Sunday, March 4, 2007

nancy ajram: pop and plot

in 2002 a young lebanese woman with a handful of songs but no recognition to her credit burst onto the scene of arab-pop with "akhasmak aah". her director, a veteran of the egyptian movie industry turned to one of the popular tropes of his craft to define her, and to make an impression with the viewing audience: the female proprietor/manager of a bar, working alone, dancing for a little extra money, in front of an all-male audience. ajram was sexy, flirtatious, hard-working...and an elusive, independent figure. the story internal to the video matched its reception. ajram caused a controversy, especially in egypt, for being too sexual, but slipped away from the chaos herself (though she would be rather viciously pursued by critics over the next several years) and into stardom.

Nancy Ajram, "Akhasmak Aah", Ya Salam (2002)

i will upset you, yes!
i will leave you, no!

the next three are put together in order to form an over-arching story. this is indeed a characteristic of many ajram videos: the presence of a strong, clear, if simple, plot. the director is generally aided in this by the fact that arabic pop seems to have a more patient ear with each song pushing the five minute mark, if not beyond. even more, one can note here the development of larger storyline that progresses from her initial crush, through the excitement of a wedding to the challenges of marriage.

Nancy Ajram, "Yay sehr 3youno", Ah w Noss (2005)

Nancy Ajram, "Lawn 3younak"

the coup d'grace. plaintive and powerful in any language.

Nancy Ajram, "Enta Eih", Ah w Noss (2005)

What are you? Is it not enough
That you hurt me? Have pity. How cruel are you?



Lawrence of Arabia said...

is it just more or is embedding video a total pita on blogger?


Um Ibrahim said...

It 's just more, I guess..

But I couldn't belive you do a post on Nancy Ajram;)

I like her face though;)

I don't why every time when I see western music clips, I don't feel the strong vulgarity (even if they are practicaly naked) but on arab's clips I feel a slight of leg's show turn me off already...

Lawrence of Arabia said...

my iPod is actually packed with quite a bit of nancy ajram. and over the next week or so you can expect a couple more posts on ajram, elissa, and natacha atlas, while i finish up some real life writing obligations.

[for any haifa wehbe fans out there i can only say...sorry there will be no haifa posts!]

i do think the question of the relation between arabic pop and its american counterpart is an interesting one in terms of how they portray themselves (not only in terms of how they dress, but the characters they choose for themselves) but also in how they attempt to integrate themes from each other.

more to come,