‘Corona Ciao': Parody of old revolutionary song goes viral in the Balkans

Photo: Screencap from YouTube video by Dac & Aleksandar, featuring Brasstet Skopje, Fair Use.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

A COVID-19 spoof of the Italian anti-fascist song “Bella Ciao” is blasting its way through the Balkans and beyond with over two million views on YouTube in the last two weeks.

The song composed by Macedonian actor Dragan Spasov Dac and composer Aleksandar Mitevski is titled “Corona Ciao,” meaning “Corona [virus] goodbye.”

The rest of the song's lyrics are in Macedonian.

The authors wrote:

“Корона Чао” е кавер на познатата Bella Ciao, во придружба на Брастет Скопје, направен за добра забава. Верзијата е направена за еден ден, од идеја до реализација, со многу љубов :) Спотот е снимен во карантин, во домашни услови на учесниците, без користење на професионални камери и светла. Снимен на телефони, а истотака, измонтиран од музичката екипа. Оваа песна е дел од серијалот на Дац и Александар и нивните секојдневни “карантински” online настапи на FB.

Corona Ciao is a cover of the famous Bella Ciao, which we made with the band Brasstet Skopje, just to have fun. This version was made all in one day, from idea to realisation, with a lot of love :) The video was made in quarantine, in the homes of the participants, without using professional cameras or lighting. It was recorded with smartphones, and edited by the music team. This song is part of the series by Dac and Aleksandar and their daily “quarantine” performances on Facebook.

Below is an unofficial translation of the song's lyrics into English:


Што беше фино
Пред карантинов
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
Дајте кафана, екипа збрана
Инаку ќе полудиме!

Во четири ѕида
Каде да идам,
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
И пак по старо, да живне народ
Ма, ќе се препородиме!

Носиме маски
Ко да сме хаски,
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
Покажи фаца, дај да те бацам,
Без љубов ќе се мрднеме!

Како на ланци
Држи дистанци
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
Ни фали гужва, ни фали дружба
Да може да се гушнеме!

Не кашлај тамо
Ти млада дамо
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
Фаќа нервоза од иста поза
И само да се јадело!

Ама ќе пројде
Живот ќе дојде
Корона чао, ајде чао, ајде чао чао чао
Ни фали плажа, гужва, гњаважа
И ко да ништо не било!

Ни фали гужва, ни фали дружба
само да биде весело!


Our life was fine
Before this quarantine
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
Give us back the tavern and our friends
Otherwise we'd go crazy!

Within four walls
Where can I go,
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
Bring back the old ways, let people thrive
That would be a rebirth!

We wear the masks
Like muzzles on Huskies,
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
Show me your face, so I can kiss you,
Without love we'd go insane!

Put on a leash
Keep your distance
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
We miss the commotion, we miss the hobnob
We miss the hugging!

Don't cough over there
Young lady
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
Keeping the same pose makes me nervous
And also, this constant overeating!

But all of this will pass
Life will return
Corona ciao, come on ciao, come on ciao ciao ciao
We miss the beach, the commotion, the bother
As if nothing had happened!

We miss the commotion, we miss the hobnob
We want the joy back!

The song's lyrics include the phrase “Don't cough!” which is widely considered a reference to another viral video taken from a press conference featuring Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

At one point during the presser, Borisov reprimanded an associate for coughing (Не кашляй!).

PM Borisov turned out to be a fan of the Macedonian spoof, and promoted it through a Facebook video that showed him blasting the song through the loudspeakers in his car.

This video also proved popular, with over 477,000 views in its first two weeks online.

Borisov commented:

Само с общи усилия, дух и дисциплина ще се преборим с коронавируса. Благодаря на всички български граждани, които спазват правилата. Само така ще се върнем към нормалния си живот. Благодаря и на Дац & Александар / Dragan Spasov Dac & Aleksandar Mitevski. Северна Македония може да разчита на нашата подкрепа!

We can defeat the coronavirus only through common effort, spirit and discipline. I am grateful to all Bulgarian citizens who obey the rules. Only through such conduct we will return to normal life. Thanks to Dac & Aleksandar also. North Macedonia can count on our support!

Even though the authors described the song as just a bit of fun, its success has also incited criticism.

Some left-leaning social media users considered it sacrilegious to trivialize the original song about the suffering faced by exploited workers and anti-fascist fighters of World War II. These users also pointed out that the original was also recently sung from windows in Italian cities to boost morale during the pandemic, at a time when COVID-19 fatalities were surging in that country.

Macedonian writer Zhivko Grozdanovski disparaged the song as representing “toxic turbo-folk phenomenon” at odds with social realities.

He noted that the lyrics, “Our life was fine/Before this  quarantine” were written from position of “privileged middle-aged men who enjoy various benefits (taverns, beaches, own home…) that are not accessible to a large portion of North Macedonia's population” who cannot indulge in the overeating mentioned in the song.

Grozdanovski furthermore accused Prime Minister Borisov of promoting the song as an “anaesthetic” and a celebration of the pre-COVID-19 status quo that benefited ruling elites.

This, at a time when many on the left are arguing that the pandemic offers an opportunity to end of capitalism as we know it.

The writer also considered the declaration of support for North Macedonia by the Bulgarian Prime Minister hypocritical, coming two days after Bulgaria announced additional terms for allowing its neighbor's integration into European Union.

A large majority of Macedonians, including the pro-EU president Stevo Pendarovski, consider the demands unacceptable and tantamount to a denial of existence of Macedonian language and ethnic Macedonian identity.

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