Laïko & Laïka Bookmark and Share

After the end of WWII and the Greek Civil War, Greece entered a period of relative economic prosperity and the middle class, which had suffered through extreme poverty in the 1940s, began living more comfortably, a fact that was bound to be reflected in its choice of entertainment. At the same time a new generation of musicians came of age that had grown up with Rebétiko music, but had no first-hand experience of Asia Minor and the refugee experience that was a central theme to Rebétiko songs.

Out of this environment, Laïko ("popular") music was born. Laïko evolved from Rembétika, but adopted many innovations and influences, including the use of the four-chord bouzouki. Songs became more upbeat, and references to drug use and criminal activity, common in Rembétika, practically disappeared. Poverty remained a strong theme, although it was now often seen from the perspective of a middle class that had lived through poverty but overcome it. Love and relationships figured prominently as key themes.

As Laïko became ubiquitous in 1960s Greece, a number of different schools emerged. Major composers like Theodorakis and Hatzidakis elevated Laïko to a higher art (Éntechno Laïko), while Elafri ("Light") and Vari ("Heavy") Laïko became the norm at night clubs (depending on the club's mood), exemplified by star performers like Stelios Kazantzidis and Stratos Dionisiou. In the 60s and 70s, political themes also became popular (for example in the songs of George Dalaras). At the start of the eighties there was a period called the Néo Kýma (Greek Νέο Κύμα - New Wave) mixing Éntekno with the European singer songwriter styles like the French Chanson and German Liedermacher. This lay the basis for Modern Laïko.

A lot of artist we named at the Rembétika and Éntekno chapter also make Modern Laïko music. Artist like Savvopoulos, Marinella, Alexiou, Mosxoliou and Galani to name but a few. Another branch was indoyíftika, heavily influenced by Middle Eastern music and Indian filmi, by performers such as Manolis Angelopoulos.

Later in the 80s and 90s Laïko interacted more and more with Western pop music and reformed itself in Laïka (Λαϊκά), which is basically Laïko but then less folk and more rock, pop, dance or whatever Western style is incorporated. Laïka stars are among many Anna Vissi, Mando, Eleni Dimou, Marianta Pieridi, Sarbel Michael, Katerina 'Keti' Garbi, Mihalis Hatzigiannis and Christos Dantis. In the 2000's Thanos Petrelis (Θάνος Πετρέλης) became a younger popular representative in the genre.

The Laïka style sometimes goes over the top discarding most of the Greek music traditions. Greeks call this Skiladiko music (or Skyladiko) and is either a derogatory term to describe Laïko or a decadent form of Laïko. Supporters of Laïko disagree with this definition and accept as skiladiko only what are commonly accepted as bad forms of Laïko music. Therefore there is always a dispute if a singer is a "skyllas" or not.