.

All their albums are fantastic, but I think Get off the Cross has the strongest dose of the flavor you're looking for.
posted by jesourie at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2014

You may, or may not, like Fara Zahar.
posted by humboldt32 at 3:07 PM on January 14, 2014

You might like Les Orientales, three singers of Arab, Jewish and French-Algerian origin. I have their album Music-Hall d'Algerie, though it seems hard to get hold of now. Anyone comes across it in a thrift store, BUY IT. Here's a taste from Youtube: Ch'hillet laayani; Alger, Alger.

The crossover between different traditions in North Africa is fascinating. If you like Les Orientales you can find earlier examples of the wonderfully rich cultural fusion they spring from all over YouTube. For instance, Reinette L'Oranaise.

Speaking of Balkan pop, Gypsy Beats and Balkan Bangers is a good sampler (one Gogol Bordello track.) It's quite rough music.
posted by glasseyes at 3:47 PM on January 14, 2014

Ofra Haza was a Yemenite Israeli pop singer with a vibe that was definitely poppy and also sort of exotic world beats at the same time… not sure if that's on point for what you want.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Delightful Iranian-American duo Eendo
posted by Gordafarin at 4:29 AM on January 15, 2014

We were lucky to see Mahala Rai Banda playing on the street in Ljubljana when they were in town for a festival. I think theyre from all over Eastern Europe, but mostly Romania. Marvelous energy. I hope that link works. I'm on mobile.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:30 AM on January 15, 2014

You might like The Shondes - lots of klezmer goodness.
posted by Stacey at 9:28 AM on January 15, 2014

This isn't exactly pop, per se, but Bob Dylan's One More Cup of Coffee has a sort of gypsy vibe to it.

Also, Beirut's album Gulag Orkestar was strongly influenced by Eastern European folk music.
posted by number9dream at 9:53 AM on January 15, 2014

In terms of smaller indie artists I enjoy both Bucharest Drinking Team and The Debaucherauntes from Seattle.
posted by togdon at 9:33 AM on January 16, 2014

Caspian Hat Dance.
posted by yoHighness at 1:00 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I know I'm late to the show, but Beats Antique may even be "too gypsy" to be what you're looking for. Give the video a go, there's even a belly dancer.
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:24 PM on February 12, 2014

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