Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bassima - Aini Ya Mo

Bassima has never been one to follow the pack, and Aini Ya Mo is no exception. After the huge success of Andi Sou'al, Bassima returned in 2003 with a completely different song. The title song is written and composed by Marwan Khoury and unlike anything released before, thanks to Roger Khoury's arrangement. He combines fun pop with more serious tarab-style strings and beats. Boudi Naoum brings his always unique brand of East meets West with two power ballads, Bekhtesar and La Tfel. Iwan (credited here as Mohamed Ba'assiri) takes a much more different tone with three quintessential, upbeat Arabic pop songs: Wel Khad Metki, Wala Hammi, and the extremely catchy Doum. Wissam El Amir contributes with Lamouni, which is a good tarab-style song, but has nothing very interesting. Roger Khoury arranged most of the album, with the exception of Bekhtesar and La Tfel, which Boudi Naoum arranged himself. Like most of Bassima's albums, there is not a bad song here, and it's no wonder the album was so successful.

1. Aini Ya Mo
2. Wel Khad Metki
3. Bekhtesar
4. Wala Hammi
5. La Tfel
6. Lamouni
7. Doum

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Najwa Karam - Ma Hada La Hada

After the upbeat Hazzi Helou (I'm Lucky), Ma Hada La Hada (No One Belongs to Anyone) was a marked change of tone for Najwa Karam. The first single, El Tahaddi (The Dare) and the title song are defiant songs, rejecting love. The album was the beginning of a long creative relationship with Egyptian musician Tarek Aakef, who arranged the entire album. As always, he is diverse, using dabke, Khaliji, classic tarab, and modern beats and effects. The talented Wissam El Amir composed tracks 2, 4, and 6, while tracks 1, 3, and 7 are by Salim Salameh. Imad Shamseddine wrote and composed Baddi Mnajem (I Need an Astrologer). Despite being a sales failure, Ma Hada La Hada is without a doubt one of Najwa's most solid (and significant) albums.

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1. El Tahaddi
2. Habib El Zein
3. El Helou
4. Ma Hada La Hada
5. Baddi Mnajem
6. Btousaq Fiyeh
7. Bjarreb Ensa

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mayada El Hennawi - Na'met El Nesyan

Alongside songs like El Hob Elli Kan (Kan Ya Ma Kan) and Habbeina, Na'met El Nesyan is one of the great songs that established Mayada El Hennawi in the Egyptian music scene. The center of Arabic music at the time, Cairo was bustling with new Arab talent from all corners of the Middle East. Na'met El Nesyan roughly translates into "The Blessing of Forgetting". It is written by Omar Batiesha and composed by Farouq Salama, the accordionist who was became famous as a part of Oum Kalthoum's orchestra. The song is in the traditional tarab style, with a traditional strings, ney, and kanun orchesta, as well as the keyboard and bassline which added a touch of modernity back in 1982. Na'met El Nesyan is approximately 47 minutes long, typical of 1940s-1980s music.

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1. Na'met El Nesyan

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rouwaida Attieh - Men Nazra

Rouwaida Attieh emerged as the first runner-up on the first season of Superstar, but the popularity that she, and second runner-up Melhem Zein garnered quite easily rivaled winner Diana Karazon's. While Melhem and Diana worked with a wide range of lyrcists and musicians, Rouwaida was musically adopted by Imad Shamseddine, a man who had been on Najwa Karam's musical team for over a decade. Arrangers include Adel Aayesh, Ali Safa (who arranged the hit title song), Medhat Khamis, and Ahmed Adel, who gives the hit Ta'ebt Ma'ak the Egyptian flavor the song calls for. The album is made up of Lebanese and Egyptian songs, although the fact there is only one true dabke song, Men Nazra, seems a crime when Rouwaida is one of the few women who have conquered the genre. While there are some must-listen good songs like Ta'ebt Ma'ak, Men Nazra, and A Min El Loum, the album as a whole felt old and it is simply Rouwaida's voice that carries it. It's just as well Khissamak Mur did Rouwaida's talent justice finally in 2006, with a much bigger team of musicians that still included Imad Shamseddine.

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1. Rahet Sana
2. Ta'ebt Ma'ak

3. Leih
4. Men Nazra
5. Maktoubli
6. A Min El Loum
7. Hasamt El Amr

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

May Hariri - Habibi Inta

It's hard to argue the fact that May Hariri got a head start on her musical career thanks to ex-husband Melhem Barakat. Whether her second album, Habibi Inta, was her best may be an arguable point, but it's definitely this listener's favorite. It's no secret that May's voice is limited, but she chose songs that sounded good and she didn't overstretch her voice. The album is dominated by Lebanese duo Haitham Zayyad and Tony Saba who composed/arranged Hasan, Fallaha, Ya Bta' El Gharam, and Dena. Habibi Inta and Hamama Beida are updated versions of Melhem Barakat's classics, and Tony Saba, responsible for updating Sabah's Yana Yana also, makes the arrangement more dynamic. Hasan is a fun, upbeat song with the simple things that make traditional Arabic pop good: a good beat, organic strings, and smart use of synths. Fallaha, the album's first single, has more great arrangment from Tony Saba. The song is very traditional, with a strong beat and a great string and mizmar intro. Ya Bta' El Gharam, which preceded the release of the album, takes a similar tone as Hasan in terms of Hasan, but with mizmar a some dance synths thrown around. La Tnamou is a cover of Ziynet Sali's Cikolata (which was a remake itself!). Einak Menni and Ma' Min are credited to Jean Saliba. The latter was first released on her debut album, but this is the video version (which added Urdu lyrics). The album ends with Dena, another cheesy Khaliji by Lebanese musicians, that the album could have done without! Overall, the formula followed here was a successful one, and May should have stuck to it, instead of the unfortunate trainwreck that was her 2008 album.

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1. Hasan
2. Fallaha
3. Ya Bta' El Gharam
4. Habibi Inta
5. La Tnamou
6. Hama Beida
7. Einak Menni
8. Ma' Min
9. Dena

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