life in the circus ain't easy
but the folks on the outside don't know
the tent goes up and the tent comes down
and all that they see is the show
-ani difranco, from "freakshow"
i refer the uninitiated back to the earlier "nancy ajram: pop and plot". "akhasmak aah" is especially important since it forms the backdrop against which the video for "ya salam" is set. recall that "akhasmak aah" was ajram's breakout single off the ya salam album and quickly turned her into a superstar in the arabic speaking world. the video was controversial in the middle east. sexually charged: the director made references back to a typical character within older egyptian films - the single female proprietor of a restaraunt who dances for the male customers in order to make more money. in the opening of "ya salam" she sings the closing bars of "akhasmak aah" looking very marilyn-monroe-like, and exits the stage smiling to thunderous applause and kisses from everyone backstage. but it quickly becomes clear that "ya salam" (english = 'how wonderful' or 'how fantastic') is meant to be incredibly ironic as the song and video reflect on the deformed nature of her new character and the social isolation that is involved. like many a young woman in her early 20s, she fantasizes, in her loneliness, about the comforts and initimacy of a real relationship beyond the circus-life. this certainly qualifies as one of, if not the, most powerful of her videos.
Nancy Ajram, "Ya Salam", Ya Salam (2002)
two other more recent videos pick up the same theme in a much more playful way. in both "yatabtab wa dellah" and "mohgaba" the setting is a circus in which she is a member. in "yatabtab" one should notice the character is played to the point of farse: she smiles, bright and innocent, and bounces her head side to side in ponytails like a young girl (something entirely absent from her early videos when she was in fact much younger and carried herself with a great deal of maturity), at once giving the audience what they expect but mocking the expectation itself. in "mohgaba" on the other hand there is again a concluding fantasy sequence with a young man, but in it the impossibility of an escape from the circus-life becomes even more evident when one realizes that this entire scene is quoted in one of her coke commercials. there the image of her, a persona, is used to sell the product: one commodity promoting another. the twisted nature of the circus life has lost all its ironic power, nor is one given the illusion of a peak behind the performer which would reveal her real desires. ajram is reduced to the pop star.
please sit back and enjoy.....nancy ajram
Nancy Ajram, "Ya Tabtab wa Dellah", Ya Tabtab wa Dellah (2006)
Nancy Ajram, "Mo3gaba", Ya Tabtab wa Dellah (2006)
Nancy Ajram, "Coca-Cola Commercial #4-Mo3gaba" (2006)