If you spend just a couple of weeks in any kind of urban environment in Romania you’re going to find that certain songs will get hammered into your consciousness whether you like it or not.
What am I talking about?
Scanning the Romanian FM radio band, you will find the vast majority of (musical) stations to be extremely similar, based on just a few formulas:
Budinca Hits – Designed to be extremely smooth and relaxing, a melange of commercial hits of the last 40 years.
Morning Zoo – Has a “wacky crew” doing “hilarious” jokes in the morning and then the rest of the day is 80% English, 10% Romanian, 7% Spanish, 2% Italian and 1% German and always zero percent Hungarian, Russian, Bulgarian or Polish.
The music itself is a standard blend of what is called “Top 40” in many places, the commercially-driven hits that half the globe is listening to simultaneously (I know, if that’s not creepy, what is?)
Techno Variant – Same as above except sometimes they’ll play “techno” music exclusively, especially that kind that barely has any singing and is mostly just interesting electronic rhythms and sounds.
If you combined the entire playlists of all the radio stations in these genres I doubt it would be even one thousand separate songs. There is clearly someone, somewhere, or a group of “someones” who is choosing this playlist because it is surprisingly limited and updated simultaneously when new songs are added.
What is indisputable however is that the songs playing on Romania radio follow the power law, which in layman’s terms means a few songs get played one hell of a lot.
This fact combined with the reality that in (urban environments in) Romania it is nearly impossible to escape the range of these radio broadcasts means you will be forced to memorize these songs. Radios in Romania are playing almost everywhere and at nearly every hour of the day and night.
Just a few of the endless places you are quite likely to hear a radio blasting:
- Inside a taxi
- Playing at the corner magazin mixt
- At a cafe
- At a bar
- At McDonald’s
- During any kind of public event or festival
- From overhead speakers at large bus stops
- On some nicer trains
- From cars driven by guys who enjoy playing loud music
- At a restaurant
- At a friend’s house
And many, many more…
Therefore about the only way to avoid this (in a city) is to always stay at home, close your windows and never, ever turn on your radio. You can basically never conduct any kind of business, commercial or social, without this music going straight into your cranium.
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of visitors and sometimes as early as the third day they’ll turn to me and ask, “What is the name of that song?”
If you’re at all sensitive to having songs get “stuck” in your head, Romania is not the country for you. Every morning all over the city in this land, the residents awaken with a certain song stuck in their head, precisely because of this phenomenon.
I can personally guarantee there are at least a million Romanians who don’t speak a word of English, lying in their beds, mentally mumbling through the chorus of a Lada Gaga song :P