We’ve DJ-ed many events where we’ve spun Arabic pop music – from weddings to corporate parties to recently a celebration involving many guests from the United Nations. At these events we often mix a range of styles and time periods - from the Western-influenced songs of modern performers like Amr Diab, Alabina, or Nancy Ajram, to vintage tunes by older but beloved Arabic pop singers like Fairouz, Dalida, or Hakim. Much of the time at events featuring Arabic pop, we find client requests tend to be either from Egypt or Lebanon - for example, all the artists just mentioned are from or have deep connections to one of those two countries. We’ve featured posts on some of these artists - go here to read one, and here to read another. Also, many Egyptian and Lebanese (as well as Moroccan) performers are also featured here in an Arabic music playlist we compiled.
Some of the reason for Egyptian and Lebansese pop being very prevalent comes from the immense popularity of many Egyptian and Lebanese artists around the Middle East – since in particular Egypt at times has been more permissive than other Arabic countries of pop music expression and its themes and performers, more artists have developed there. Also, those who leave the Middle East to settle in other areas of like New York bring their musical tastes with them, and since Egypt is a large producer of Arabic pop, expatriates will likely have heard it and may recall it fondly.
But in a city as big as New York, with so many cultural backgrounds, we don’t always spin Egyptian or Lebanese pop – sometimes we include (and clients request) Arabic pop from other countries from the Persian Gulf area, and we're grateful for this chance to diversify our Arabic pop selections. While performers from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Iraq may not dominate the Arabic pop music world, we’ve found there is plenty of excellent artists out there to from the Persian Gulf region to be spun at all kinds of events featuring Arabic music, or dropped in now and then at events not featuring Arabic music specifically if a festive, romantic or exotic vibe is needed to take things in a slightly unexpected direction. Below are some great songs from the Gulf region, most released over the past few years.
“Halla Besh” from Saudi Arabian singer Abdelmajid Abdullah (pictured above), is traditional-sounding – it uses Arabic beats and instruments and a sweeping strings melody instead of the electronic dance elements that many Arabic performers have incorporated into their songs over the past generation – but its grand and orchestral - yet loose - feel make it ideal for a moment when you're kicking off a party, or resuming a dance set and you want to include all generations of guests:
Abdelmajid Abdullah - Halla Besh
Saudi singer Abdel El-Girini incorporates elements of R&B, hip-hop and electronica in “Baheb Ashoufak,” which, while taking a cue from artists like Ne-Yo and Usher from its production, still sounds exotic. It should appeal to fans of both Top 40 American and Arabic pop:
Abdel El-Girini - Baheb Ashoufak
“Shabab We Banat” by Kuwaiti group Miami Band (pictured right) from Kuwait, alternates a sunny calypso and soca vocal with a bright Arabic vocal to create a song with an expansive celebratory and uplifting feel:
Miami Band - Shabab We Banat
“La Titnahad” by Iraqi singer Kathem Al Saher is a great tune that blends Latin-sounding horns with a thick Arabic beat and an impassioned vocal to create a nice and warm celebratory vibe. This song was remixed by British-based world music electronica group Transglobal Underground, so some of your guests may recognize it a bit:
Kathem Al-Saher - La Titnahad
Sirvan Khosravi, an Iranian pop singer who, in 2009 was the first Iranian pop artist to have a song chart in Europe, here performs a tune called “Na Naro” that pulses along with a lush, sexy, late-night house beat and a seductive piano melody, and just might be the most accessible song here to those unfamiliar with Arabic pop:
Sirvan Khosravi - Na Naro
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