23 April 2015

Egypt #1: Africa finally

Now it is time for the first post about African music! All the other continents had their first posts very early on in this blog, but only now 46 posts later it is the time for Africa. It took quite long, since I had previously none knowledge on African music. Since from starting this blog I meant to get familiar with some African music, but I never got to it. I had already scheduled myself some time to listen to music from Africa, when I suddenly couple months ago by accident ended up listening to Egyptian music without knowing it was Egyptian.

Wikipedia: Egypt
I was originally listening to Lebanese music when I accidentally ended up to Egypt via YouTube recommendations. Actually the song that probably was the first ever African song I ever heard is featured in this post. I probably would have not chosen Egypt as the first African country I introduce myself to music-wise, but this was a very good coincidence: I right away found without even trying enough Egyptian music for two posts. So, thanks YouTube!

Like in my previous post I mentioned, in this post I will feature more male singers than usually; Actually all the songs in this post are by male singers. Both of these two singers, I immediately liked. One is very experienced and world-widely noted singer, while the other one is probably a bit newer name in the Arabic music scene.

Please note that Arabic words can be transliterated into English letters in different ways, so the names and titles mentioned in this post can also be written in some different way. I use the way used in Wikipedia and/or YouTube, though I also try to mention other ways to write them.

Let's start with Amr Diab. He was born in 1961 and started his professional musical career in the early 80s, though he has performed already from early age. In his career Amr has released lots and lots of music, including tens of studio albums. He has won many awards during his career, in example seven World Music Awards. He has also received multiple lifetime achievement and icon reorganizations. Amr is considered one of the best known names in the Arabic music scene.

Amr sings and composes Arabic pop music with elements of other genres like dance and folk music. His song Amarain / قمرين (above) is, in my opinion of course, a very good example of Arabic, or even more specifically of Egyptian, pop music. You can hear many elements in this song, that can also be found in so many other Egyptian songs. Amarain, also can be written as Amarein and Amareen, was released already back in 1999. I do not know how well it did back in the day, but it has a quite respectful amount of views in YouTube for such an old release.

This was within the very first of Egyptian songs that I heard and it was definitely love at first hearing. I absolutely love the music; It is so catchy and fun. For me it sounds highly exotic. It is somehow light, even though it has a very strong sound. Amr's vocals are the cherry on top. He sounds very soft here and it really raises this song on a whole another level. To put it short: I love this. By the way, the name Amarain means Two Moons.

The other song from Amr is called Tamally Maak, which is تملي معاك in Arabic. The title can also be written as Tamally Ma'ak and it means Always With You. It was released a year later than Amarain, in 2000. It is also Arabic pop song. The song seems to be utterly popular and it has been covered into tens of different language, including Hebrew, Greek and Tamil. One English cover has been done by a Danish hip-hop group Outlandish, but there is also other English versions. According to Wikipedia the music video is also highly popular and it was shot in Czech Republic.

I find this song to have some similarities with Amarain, I believe that is the common Egyptian sound since so many other songs have it too. But overall it is a completely different kind of song. I do not know what the lyrics mean, but for me this sounds kind of romantic and kind of sad. Like there is longing in the air. The song feel very emotional to me and loves me a bit wistful. It is a very beautiful song.

I would have many other songs from Amr Diab that I would like to feature, I was actually considering making a specific post for him. But since I know, that I will keep finding great songs from him and want to blog about him later on again, I think I will now switch to the other artist. Let's just say that Amr has now claimed the spot of my favourite African singer and it will be hard to overpass him.

Both Amarain and Tamally Maak were also the names of the albums on which the songs were released on.

The other singer of this post is called Haytham Saeid. I find other ways to write his name too, like Haitham Sa'eid, but this is the way it is written on what seems to be his official Twitter account. So I think this is the spelling to go with. Haytham is a younger and newer (though not that new) singer. He was a contestant on the first season of SuperStar, which was the Arabic version of Pop Idol (the American version is called American Idol), in which he placed within top12, though was then the other of two of the first ones to be eliminated.

I can not find a Wikipedia page for him, so I assume he is not that famous. Assuming more, I think he is still popular, since one of his music videos (which will be featured in this post next) has over 11 millions of views on YouTube. Since I do not have any source about him (probably there is many in Arabic, but I do not speak it), it is pretty much impossible for me to write more details about him. So let us just enjoy the music.

This first song is called Min Youm, also Men Youm and in Arabic من يوم. I do not get a sensible translation with Google Translate. This I believe to be the very first Egyptian and possibly the very first African song that I heard. With this song too it was love at first hearing. The elements in the music are great and for a foreign ear very interesting. It is a very catchy and fun sounding song. I immediately got it stuck in my head. For me it sounds very Arabic. A very brilliant first step into the world of African music.

Here are the other two songs from Haytham Saeid. The first one is called Homma Malhom, هما مالهم بينا يا ليل in Arabic. The second one is Tany / تاني. Again Google Translate does not serve any help, with the first title it suggest something about money. I can not find certain release dates for these, but I would guess that the first one was released in 2005 and the second in 2011. I could obviously be wrong, so do not quote me on that.

Homma Malhom is the song I mentioned before. It has a large amount of views on YouTube and I can not find any other Haytham song that has nearly this many of views. So I will assume this is his biggest hit. From the music video I get that it is probably a love song. It does sound like that too; There is something romantic in this song. I think Haytham sounds nice and the music is great. It is a bit simpler than the other songs in this post, but if this was too much complicated, it could ruining a song like this. It is a lovely, simple song with strong Arabic vibe.

And then Tany. This song is maybe the most "danciest" song I have heard by an Egyptian artist; It has a strong dance song sound in it and maybe even an electronic sound. It still remains very Arabic pop. I absolutely love this music, since for me it sounds like it puts together my favourite Egyptian music elements and my favourite music genre, dance music. Since I suck at recognizing genres, I could be wrong about that, but I still absolutely love the music. And Haytham sings very lovely.

Min Youm can be found from Haytham's album 2006 Mosh Bas Kalam. As I can not find information about Haytham in English, I can not tell on which album the other two songs can be found on.

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