Have you ever heard of the Greek dog songs and music or skyladika, as they are known in Greece?
The Birth of Dog Songs – Skyladika in Greece
Laika songs and music are very popular in Greece in all their forms and variations. They have created their own brand of widely popular, star singers as it did back in the 1960 and 70s. This particular variation of laika is nicknamed skyladika music (dog music) and borrows elements and themes from the Arabic and Middle Eastern countries, which are made Greek with the use of bouzouki or electric guitar and clarino.
Skyladika music is played mostly in particular musical scenes and nightclubs and is associated with mass entertainment of lower quality; these clubs and musical scenes are usually referred to in a derogatory way and are nicknamed skyladika too.
Dog songs (skyladika) and music begun as the music of alienated migrants who came to the big cities from the rural areas and could not be integrated, although they inevitably shared in the advent of new technologies and the consumption models of the big cities, contributing to their economy. In many cases, urban artists and their followers accused this people of lowering the standards of music and making laika degrade.
Indeed, skyladika are considered by both the artistic establishments and the most important recording companies as an expression of degradation and social decadence, in the field of laika and pop music in Greece.
Recordings of dog music didn’t start until late 80s, and even today skyladika CDs are produced mostly by smaller and independent companies, that usually backup singers who come from rural areas.
The Name Dog Songs and Dog Music
The name dog music and dog songs was given to this genre due to the large concentration of dogs outside the nightclubs where they were performed.
The reason why dogs where coming outside these places is actually funny: in the older days, musical scenes and nightclubs were offering only drinks and alcohol; some clubs though decided to start offering food, because that would allow them to charge more.
So, they started offering meat (boiled veal at first) which was impossible to eat, and was usually fed to.. dogs. Therefore, these clubs were nicknamed dog clubs (skyladika), giving the same name to the music played there.
There is also another version for the name, according to which these songs were named dog songs because the singers – who usually didn’t have any particularly nice voice – were singing in a way that reminded of a dog’s lament and cry.
Listening to skyladika dog songs in Greece
However, despite all the attacks and the notion of decadence, skyladika music is widely popular in the working class area of all big cities and especially in rural areas, disseminated through CDs with live performances of certain singers and composers and via local radio stations. There are also many nation-wide radio stations that decided to play only dog music, choosing lighter versions of these songs.
There are some professionals and experts who believe that the strand of new laika and the so called dog music are the only original and authentic popular music genres today in Greece.
They denote that the birth and evolution of dog music reminds the beginning of rebetika in Greece, because it also reflects the social values of some social classes and groups. Same with rebetika, young people and those belonging to the working classes flock to nightclubs and dance, sing, drink and participate to some sort of “kefi” and fun which doesn’t require any sophistication and mannerism.
Some of the most known singers of skyladika songs are Tasos Bougas, Giannis Livykos, Nikos Kolias, Panagiotis Mihalopoulos and more.