Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Kuwaiti protest song

Musical tastes can change so much over time, according to changes in circumstances or outlook. As a kid, the music I first made my own was the frothy 80's pop of the likes of Duran Duran, Blondie and Adam Ant. Discovering The Beatles at about 14, I immersed myself in their world, with the wider 60's pop plus the rock 'n' roll and blues that preceded them to pad it all out. Moving through my teens, I discovered The Smiths and plunged into UK indie pop. Then in my early 20's, I moved to Brighton and my aural pleasures expanded massively - electronic music, funk, reggae, hip-hop, etc.

Becoming more politically motivated again, with the election of George Bush back in 2000 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq in 2003, I have spent much of the past few years listening to the return of Western protest music (such as what can be found at Peace.fm) and in Japan created what is probably the first collection of modern Japanese protest music (with the Peace Not War Japan CD compilation). I have also opened my ears up to all kinds of non-Western music as a result of living here and travelling around a few other countries (eg Nepal, China, UAE, Tanzania). I often wondered how the artistic communities of the Arab world are responding to the rise in conflict and imperialism in their lands in recent years.

Today, I came across this gem. It's by a well-known Kuwaiti singer called Shams and is called 'Ahlan! Ezayek? (which translates as 'Hi! How are you?'). The video was apparently shot in Cairo, using high production values, and is quite a scathing anti-Bush satire. It references puppet governments, executions, 'democracy', Guantanamo Bay and Handala, a cartoon figure of a small boy that symbolises Palestinian identity and defiance.

Take a look...

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