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!
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
هيفاء وهبي (Haifa Wehbe) is a Lebanese singer who I found a while ago when I was on a super middle-Eastern pop kick and I am now rediscovering her. Haifa is also an actress and model. Wehbe is on of the most well-known and successful Lebanese singers and she was on People’s Magazine’s list of 50 Most Beautiful People in 2006. She has released three studio albums to date, but unfortunately I don’t know much about them. I have many of her songs but I don’t know what albums they are from. The point of this story is I love middle-Eastern pop and Haifa is amazing. I love the beats, and I can’t help myself from bustin loose when I hear them! The music just forces my body to move! The songs just ooze sexuality and its completely amazing.
Haifa’s videos are fun too. These are some of my favourite of her songs! I wish I could find more videos by her! Aqol Ahwak is probably my absolute favourite track of hers! But I can’t help but loving all of her incredibly sexy music!