Music is a crucial pillar of the vibrant Georgian culture. Folk music is the first thing that comes to mind when considering Georgian culture. It was so important, traditional instruments were featured on Georgian stamps during the Soviet era. Georgian, polyphonic singing is a rare and beautiful sound to hear. Times are changing, and so too are the trends in popular music. DJ Gia Janashvili is one of the torchbearers of the new trends, inspiring many of his Georgian colleagues to harness the potential of Spotify and YouTube. All in an attempt to change the stereotypes about Georgian music.
In previous decades the Eurovision song contest was the only international platform for singers and bands from the small country in the Caucuses. However, thanks to social media, local artists are reaching out and sharing their melodies with the wider European music scene.
The Beats of the Caucasus
The modern Georgian music scene didn’t sprout out instantaneously – it traces its roots to the 1980s. At that time, Tbilisi was the epicenter of an active underground scene, where music enthusiasts could experience and experiment with rock, punk, hip-hop, and heavy metal. Not surprisingly, Tbilisi hosted the first official rock music festival in the USSR in 1980.
Following the country’s independence after the fall of the Soviet Union, the newfound freedom expedited the development of a modern domestic music scene, with newer generations willing to express themselves with English lyrics.
One unforeseen boost was the success of Katie Melua. Although a British citizen, the singer was born in Georgia as Ketevan Melua and migrated when she was 8 years old. Melua’s international success, coupled with the media revelation about her ethnicity, helped influence a shift in perception that Georgia may have more to offer than folk songs.
At the same time, social media platforms were coming online, and talent shows enabled Georgian bands to get wider exposure. Musicians such as Gia Janashvili are making Spotify and SoundCloud the key components in their strategy to attract fans and carve out a place for Georgian pop music on European record charts.
Talents That Open Musical Frontiers
There are many Georgian bands and singers with a cult following on YouTube, where video views numbering in the millions validate their talent and advertise the quality of the new wave of musicians from Georgia.
In recent years, several names have emerged on the international scene, and most of them used song contests as a launching point. One of these names is Nina Sublatti, who gained prominence in 2013 after winning the Georgian Idol contest and the opportunity to represent her country in the Eurovision Contest in 2015 with the song Warrior.
Mebo Nutsubidze took a similar path after participating in two versions of the X-Factor. The experimental concept of acoustic music practiced by Mebo has won many hearts, especially the hit single Holding You. Today, Nutsubidze is a regular guest on the European festival circuit.
Natia Todua is another expatriate making a name for herself. The fairy tale story of Todua starts in 2016 as a helper in a German family, and one year later, she triumphed at The Voice of Germany contest. Todua’s career took off with numerous concerts in Europe and a position as judge of the Idol contest in her native Georgia.
The alternative scene is on the rise with singers and bands like Frani, Kung Fu Junkie, Eldrine, Tamta Goduadze, Okinawa Lifestyle, and many others promoting the Georgian music style. Without knowing the country of origin, some of their songs will leave listeners with the impression the artists are from a prominent USA music label.
Ambitions to Climb the Billboard Charts
Climbing the Billboard charts is not easy, even for renowned US musicians. Yet Georgian artists are patiently buying their time and recruiting fans with catchy tunes that speak to the global audience.
DJ Gia Janashvili is one member of the Georgian music community striving to export his authentic take on the pop genre by branching out onto platforms where the global fan base gravitates.
The ever-growing music industry in Georgia produces new offerings from artists trying to accommodate various tastes that are increasingly aligning with global trends. The sheer number of festivals throughout the year mobilizes foreign music lovers to visit and experience the immersive atmosphere created by renowned musicians and a handful of uncut music gems.
The unbridled artistic potential of Georgian musicians is knocking on the international stage. Although traditional Georgian folk music still captivates audiences, the progressive voices are equally appealing to the ear.
It’s safe to say that it’s only a matter of time before a local hit single gets recognition among the top 100 Billboard songs.