Idoli were a Yugoslav new wave band from Belgrade. They are considered to be one of the most notable acts of the Yugoslav rock scene, and their 1982 album Odbrana i poslednji dani was on several occasions voted by the music critics as the greatest Yugoslav rock album.
The first ideas of forming Idoli came up in 1979 when a youth magazine published photos of a band called Dečaci which were actually photos of the first Idoli lineup. The photos featured witty remarks like, for example on March 8, 1979, a photo signed “Dečaci emancipuju žene” (“The Boys emancipate women”). At the same time Belgrade walls were ornamented with graffiti announcing the formation of the band. “Margita je dečak” (“Margita is a boy”, the first ever graffiti in Belgrade dedicated to Margita Stefanović who later became Katarina II keyboardist.), “Dečaci ne plaču” (“Boys Don’t Cry”) or “Srđane budi čovek” (“Srđan, be a man”) are only a few examples. Having created a media campaign and gained the public’s attention, the band had to prove their existence and start playing.
VIS Idoli was officially formed on March 1, 1980 when the band had their first rehearsal. The first lineup consisted of primary school friends Vlada Divljan (guitar, vocals), Zdenko Kolar (bass), Boža Jovanović (drums) and Divljan’s high school friends Srđan Šaper (percussion, vocals) and Nebojša Krstić (percussion). At that time the band collaborated with Dragan Papić who was a kind of media activist. The band manipulated the media very well. For example, they were to announce a change to the band’s name on several occasions and the new names would be “Apoloni 5” (Appolos 5) or “Idoli plus bradonje” (“The Idols plus the bearded”) because of Kolar and Jovanović‘s wearing beards.
In June 1980, the band made their first live appearance at Belgrade’s SKC (Student’s Cultural Center) with the leading Serbian new wave acts. After a month of existence, the band released their first single with a magazine called “Vidici” and it consisted of two tracks, “Pomoć, pomoć” (“Help, help”) and “Retko te viđam sa devojkama” (“I Rarely See You With Girls”), a song with a gay-hint. Already parting ways with Papić, the band recorded another version of the track as a B-side of Maljčiki single, but this time in Zagreb with the producer Goran Bregović. At the 1980 Subotica Youth Festival, where new wave bands from Zagreb and Belgrade met for the first time, they appeared with the track “Zašto su danas devojke ljute?” (“Why Are The Girls Angry Today?”) and got one of the prizes.
Idoli, with Električni Orgazam and Šarlo Akrobata participated in the project called Paket aranžman with four tracks, “Schwule Über Europa” (German for “Boredom Over Europe”) (a parody on the attitude towards Germans) “Plastika” (“Plastic”), “Maljčiki” (Russian for “Boys”, a parody on Social-Realist art and propaganda) and “Amerika” (“America”). The promotional video for “Maljčiki” was banned on national television and some radio stations after the Soviet embassy responded.
The next release was a self-titled EP or mini LP as it was called in former Yugoslavia, featuring six tracks.
The band started recording their first album in autumn 1981. The recording of the album took more than four hundred hours which was a record in former Yugoslavia still to be broken. Odbrana i poslednji dani came out in early 1982. It got the name from a Borislav Pekić book with the same title on which the whole album is based. It is a complex concept album dealing with an anthropological approach towards orthodoxy. The track “Poslednji dani” (“The Last Days”) originally entitled “Maršal” (“Marshall”), dedicated to former Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito, did not include the last verse due to the record company disapproval. A detail from a cloth on a Saint Nicholas icon was used as the cover and the font used on the record was a Cyrillic font similar to the one used in the Miroslav’s Gospel. The band won the best album and the best cover award in 1982. In 1986 Yugoslav rock critics voted Odbrana i poslednji dani the best Yugoslav rock album of the 20th century.
The band started recording a new album in London with producer Bob Painter. Even though they changed their style to pop/rock, Čokolada (1983) went platinum and the title track became their greatest commercial hit.
After performing in Ljubljana, in March 1984, due to conflicts between the members, the band ceased to exist. The last Idoli release was a soundtrack for the movie Šest dana juna directed by Dinko Tucaković.
Idoli are one of the most influential and most covered Yugoslav and Serbian rock bands. Bands like Eva Braun, Ništa Ali Logopedi, Euforia, Kristali, and others recorded cover versions of their songs. Even rap/hip hop acts such as Gru and Wikluh Sky made versions of Idoli songs. Various artist project Yugoton consisting of Polish rock bands recorded a tribute to Yugoslav popular new wave bands including Idoli tracks “Maljčiki” (Pol. “Malcziki”) and “Retko te viđam sa devojkama” (Pol. “Rzadko widuję cię z dziewczętami”). “Maljčiki” was released as a first single from the record.