Before I begin with this review I would like to declare some very important things:
1. I’m a big fan of Elissa and will always be. I really appreciate her innovative musical style and her desire to push the boundaries and challenge herself a little more with every release.
2. If this review sounds harsh or angry, it’s because I have love for our music and would like to see things done properly and not feel that we are always inferior to what happens in the west….
The release of Elissa’s album, “Asaad Wahda” this summer has been one of the landmarks of Arabic music in 2012. Mainly because album releases since the start of the Arab spring in various countries have been dwindling in a painful way..and secondly because in the last 6 years, Elissa had managed to release a number of very successful albums and then took a long two-year hiatus while working on this one… We were all thrilled to see what she will come out with.
The album was released and it did extremely well … almost 6 months after its release it still sits in the top 5 in most Arabic music physical and online stores…and then two days ago…. the video for the lead single “Asaad Wahda” surfaced on TV and online.
Now whether you like it or like to admit it or not…. by listening to Asaad Wahda, it is very easy to realize that the song has strong Electro inspirations. Yes the strings section was very Arabian, yes Mohamed Yehya gave us a great Egyptian melody…but Tamim (The song’s producer) was in an Electro mood! You’d therefore assume that naturally, the video should adapt or at least fit in that style of music to make this a pleasant experience for the listener (and the person who is watching alike).
First Mistake - The Director’s Choice….
The most natural thing to do if you are delving into an unknown field is to do your research. This does not apply to music or arts only but to literally EVERYTHING.
It seems that director, Salim El Turk was completely unsure of how to deal with an Electro / House inspired track and hence decided that the safest option is to inspire a little bit of everything trendy! Simple rule: Jack of all trades … Master of NONE. Here he decides to start off with some 3D animation extravaganza (a cheaper version of Mostafa Amar’s Monaya video) then into a completely dismantled club scene (a cheaper version of Amr Diab’s Banadeek Taala) followed by a rather random, cheap and unfinished session of green screen activities that looks like it WAS done on a green screen…. completely defeating the purpose of the technique :s
It is such a heart breaking experience to watch this video and see that after all the heroic efforts done by some genius music producers we have in the Middle East like Tamim, Tooma, Hassan El Shafei… after all the efforts that WE did here at Funky Pharaoh Music to introduce people to the concept of [Electro.Arabian.House] on a bigger scale, after all the efforts done to convince our standard Middle Eastern artists to be brave enough to jump on such creative beats, that we are still faced with the difficulty of a suited person sitting behind an air conditioned desk in an Arabic record label thinking that HE / SHE knows best… and that the Arabian audience are not ready to see what the international EDM audience see.
We as workers in that industry and audience refuse to accept such insults to our intelligence….The most basic details were literally omitted here to make this a successful video… Let’s look at a few points!
1. How can THE SICKEST Bass drop in the whole song be visually translated to Elissa looking into a mirror and then doing an awkward orchestrated waltz dance???!
2. Who on this earth goes to club (supposedly playing house music!!!) wearing a swarovski drenched dress with a dude wearing a blazer with everyone dressed in formal wear?!!!
3. Which club have you ever been to where the DJ was not visible??!!
4. Why is there random kids running in a video for such a hard dance beat? and what is the relationship between the song and Elissa doing a Matrix Style walk on the walls in what seems to be an ancient temple?!
Please! Whoever is reading this and is involved in the decision making process in producing any artist to the world DO NOT insult out intelligence.
I remember vividly that Mohamed Hamaki asked Tamim and I to recommend to him the best possible sound engineer to mix and master “Min Albi Baghanni” because he wanted the music to never be compromised and wanted the Electro, House, and Glitchy style beats to come out just as the producers intended….I remember him telling me SPECIFICALLY that the “Nefsi Abaa Gambo” and “Hayoolo” remixes that will come out later this year inshallah should NOT be diluted… He asked me to go as hard as I wish for it to go!!! And THIS is the attitude we need…
Directors… PLEASE… before you embark onto the tricky job of bringing out a video of an Arabic artist who was brave enough to sing on top of House beat… do your research! Watch Guetta’s videos, Tiesto’s videos, KNOW what a club looks like and what DJ’s actually do in there (NOT put one hand on headphones and rub the decks… we DO NOT do that unless we simultaneously have ear pain while cleaning the decks looool) and DO NOT be afraid to push the boundaries…
And artists… do not be afraid to collaborate with young directors, producers, and writers…they might just give you the push you truly need….As for the record company dude, he’s very valuable indeed… listen to him! very carefully!!!! then do THE OPPOSITE!
with my rant now over, here’s the video… OPINIONS PLEASE!