Adeela & Why The Fans Of Nancy Ajram, Elissa, Other Divas Need To Be Less Butthurt With Jokes

Picture this, a sarcastic joke making fun of a Lebanese pop star ends up threatening one of the biggest and funniest pages to grace Lebanese and Arab Facebook.

Over the past few months, and in lightning-speed time, the sarcastic page calling itself “Adeela,” referring to the world’s biggest pop star Adele, was as famous in these parts of the world as the character it’s based on.

What started of as jokes placing a hypothetical Adele in an Arab setting soon became a scathing, sometimes over the top but often always spot on, critique of the state of the Arab pop scene. When Ahlam decided Lebanese were beneath her, Adeela was the first at the guillotines. When Beirut Madinati was running for elections, Adeela was voting for them in full force. The examples are endless.

However, with the evolution of Adeela from an Adele-sarcastic character to an all-seeing basher of Lebanese and Arab female singers, unless they’re called Julia Boutros, the amount of people that started to take offense at Adeela’s jokes started to rise exponentially.

It wasn’t that the jokes attacked their mother or father or religion – gasp – or family.

It wasn’t that the jokes were offensive in themselves to those people’s character.

No. Those people were so butthurt by a joke… about their favorite singing Diva, and at their forefront is the legions of fans of Nancy Ajram, Elissa and Maya Diab who almost managed to get Facebook to shut down Adeela’s page earlier today.

The sad part is that it’s more than likely their respective “Goddesses” couldn’t care less about being joked about. In these parts of the world, any publicity is good publicity. It’s not like Adeela making fun of a singer on Facebook is a Kim-Kardashian-Exposing-Taylor-Swift moment. And yet, the amount of offense that some people take at creative, and yet ultimately useless, jokes is beyond unacceptable.

Some of the jokes are as follows, as you can see few are those about whom there were no jokes:

Isn’t that the Arab way of doing things, though, so when someone “offends” you, your reflex to deal with that person is to silence them? It must be engrained in Arab DNA.

The picture that threatened the existence of Adeela’s page yesterday was the following:

Adeela Nancy Ajram Chicco

There’s really nothing to it. It makes fun of how Nancy Ajram seems to find her way as a spokesperson for everything in the Middle East. It was reported to Facebook as “offensive content and propagating pedophilia.” The extent some people go to is unbelievable.

So to the “fanzet” who think that jokes are something worth getting up in a fit about:

How about you make chill pills part of your daily routine? Why don’t you do some mental exercises to somehow boost your mental capacities to someone who doesn’t take personal offense at a joke targeting someone who will never be affected by it and who doesn’t relate to you in any way other than you fangirling over them releasing a song after Eid el Fitr?

The fact of the matter is we need pages like Adeela in these parts of the world, not only to serve as a much-needed comic relief that never borders on the cliche, but also to maybe, just maybe, shake some sense into our over-botoxed, over-stretched, over-faked scene. Who knows, maybe the next Arab revolution is not about changing political systems but reducing lip fillers?

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Hiba Tawaji Wins & Advances To The Final Stages Of France’s The Voice

Hiba Tawaji has won her part of the knockout stages (epreuve ultime) in France’s The Voice – the last of the previously taped segments of the show – and has advanced to the finals of the show, the live shows.

Starting next week, Hiba along with 3 other candidates in her team, will perform a song of their choice to the public live after which audiences will get a chance to vote for all candidates, making sure one of them proceeds to the following week in the progress while the coach chooses who of the other candidates remains and one is eliminated.

If the hype is to be believed, Tawaji has a good chance at advancing in the live shows. Her performances are reportedly among the most watched of the show (her audition has over 1 million hits on YouTube and over 600,000 on TF1’s website, well ahead of all auditions of the show).

In the knockout stage, Tawaji performed Christina Aguilera’s signature song “Fighter.” She did well, but was criticized for her song choice as the coaches felt it didn’t suit her quite well. It’s telling, in my opinion, when an artist as good as Hiba Tawaji has trouble with song selection. It goes to show how far our artists are sheltered, maybe even left without artistic freedom, in their careers.

Either way, French audiences were very receptive of the song.

 

This is a video of the performance courtesy of my blog’s Facebook page (click).

It is worth noting that part of Mika’s team for the live shows includes an Israeli, named Sharon Lalom. For the upcoming live shows, Hiba Tawaji will be battling it out with Sharon for people’s votes and Mika’s favor. She may end up finding herself in a picture with her, in the same television frame as her or whatnot. Let us do our best as Lebanese not to fall into the traps of accusing her of treason for participating.

This is our chance to show that, at a simple ultimately useless talent show, we can take the higher road and “resist” by actually winning, showing that the talents of our country are great enough on their own merit and can kick anyone’s ass, Israeli or not.

Good luck to her!

Top 13 Songs of 2012

As the year ends, I’ll be making countdowns of my favorite things of this past year. The first list is for songs. The rules for this list are simple: 13 songs by 13 different artists that I’ve enjoyed the most over this past year. The song doesn’t necessarily have to be a 2012 year but it needs to have gotten to its maximal reach during this past year. The songs also cannot be album tracks that never became singles – yet.

Without further ado, we begin.

13 – Home – Phillip Phillips 

An guitar driving a feel good simple lyric – and yet the overall result is effective enough for Home to be one of 2012’s best songs.

[Listen here]

12 – Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men

A newcomer band with a niche sound that makes them stand out from the first note that gets played. Little Talks is one of the highlights off their album My Head Is an Animal.

[Listen here]

11 – Madness – Muse

Many people didn’t like Muse’s newest offering. I have to disagree. It may not be a typical Muse song but Madness is really, really good. At least to me.

[Listen here]

10 – Drunk On You – Luke Bryan

Some of its lyrics may be cheesy but Drunk On You’s hook line is gold: “I’m a little drunk on you and high on summertime.”

[Listen here]

9 – Pontoon – Little Big Town

This summer anthem has a quirky melody to it that takes some time to get used to. But once it sticks, it’s mmm, motorboatin’.

[Listen here]

8 – The A Team – Ed Sheeran

This well-written song about a crackhead is bound to hit a nerve somewhere.

[Listen here]

7 – Merry Go ‘Round – Kacey Musgraves

An extremely well-written song about life in a small town where God, family and country always have to come first, limiting your prospects and what you can be. “If you ain’t got two kids by 21, you’re probably gonna die alone. At least that’s what tradition told you.”

[Listen here]

6 – I Drive Your Truck – Lee Brice

A country song about a truck? How original. Guess again.

[Listen here]

5 – Charlie Brown – Coldplay

The third single off Mylo Xyloto is a song that makes me happy whenever I listen to it. It’s not necessarily a feel-good song, it just has this feel to it that puts it high up my top songs list.

[Listen here]

4 – Never Let Me Go – Florence + The Machine

2012 has been a good year for Florence + The Machine. They’ve had big hits with Calvin Harris remixes. But this ballad remains one of the highlights off Ceremonials and a definite highlight of 2012.

[Listen here]

3 – I Knew You Were Trouble. – Taylor Swift

This dubstep-influenced song is all over the place. In a good way. It might prove polarizing at first but you will soon find it stuck in your head, refusing to let go. Trouble, trouble, trouble.

[Listen here]

2 – Springsteen – Eric Church

A mellow song of a young love set to a backdrop of The Boss’ most famous tunes. What more can you ask for?

[Listen here]

1 – Blown Away – Carrie Underwood

I’m sure none of you expected otherwise. This song about a daughter’s vengeance is dark and mesmerizing. One of the year’s best written-songs and most multi-layered productions that give the song depth beyond the words and sound, not to mention the spot-on vocal delivery.

[Listen here]

Red (Album Review) – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s fourth studio album, is her most eclectic offering so far. As she puts it, it is made up of 16 songs that contain emotions in shades of fiery red. Nothing is beige about them. And that’s why she named her album Red. I wish I could say the same about the contents.

The two opening tracks “State of Grace” and “Red” are at odds musically and serve as a template for the album. The former is a U2 and Coldplay-inspired alternative track while the latter is a mix between country and pop, with reverb on the chorus: “r-r-r-red.”

She is her most sultry on “Treacherous,” where she whispers “And I’d do anything you say if you say it with your hands.”

I Knew You Were Trouble.” is a bonafide pop track, down to the dubstep beat dropping, before introducing the best song on the album.

All Too Well,” co-written with Liz Rose, is Taylor Swift in her element: writing a great country strong with brilliant lyrics. It is where she excels without it sounding unlike her to deliver such a thing. She reminisces about a love she lost, about the magic that’s not there anymore and about being there, remembering every moment of it all too well.

22” is definitely one of the most disappointing songs on the album. Instead of being an introspective song, à la Fearless’ Fifteen, it is a track for a girls’ night out to dance like you’re 22. It is definitely a missed opportunity about a coming of age reflection that would have sounded very in place after “All Too Well.” Sure, she is 22 – I am 22 too – but the song could have easily been called “12” and it wouldn’t have made any difference. Similarly, “Stay Stay Stay” is another song that shouldn’t have been on the album. It is an odd attempt at incorporating way too many country elements in a song with very poor lyrics. If Taylor Swift had written forty songs for the album and chose sixteen, I have to wonder: couldn’t she have found something much better than this to include it on the album?

I Almost Do” is another of the album’s highlights – a very Colbie Caillat sounding song where Taylor wants to tell him “that it takes everything in me not to call you. And I wishes I could run to you. And every time I don’t, I almost do.”

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” the catchy lead single is already a huge hit on pop radio and despite the step back thematically compared to the song before it, it serves its purpose well: provide a song that would be a success on the airwaves in order to stay forever in the face of the man who berated Swift with his “indie records that’s so much cooler than [hers]”.

The Last Time,” a duet with Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody features a dark and haunting melody. “Holy Ground,” produced by Jeff Bhasker who has done songs for Fun. and Alicia Keys, is another new sound for Swift with a very fast driving drumbeat and guitar.

On “Sad Beautiful Tragic,” Swift exposes her songwriting chops yet again as she paints a setting where the protagonist is waiting for a train that’s taking her away from the sad beautiful tragic relationship she was in. “The Lucky One” is about dealing with fame, while “Everything Has Changed,” a duet with British artist Ed Sheeran, is a guitar, acoustic-driven ballad where both artists throw notes off of each other as they sing about the changes due to a growing love.

Starlight” pays homage to the Kennedy’s by telling a love story set in 1945 but with a very current musical backdrop. “Begin Again” is the song’s second single on country radio after We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together failed to gain traction and became Swift’s first single on the format to miss the top 10 entirely. It serves as a great conclusion to the album where Swift, despite all the hardships that love has thrown at her, is always eager to begin again. “But on a Wednesday, in a cafe, I watched it begin again.”

As you listen to Red, you can’t help but feel that, with the exception of a few songs, it is a definite missed opportunity for Swift at evolving in the right direction musically. The music she does best is not the pop “22” or “I Knew You Were Trouble.” but the ballads and the country stories which she writes so eloquently. Her songwriting on her country songs is what you might call “the impossible easy.” She makes her songs sound very approachable and simple but no one can write them the way she does. And that is her forte – not a song on a bridge where she fakes a phonecall with a girlfriend.

You also cannot but wonder while listening to Red if Swift seeks out the men she writes about solely for the purpose of coming up with album material. On the horrid track “22,” she sings: “You look like trouble. I gotta have you.” And it’s precisely what has fueled most of the songs on this album – her seeking out danger in men that she knows will break her. But does she do that on purpose or has she not learned yet from the previous three albums she offered that she has to have her guard up more often?

I guess when the formula works, why change it? Swift is the storyteller of so many teenagers who can relate to what she does and her record-selling singles off of Red so far prove so. But as she grows up, shouldn’t her music also grow with her? That is the main question posed with Red, an album that shows a regression thematically compared to Speak Now on many of its tracks, albeit it going more into more mature realms with others (Treacherous, All Too Well, I Almost Do). While Red boasts a handful of strong tracks, it is not the coherent album that her previous offerings were. It’s not a collection of all standout tracks that are the creme of the creme of what Swift came up with during the album cycle.

However, what can be said about Swift is that she is in her own element – a genre where she alone thrives. Taylor Swift fans who happen to like country music won’t have a problem with this album. Country fans who happen to listen to Swift may have a problem taking in the dubstep, the reverb, the alternative. Is she risking alienating some fans with this? Perhaps so. But she is trying something new. And I hope her experimentation is limited to this album only because what she needs to know is that her best is when she goes back to basics, sits down with a pen and a paper and writes down her thoughts into beautiful prose that put down her memories forever out there, as is evident by this album’s best songs: the gut-wrenching country ballads that could tug at the heartstrings of the most insensitive people out there. But she seems too busy chasing success nowadays with shaming guys who may have done very little wrong. She may be compromising her artistic integrity with some songs. But one thing is sure: we will never ever – like ever – hear their side of the story.

On the track “22,” Swift mumbles in the background: “Who’s that Taylor Swift anyway?.” That’s precisely the question many will be asking after Red.

B. Out October 22nd.

Download: All Too Well, I Always Do, Red, Begin Again.   

 

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift [Single Review]

Welcome back the mega-successful Taylor Swift and her catchy tunes and lyrics.

That Taylor Swift was also 18.

If you expect some more maturity with Taylor Swift’s newest offering, you are vastly mistaken. If you expect a darker tone, such as her Hunger Games offerings (Safe & Sound, Eyes Open), you are immensely mistaken as well.

If you expect some country too, then you’re way off the mark. If you’re expecting some deep lyrics, you’re in the wrong place. Taylor Swift’s new single is about yet another relationship gone sour and it’s custom-made for the leagues of teenagers who will swallow the song up with its catchy chorus and radio-friendly status.

Simply put, there’s no way the song won’t get stuck in people’s heads, à la Call Me Maybe.

Going straight to the point with an overly long title, there’s no room for second-guessing and analysis on the song. Taylor is telling one of the many, many guys she has dated that they are, well, never – ever – getting back together. I have to ask though – why would anyone date her if they know they’d end up in song? Or is it because they know they’ll be immortalized in song that they date her?

But I digress.

“We are never ever ever getting back together,” she sings on the chorus. As if the title wasn’t evident enough. To the backdrop of “Woo-oh-oh,” she sings “You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me. But we are never ever ever ever getting back together.”

Yes, those “ever”s are very numerous.

At the song’s bridge, she goes into typical teenage girl phone talk: “Then he calls me up and he’s like “I still love you,” and I’m like this is exhausting, we are never getting back together – like ever.”

No, I’m not making this up.

As I said, the song is insanely catchy – her catchiest offering so far in fact. As I type this and after hearing it only a couple of times, I have the melody stuck in my head. And that’s what Taylor Swift is really good at: making a very catchy hook that does what a hook is supposed to do: hook you.

However, what’s demanded of an artist like Taylor Swift is less “OMG, it’s like OMG” in her songs and more seriousness. What’s demanded of her is less teenager-ish attitude and more soon-to-be 23 year old who shouldn’t be going all gaga over someone on the phone.

Moreover, the least that can be expected from one of country music’s leading artists is to have a country element in the lead single. Some artists keep the twang if they decide to drop the country elements of the music. Others choose to tell a story even if the melody isn’t country. With “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Taylor does neither.

Even the fact that pop hit-maker Max Martin produced the song isn’t an excuse because he has dipped his toes in country music before. The result was Carrie Underwood’s Quitter. How will country radio react to this? It will eat up the song. The fans will rush to buy this – watch it break sales records. But I, for one, really hope this isn’t indicative of the material quality on Red, her fourth album which she will release on October 22nd. Because after songs such as Enchanted and Back To December, this is definitely a let-down. Even Love Story was more mature than this. Go figure.

5/10 – just for managing to get stuck in my head after one listen.

A Lebanese Parody on the State of the Music Industry: 7assesne Enne Rkheesa

The lyrics for this “song” have been circulating around for a while now. And now there’s a video to boot. For those who thought the lyrics were actually serious, fear not. They are but a parody on the over-sexualizing in the music industry today, be it American pop or Lebanese music.

Trust me, I wanted to dismiss this as a gimmick but they do have a point, somehow, somewhere.

For non-Lebanese readers, the title “7assesne enne rkhisa” translates to “Make Me Feel Cheap,” which is how the people who did this believe music nowadays represents women.

Check the video:

I’m sure it won’t put a dent in the trend of music today. But at least people are noticing that there are less and less songs you can listen to with another person on radio without feeling awkward about their content. Case in point: Rihanna’s latest album has more than numerous proclamations of “F*** me.” Even the reviewers of that album said they felt self-conscious listening to it. I did not bother reviewing it.

Guess I’ll return to my safe country music bubble now. Good Girl, anyone?

Nancy Afiouny: My Meow – Lebanon’s Lady Gaga/Britney Spears/Other Pop Trash Wannabe

It seems the concept of beauty queen wannabes, models, actresses, etc… wanting to become singers is still selling to some overly wealthy producer like hotcakes.

How about having a former beauty queen contestent, an actress and a model all together in one package? I’m sure the producer who paid for Nancy Afiouny’s foray into the singing world must have thought he hit a gold mine. And what’s more, this actress/beauty queen/model was willing to take it off in her music video in a region where the word conservative would be considered a gross understatement for its sociological description.

In all honesty, I have no problem in watching a video like this, as long as the music behind the video is actually decent enough. Who would mind something like this actually. Don’t start the whole feminist “women stereotyping, sexual image using, etc…” talk. If the women don’t want it, it doesn’t happen. But with horrible pronunciation, obvious Lady Gaga antiques and an atrocious song to top it all off, Nancy Afiouny is just horrid.

I’m not criticizing the overly suggestive music video. In fact, I think this uptight region needs more liberal arts to let it loose a little. After all, the Salafis and the Ikhwans are scoring major wins in Egypt’s recent elections. The Islamists have already won in Tunisia and Morocco. God knows they need to let loose a bit.

But when it comes to Lady Gaga, her music videos have always had – whether you like the song or not – something to back them up musically. Her music videos and music are definitely over the board but they work for her. Lady Gaga however doesn’t work as a costume for Nancy Afiouny – not even Britney Spears or any other pop star/trash for that matter.

Perhaps miss Afiouny is giving the world a gift for St. Barbra’s day this weekend. That kitty costume would sure get lots of horny Islamist men to go meow before they start shouting: “BLASPHEMY.”

As for my ears, they’re still bleeding. The stray cat outside is still meowing in pain.

Proceed at your own risk: