Last updated

Laïko or laïkó (Greek : λαϊκό [τραγούδι], romanized: laïkó [tragoúdi], pronounced  [lai̯ˈko traˈɣuði] ; “[song] of the people", "popular [song]", pl: λαϊκά [τραγούδια]laïká [tragoúdia]) is a Greek music genre composed in Greek language in accordance with the tradition of the Greek people. Also called "folk song" or "urban folk music" (αστική λαϊκή μουσικήastikí laïkí mousikí), in its plural form is a Greek music genre which has taken many forms over the years. Laïkó followed after the commercialization of Rebetiko music. It is strongly dominated by Greek folk music and it is used to describe Greek popular music as a whole. When used in context, it refers mostly to the form it took in the period from the 1950s to the 1980s.


Rebetiko and elafró tragoudi

Until the 1930s the Greek discography was dominated by two musical genres: the Greek folk music (δημοτικάdimotiká) and the elafró tragoudi (ελαφρό τραγούδι, literally: "light[weight] song"). The latter was represented by ensembles of singers/musicians or solo artists like Attik and Nikos Gounaris. It was the Greek version of the international popular music of the era. In the 1930s the first rebetiko recordings had a massive impact on Greek music. As Markos Vamvakaris stated, "we were the first to record laïká (popular) songs". In the years to follow this type of music, the first form of what is now called laïkó tragoúdi, became the mainstream Greek music.

Classic laïkó

Marinella. Marinella-liveathinonarena.jpg

Classic laïkó as it is known today, was the mainstream popular music of Greece during the 1960s and 1970s. Laiko music evolved from the traditional Greek music of the ancient and the medieval Greek era and was established until the present day. [1] [2] Laïkó was dominated by singers such as Nikos Xanthopoulos and composers such as Mimis Plessas. Among the most significant songwriters and lyricists of this period are George Zambetas and the big names of the Rebetiko era that were still in business, like Vassilis Tsitsanis and Manolis Chiotis. Many artists combined the traditions of éntekhno and laïkó with considerable success, such as the composers Stavros Xarchakos and Mimis Plessas. Legendary figures associated with Laiko (specifically Zeimpekiko) are Dimitris Mitropanos and Stelios Kazantzidis.

Contemporary laïkó

Contemporary laïkó (σύγχρονο λαϊκόsýnchrono laïkó [ˈsiŋxrono laiˈko] ), also called modern laïkó or laïko-pop, can be called in Greece the mainstream music genre, with variations in plural form as contemporary laïká. Along with moderna laïkó, t is currently Greece's mainstream music genre. The main cultural Greek dances and rhythms of today's Greek music culture laïká are Nisiotika, Syrta, Antikristos, Rebetika, Hasapiko, Zeibekiko, Kalamatianos, Kangeli and Syrtaki.

The more cheerful version of laïkó, called elafró laïkó, was often used in musicals during the Golden Age of Greek cinema. The Greek Peiraiotes superstar Tolis Voskopoulos gave the after-modern version of Greek laïko (ελληνικό λαϊκό) listenings. Many artists have combined the traditions of éntekhno and laïkó with considerable success, such as the composers Mimis Plessas and Stavros Xarchakos.

Contemporary laïká emerged as a style in the early 1980s. An indispensable part of the contemporary laïká culture is the písta (πίστα, pl. πίστες; "dance floor/venue"). Night clubs at which the DJs play only contemporary laïká where colloquially known on the 90s as ellinádika (ελληνάδικα). Modern laïkó is mainstream Greek laïkó music mixed in with modern Western influences, from such international mainstream genres as pop music and dance. Renowned songwriters or lyricists of contemporary laïká include Alekos Chrysovergis, Nikos Karvelas, Phoebus, Nikos Terzis, Giorgos Theofanous and Evi Droutsa.


Anna Vissi AnnaVissiatAthinonArena.jpg
Anna Vissi

In effect, there is no single name for contemporary laïká in the Greek language, but it is often formally referred to as σύγχρονο λαϊκό, a term which is however also used for denoting newly composed songs in the tradition of "proper" laïkó; when ambiguity arises, σύγχρονο ("contemporary") λαϊκό or disparagingly λαϊκο-πόπ (laïko-pop, "folk-pop", also in the sense of "westernized") is used for the former, while γνήσιο (gnísio, "proper, genuine, true") or even καθαρόαιμο (katharóaimo, "pureblood") λαϊκό is used for the latter. The choice of contrasting the notions of "westernized" and "genuine" may often be based on ideological and aesthetic grounds. Laïko interacted more westernized sounds in the late of 2000s. [3] The term modern laïká comes from the phrase μοντέρνα λαϊκά (τραγούδια), "modern songs of the people".


Despite its immense popularity, the genre of contemporary laïká (especially laïkο-pop) has come under scrutiny for "featuring musical clichés, average singing voices and slogan-like lyrics" and for "being a hybrid, neither laïkó, nor pop". [4]

See also


  1. "Greek Traditional Music": Ινστιτούτο έρευνας μουσικής και ακουστικής - Institute for research on music and acoustics.
  2. Samuel Baud-Bovy, Δοκίμιο για το Ελληνικό Δημοτικό Τραγούδι, 3rd edition, Πελοποννησιακό Λαογραφικό Ίδρυμα, Ναύπλιο: 1966, pp. 1–13. (Υπάρχει μια συνεχής εξέλιξη από την αρχαία Ελληνική μουσική έως και το δημοτικό τραγούδι, η οποία μαρτυρείται, εκτός από τη γλώσσα, στο ρυθμό, τη δομή και τη μελωδία).
  3. The history of laiko and rebetiko song – Η ιστορία του λαϊκού τραγουδιού.
  4. Article by Tasos P. Karantis on

Related Research Articles

The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. These compositions have existed for millennia: they originated in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity; there is a continuous development which appears in the language, the rhythm, the structure and the melody. Music is a significant aspect of Hellenic culture, both within Greece and in the diaspora.

Music of immigrant communities in the United States

The vast majority of the inhabitants of the United States are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. This article will focus on the music of these communities and discuss its roots in countries across Africa, Europe and Asia, excluding only Native American music, indigenous and immigrant Latinos, Puerto Rican music, Hawaiian music and African American music. The music of Irish- and Scottish-Americans will be a special focus, due to their extreme influence on Appalachian folk music and other genres. These sorts of music are often sustained and promoted by a variety of ethnic organizations.

Marinella Musical artist

Marinella is one of the most popular Greek singers whose career has spanned several decades. She has sung professionally since 1957. Since the beginning of her career, she has released 66 solo albums and has been featured on albums by other musicians.

Vassilis Tsitsanis Musical artist

Vassilis Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter and bouzouki player. He became one of the leading Greek composers of his time and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern Rebetiko and Laiko music. Tsitsanis wrote more than 500 songs and is still remembered as an extraordinary composer and bouzouki player.

Rebetiko Greek music genre

Rebetiko, plural rebetika, occasionally transliterated as rembetiko or rebetico, is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early 1970s onwards. Rebetiko briefly can be described as the urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s.

A rebetis is a musician involved in the scene of the Greek musical genre of rebetiko, which flourished between 1920 and 1955.

Greek traditional music includes a variety of Greek styles played by ethnic Greeks in Greece, Cyprus, Australia, the United States and other parts of Europe. Apart from the common music found generally in Greece, each region of Greece contains a distinct type of folk music that originated from the region due to their history, traditions and cultural influences.

<i>Me Varka To Tragoudi</i> 1999 live album by Marinella

Me varka… to tragoudi is the name of a live album by popular Greek singer Marinella. The concert was recorded at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus in Athens, on September 18, 1999. It was released on November 20, 1999 in Greece and Cyprus by BMG Greece and it went platinum seven months after its release, selling over 50,000 units.

Stratos Dionysiou Musical artist

Stratos Dionysiou was a Greek laika singer.

Éntekhno is orchestral music with elements from Greek folk rhythm and melody. Its lyrical themes are often based on the work of famous Greek poets. Éntekhno arose in the late 1950s, drawing on rebetiko's westernization by Vassilis Tsitsanis and Manolis Chiotis. Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hatzidakis were the most popular early composers of éntekhno song cycles.

Lefteris Hapsiadis Musical artist

Lefteris Hapsiadis is a distinguished contemporary Greek lyrics author, a poet and a writer of novels. In the last thirty years he has written various poems, three novels and also lyrics for 525 songs in the contemporary Greek rebetika, laïka and elafra genres. He has collaborated with various music composers, and has occasionally worked as a record producer. Among those, he has often worked with Christos Nikolopoulos with whom he has had a number of popular records. Together they also created and produced a CD with 12 songs, for which they were able to assemble together 11 popular Greek performers, including Giorgos Dalaras, Haris Alexiou, Stratos Dionysiou, Giannis Parios, and Manolis Mitsias. Nikolopoulos performed one of the songs in the CD as well, his first public singing performance ever. The CD was launched as "Τραγούδια για τους φίλους μου" - Songs for my friends. Other quite well known performers of Hapsiadis pop songs were Stelios Kazantzidis, Glykeria and Manolis Aggelopoulos.

Eleni Vitali is a Greek popular singer and composer of Gypsy origin, active from the early 1970s.

<i>Ena Tragoudi In I Zoi Mou</i> 1970 studio album by Marinella

Ena tragoudi in' i zoi mou is a studio album by popular Greek singer Marinella. It was released on 27 March 1970 by PolyGram Records in Greece. This album was issued in mono and stereo. The stereo version of this album was released on CD in August 1994 with six bonus tracks and new cover by PolyGram.

<i>Athanata Rebetika</i> 1972 studio album by Marinella

Athanata Rebetika is the name of a studio album by popular Greek singer Marinella. It was released on 24 November 1972 by PolyGram Records in Greece. All songs were arranged and conducted by Mimis Plessas. The album was issued in mono and stereo. The stereo version of this album was released on CD in June 1994 by PolyGram, with four bonus tracks.

Kostas Tournas is one of the pioneers of modern Greek rock. He is a singer and composer of many hits in the '70s including Ti Na Mas Kanei I Nychta.

Giannis Spanos Greek composer

Ioannes "Giannis" Spanos, also transliterated as Yannis Spanos, was a Greek music composer and lyricist. In his early days as a musician he was also a piano accompanist. Spanos won the music prize at the 1971 Thessaloniki Film Festival for composing the score of the film Ekeino to kalokairi.

Giorgos Zographos was a Greek musician and actor.

Dimitra Galani Greek singer and songwriter

Dimitra Galani is a Greek singer and songwriter.

<i>Visibility Zero</i> 1970 Greek film

Visibility Zero is a 1970 film starring Nikos Kourkoulos and Mary Chronopoulou. The film's plot showcases the conflict between the working class and their employers.

Manolis Mitsias Greek singer (born 1946)

Manolis Mitsias is a Greek singer. He has been a significant artistic presence in the laïko, light laïko and entekhno genres of modern Greek music.