The mainstream Arabic music scene has been for quite some time cliché-ridden, with creativity at a seemingly all-time low. With too many artists crooning, “Ya leily ya 3eeny”, the songs are all starting to sound the same and thanks to auto-tune, their voices are also starting to be indistinguishable.
The lesser known indie scene, however, is the stark opposite of that, and is currently bursting with budding talents. Here are some of our favourites:
Originally a founding member of the band Soapkills, Lebanese singer/songwriter Yasmine Hamdan is a dark gem in the Arab music industry, with her mix of indie and pop beats that produce a rather eclectic and absolutely awe-inspiring sound. Her debut album Ya Nass, which made its way to listeners worldwide, is not one to be missed.
The talented half Egyptian-half British musician simply knows how to write and perform songs that would put any stressed and restless mind at ease. His indie beats, backed up by his own guitar strums, are mellow, soft and definitely take us to better, calmer places. We like to think of him as the modern-day, Arab version of Bob Dylan.
This young Egyptian talent is currently taking the Arab music scene by storm with the relatively recent release of her debut EP Alters. Her very Lana Del Rey-esque vocals, impeccable songwriting skills and overall fresh take on pop make her a standout act.
Tunisian triple-talent Ghalia Benali sings, writes songs and dances, mesmerizing us in the process. She possesses truly unique vocals, showcased with outstanding musicians in her band. Her covers of songs by some of the industry’s timeless figures, including Om Kolthoum, never cease to amaze us, and neither do her haunting original tracks.
This Egyptian foursome draws their inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s era, giving us a much-needed taste of vintage Rockabilly and Rock n’ Roll. With their covers of giants like Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, these guys are owning their genre, one guitar solo at a time.
An Egyptian singer and guitarist who describes his music as “a poorly produced version of the voices in his head”, his songs feature calm and collected beatwork that complements his smooth vocals. He comes off as a splendid combination of Bon Iver and James Blunt.
Jordanian band JadaL manages to impeccably Arabize rock in ways that we haven’t heard before. Their songs are the true definition of quirky and we can’t help but turn them on in the car to ease the pain of being stuck in endless traffic jams.
Our musical, talent-spotting session is unfortunately over, but fear not, for we’ll be back to bring you some more hidden gems to embellish your playlists in no time.
WE SAID THIS: Don’t miss Eargasm: Musicians with Real Voices.