02 June 2015

Morocco #1: Happy hours?

The second trip to the continent of Africa. Like I said in my Egyptian music post, I am not very familiar with music from African countries. Honestly, the entire continent is very distant to me in all matters. Though lately I have been very into Arabic music and even though I mostly listen to Arabic music from the Middle East, has my interest spread over to African side of Arabic world too. Besides Egyptian music, I have been getting into Moroccan music too.

Wikipedia: Morocco
From Egyptian and other Arabic music it was easy to spread into Moroccan too; Actually I thought I was listening to Egyptian music when I first heard Moroccan music. The Arabic music scene seems to very united and all the countries could be considered as one music-wise. It has happened many times that I have thought I am still listening to music from one country, when I actually am listening to some other country's music. Arabic artists tend to promote across the entire Arabic world and it is impossible to draw actual lines at borders. At least this is the image I have got.

Morocco-wise, the only thing I use to know about Moroccan music was that the famous producer RedOne is Moroccan (and he does not work much in his native land anyway). So I was starting off from a zero and now I have found few singers I really like. In this post I shall feature two of them: two songs from each and a duet they have done together.

First up is Saad Lamjarred. Saad is 30 years old and he was born in Rabat, the capital city of Morocco. He became a professional singer in 2007 and has also done occasional acting (as per usual). His father is a Chaabi singer (Chaabi seems to be a music genre in North Africa and usually played in festivals and weddings) and his mother is an actress, so it seems he comes from a talented family. Saad has studied music theory. Famous he became through a reality show contest SuperStar (Arabic version of Pop Idol series, which in the US is called American Idol), where he finished second in the season four.

Saad's biggest hit is his 2013 single called Mal Hbibi Malou (مال حبيبي مالو), which is the song featured above. Currently it has over 70 million views on YouTube and honestly I can not think of from the top of my head if I have ever seen an Arabic music video with even close to that amount of views. This song must have been huge in the Arabic world and the YouTube view count seems to be still rising steadily.

I really like the sound of this song; It has that certain sound that you can very often find from Arabic music. Yet it is still very different from the mass. It is upbeat and a dance song, and most certainly utterly catchy. It sounds positive even when the lyrics are not all that happy. Saad sings great, but the music is my favourite thing about this song; The drum and the Arabic elements particularly.

Unfortunately there is quite little information about Saad to be found in English. So I am not able to tell much more about him or about his songs. This other song is called Jiti Fi Bali (جيتي في بالي), which according to Google Translate means Getty In Bali; Let's just assume that is incorrect, haha! For me it sounds like he sings something about Sahara, so I will go with that theory. The song sounds a bit mysterious anyway.

Jiti Fi Bali has that common Arabic sound in it (which I by the way love a lot). It is catchy and a dance song too. I find the sound somehow dark and I expect that the lyrics are not very happy. I do not know what it is, but something in the song makes me think of the night. It is very well sung and the music is great. Even though the popularity of this song can not compare nowhere to the success of Mal Hbibi Malou, I myself love this song more of these two. It is the mysterious feeling of this song that gets me.

Time for the duet! The song is called ساعة سعيدة, which transliterates into Sa3a Sa3ida (Oh, the wonders of transliterating foreign languages into Latin alphabet! How do you pronounce the 3's anyway?). The song's name means Happy Hour in English, at least according to Google Translate and this time the translation seems correct. At least it fits the music video perfectly. Sa3a Sa3ida was released in 2012.

This is yet another very catchy dance song. It has a bit of Arabic sound to it, but in different ways than the previous songs. This song has a very strong beat, that I can feel deep down in my body. I do not dance, but I could dance to this. It is kind of dark, yet fun sounding. The singer's voices go very well together and make almost a creepy effect, which is a major plus in my books. Overall I would call this a strong beated, catchy dance song with hints of Arabic sound in it.

The other part of the duet from Sa3a Sa3ida is called Sofia Mountassir. Sofia has actually a French nationality, but she is of a Moroccan origin. Unfortunately information on her is very limited, at least in languages I can understand, but this is what I collect: She has in 2012 participated in the first season of French version of the Voice, but with not very good success. Most of her career she has done in Morocco, where she won some singing contest. She has studied performing arts and dance. Sofia sings in multiple languages.

The song above is called Away and it is in English. It was released in 2012. The song is a ballad with lyrics about feeling after a break-up. Sofia sings about feeling alright, but overall the feel of the song is sad. It is very beautiful and even though I do not usually like ballads much, I like this. Sofia sings lovely and the music is nice. It is a sad song with hints of positiveness within.

This other song from Sofia is called Inta Omri, which according to Google Translate means You're My Life. And based on that, I assume that she sings in Arabic (I am usually quite good at recognizing languages from each other, but in this case I have no idea in what language she sings in). The song does sound Arabic; there is something in the instruments and Sofia's style of singing this song, that sound Arabic to me. I would call the overall sound old-school, in a good way of course. It is deep and somehow mysterious. Definitely not your average pop song.

Like I said, I have been able to find only little information on Sofia (though I would of course be interested to find out more on her), so these paragraphs on her ended up being short. I however have been really liking these songs from her. What does some random trivia matter anyway, when you can just enjoy the music. I at least am enjoying the songs from this post a lot!

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