Beirut: A Major Hollywood Movie With Jon Hamm & Rosamund Pike Will Be Released in 2018

Cringe moment incoming, or at least I hope it’s not.

Coming in April 2018 is a major Hollywood movie from director Brad Anderson who’s known for movies such as The Machinist, The Call, and Transsiberian is going to be releasing a new movie featuring Rosamund Pike and Jon Hamm titled “Beirut.”

Rosamund Pike’s breakthrough role was most recently in “Gone Girl” for which she received an Oscar nomination, whereas Jon Hamm is known for his role in Mad Men and most recently in the great “Baby Driver.”

Jon Hamm is Mason Skiles, a former U.S. diplomat who returns to service to save a former colleague, whereas Rosamund Pike’s role will be a CIA field agent working undercover at the American embassy who’s tasked with keeping Mason alive and ensuring the mission is a success, as per Wikipedia.

The movie is also written by Tony Gilroy who’s responsible for movies such as The Bourne Trilogy, Star Wars: Rogue One, Nightcrawler and a lot of episodes of House of Cards.

There’s not much information available about the movie as of now except that it’s about a former U.S. diplomat who returns to service in order to save a former colleague of theirs who happens to be in Beirut from the group responsible for the death of his family.

The project has been in the works since 2015, and was filmed during 2016 in Tangier, Morocco, which has me assuming their portrayal of Beirut is going to be less of how the city actually is and more like a Qandahar war-torn desert city, far from its current reality, especially if the movie is another perpetuation of the civil war reputation surrounding the city.

Ironically, the movie is set for release on April 13th – the memorial day of Lebanon’s Civil War. Coincidence is probably not the case here.

Regardless, I hope the movie ends up entertaining and thought provoking enough. Given the people behind it, I am hopeful it will be the case though it being released so early in the year next year means it’s not really geared towards awards consideration, as much as they want it to be a money grabber.

I bet this movie will also be a hit in Lebanon as people flock to theaters to watch their own capital memorialized in film. I just hope whatever product Hollywood ends up giving does it justice, albeit doubtful.

No trailers for the movie have been released yet.

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Lebanon Should Participate In Eurovision 2018

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The Eurovision is quite the global thing. More than 200 million people tune in each year to watch the show, not just from the 42 countries which happen to be members of the European Broadcasting Union that have the right to participate, which is why you see countries such as Israel or Australia or even Azerbaijan participating.

The 2017 version of the Eurovision concluded yesterday with Portugal getting crowed the winner after votes from the people in those 42 member countries and their juries allocated points. They succeed Ukraine, which was voted the winner in 2016 in an obvious political jab at Russia.

The Eurovision, apart from being a celebration of (bad?) music, isn’t only about the music but about the politics behind all the ways these countries interact with one another. Regardless, it’s still interesting to watch and pretend to be surprised that Cyprus, for instance, voted for Greece. I’m shocked. Can you even fathom it?

In 2005, Lebanon was supposed to participate through Tele-Liban and Aline Lahoud in that year’s version of the Eurovision. Except, as is always the case, Israel happened. You see, Israel also happens to be a member of the European Broadcasting Union and has been since the 1950s, which means they’ve been participating for over 4 decades in the Eurovision contest and have actually won 3 times.

The problem for us, therefore, becomes in the fact that we pretend they don’t exist and have laws that forbid us from even acknowledging their existence, which was why we had to withdraw in 2005, be banned from participating for 3 years and pay a penalty: Tele-Liban didn’t show Israel on the official poster of the event. When they were confronted about it, they replaced the poster with a generic one about Eurovision. They were then told they’d have to broadcast the Israeli contestant’s song, which they couldn’t legally do, leading them to withdraw.

Israel, however, will not be participating in the 2018 Eurovision, as they announced live on air yesterday as they allocated their points. Their announcer said:

“This is IBA, Channel 1 calling from Jerusalem. For the past 44 years, Israel has participated in the Eurovision Song Contest, winning three times. But tonight, is our final night, shortly IBA will shut down its broadcasting forever, so on behalf of all of us here in IBA, let me say thank you Europe for all the magical moments and the beautiful years. And hopefully we shall meet again in the future.”

For how long Israel won’t be participating in Eurovision remains to be seen, but I believe this gives Lebanon an opportunity to finally participate and avoid all the drama we went through in 2005. And why wouldn’t we? We have good singers, as long as we don’t send Star Academy grads. And we can deliver a good show, if we invest enough.

I believe that private TV stations such as MTV and LBC would and should jump at such an opportunity. They’d get the ratings, the ad money and the international exposure they always crave. It’s also a good medium for the country to have exposure on such a scale, in a setting that doesn’t involve talking about the Syrian crisis or some other issue that plagues the region.

So dear MTV or LBC or some other private media company with similar resources, connect with the organizers of next year’s Eurovision and check what we need to do in order for us to participate. It should be fun.

No, this isn’t a Phoenician attempt at building bridges with European BFFs It’s not a political move, even if the competition can have political undertones, at distancing Lebanon from its Arab history. It’s just a medium for fun, healthy artistic competitions and we need such things in this country.

I vote to send Hiba Tawaji. Who’d your pick be?

Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife Stole Their “Goal” – Moans, Music, Everything – From An Albanian Song

It seems even when they want to get trashy, Lebanese “artists” still can’t be creative enough. That “goal” song which consists of Klink moaning and Khalife trying to have his way with her, all next to a child who’s apparently the daughter of Klink’s friends – is stolen from an Albanian song. Even the moans.

While we can’t legally share Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife’s song, just go to youtube and type out their names in the search bar and you’ll find it there. I mean, Lebanese authorities really think they have jurisdiction over everyone who’s going to share that video? It’s their right to be concerned for the well-being of the child involved, but their attempts to delete the video off the face of the Earth won’t work. Have the director, Klink, Khalife and the child’s parents brought in for questioning. Press charges if you have to. That would teach parents not to involve their children in pornography light.

This is however the Albanian song that Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife stole:

They ripped off everything: the moans, the tune, even some of the prancing the women in that video did. I have no idea what the lyrics of that song say, and I won’t bother looking them up. I guess you can categorize this under the category of “massively pitiful.”

To make it even worse, the infamous “Goal” song doesn’t even credit the original “composer.” This is who the now-deleted video from Jad Khalife’s YouTube page credits:

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-10-40-01-am

And these are the people behind the original Albanian song they stole:

  • Music: Irkenc Hyka
  • Lyrics: Petro Xhori

I see no Husseins or Mustafa’s there, and let it be known that Petro and Irkenc isn’t the Albanian version of those names.

I’m all for stopping silly attention-whoring people from being famous, but I believe the fact that Klink and Khalife committed such gross creative property theft in their attempt to be talk of the town should be legally prosecuted. It’s disgraceful that these two “artists” and whoever’s behind that song think that the public is ignorant enough not to find out their “inspiration” wasn’t in their constant need for attention.

In an interview with NewTV, Jad Khalife made his intentions behind his “goal” completely clear. He says that the whole “pornographic” aspect was intentional to show that our society likes such things, and to remind people that “a person like Jad Khalife exists in the music scene.” Just pitiful.

What Khalife doesn’t seem to know, and which Myriam Klink completely doesn’t care about, is that not all attention is good attention and that, in reminding people that he exists through such a silly song, the only thing he’s doing is forever being that guy who once became famous for 15 minutes because he said he wanted to sleep with Myriam Klink in a video that’s only controversial because they exposed an underage child to their attempt for relevance.

Myriam Klink & Jad Khalife’s “Goal:” A New Low In Lebanese Cultural Trash… But It Shouldn’t Be Censored

I was informed of a little piece of trivia information yesterday that Myriam Klink is the first Lebanese woman – ever – to have a presidential vote cast in her favor. Imagine, that out of all of the great women in Lebanon, our politicians in parliament think that honor is best given to someone whose only rise to fame is through a song about her vagina.

Yesterday, Myriam Klink delivered again with a song about her playing football, or – if you’re too old for such useless similes – about her getting laid, with a has-been singer named Jad Khalife. According to Google, he used to sing decent songs once. But don’t you think it’s the witty, catchy sexy song in the vein of, say, Haifa Wehbe. No, Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife do what they do best: be as trashy as possible in the hope of getting the attention that gives their existence purpose.

You might say it’s best not to talk about such a person, but I believe that not talking about her, or him for that matter, does them a disservice. Not all attention is good attention, and it is our duty as a society to speak up against such an abomination to our intellect and our taste. It doesn’t matter if you’re liberal, or conservative, religious or atheist, I think we can all agree that that “football-themed” “music video” is distasteful.

Here are the “song’s” lyrics… or whatever they are:

*moans.*

Klink:

Goal, fawwatet l goal.
Goal, fawwatet l goal.
7ettayto fiyi w 3abbayto – brief gasp – fawwat l goal.

Khalife:

Goal, fawwatet l goal.
Goal, fawwatet l goal.
7ettayto fiki w 3abbayto, fawwat l goal. Y WASSA3!
Fetna 3al mal3ab nel3ab, ma3 Barcelona,
Fawwatna goal mrattab, eja b 3youna,
Wa2ti l asli 3addayto,
Tani goal 7attayto,
Ta jann jnouna

Klink:

Addi, ana mesh addi,
Ana 2belt l ta7addi,
Addi, ana mesh addi,
Ana 2belt l ta7addi,

Together:

Klink… Jad (with a moan),
*another moan*
*another moan*

To the backdrop of such a masterpiece is Myriam Klink prancing around in lingerie in front of a child, while Jad Khalife rides her – literally – and tries to have his way with her.

Of course, it is within Myriam’s right to do whatever it is she pleases. I’m not here for a dose of sexism and misogyny that some Lebanese outlets will spew out in the next few days when they decide to jump on the video bandwagon for some attention. In fact, I find it horrifying that, when the video features her and a man, she’s the one who’s taking the most criticism and getting called all kinds of names, as if Jad Khalife has nothing to do with the sexual innuendos taking place in their “work.”

I’m all for more sexual liberation in Lebanese culture, and generally the Arab world. Anyone would tell you that more sexual freedom would go a long way in helping advance our societies, but don’t those who are eternally horrified at the degradation of “our values.” But at some point, one wonders: is a music video where a woman just moans as if she’s having intercourse the best way to advance such an agenda?

The answer is no.

The Western pop music scene is filled with music with sexual innuendos, and there’s nothing wrong with it. From Ariana Grande to Beyonce to Bruno Mars to the Weeknd, and many more artists, songs have been released over the past few years purely about sex. And yet, all of those artists combined have not reached the level of trashiness that Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife gave the world in the space of 90 seconds.

My problem with Myriam Klink’s video isn’t that it’s sexual. It’s that it is trashy and does a disservice to all the leaps forward we’ve made in trying to advance the liberation of our societies. And to think that a few years ago, the extent of “sex” that was deemed controversial was Haifa Wehbe’s wawa or Ruby running on a treadmill?

Despite all of this, entities like Myriam Klink and Jad Khalife should not be censored. Today, Lebanese authorities have decided to fine anyone who posts their video to the amount of about $30,000 and to call on those who have posted the video to delete it. But what good will that do? I received the video through a WhatsApp message. Those who have seen it have probably already downloaded a copy.

Censorship has never solved anything, and it will never solve anything as long as we’re not permitted to have a discussion about what it is that the government wants censored. It doesn’t matter if Klink and Khalife’s video is pornographic. The moment we allow authorities to dictate what we are allowed to be exposed to, we give them the ability to interfere into way more than that. The government has no business in dictating the kind of media that should be allowed or not, especially a system of governance such as ours where anything that exists beyond what’s considered the Lebanese acceptable norm is frowned upon.

In a way, it’s a good thing Myriam Klink and Jad Khalifeh released such a video because they might let the country have a discussion about the kind of music and art that we deserve. By refusing “goal,” we send a message that such garbage has no place on our airwaves. So let’s refuse it massively, but more importantly, let’s be civil about the way we reject it.

La La Land, Lebanon Edition: A Lebanese Oriental Version Of The Awesome Movie’s Songs

If you’ve been following my blog’s Facebook page or my personal Twitter account, you’d have found out by now that I was simply blown away by how amazing the movie La La Land was, and that I was rooting for it to win everything at the 89th Academy Awards.

Yes, I feel personally victimized by the fact it did not win Best Picture; #JeSuisLaLaLand #JusticeForLaLaLand are the official hashtags in case you are wondering.

Part of the brilliance of the movie for me, as someone who generally dislikes (read, hates) musicals, is that the music was so charming. The movie’s soundtrack basically stayed on repeat for a few weeks after watching the movie, and I suggest you download it in case you haven’t. Notable tracks are: Epilogue, City of Stars, Audition and Mia & Sebastian’s Theme.

Therefore, when a friend sent me a YouTube link of a Lebanese oriental cover of one of the soundtrack’s songs, I couldn’t but click and then be so enchanted that I couldn’t but share it here, which isn’t something I usually do:

I hope you find this as wonderful as I did. The group behind this calls itself “Aleph.” It’s made up of:

  • Aleph Abi Saad Piano
  • Jihad Asad – Kanoun
  • Ramzi Boukamel – Guitar
  • Ghassan ‘Gass’ Sakr – Palmas
  • Raed Boukamel – Nay (Flute)
  • Charlie Fadel – Cajon
  • Michel Labaki – Bass

Their covers gives an extra flair of melancholy to the soundtrack, which I daresay goes really well with the overall theme of the movie. So today, I can’t but celebrate the talent of this Lebanese musical group that turned the soundtrack of one of this past year’s most celebrated movies, one that should be familiar, into a sound that is distinctly theirs.

Kudos!

Lebanese Ibrahim Maalouf Wins César, The French Equivalent Of The Oscars, For Best Original Music In a Movie

ibrahim-maalouf-cesar

Establishing himself as one of the most coveted musicians in France for this past year, French-Lebanese musician and trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf added another accolade to his growing list of achievements with his first César for his work on the movie “Dans les forêts de Sibérie.”

The César Awards are considered as the French equivalent of the Oscars, which will be held tonight. They are the highest French honor that can be given to the movie industry. It was Ibrahim Maalouf’s second nomination and first win.

Maalouf was competing against another Lebanese composer, Gabriel Yared, who has previously won an Oscar and a Grammy for his work on The English Patient.

The César adds to Ibrahim Maalouf’s achievements this year as he has previously won “best musical spectacle” at Les Victoires de La Musique almost two weeks ago.

Ibrahim Maalouf is considered by many to be a pioneer musician with his adaptation of Oriental quarter notes to Western music, by custom-made trumpets that have four valves instead of three. This has allowed Maalouf to create outstanding music over his career, including a Western version of Oum Kalthoum’s music in a 2015 album that was titled “Kalthoum.”

He credits his Lebanese immigrant background in shaping his musical voice and giving him a message to pass on through his work.

You can check the video of Maalouf winning here. He will be coming to Lebanon for a concert at Baalbek on July 22nd.

 

“Ana Mesh Fenneneh” – The Hilarious Song About The Current State of Lebanon’s Music

From Roula Yammout to Rima Dib to Miriam Klink, the current state of Lebanon’s music scene is horrific. We make fun of what is available, hoping that our ridicule leads to them ceasing to exist, but it seems they take the ridicule as attention and use it as fuel to launch even more disasters on our ears.

Enter Sevine Abi Aad, a performer whose own story with Arab record labels mirrors the current scene we’re forced to tolerate. A few years ago, Sevine had a record label interested in her. One look at her and the record label had comments: they wanted to fix her nose, make her breasts bigger and fix her gaped teeth.

She told them no and decided to do her own thing. The result is her debut song “Ana Mesh Fenneneh,” a satirical look at the Lebanon’s music of today where ass and breasts and blonde hair overtake any semblance of notes.

I sat down for a brief chat with Sevine about her song and her song, as well as upcoming album.

What prompted you to write this song and perform it?

I met with a lyricist I love (Nami Moukheiber) and started telling him about the topics I would like to sing about, that I love comedy, and making people laugh during my performances was important to showcase on the album, and how for me, it’s super important that I’ve lived and gone through whatever I’m singing about.

I remember telling him that I’d like to do a song about the fact that it’s very frustrating for artists to get heard if they’re not willing to play by the rules of the industry (i.e change your physical features, act a certain way, sing a certain style). Years before, I had been approached by industry people who, after just one glance at me had said: Bedna na3mellik menkharik, sodrik, nzabbit el fere2 ben snenik etc… without even discussing the music.

And so I told Nami ‘Ya khayye, ana mich fenneneh, tayib! w ma beddeh koun fenneneh!!!’ So, it’s quite autobiographical. The song was also written with Mike Massy.

What message do you want to give across through this song and album to the current musical status quo in lebanon?

This applies to the song, not the entire album. It’s about the dilemma, the temptation faced by ‘unknown’ independent artists to just give up and give in to the formatted way of the industry.

And we might be tempted to do so because we feel that we aren’t recognized and validated enough in the field.

For example, in terms of live music performance, not many venues will agree to host you and your music if they think the audience won’t enjoy it and they base the criteria for audience’s enjoyment on the repertoire and choice of songs.

Sadly, in most venues, they will ask you to play and rehash songs the people already know and love to dance and sing to… and so you get stuck doing what everyone else is doing or feeling frustrated that you can’t play the music YOU want in many places and share it with people.

So, sometimes, for independent artists, it’s a choice between this (becoming a ‘fenneneh’) or to keep playing for a tiny audience, and find other ways of supporting yourself financially – which is so harmful, because it will take time away from the music and creativity… And its a vicious cycle we need to break once and for all.

The thing is there is a whole underlying hub of amazing vocalists all over the country, who write amazing stuff, and who are performing for a tiny niche audience. And they don’t get the recognition from the wider audience that they so deserve.

Things are changing, for sure, but it still needs to be valued by a wider range of people who sometimes don’t even know about this independent scene. The bigger message though, goes beyond the music industry. It’s a message to young girls and women to stop trying to alter the way they look and act, just in order to be perceived as more ‘attractive’, ‘popular’, ‘fun’.

There is way too much pressure for women here to go under the knife, and it’s a shame they have forgotten how beautiful a person is by being unique and having their own identity. No one, in any industry should make a woman feel that she isn’t pretty enough or talented enough. And self confidence and knowing yourself and believing in what you’re doing should stay your main way of achieving the success you aim for. No compromise.

Is the satirical style of this present in the rest of your album?

It’s not on the entire album, no. Though, again, I love comedy, I also wanted to showcase other sides of me, so. But it’s definitely present in another Lebanese song called ‘Chaghlet Belle,’ written and composed by Mike Massy, which I hope we’ll be able to shoot a video for before the end of the year. Other songs are very cinematic and theatrical, and they’re in other languages (french and english).

I leave you with the song:

Ana Mech Fenneneh

La2 bass je te jure mich mbayyan! Abadan!

La2 bass ktir tali3 naturel!

We7etik we7yetik, yih walaw ana b2ellik chou!

 

Ana ana ana ana ana ana

Ana mech fenneneh Ana mech fenneneh 

Ana mech fenneneh w ba3ref ghanneh

Wejje byit7arrak aktar men jesme

Bghanne bsawte mech bi hazzet khasre 

B2adde ghnene bala tanneh w ranneh

 

Ana mech fehmene w mech se2lene

Ana mech fenneneh Ana mech fenneneh 

Ana mech fenneneh w ba3ref ghanneh

Kel el ness ma beddon gheir masla7te

leh chaklek 7elo w ma 3am tenchehre?

Leh bi Kelna Star ma 3am techterke?

Sawt w talle w haybe bass 2ten3eh 2ten3eh 2ten3eh

 

W ana

Ana mech fehmeneh

Ana mech fehmeneh Ana mech fehmeneh w mech fer2eneh

Tayib leh ma bta3mle chi CD?

7ki Montana byestmanno 3alayke

Eh lek chou  fiya halla2?

Kella 3amaliyit tejmil machina halla2!

Ya 3layke chou ma-jdoube yekhreb baytik ente

7at dallik hek ente 7at dallik hek!

2al chou 2al? 2al ana badde awwem me2t-eyet el fan

 

Pfff….chou hableh!

Lezim kabbir 3a2le w kabbir…

7atta ysir sawteh ad3af men khasre

Sar badda chi hamse wghamze w lamse 

7atta el jomhour ya3melneh nejmeh!

Ente mech fenneneh Ente mech fenneneh Ente mech fenneneh w rou7e ndabbeh!