The New European: A City in Music

Weekly feature running from August 2019 to July 2021 in the award-winning The New European, the voice of the 48%

Issue 155, 1-7 August 2019: SONGS OF FREEDOM (Berlin). Sophia Deboick kicks off a new feature, looking at the musical history of a different city each week. First an examination of Berlin’s remarkably creative heritage, from Dietrich to Depeche Mode, with many in between.

Issue 156, 8-21 August 2019: COUNTRY CITY (Nashville). The spiritual home of white America’s very own music genre, Nashville is country music. But it’s not always been all about rhinestones and 10-gallon hats.

Issue 157, 22-28 August 2019: SOUNDS OF FREEDOM (Tehran). Music in Iran provides a challenge not just to the authorities but to our perceptions of the country.

Issue 158, 29 August-4 September 2019. STEEL CITY SOUNDS (Sheffield). A city with a musical pedigree to match any, Sheffield is still producing acts that could not have come from anywhere else.

Issue 159, 5-11 September 2019. THE FONT OF FLAMENCO (Seville). Few cities possess as intimate a connection to a musical style as Seville.

Issue 160, 12-18 September 2019. CHORAL NATION (Tallinn). In the past, Estonians have literally sung for their freedom. And their capital city remains the crucible of this national pastime.

Issue 161, 19-25 September 2019. THE HOME OF HYMNS (Salt Lake City). Mormonism is a movement with music in its soul, from its earliest days to the most modern sounds.

Issue 162, 26 September-2 October 2019. SEOUL MUSIC (Seoul). The South Korean capital is known for its slick and boundlessly exuberant pop. Yet the ebullience belies a complex and dark history.

Issue 163, 3-9 October 2019. FAVELA FUNK (Rio). From bossa nova to baile, the Brazilian city has always danced to its own beat.

Issue 164, 10-16 October 2019. SPECIAL CITY (Coventry). Battered by the bombs and the collapse of its motor industry, the West Midlands hub responded with regeneration through sound.

Issue 165, 17-23 October 2019. ROCK’S DEMIS GOD (Athens). He might have ended up as a byword for naffness, but Demis Roussos had taken an eventful and experimental route to get there. Sophia Deboick reports on the singer and other Greek greats.

Issue 166, 24-30 October 2019. CHANSON CITY (Paris). For centuries the French capital has been a centre for freedom of expression, a status that has produced legendary artists and venues.

Issue 167, 31 October-6 November 2019. THE TUNES OF GABORONE. Botswana’s capital is home to a diverse musical culture, where traditional sounds infuse many genres – not least its thriving heavy metal scene.

Issue 168, 7-13 November, 2019. CITY OF FUN AND FAKERY (Las Vegas). Musicians have always reflected the two sides of Vegas, the glitz on the surface and the pathos that lies below.

Issue 169, 14-20 November 2019. SYMPHONY CENTRAL (Vienna). The Austrian capital’s somewhat stuffy image as the home of classical music overlooks the fact it has always been keen on celebration.

Issue 170, 21-27 November 2019. TEES-MADE TUNES (Stockton-on-Tees). It may lack the glitz of more renowned musical hubs, but in Stockton it’s the soul that counts.

Issue 171, 28 November-4 December 2019. CLASSIC FINNISH (Helsinki). Classical music may have played a central role in Finland’s history, but so has classic rock.

Issue 172, 5-9 December 2019. SIEGE MUSICALITY (Saint Petersburg). The Russian city has not only produced brilliant musical talent but – amid the horrors of war – one of history’s greatest performances.

Issue 173, 10-13 December 2019. TREASURE ISLAND (Kingston). Jamaica’s capital not only gave the world one of its greatest music stars, it produced a sound that has taken root around the globe.

Issue 175, 19 December 2019-1 January 2020. LONDON’S CALLING. Never mind the musicians the capital has produced, Sophia Deboick concentrates on the songs it has inspired.

Issue 176, 2-8 January 2020. CITY OF PIPERS THAT CALLS THE TUNES (Edinburgh). Sophia Deboick on the sounds of the Scottish capital.

Issue 177, 9-15 January 2020. CAREFULLY KRAFTED (Düsseldorf). The German city has had a long association with elegance and fashion, and a more recent one with ground-breaking music.

Issue 178, 16-22 January 2020. WHERE AUSSIE ROCK RULES (Sydney). The city’s legendarily sweaty pub circuit has produced some unforgettable rock sounds, some macho, some political, some sentimental.

Issue 179, 23-29 January 2020. THE HOME OF BOLLYPOP (Mumbai). The great city is known for melding different cultural influences, says Sophia Deboick, but that does not means it lacks a voice of its own.

Issue 180, 30 January-5 February 2020. GOTH GROUND ZERO (Leeds). Sophia Deboick on how the Yorkshire city, unbound by fashion, political orthodoxy or gender division, spawned a look and a sound that lasted.

Issue 181, 6-12 February 2020. CENTRE STAGE (Orange). The French town may not have produced much of its own musical heritage, yet it boasts one of the greatest venues in the world.

Issue 182, 13-19 February 2020. THE MEGA MUSIC CITY (Shanghai). Once a byword for glamour and exuberance, the Chinese city was effectively silenced for much of the 20th century. But it is now finding its voice again.

Issue 183, 20-26 February 2020. MORE THAN MOTOWN (Detroit). The immense contribution of its most famous record label has unfairly overshadowed the city’s other musical heritage.

Issue 184, 27 February-4 March 2020. TANGO TOWN (Buenos Aries). Sophia Deboick on a genre which tells the story of a city – and a nation – through the good times and the bad.

Issue 185, 5-11 March 2020. WARSAW RISING (Warsaw). The Polish capital is freighted with a traumatic past but musically that has never held it back, says Sophia Deboick.

Issue 186, 12-18 March 2020. CITY ON THE EDGE (Tijuana). Sophia Deboick reports on the troubled yet creative Mexican city.

Issue 187, 19-25 March 2020. MUSICAL NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND (Reykjavík). The Icelandic capital has had a cultural impact out of all proportion with its size, says Sophia Deboick.

Issue 188, 26 March-1 April 2020. SINGING FOR A COUNTRY’S SOUL (Rome). Sophia Deboick on how Italians are using their shared musical heritage as they get through their national crisis.

Issue 189, 2-8 April 2020 . MALI AND ITS WAILERS (Bamako). A stunning musical heritage is one of the things that keeps this disparate nation together – even through the hard times.

Issue 190, 16-22 April 2020. THE PLAYGROUND CITY (Tel Aviv). The city renowned as Israel’s 24-hour capital has produced music fit for its reputation, says Sophia Deboick.

Issue 191, 23-29 April 2020. HOW BRIGHTON ROCKS. Sophia Deboick on the seaside resort known for its beats as much as its beach.

Issue 192, 30 April-6 May. THE TWO TOTEMS OF TOKYO. Sophia Deboick explores the musical heritage of the Japanese capital through two of its most enchanting talents.

Issue 193, 7-13 May 2020. SPIRIT CITY (New York). The music of the Big Apple is every bit as brash, bold and brilliant as the city itself, says Sophia Deboick.

Issue 194, 14-20 May 2020. THE PORT OF POP (Rotterdam). The Vengaboys are perhaps Rotterdam’s best known recent export, but the city also has its very own curious genre.

Issue 195, 21-27 May 2020. ALOHA ALERT (Honolulu). Elvis Presley did much to promote Hawaii’s musical culture, but its native sons have far more to offer themselves.

Issue 196, 28 May-3 June 2020. SOUTHERN PRIDE (Atlanta). Its name may not resonate  like other musical cities, but the Georgian capital has a past – and present – to rival them all.

Issue 197, 4-10 June 2020. THE HEART OF SMARTNESS (Kinshasa/ Brazzaville). Sophia Deboick on two cities divided by a river but united by style and sounds.

Issue 198, 11-17 June 2020. CITY WITH PLENTY OF UNDERTONE (Derry/ Londonderry). Sophia Deboick on a city where music has been shaped by a traumatic history, but often transcends it.

Issue 199, 18-24 June 2020. HITSVILLE ITALIA (Brescia). Sophia Deboick on how a city’s legacy of musical manufacturing and industry has been repurposed in the pop era.

Issue 200, 25 June-1 July 2020. QUALITY TYNE (Newcastle). Many of its greatest musical talents may have left the city behind, but the success they enjoyed is built on their experiences there.

Issue 201, 2-8 July 2020. MUSICAL HEIGHTS (Kathmandu). Once a stop-off on the hippy trail, the Nepalese capital has a distinct musical culture – complete with its own version of hip hop – which must carefully navigate the country’s sensitive politics.

Issue 202, 9-15 July 2020. NO PASSING FADO (Lisbon). Centuries of history have made the Portuguese capital one of Europe’s most diverse and creative cities.

Issue 203, 16-22 July 2020. MIAMI’S SOUND MACHINES (Miami). The Floridian city has a prolific record of producing boisterous, exuberant music.

Issue 204, 23-29 July 2020. THE CITY THAT PLAYS TWO TUNES (Salzburg). Sophia Deboick on a place that still revels in its two musical connections from very different eras, and with very different sounds.

Issue 205, 30 July-5 August 2020. PLEASURE ON THE PLAGE (Juan-les-Pins). Sophia Deboick on the French resort that came to embody the very essence of glamour and hedonism.

Issue 206, 6-12 August 2020. THE HOME OF REAL CHILL-OUT TUNES (Novosibirsk). The Siberian city might appear a musical backwater, but it doesn’t sound like one.

Issue 207, 13-26 August 2020. FREESTYLE MUSIC (Bucharest). Historical attempts to curb Romanian culture have only aided creativity.

Issue 208, 27 August-2 September 2020. SONGS OF FREEDOM (Hong Kong). In recent years the city’s creativity has been stifled and its musical energies diverted into protest.

Issue 209, 3-9 September 2020. SUN, SEA AND UKG (Ayia Napa). Sophia Deboick on the former Cypriot fishing village that became an unlikely outpost of UK garage music.

Issue 210, 10-16 September 2020. UNDERDOG CITY (Leicester). Sophia Deboick on the Midlands city that helped launch the careers of many acts from elsewhere, as well as plenty of its own.

Issue 211, 17-23 September 2020. TRINITY CITY (Chicago). Sophia Deboick on a city which has played an immense role in the shaping of three distinct musical genres.

Issue 212, 24-30 September 2020. THE MIX DON’T LIE (Barranquilla). Sophia Deboick on a Colombian city characterised by great riches, then vast bloodshed, and a culture that has endured through both.

Issue 213, 1-7 October 2020. KING OF THE BELGIANS (Brussels). Sophia Deboick on a sometimes maligned city, and the intense star who still casts his huge shadow over it.

Issue 214, 8-14 October 2020. THE WOMEN WHO PUT BLOKE CITY ON THE MUSICAL MAP (Melbourne). Sophia Deboick on three performers who belie Melbourne’s masculine reputation.

Issue 215, 25-21 October 2020. NORTHERN DELIGHTS (Tromsø). Sophia Deboick on a city where the extreme landscape has inspired its music. And which produced perhaps the most unlucky Eurovision contestant ever.

Issue 216, 22-28 October 2020. QUEEN OF THE CAPE (Mindelo). Sophia Deboick on the music from an African archipelago which is anything but insular.

Issue 217, 29 October-4 November 2020. MAASTRICHT AND ITS MAESTRO OF THE MASSES. Sophia Deboick on a modern music phenomenon and his creative hometown.

Issue 218, 5-11 November 2020. FUNKYTOWN (Minneapolis). Sophia Deboick on the Minnesotan city and its most famous musical son.

Issue 219, 12-18 November 2020. HAMBURG RELISHED. For both Brahms and the Beatles, Hamburg provided a hothouse to develop their talent and character.

Issue 220, 19-25 November 2020. LUSH VOICES FROM THE LAND OF SONG  (Cardiff). Sophia Deboick on the Welsh capital’s greatest musical exports. 

Issue 221, 26 November-2 December 2020. SIEGE MUSICALITY (Sarajevo). How Sarajevo’s musical heritage helped the city through its darkest hour.

Issue 222, 3-9 December 2020. CITY WITHOUT LIMITS (Amsterdam). The Dutch city might be better known for its art, but from its Golden Age to the present day music has been at the heart of its identity. 

Issue 223, 10-16 December 2020. AFRICAN PRIDE AND ITS TEMPORARY FALL (Addis Ababa). The Ethiopian capital has always been an ebullient, ambitious, swinging city – apart from a brief interlude of civil war and despotism.

Issue 224, 17-23 December 2020. THE LITTLE TOWN WITH TUNES (Bethlehem). There is more to Bethlehem than just carols.

Issue 225, 1-6 January 2021. THE PLACE THAT WENT POP (Stockholm). It all started with ABBA, but Stockholm’s association with pure pop music has long outlasted the band.

Issue 226, 7-13 January 2021. CITY OF KINGS (Memphis). The Tennessean city is rightly synonymous with Elvis, but its musical heritage goes far further.

Issue 227, 14-20 January 2021. PLACE WHERE PLEASURE AND POLITICS MEET (Havana). Before and after its revolution, Cuba’s soul has been found in its music.

Issue 228, 21-27 January 2021. THE CITY THAT JUST RAVED ON AND ON (Manchester). Manchester’s musical conveyer belt has been responsible for some outstanding acts over the years. Sophia Deboick tries to join the dots between them.

Issue 229, 28 January – 3 February 2021. WISH LISZT (Budapest). The composer’s actual association with the Hungarian capital was relatively fleeting. Yet the city has long laid a claim on him.

Issue 230, 4-10 February 2021. GEORGIA ON MY MIND (Tbilisi). Sophia Deboick on the astonishing musical heritage of the crossroads country, heard in the work of Kate Bush, Hollywood films and political campaigns.

Issue 231, 11-17 February 2021. ROCKING AGAINST THE REDS (Beijing). The Chinese state has had an overbearing, stultifying effect on the country’s musical expression. Yet there have been acts that have pushed back.

Issue 232, 18-24 February 2021. SENSATIONAL SOUNDS (Glasgow). Sophia Deboick on music that is infused with the Scottish city’s sense of industry and independence.

Issue 233, 25 February – 3 March 2021. PLACE WHERE THINGS ARE DONE DIFFERENTLY (Auckland). In music, as in much else, the New Zealand city is a place apart. 

Issue 234, 4-10 March 2021. MUSIC’S FERTILE TERRITORY (Baghdad). One of the world’s richest cultural inheritances and a recent history unrivalled in its trauma, Baghdad’s music has drawn on both. 

Issue 235, 11-17 March 2021. DC SONICS (Washington DC). Musicians from the US capital city have been more effective than many of its politicians at articulating the country’s problems.

Issue 236, 18-24 March 2021. NUUK POWER (Nuuk, Greenland). Sophia Deboick on a place where music has articulated the angst of a colonised community, as well as addressed its more modern taboos.

Issue 237, 25-31 March 2021. SHANTIES, SASS AND MAKINA MACKEMS (Sunderland). Sunderland’s indomitable party spirit is to be found in its exuberant 1990s girl band, and its very own drug-addled rave subculture.

Issue 238, 8-14 April 2021. HOW MUSIC BROKE INTO THE BUNKER (Tirana). Not even the Albanian regime’s determination to seal itself off from the rest of the world could stop the sounds of the country’s capital.

Issue 239, 15-21 April 2021. ROCK AND A HARD PLACE (Mexico City). How rock ‘n’ roll took root in the Meixcan capital, first via the US, then Britain, then homegrown.

Issue 240, 22-28 April 2021. THE WORLD’S MUSICAL MELTING POT (Victoria, Seychelles). The Seychelles are a place where musical cultures from every part of the world – African, Indian, Polynesian, Arabic, Far Eastern and European – truly harmonise.

Issue 241, 29 April – 5 May 2021. TROUBLE IN PARADISE CITY (Los Angeles). From beach bums to hippies, hair metal rockers to gangster rappers, LA’s musical story has more twists than most.

Issue 242, 6-12 May 2021. THE SOUNDS OF JOYOUS DEFIANCE (Johannesburg). How marabi and ‘Mama Africa’ kept hope alive in a place of oppression.

Issue 243, 13-19 May 2021. DEVIL BOYS AND BARBIE GIRLS (Copenhagen). The music of the Danish capital, like the city itself, is characterised by an extraordinary imagination and by flights of fantasy.

Issue 244, 20-26 May 2021. SOUNDTRACK TO A CULTURE WAR (Istanbul). For the last century, Turkey’s culture war has been played out in its music. And it’s not over yet.

Issue 245, 27 May – 2 June 2021. FAR MORE THAN JUST THE FAB 4 (Liverpool). Such is Liverpool’s immense musical heritage that the city is not overshadowed by its most famous sons.

Issue 246, 3-9 June 2021. POLITICAL POWER OF SINGING IN UKRAINE (Kiev). The country’s continued traumas mean even its Eurovision entries are loaded with hidden meaning. 

Issue 247, 10-16 June 2021. THE FIRST CITY OF ROCK ‘N’ ROLL (St. Louis). In praise of the birthplace of the music that defined the United States.

Issue 248, 17-23 June 2021. SOUNDS OF LIFE ON PLANET MARS (Marseille). It’s proud and ambitious, with sounds to match.

Issue 249, 24-30 June 2021. HOW BRITAIN GOT THE BEAT (Georgetown). The small South American nation has produced two exceptional bandleaders from two different eras, who helped transform music in the UK.

Issue 250, 1-7 July 2021. THE SOUNDS OF LA SERENISSIMA (Venice). From Monteverdi to Verdi and beyond, the canal city’s music stirs our emotions.

… and now listen to the A City in Music playlists on Spotify.