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The New Wave music scene emerged at the end of the seventies. The New Wave was especially advocated by the music magazines Polet from Zagreb and Džuboks from Belgrade, and by the TV show Rokenroler, which was famous for its artistic music videos. Important bands of the Yugoslav New wave are: Šarlo Akrobata, Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište, Azra, Električni orgazam, Boa, Aerodrom, Atomsko Skoloniste, Haustor, Film, Bajaga i Instruktori, Laboratorija zvuka, Lačni Franz, Gu Gu, Hazard, Moulin Rouge and many others. The list is endless but also shortlived. By 1985 this avalanche of new acts was already over or split up. More folk like music was made by the group Big Blue (with singer Goran Karan who would go solo in the nineties). They followed in the footsteps of Oliver and Arsen Dedićswho also continued to release albums in the eighties. As well as Teška industrija singer Vajta who had a blooming pop career in the 80's. Female folk/soft pop was made my Meri Cetinic following in Gabi Novak's footsteps.

An insight of the Yugoslav New Wave era gave the compilation album Paket aranžman and the movie Dečko koji obećava starring Aleksandar Berček also featuring appearances by members of Šarlo Akrobata and Idoli.In 82 Dušan Kojić-Koja, the former bass player of Šarlo Akrobata formed the legendary group Disciplina kičme (a unique noisy mix of punk rock, funk, jazz fusion and many other styles). In the same year formed the cult band Ekatarina Velika, initially named Katarina II. The band is remembered for its darker poetic post-punk sound and its intellectual attitude. Idoli, Prljavo Kazalište, Lačni Franz, Martin Krpan and Film (the latter under the moniker Jura Stublić i Film) achieved great mainstream success during the era. But punk also lived on especially in Slovenia with a string of bands like Grupa 92, Berlinski zid, Buldogi, Kuzle and Niet.

One of the most prominent colorful pop acts during the decade was Oliver Mandić. Influenced by artists like Italian singer Renate Zero he incorporated transvestite and extravert elements in his stage and video performances. Mandić's controversial image in the show, created by the conceptual artist Kosta Bunuševac, raised quite a public furor due to the singer's cross-dressing and aggressive makeup. Another charismatic singer was Slađana Milošević, known for her hit 'Miki', who resembled German singer Nina Hagen in eccentricity. In 1984 she entered the national pre-selection for the Eurovision Song Contest (Jugovizija) with Dado Topić of the group Time. They performed the ballad 'Negde izvan Planeta' (also known as 'Princeza') but didn't make it to the Eurovision (Vlado Kalember and Izolda Barudžija won. Singer Seid Memić Vajta (former Teška industrija) pursued a succesfull solocareer in the Eighties. Other popular female solo singers of the eighties who originated a decade earlier were Josipa Lisac,Jasna Zlokić, Maja Odžaklievska and Doris Dragović. Closer to tradition was Serbian singer/songwriter Louis who created a mix of folk, jazz and rock.

Prominent New Romantic acts included: the arty and extravagant Zagreb based bands BOA, formed in 1979 and Dorian Gray, formed in 1982. Notable synthpop artists in the former Yugoslavia are Beograd; Videosex (with frontress Anja Rupel); Denis i Denis with singer Marina Perazić, Xenia, Zana and Laki Pingvini (Easy penguins). More hysterical female pop came from eccentric Slovenian singer Neca Falk.

Influenced by the German electronic music scene was the Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Most known band from this music stream is Laibach. Experimenting with various styles such as industrial and neo-classical music they rose to international prominence with cover version of Across the Universe by The Beatles.