Popular Music

Research Article

Mixing pop and politics: rock music in Czechoslovakia before and after the Velvet Revolution

Tony Mitchell

Rock and pop music in the USSR and eastern Europe has become an area of increasing interest to both the western mass media and cultural studies since glasnost, perestroika, the collapse of the Eastern bloc Communist regimes and the constitution of new western-styled democratic governments. This is largely because rock music has represented probably the most widespread vehicle of youth rebellion, resistance and independence behind the Iron Curtain, both in terms of providing an enhanced political context for the often banned sounds of British and American rock, and in the development of home-grown musics built on western foundations but resonating within their own highly charged political contexts. As the East German critic Peter Wicke has claimed,

Because of the intrinsic characteristics of the circumstances within which rock music is produced and consumed, this cultural medium became, in the GDR, the most suitable vehicle for forms of cultural and political resistance that could not be controlled by the state. (Wicke 1991, p. 1)