Obscurity Points: Nancy Ajram
So, Nancy Ajram isn’t actually an obscure artist – the Lebanese pop star is a big deal in her home country supposedly, but for us non-Arabic Westerners, she is considerably less known. But here’s a good question: why is a blog that focuses on indie rock blogging about a straight up pop artist? Well, because Lebanese pop is far enough removed from our version of pop that some of it actually sounds pretty cool.
I only know a couple of Ajram’s songs, but there are two in particular that I’ve become a bit addicted to and wanted to blog about. The first one is “Fi Hagat”, which is a sprawling melodramatic masterpiece, alternating between soft, sensual sections and something of a smooth grind, all throughout managing to be hugely melodic and brilliantly colourful. From watching the video (which has 32+ million hits on youtube) I gather the song is about romance or something, but I really have no idea (I can only hope it’s not a song about hating Jews :P). And Ajram’s Arabic make the vocals sound smooth and, again, amazingly sensual.
The second song of hers I’ve found that really impressed me was “Kol Ma Teddy”, a straight up electronic dance floor banger. So what makes this any different than the typical dance bangers we hear in North America? Mainly the glistening, gliding Middle Eastern-strings that punctuate the song amidst bright, bubbly synths. By any standard, this is beautiful, well produced, and well arranged tune-smithery. I’ve been listening to these songs for weeks and figured it was high time I posted something about them, so here.
Unfortunately, not all of Ajram’s music is as good as this: a lot of her songs really do sound like plastic crap with lame production, but I do encourage others to dig through the considerable amount of stuff she’s released and if you want, let me know what else to check out.