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Schlager (German Schlager, literally "hitter", loosely translated as a "hit") is a style of popular music that is prevalent in Central and Northern Europe, in particular Finland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, but also to a lesser extent in the Baltic states, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Typical schlager tracks are either sweet, highly sentimental ballads with a simple, catchy melody or light pop tunes. Lyrics typically center on love, relationships and feelings. The northern variant of schlager, notably in Finland, has taken elements from Nordic and Slavic folk songs, with lyrics tending towards melancholic and elegiac themes. Musically the Schlager has some similarities to other styles like Easy Listening-Music.

The word Schlager is also a loanword in some languages where it kept its meaning of a [musical] hit.

The style has been frequently represented at the Eurovision Song Contest, and has been popular since it started in 1956, even though it is increasingly replaced by other pop music styles.

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Finland

The roots of Finnish schlager ("iskelmä") tradition have been retrospectively traced into interwar period, when popular singers included Georg Malmstén and Matti Jurva. A particularly notable song was opera-singer Ture Ara's "Emma" in 1929.

Schlager tradition has had and still has a very important place in Finnish popular music and its melodic language has influenced also Finnish rock. The schlager music has most of the time shared its audience with Finnish tango music, both being popular among middle aged people and some younger adults.

A particular feature of Finnish schlager music were translation schlagers (käännösiskelmä). There have been also noteworthy Finnish schlager-writers including Juha Vainio.

According to the polls conducted among Finnish audiences, "Hopeinen kuu", (originally "Guarda che luna" by Walter Malgoni and Bruno Pallesi[1]) recorded in Finnish by Olavi Virta, and "Satulinna" composed by Jukka Kuoppamäki and sung by Jari Sillanpää are the most popular Finnish schlagers of all time.[2][3]

Germany and Austria

The roots of German schlager are the early 1950s, famous singers at that time among others were Lale Andersen, Margot Eskens, Conny Froboess. Best times Schlager had during the 1960s and beginning 1970s

During the 1980s and the early 1990s, Schlager was not popular in Germany and Austria[citation needed]. During the mid-to-late 1990s and into the early 2000s, however, German-language schlager saw an extensive revival in Germany. Even reputable dance clubs would put in a stretch of schlager titles during the course of an evening, and numerous new bands specialising in covering original '70s schlager tunes as well as performing "new" '70s-ish material were formed. In Hamburg, schlager fans still (as of 2006) gather annually by the tens of thousands and dress up in freakish '70s wear for a street parade called Schlager Move. This revival has always been associated with ironic kitsch and, to a certain extent, gay culture (see Camp).

Stylistically, schlager continues to influence the German "party pop" genre to this day, i.e., the music most often heard in après-ski bars and Majorcan mass discos.

Contemporary schlager is often mingled with Volkstümliche Musik.

Sweden

In Sweden schlager has been a popular form of music since at least the 1970s, even though it has had its up and downs. It still enjoys a large place in Swedish culture, although it is often considered to be too "popular and commercial" by many people.

The Swedish Melodifestival that selects the Swedish competitor at the Eurovision Song Contest is popularly called Schlagerfestivalen (The Schlager Festival) since it has traditionally been characterized by schlager songs. The amount of schlager has decreased somewhat in recent years, but schlager songs are the most frequent single genre to win the competition - for example, "Evighet" (English language title: "Invincible") in 2006 by Carola, and "Hero" by Charlotte Perrelli in 2008. Melodifestivalen is the single most popular TV program in Sweden. It is held annually, and in 2006 an estimated 47% of the Swedish population watched the final. In Sweden, "schlager" is often used to refer to Eurovision participating songs, especially those from Malta, known for its schlager offerings.

Two characterizing features of Swedish songs clearly identifiable as schlager are that they almost invariably contain a pronounced key change before the final chorus, and they usually last almost exactly three minutes - the maximum length permitted at the Eurovision Song Contest. Some Swedes however dispute the meaningfulness of the term with respect to Swedish music, as it is sometimes employed fairly indiscriminately to describe either all popular music, "older sounding" popular music, Melodifestivalen songs, Eurovision songs, or just songs with a "catchy" chorus, or even dansband music.

Yugoslavia

Yugoslav schlagers started to appear in late 40s. One of the pioneers of schlagers is Darko Kraljić, born in Zagreb, lived in Belgrade. He is best known by his hits "Čamac na Tisi", sang by Lola Novaković, big hit in revolutionary Hungary, and music made for the film Ljubav i moda (Love and Fashion) such as "Devojko mala", later covered by Yugoslavian band VIS Idoli and "Pod sjajem zvezda" performed by quartet Ivanovići. Kraljević's schlagers symbolized the entrance of western European culture and capitalism into liberal communism in Yugoslavia.

Belgium

Modern Belgian artist Laura Lynn refueled the schlager genre that was popular before 2000 with numerous Flemish number 1 hits.

Elsewhere

While at one time music of this style was also fairly popular in the UK and USA, due to the constant change of fashion in popular culture, since the 1970s schlager has generally fallen out of favour. However for a period in the mid-to-late 1990s and early 2000s, an element of British pop music could be compared to contemporary schlager (although the term is virtually unknown in the UK), especially from the highly successful group Steps, and to a lesser extent from their predecessors Deuce and from Scooch.

See also

References








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