CYPRUS: Tha Fygo Me Tous Filous Mou Gia Kairo - Konstantina
Taking Greek-language pop music and adding interesting elements, the Cypriot singer's voice shines through on a solid album
Cypriot musician and singer Konstantina released her album Tha Fygo Me Tous Filous Mou Gia Kairo (roughly translating into English as ‘I will leave with my friends for Cairo’) in 1990. Already having made her name seven years earlier representing Cyprus in the Eurovision song contest while a part of the pop duo Stavros & Dina with the song I Agapi Akoma Zi, this album shows the artist already having established herself as a popular singer. She has enjoyed a long career in the Cypriot and Greek music scenes. It is easy to see why. Konstantina has a good, powerful voice that is resonant and capable of evoking emotion in the listener, and the music on her debut album, while I don’t think it’s gonna blow anyone’s mind, is certainly competently played and pleasant enough. We have reviewed Greek-language music before, and while this is our first Cypriot album, it shares some lineage and roots with those albums. While it’s not as traditional as the Grigoris Bithikotsis, Meri Lida, and Mikis Theodorakis collaboration Epitafios-Epifania, it certainly looks back to the Greek folk traditions of the past (by which I mean, there’s bouzoukis aplenty) but there’s also plenty of elements taken from Western pop and rock music.
“Konstantina manages to emote with the tone and passion of her singing. I don’t understand what she’s saying, but she’s a good enough singer that I can feel it.”
The opening song, which is also the title track, is a decent opener but it’s not the strongest song of the bunch, though it is interesting for other reasons. Her singing voice is good on all the tracks, but I’m not a fan of the synths at the start which sound very dated, and not in a good way, though the rest of the song does have an intriguing rhythm with Arabic-style string orchestration that pays tribute to (perhaps unsurprisingly, given the title) Egyptian pop music and the dramatic singing style of Umm Kulthum. This aspect of cultural crossover interests me, because, as I mentioned in the Bithikotsis/Lida/Theodorakis review, my grandfather was Egyptian, and he loved Greek music (shout-out to London Greek Radio, the station that would always be blaring from his car radio) and so it’s interesting to see Egyptian music being reflected in Greek popular music. That said, songs like Taxidia Sto Feggari, despite also using some cheesy synths, is more my speed, with a funky bassline and guitar backing to Konstantina’s earnest singing. Speaking of which, perhaps the best vocal performance on the album is on the song Svino, a ballad where Konstantina manages to emote with the tone and passion of her singing. I don’t understand what she’s saying, but she’s a good enough singer that I can feel it.
I can’t pretend I adore this album. I think its fine, really. I like it enough, but it doesn’t keep me listening. In fact, if I did not have to listen and relisten again for this project, I may not have even made it all the way through – not through any active dislike, rather from a lack of deep interest. These are mostly personal preferences, after all, and for those of you out there who love Greek pop music may well find much more in this album to love. But, as it stands, while I can appreciate some of the interesting twists and turns that are featured on the album, it is not something that really clicked with me. On paper there’s nothing hugely wrong with it, no huge errors or calamitous tracks, but rarely did I feel truly transported by its brilliance. Despite my ambivalence towards it, on an objective level it’s still a good example of the genre, it has some fun tunes, and your mileage might vary with the songs. If Greek-language pop is your thing, I’d wager you’d like this a lot. If it’s not, maybe it’s best for you to stick to flicking through a few of the songs to see how it clicks with you.