The Story So Far (July 18, 2015)

Since I wanted to make sense of that connection I once came across (I seem to recall it being some time in late 2013) between Chris Norman and the Girl Group from Osnabrück, Optimal (it turned out that he re-enacted that duet with Suzi Quatro with former Optimal member C C Catch), I started to turn my attention back from Dutch-speaking world to the East, since I started thinking anew about a TV appearance that Smokie made on DDR TV…which has finally revealed much more of the wonderful world of Eastern Bloc Pop, thanks to discovering that it was on a Youth Culture show called ‘Rund’.


Guess what, I’ve not only ‘broken into’ the DDR scene via this. I’m now beginning, thanks to ‘fraternal’ performances by guests from other Eastern Bloc nations, to ‘break into’ both Bulgaria and Hungary. (Donika Venkova and Szusza Koncs respectively)…and get Maja Catrin Fritsche (from Leipzig) singing in the language of the enemy, covering Diana Ross’ ‘Upside Down’.




It seemed from the last of these selections that DDR audiences were actually livelier than their contemporary BRD ones!


..and that if there were a true Eastern Bloc megastar Szusza Koncs was ‘it’, judging by this interview with a fan (in his youth and still) in which comparisons are drawn with Kylie.



…and if there were a ‘Bulgarian Petr Rezek and Hana Zagorova’ it was Hristo Kidikov and Donika Venkova.



…not forgetting Margarita Goranova, obviously guest-starring here in a TV drama, performing at a disco.



I established the ‘bridgehead’ in Czechoslovakia. Now it’s turned into a full-scale ‘invasion’.


Oh, and the ESC, Knokke and San Remo weren’t the only games in town when it came to song contests. Welcome to Sopot and Rostock – international centres of the musical universe. They’re in Polish and German respectively, but I’m sure you’ll make sense of the general gist.änder


I think my new ‘Project’ will have to be either ‘Communist Kylies’ or ‘People’s Pop Princesses’. What do you reckon?

(The following is an illustration of how one can get oneself tied in knots over spelling, at times – especially when it comes to names in unfamiliar languages!)

That’ll be ‘Szusza Koncz’ not ‘Szusza Koncs’, having just re-checked it out, (too many Ss, Zs and Cs in rapid succession in that name to get it right first time!)

That’s my first lesson in Hungarian over!

Oh dear. I’ve just realised I’ll have to contend with names like that in Polish…all those Ss and Zs!

It’ll be a miracle if I get THOSE right first time!
Get the first name right too!

Of course, the Zs (unlike alphabetically) come before the Ss in those combinations, so I got that wrong as well! Aargh!!!

…so, it’s ZSUZSA Koncz.

I think, as well as the alphabetical order ‘thing’, it’s because I have it in my head that the ‘ZS’ combination is pronounced ‘S’ (although the interviewer pronounces it ‘ZH’), as opposed to the single ‘S’ that is ‘SH’ (so when the interviewer says something like ‘Kontsh’ that terminal letter sounded more ‘S’ than ‘Z’ in Hungarian terms), so the first letter that comes to mind to an English speaker when thinking about the sound ‘S’ is the letter ‘S’, not ‘Z’….so that must come first, surely???

(In fact, both ‘ZS’ AND ‘SZ’ combinations do exist. I was just much more familiar with the latter. The former sounds like ‘ZH’ and the latter sounds like ‘S’. So, I wasn’t totally going mad!)

Oh well, I won’t forget this now…I hope!

I think it’s also a product of getting used to new names by saying them aloud to oneself. It just serves to confuse oneself in this instance, clearly!


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