I can’t even begin to talk about my love affair with Kate Bush. When I first heard her music I was immediately yearning for more! “Running Up That Hill” is undoubtedly one of my favourite songs of ALL TIME. I have loved all of Kate’s albums and was again pleasantly surprised to find via Facebook that there was a new album this year. Earlier in the year she had released Director’s Cut, which was an album of re-recorded and reconstructed songs from 2 previous albums: The Sensual World and The Red Shoes. I’m not too intimately acquainted with these albums but the reconstruction of her older material didn’t satisfy my lust for new Kate material. I was completely ecstatic to read about 50 Words for Snow.
50 Words for Snow is the second album to be released on Kate’s own record label, “Fish People” and the first all new album since 2008’s Aerial (too long!) The album received great acclaim for music critics. November 27th marked history for Kate, as the album reached #5 on the UK charts, making her the first female artist to have an album of all new material in the top five during each of the last 5 decades (go Kate!!!)
On 14 November 2011, NPR played the album in its entirety for the first time. In her accompanying review of the album, NPR music critic Ann Powers writes: “Each song on Snow grows as if from magic beans from the lush ground of the singer-songwriter’s keyboard parts. The music is immersive but spacious, jazz-tinged and lushly electronic – the 53-year-old Bush, a prime inspiration for tech-savvy young auteurs ranging from St. Vincent to hip-hop’s Big Boi, pioneered the use of digital samplers in the 1980s and is still an avid aural manipulator. This time around, drummer Steve Gadd is her most important interlocutor – the veteran studio player’s gentle but firm touch draws the frame around each of her expanding landscapes. But Bush won’t be restricted. Like Mitchell on Don Juan’s Restless Daughter [sic], she takes her time and lets her characters lead.” Powers chose 50 words for the new album, describing it as “Powdery fantasia. Contemplative. Winter matins. Playful. Opium reverie. Grounded. Ghost story. Sensual. Artistic recalibration. Unhurried. Drummer’s holiday. Quiet. Ode to the white keys. Imaginative. Exploration of the lower register. Floating. Mother-son duet. Solitary. Snowed-in erotica. Collaborative. Joni Mitchell answer record. Inimitable. Supernatural space odyssey. What we’d expect from Kate Bush.”
What else can you say?? I’ve only heard it once so far (last night!) but am definitely planning on listening to it again as soon as possible. “Misty” and the title track, “50 Words for Snow”, were among my favourite tracks. Do yourself a favour and listen to this album (and if you’ve had the horrible misfortune of not hearing her earlier albums, for the love of all that is good do so immediately!!!!!!)
Just a month or two ago in my Facebook news feed I noticed Amel Bent posts. My French is not terribly great yet but as more and more of her posts began to fill my homepage I realized she was releasing a new album and I was so excited! After anxiously awaiting I finally got my hands on her newest album, Délit Mineur, which was released Monday, November 28th in France.
The first single off the album (released earlier in November I believe), “Je Reste” was awesome and made it all the more difficult to wait! “Les Chanson Triste” is another song of the album I really loved! =) It had an great energy and amazing piano action! Actually as I listened to the album I loved every song more and more! “Tu Fermes Les Yeux” is another favourite of mine off the album! I can definitely see me rocking out to this one over and over! Amel remains my number 1 French R&B artist! Make sure you get your hands on this album!!!
Mohamad Hamaki is a wonderful Egyptian pop star who’s albums I was lucky enough to find the other night. I have been unable to find too much information about him or his music, but he did win the 2010 “Best Arabia Act” in the MTV Europe Music Awards for “Ahla Haga Fiki” (which I found a fun remix – by DJ.Idriss – and video for!) . Hamaki’s second album, Kheles El Kalam, went platinum as the best selling Middle Eastern album of 2006.
You know I love the fun Arabic dance sounds! Listening to his albums so far has been a blast! Definitely one of my favourtie male Arabic pop starts so far! =) His latest album, Haga Mosh Tabeaya, is much more electronically driven than his earlier albums, but features many traditional Arabic instruments, which makes it a really fun fusion. It will be in my car soon!
This is a fun remix:
Ragheb Alama is another great Lebanese pop star I have recently enjoyed in my listening adventures in Arabic pop music. His career began in the 1980s when he appeared on the TV talent show Studio El Fan. His first single following his success on the show, “Bukra Byebrom Dulabak” launched his career to an instant height. Alama’s single “Alby Asheq’ha” was the first Arabic song to be made into a music video!
Alama had many successful albums in the 2000s and his most recent, Seneen Rayha, was released with Starbucks, another first: the first Arabic artist to sell their CD through Starbucks! He also adopted an environmental cause with the album after being named the United Nations Ambassador of Climate Change.
One of the most popular and successful artists of the Arab music world, Alama is now to be a host on the pan-Arab series of American Idol. With 16 albums throughout his career, there is undoubtedly much to hear! But unfortunately I have only been able to get a hold of a dozen or so songs. I hope to find more soon!!
Check out his website: Ragheb Alama
Here’s a great video with another great, Elissa!
Sherine is singer/actress from Cairo, Egypt. She has released 4 albums throughout her career thus far, from her debut: Garh Tany in 2003, which launched her to popularity and solidified her as one of the most well known Arabic artists, to her most recent being Habeat in 2009. I managed to find Habeat and is as of now the only album of hers I have had the pleasure of listening to.
Sherine has also had a small acting career in Egypt, but more so has contributed songs to many Egyptian films, including “An el-Ish’ wel-Hawa”. The movie’s theme song, “Keteer Ben’sha”, became a major hit. That same year, she released “Lebnan Fel Alb (Lebanon’s in the Heart)”, a song dedicated to Lebanon and the victims who fell in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict.
Habeat is much less dance driven than many Arabic albums I have enjoyed, having a lot more slow-tempo and energetic ballad-y songs, but still has the great percussions and fun electronic sounds I love so much in Arabic pop music. I hope to find more of her albums soon!
My love affair of Arabic pop music continues with Lebanese singer, model, and pop icon Amal Hijazi. Her music career begin in 2000 after a long modeling career, with the release of her first two singles: “Halan” and “Rayyak Balak”. Hijazi’s debut album, Akher Gharam, released in 2001 became the highest selling debut album ever for a female artist, and the album stayed #1 on the charts for 8 months. Four singles from this album debuted #1 in Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, and Tunisia!
Hijazi released her second album, Zaman, in 2002 and was an instant success. The title track became one of the biggest hit singles in the middle east and is still considered her signature song. She has had several other albums to date that have also been widely successful throughout the middle east.
There are several controversies surrounding Hijazi and other female Lebanese pop stars, especially singer Elissa. There have been accusations of Hijazi imitating Elissa’s musical video styles and the two are open about their rivalry. There have also been rumours of controversies with Nancy Ajram and Nawal Al Zoghbi.
Hijazi has also had problems with Kuwait, being banned from entering despite continuous efforts to travel there. She has not received any real justifications and says she will not rest until she finds out the real reasons for her being banned. Throughout her career both as a model and entertainer Hijazi has been known for her contributions to many middle eastern charities. In 2008 she was named 8th Arab Sexiest Woman Alive (managing to get twice as many votes as Egyptian singer Sherine – soon to come!)
Myriam Fares is a Lebanese singer who has been the first new discovery for me on my reemergence to the unparalleled world of Arabic pop music. She has had 4 studio albums to date, the latest being released only in September this year!
Her self-titled album debuted in 2003 when she was 23, and sold out in just a few days. “Ana wil Shoq” was her first single, and the video launched her to fame in the Arab-speaking world. In 2004 she was elected “Best Young Female Singer” in the Arab world (a title she would win again in 2008 in Egypt with her second album: Nadini) and also that year won Best Video Clip in Egypt.
I have not been able to get my hands on any full albums, only scattered tracks spanning her career, but I am loving everyone of them! You know how much I adore Arabic melismas! And the high energy every track has with that amazing cross of old-world percussion and dance beats! I definitely see myself returning to the hunt for Arabic pop music!
Check out her website: Myriam Fares