Hiba Tawaji Didn’t Lose; The Voice Lost Hiba Tawaji

 

I was walking around New York City yesterday, totally trying to mind my own business by checking Facebook and trying not to feel dwarfed by the high rises around me when my Lebanese friends broke some terribly heartbreaking news to me, as I stood there in Times Square.

It was one of those Facebook moments where you get bad news you’re supposed to get over a phone call via a status instead, sort of like when I learned that a relative died because someone decided to post a picture of her with a RIP caption before they had told everyone else. But this, this was worse.

For lack of better analogy, the news I received on Facebook yesterday was devastating, gut-wrenching and so haunting it might as well be my own version of 9/11. How could it be? It can’t be.

Hiba Tawaji, the Lebanese that showed France how it is to actually sing in French, was no more on the amateur talent show The Voice. But that didn’t make sense? How could Hiba Tawaji lose? How could the person that is now teaching the entire world what singing actually consists of end up with such a heinous outcome? How could the country that gave the world music, art and the alphabet be so terribly offended?

It must have been a conspiracy. Those French people are clearly obviously out there to get us, poor gullible Lebanese whose only fault in this world was being born in the most wonderful, most loved and most vied for country in the world.  Clearly, those French were jealous. Clearly, they had a thing against us. 4 Lebanese candidates on 4 seasons of France’s The Voice are now all martyrs to the Lebanese artistic cause of becoming nobodies in Western Europe. Clearly I wasn’t gonna sit down and be quiet about this.

There are two things that make me proud of Lebanon today: hummus and Hiba Tawaji. The latter losing was a stab in the heart of my nationalistic pride. How are we not protesting this serious violation of our basic and most fundamental right as Lebanese people to be the shit of the shit at every single location where a shit can be shat? This is unacceptable. No, scratch that. This is not only unacceptable, this is worthy of a UN tribunal, more pressing than the STL, to investigate the serious backwater works that are going into this serious breach of Lebanese sovereignty taking place inside the studios of TF1.

So because I’m a masochist, I decided to watch the video of Hiba losing. I swear, that was a worse experience to my mental health than seeing all the mutilated bodies of Syrian children. I am scarred for life. I wept for Hiba. I cut for Hiba. I hung a Lebanese flag around my neck and walked around Brooklyn for Hiba. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to bring back the pride I lost with Hiba being so wrongly targeted… #JeSuisIba.

TL;DR? Hiba Tawaji lost. The country is mourning. And this is all too heartbreaking and tough to process. Or maybe not. Shit happens in talent shows. It was fun while it lasted, now let’s look at more serious things, like being interested in drunk driving and Haifa Wehbe’s English career.

Breaking Down Haifa Wehbe’s Brilliant “Breathing You In”

Haifa Wehbe dropped an English song. Such breaking news! It’s such big news in fact that it reached me all the way in the United States while I purposefully ignored anything and everything Lebanese (sorry, not sorry).

So I sat down and decided to breathe in – for lack of better word – that outstanding piece of art, the kind that will surely break the Taylor-Swift-saturated-American-pop-scene and make sure they remember that Lebanon is the country that created music, the English language, techno beats, Interstellar travel and the idea behind the movie Gravity.

I figured I’d break down the video into its components, because why the hell not? Serves for more entertaining news that bitching about the political situation or the sudden mass worry about this odd phenomenon called drunk driving. Yes, I got that too. Sigh.

So I loaded the video in 1080p (HA!) and here we go:

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 1

 

Who the hell are Mostafa Sorour and Tarik Freitken? And what is World Music?

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 2

Who the hell is Casper and why do we care?

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 3

And NASA! Do you think they’d sue for using their logo? What does Haifa Wehbe have to do with NASA? Why are we in space? Why are there astronauts? 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 4

How did we go from space to a barn. Isn’t this haram?

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 5

 *puppy eyes.*

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 6

“Is pressing this much against that wooden pole enough to make my boobs look bigger while I “sing?”

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 7

That “take me as I am” line sure comes in handy at this point, doesn’t it? *moans.*

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 9

Wait! How are we dancing in the desert now? Is there a checklist for exotic videos we are going through? Space, check. Desert, check. Strip club next? 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 10

 

Fastest wardrobe change ever? I guess they figured the previous one wasn’t skin-revealing enough?

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 11

Oh look we’re in space now. I can’t keep track. And why is Haifa not wearing a space suit? Is it because it doesn’t show enough skin? 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 13

Back to the desert. It’ll be hard to tell foreigners that Lebanon doesn’t have deserts after this. My life is ruined. 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 14

Is she dancing? What is she doing? 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 15

Is he finally taking her as she is in the barn? Kinky? No. Lebanese don’t do that. *shakes head.*

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 16

When you’re bored, just swim in space. Right? Let Haifa come to you and save you. 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 17

And then get surrounded by men touching you in green and flowery fields. 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 18

She wasn’t satisfied, so she went solo. *wink.*

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 19

Barely-there clothing! Break the Arab internet and Western stereotypes, Haifa! She hasn’t looked better though. Damn.

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 20

I can’t wait to read all the Arab tabloids talking about how she highlighted her pubic area with this. 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 21

I don’t get the purpose of this interlude. 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 22

Or why this guy is still flying in space.

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 23

I bet she’s trying to recreate that infamous venus picture, right? Bring her a fig leave now.

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 24

Aww. Haifa cries! 

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 25

He came…. alive.

Haifa Wehbe Breathing You In - 26Who is this guy again?

Oh wait, there was a song among that video? So then I went and listened to it again in an attempt to get the lyrics. What kind of brilliance, people? It’s like an American sexually-charged song, but without intercourse. Because this is Arabia and there’s no way anyone can sing about sex here. Get your minds out of the gutters! Only a Lebanese superstar can pull off sex in such a sex-less way.

Love me now,

Love me past the end of the time,

Turn me up,

Find my frequency,

You’re breathing me,

Take me as I am,

Give me a sign,

Show me that our love is one

Is it me or are these lyrics so expressive and ground-breaking? Never has any composer written such wonderful phrases in song before. Bring me their names now!

Cause I’m just breathing, breathing you in

You get me started when you begin

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in, in, in, in, in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in, in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

What a chorus! What kind of brilliance? What kind of tempo? One sentence repeated sixteen times. I can’t even.

Loud and clear I hear you,

I feel no one when I’m with you,

I feel closer when we’re far,

We are weightless, care-free love

Weightless, care-free, close when far… these are just new ideas introduced to the English language that should be trademarked. Get on it. Don’t let Taylor Swift be the only one trademarking her lyrics especially when you’ve got this.sick.beat. going on.

Cause I’m just breathing, breathing you in

You get me started when you begin

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in, in, in, in, in

Cause I’m just breathing, breathing you in

You get me started when you begin

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you in

Just breathing you

Just breathing you in, in, in, in, in

Just breathing you in,

Just breathing you in,

I feel you breathing,

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

Breathing you in, in, in, in

I’m breathing you in, in, in, in.

That same sentence repeated 21 times. Is there a record here we should be aware of? And seriously, how beautiful are these lyrics? Only in Lebanon. Going back to Edward Maya days all the way in 2015? Bring back these beats, Haifa.

I wonder, were the lyricists writing this getting goosebumps with each pen stroke? I sure was. I bet they felt like geniuses with every line they wrote down and every comparison they added. Damn. How innovative of them.

I’m worried though. All that breathing – desert dust, air dust, other kinds of dust – can be life threatening. Did Haifa get tuberculosis?

You’ll have to wait to blast this out of your 1980s BMW 320. It won’t be available on iTunes before April 21st. Bummer. I really wanted to show those New Yorkers what our artists can pull off and let them breath it in, in, in, in, in.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 12.57.59 AM

I suppose it says enough when a song like this will probably end up being played on Lebanese radio instead of offerings by Lebanese artists who have been trying to make it for years, such as Postcards or The Wanton Bishops. Don’t let people convince you this is worthwhile, or that the “good beat” makes up for the fact that this is trash.

Lebanese stars should stop wasting their money on trying to make it internationally especially when they’re buying horrible songs that were probably written by someone with basic comprehension of the English language, masquerading it as “in” with some fancy beats and sultry delivery.

No, just no.

 

Lebanon’s New Ambitious Startup: Turning Car Tires Into Fashion

Lebanon is the country where car tires have functions that surpass them being, well, the things on which cars roll. 

Where we come from, tires can be used to block off roads by protestors. They can also be used by the police or contractors to divert traffic. And, when shit hits the fan, they serve as incenerator hubs to fill Beirut’s sky with marks of some group’s political anger. Speaking of burning tires, it has been a long time, hasn’t t?

A Lebanese startup, called VEA, started by Patrick El Zoghbi aiming to protect the environment in the region while finding new ways to use material that would have been otherwise detrimental to nature and to our health. 

The entire premise of VEA is to be an environmentally friendly company. From having minimal printing policies, to using only recycled paper up to their main motivation: turning tires into fashion items, including using environmentally friendly items in those fashion items.

This is what VEA is set on producing:

   

           

I think the plan is extremely ambitious. I commend VEA for their efforts in 1) providing alternatives to the Lebanese and International market that divert from the regular available items they’re selling, 2) doing so in a way that is both environmentally friendly and innovative and 3) having it actually be affordable. 

The price range for the above items ranges from $50 to $1000, so it is affordable for a wide range of people.

To do all of this, VEA needs your help. Check out the following link for more information. Help them out – it’s always good to make sure Lebanese aspirations don’t get squashed because of lack of funds.

This is a video explaining the whole process: 

http://youtu.be/pAAqqmuAXuA

Help Out 23 Year Old Nibale Beat Cystic Fibrosis!

Nibale Cystic Fibrosis Lebanon

Nibale is a 23 year old Lebanese girl who has been suffering from cystic fibrosis since she was a child. For those who don’t know, cystic fibrosis is a very challenging disease that manifests through repeated lung infections, insufficiency of the pancreas along with a ton of associated complications (medical link). Patients who have the disease end up literally suffocating to death.

Nibale is fast approaching that point. She is at terminal stages of the illness where medical therapy doesn’t work anymore. What Nibale needs now is a lung transplant, which is an operation that costs more than 300,000 euros. Her family doesn’t have that amount, which is why I think we should all mobilize to help.

We’ve all proven that when we can as an online community and as Lebanese, helping out people to try and beat illnesses when the only hurdle is money is entirely possible. We raised the money for Simon when he was fighting leukemia, a fight that he ultimately did not win but he got a fighting chance because of us anyway. We raised the money for Carina Aoun in her attempt at helping out Palestinian children in a mental health project.

Today, Nibale’s life rests in our hands. We are the only chance she has. Given that it’s Easter time, the sensible thing to do would be to help. That would be an act of goodness that actually counts, far more than going to 7 churches and attending all-nighters prayer sessions or even praying 5 times a day.

To donate, LBC has come up with the following campaign on this  link. There’s no bank account number yet, so I will update this post in due time. However, for those of you who can’t the aforementioned Arabic link, here are the relevant information:

Contact +9619658658 or +9619850850ext : 1130 – 1131 if you can donate. Or email menelaleb@lbci.com with your name, phone number and amount you’d be willing to donate.

 

Alt-J Coming To Lebanon This Summer At The Byblos Festival

Alt-J

Your prayers have been answered, indie music Lebanese fans, for this year’s concerts are no longer just about the music you run away from. Rejoice!

Since you, my dearest readers, deserve a bit of happy news every now and then on here, I am leaking your way some major information that was shared my way. Yes, the Byblos Festival will be more than John Legend and The Script. Yes, you don’t need to keep worrying that it’s just too *mainstream* this year.

British band Alt-J will be coming to Lebanon for a concert this summer! It’s confirmed. The date will be announced soon. So for those who were in a state of panic, you can now relax (and get your money ready) because I’m sure this leak will brighten your day.

For those who don’t know them, Alt-J rose to prominence in 2012 with the album “An Awesome Wave.” Their latest offering, This Is All Yours, released in 2014, managed to top the UK albums chart. Their most famous song worldwide is “Tessellate,” which was covered by Ellie Goulding later on.

The song they rose to prominence with, however, is “Breezeblocks” which has clocked so far over 50 million hits on YouTube:

One thing to be said about all of this is kudos to the Byblos Festival for bringing high-profile talents to Lebanon year after year. Along with Alt-J, they are bringing John Legend who had the past year’s biggest hits in “All Of Me” as well as materializing a concert by “The Script” who were long-rumored to be coming.

In making sure that it is always of international caliber, Byblos Festival has consistently been a highlight of every summer we’ve had in Lebanon. And with all of this to the backdrop of arguably the country’s most touristic city, Jbeil, it becomes something you can’t not be proud of.

My hat goes off to all the effort that goes into making this successful and news-worthy every single year.

Carina Aoun: The Lebanese Cycling Holland For The Children of Gaza

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It hasn’t been a year yet since Israel brutally attacked the Gaza sector, leaving hundreds of dead and thousands of families torn apart, but our collective memory has already dismissed the whole thing as another “been there, done that” event.

We may have forgotten, but those in Gaza are still trying to put their lives back together after all the destruction. It’s always much, much harder to rebuild following destruction, and that is the brave thing to do after war. However, those little children of Gaza that Arabs care about only through Facebook statuses and rarely in action, cannot rebuild alone.

Wars have devastating effects on people, especially children who are in the tender ages of forming the people that they would become. They end up being scarred for life, along with a constellation of psychiatric issues to add. The estimates are that about “373,000 children in Gaza suffer from emotional and psychological trauma and are in dire need of mental care support and reintegration into society.”

To that effect, a Lebanese named Carina Aoun is taking part of an initiative called Cycling For Gaza, and along with 45 other volunteers from across the world, intends to cycle 300km in 3 days this coming July from Amsterdam to The Hague in order to raise money for ” The Mental Health Project of Gaza.”

The goal is to raise $286,000, of which only $5,400 has been donated so far. Each of those 45 volunteers has their very own donation page with the total amount ending up converging into the required $286,000.

The volunteering is taking place within the framework of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) which is the main organization that takes care of Palestinian children, sending them abroad for medical care or providing medical attention to them locally from visiting surgery teams. They have helped over 10,000 children so far.

Their purpose behind the Mental Health Project of Gaza is to start a pediatric mental health hospital as well as run it for an entire year, including providing care to children, screening them, as well as provide training for personnel (link).

Carina Aoun is trying to raise $3000 only for the project and she’s about halfway there. Help her out, and make a difference in the lives of countless of children who can’t make it otherwise.

This is the link to donate (click).

On Lebanese Racists: The Guy Who Wouldn’t Shake Hands With A Black Person Because He’s Afraid To Get The Color

It started off like any other Sunday on Twitter. The masses decide to go for an afternoon trend to entertain their boredom and everyone seems to jump on it. This Sunday’s top trending topic worldwide was #Confessions. Naturally, people jumped on it to divulge their deepest heart’s secrets to the millions out there ignoring them.

One of those was a fellow Lebanese citizen who goes by the name Think Sultan, ironic as that handle might be, with a sizeable 4.6K Twitter following. At first, his confessions were simple:

And then, because Sultan felt very at ease probably, he decided to drop his magnum opus:

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 1

He “may” sound racist, you guys.

Of course, the tweet didn’t exactly pass under the radar. Anis Tabet of Let’s Talk About Movies was appalled and expressed his disgust at what he read, to which Sultan replied with the following brilliant notion:

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 2

 

He can’t be serious, right?

ThinkSultan Racist tweet - 3Umm, no. He was. With a few exclamation points to boot.

ThinkSultan racist tweet 4

And if you thought that he’d be slammed left and right for this, you thought wrong. Some were on his side, defending him because “when was the last time you shook a maid’s hand?”

ThinkSultan racist Tweet - 6

What he did is clearly his freedom of speech (or speach?) because other people are fakers. Fakers gonna fake fake fake fake?

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 5

 

Clearly it was just all of us being too sensitive.

 

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 7

 

Which means that Sultan gets to put his cool shades on, because what he said doesn’t matter.

 

ThinkSultan racist tweet - 8

 

After all, it might as well just be a phobia?

ThinkSultan Racist tweet- 9

I suppose it would be stating the obvious but Sultan doesn’t have a black-people-and-their-skin-color-being-too-dissolvable-phobia, he is plainly yet another Lebanese racist who thinks he can get away with it just because the country he exists in enables this.

This is not a matter of opinion. This not a matter of freedom of speech. This is not even a matter that is up for analysis: Sultan is yet another Lebanese who thinks black people are beneath him because of their skin color, because he’s probably used to see them being abused at the jobs their life conditions force them to undertake, because he’s just so much better for being white. And that is the only truth here.

I thought long about writing this and whether highlighting such racism serves any purpose. I figured that highlighting it is not only a duty, it’s a must. Showing people like Sultan and those supporting him that their behavior is not okay, that their mentality is an abomination.

This isn’t a matter of “opinion respected but let’s agree to disagree.” This isn’t a debate or an argument. This is plainly disgraceful to every decent Lebanese out there. It is disgraceful to all the strides that human rights have gone through in the past few years. It is shameful that such mentalities can be so proud and public in 2015 and not get any slack for it whatsoever.

This comes at a time when migrant workers in Lebanon are the victims of rampant abuse, horrid marketing campaigns that auction them off like cattle (link), recurrent suicide attempts, next to no basic rights and a labor law that borders on slavery. Add people who probably think they deserve all of that to the list of things that are wrong in this country.

We are born with many things we cannot change: our skin color, our parents, our home country, our identity, our genes, our sexual orientation. It is after we’re born that they teach us to be afraid of those who are different: different color, different religion, different region. Critical thinking is what allows many of us to realize that no, these differences are irrelevant and that, at the end of the day, that person who is different is not just another mass of melanin waiting to be dissolved on us.

In his twitter bio, Sultan states that he is a “catalyst for change” as well as a “critical thinker.” If this is catalyzing a change and thinking critically, then Sultan can keep both his change and his thinking. Non-opinion not respected.

ThinkSultan Racist tweet - 11

Truer words have never been spoken, albeit they’re too ironic coming from a person like him. What’s another explanation he gave? This is the real world not utopia.

ThinkSultan Racist Tweet - 10

Yes, we are all aware this is the real world and not utopia. But this is also 2015 and not 300BC. Get with the times. Think critically. Grow up. Be human.