Slovene Pop Culture: Magnifico, Pop Provocateur

By , 14 Dec 2017, 12:01 PM Meet the People
Magnifico is in on the joke Magnifico is in on the joke YouTube

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The protean star who still sells out arenas. 

December 14. 2017

Along with Rambo Amadeus, Magnifico (born Robert Pešut, in Ljubljana) has one of the most eye-catching names on the ex-Yugo music scene, with the songs and videos to hold your attention once drawn. A happy provocateur who enjoys poking pop and political culture in the ribs, his career started in 1992 and continues with new music and tours, with December 25, 2017, seeing a concert at Ljubljana’s Arena Stožice. Here we take a quick look at a few of his more notable of his many songs, if you’re curious about the man you’ll often seen on posters.

The song Sivija was written to compete as Slovenia’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, but sadly came in second in the national competition, and thus never made it to the big event. It has something of Serge Gainsbourg about it, and tells of the singer’s love for Sylvia Kristel, the 70s soft porn star who found fame in Emmanuelle and spent some years of cocaine-addled marriage to Ian McShane, the roguish star of Lovejoy, Deadwood, Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones.

Magnifico eventually made it to Eurovision with “Samo Ljubezen” (“Only Love”), which represented Slovenia in the 2002 competition, as sung by the transvestite group Sestre (Sisters). The lyrics were written by Barbara Pešut, Magnifico’s partner.

The somewhat problematically titled "Halo Gospodicna" aka “Magnifico je Peder” (“Magnifico is a Faggot”) is a satire on failing to live up to Slovene ideas of how a real man should behave. In the song Magnifico turns down the opportunity to spend the night with a woman, and then is mocked all over town for his lack of masculine vigour – a status he then celebrates.

In a similar vein, and taken from one of the performer’s most successful albums, the song “Hir Aj Kam Hir Aj Go” (“Here I Come Here I Go”) sees Magnifico give up on being a respectable citizen of the West and deciding to go full Balkan, embracing all the negative stereotypes and making them his own.

While the videos above are rather old, don’t think that Magnifico is resting on his laurels, or afraid to explore other idioms. Shown below is a song from 2015, “Ya Mustafa” from the album Charlatan de Balkan, which includes some lines in English, such as “You like it when I tickle you with my moustache, and I like it when you say to me hash hash.”

If you enjoyed any of the above, then you’ll find the singer’s YouTube channel is a rich source of delights, and, if you like live music and dislike spending Christmas at home, then consider getting a ticket to his next show, December 25 at Ljubljana’s Arena Stožice (details on Magnifico's site).

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