AZIZA: The new Face of Arabic Pop Music

Nelida Nassar  06.05.2014

You may ask who Aziza is? She is a female pop singer that performs since the age of ten. A pop singer that signs her first CD in few days, that is unafraid to tackle the beloved repertoire of popular singers that preceded her such as Asmahan, Sabah and Dalida and re-appropriate it. A pop singer that is unafraid to write her own lyrics and put them to music, shedding the traditional method where a producer creates the full song and handing it down to the performer. A pop singer, that speaks freely and passionately about singing and recitals. A pop singer that confronts her youth, her identity and her femininity heads-on. Last but not least, a pop singer that doesn’t speak about war. Let us discover together who Aziza is?

She is a young beautiful Lebanese brunette with a twinkle in her eyes. Rooted in the Lebanese soil and country, her desire is to restore Beirut to its old glories making it the new center for the recording industry ahead of Cairo. By in large, her CD is an autobiographical introductory journey through music and instrumentation. It is not just a bunch of songs but a self-contained sound world. The majority of the tunes are in a minor key that synthetically combines pop melodies of different musical forms and styles focusing on observation, longing, melancholy, strife, fear, loneliness and love issues. The frequent repetitive words in addition to explicit references to sexuality, breaks with the tradition of Arab music and make her lyrics fresh and luminous. Westernized in sounds and lengths, their overall mood is crafted to bear her warm and modulated tones. They could be compared to Western Jazz for their improvisation and looping.

Arabic instruments such daff (frame drum), tabl, riq and some electronic music accompany Aziza’s songs that are influenced by the Tarab tradition. They integrate it seamlessly with the pure soul of grounded Lebanese music. Her melodies are an anthropological survey of the times with a narrative of the seventies. They convey a fine balance between sahb (pulling and stretching) and naqr (pounding). Modernizing both lyrics and music that in traditional Arabic style tends to last several minutes, Aziza transforms them to few seconds provoking a desire for more. Her special ability of uplift the listener from his or her current state and take them somewhere else on an emotional journey is unique. The swooping, keening tones, warped with echo and sustain, are an apt preamble to an eerie ambience.

Pop music has been the most listened music of this generation, as you find teenagers everywhere – bobbling their heads and singing along to the newest hits dominating the charts. However, creating pop music isn’t as easy as it seems. For the creation of a pop song, one first needs to choose a moment in one’s life that is easily relatable to many others, and then finding the right words and notes becomes tough to do. Aziza has succeeded to do so. If the road to Arab pop stardom is very different from the one in the Western world, much credit is due to the CD producer Jana Saleh. She’s a vital component on the upcoming concert where the CD in its entirety will be played.

Albums are traditionally designed for contemplative and perhaps solitary listening, while a live show demands more urgent dynamics. Aziza undoubtedly will proceed at a defiantly stately pace. With her sandpapery rasp that allows her to express the full philosophical meaning of her lyrics, we expect her to sing with an inner glow of conviction. The best songs are worth waiting for and include her tunes such “Aziza,” “Alhamtani,” and “Ya Mazag.”

Join Aziza for the signing of her first recorded CD accompanied by a live concert Sporting on Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 10 pm on. 

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