Manea (plural: manele) is a music style from Romania, generally associated with the Gypsy minority from Romania, though not exclusively.
The “manele” originated in the 1980s and early 1990s as underground translations and imitations of Turkish and Arabic songs.
Manele are criticized for their lyrical content, which often consists of boasts about the singer’s supposed sex appeal, intellect, wealth, social status, and superiority over so-called “enemies”. Many singers use bad grammar, repetitive and simplistic rhymes suitable for chanting and are sometimes vulgar and/or misogynistic. Manele composers and players also use the term “oriental music” for their creation, and consider their music a sub-genre of traditional, folk Roma music. However, it is widely known that Manele are only cheap rip-offs off Turkish folklore.
Manelists have created a distinct image on the Romanian music scene, by showing their own fashion style. Many of the manelists use luxurious and casual, even underground styles combined altogether to form the specific manele fashion. Typical manele apparel includes flashy jewelry and affordable luxury clothing brands (such as Versace, Armani or Dolce & Gabbana) or certain sport brands (especially Nike). Such brands are an important part of manele culture, and they are even featured sometimes in lyrics.
Manele are a strongly disputed genre in Romania, with many representatives of Romanian upper-middle and intellectual class opposing this musical movement (and its popularization) mostly because of its usage of faulty grammar, overly simplistic or childish lyrics and subject matter and/or encouragement of demeaning behaviours towards other people, as well as an antisocial overall message. The fact that manele lyrics are considered by many to be rude and of poor taste, coupled with widespread racist feelings against Roma ethnics (Tigani/Gypsies), who account for the bulk of manele performers, has led to increasing hostility between fans and opponents. This has generated frequent conflicts between the two, usually in the form of internet flame wars, with those that do not listen to manele always winning.
In my opinion, manele are kitsch and bad taste, and I hope that in one day, the manele cult will disappear!