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Wow, 24 leading Arab superstars on one collaboration. Akon and Shakira also collaborating on the track. Quincy Jones. Backing by some of the biggest names in the region, including names from the Qatar Govt, Dubai Media City, Sony Music, and a ton more. An initiative to raise money and funds to support talent and content from this region. What a load of crap that final product came out to be.
Now don't get me wrong. Concept wise, this whole thing was AMAZING. Just the sound of it and the potential it had to be was beautiful. I heard about it from some reps at one of the major music labels a few weeks before it came out, and figured this would be something that would blow everyone away. It would talk from the Arab world not just back to the Arab World, but to the whole World.
Sadly, so far I haven't heard anything positive about it. I caught a glimpse of it on MBC a couple of weeks ago, and thought to myself, that was IT? All that talent, all that positive energy, went into that? Again, don't get me wrong; i'm not a hater. I love to see these sort of initiatives, anything that can propel our region to another level on the global playing field. Having all those superstars on one track is an amazing feat. Quincy Jones alone is more than just a legend. The message was strong and clear, to come together to bring a better tomorrow. The production levels put into this were obviously world class. But somewhere along the line, the potential collapsed.
I don't know how to start with where things went wrong; is it with the very standard melody and beat? Sure it has different tunes from different Arabic styles & instruments every now and then, but that was hardly something on the level of a legend such as Quincy. And the lyrics? Average to say the least. It doesn't really speak to me, or to the Arab world. FINE. Let's say the music wasn't great, they should back it up with an amazing video that speaks to the people, right? Wrong. The video is just a few seconds of each artist in the recording studio, and a bunch of children running around various places in Doha. There are a few joyous moments, but those are limited in seconds.
Also, the Akon part just stands out, in a funny way. I know you wanted to add another major superstar here, but it just looks out of place. The Shakira intro I can understand, maybe he should have put in his own intro instead?
If the video was meant to speak to the people, then it would show something the average viewer would relate to; maybe peoples faces from around the region. It could show some happy, some sad, some in pain, some working for a better tomorrow. Maybe some of the scenes of the events of the past few months; not necessarily the violent and painful parts, maybe just showing people from all over, gathering together in unity. Your average person from the street can't really relate to a number of superstars dancing around in a studio. Let me not even comment on the errors in the video where the singing isn't properly synced with the audio (sure, it happens in many videos, but at that level of production, it's unacceptable).
I understand the video is trying to stay away from the politics, which is understandable. But again, Tamer Hosni? I'm sorry, but you just alienated 80 million Egyptians who were anti-Mubarak by featuring him in the track; did we all forget what happened back in Febraury? Egypt alone has 3 million (or so it feels like) musicians, was this really the best choice? Who made the decision on artists again?
And finally, the PR for the whole track, trying to hype it up. The headline message wasn't "A track pushing for a better tomorrow in the Arab World" or "A song calling for unity and togetherness". Nope. The headlines were almost always "24 MAJOR ARAB SUPERSTARS ALONG WITH QUINCY JONES AND AKON ON ONE TRACK". That's just a mirror of the whole crumpling music industry nowadays. They're trying to sell you the hype you don't want. I love Qunicy and his art, I have a ton of respect for most of the artists on the track (especially Kadhem Alsaher, dude is all class, even here he still shines as probably the best performer). But you won't get me hyped up on a track just because they're all on it. It's the digital age, the music is everywhere, the videos are everywhere, and the average person can get them any time. People aren't even watching the VMA's and EMA's even though there's a million and one celebrities on. You can't hype a track by saying so and so is on it. You have to make a song move emotions in people. You have to make good music, you have to make a great video. That's what the 'old-school' music industry doesn't understand, you can't sell hype anymore. If people want hype, they'll visit the YouTube channel, and no one ends up buying your music (explains 2 million hits on the video today and probably hardly anything sold).
I honestly have no idea what the actual message for this is. What is it meant to be; re-unite after the revolutions around the Arab world? Come together and build? Everybody calm down after what we've all been through? I'm not even sure. There's no real clear message.
The track makes me reminisce to 'Arab Dream' (الحلم العربي). That was done in the 90's; video is hardly of the greatest quality, editing is far from great, but that video and song can bring tears to your eyes. It still has the footage of performers in the studio, it still has that all-star ensemble, but the emotion comes through, it doesn't appear cocky, and it talks about our pain and struggles, the wars we've been exposed to that are still fresh in memory, and our dream to unite & move forward. Besides the studio shots, the video is powerful, and includes footage taken in the 80's and early 90's. We're in 2011; the amount of footage out there is astounding, it shouldn't be difficult to find something that speaks to people and doesn't trip over the politics. I would buy this track 10 times over just for what it is, and wouldn't even consider putting a cent towards the Bokra track.
Click here if you cannot see the video
Just another point; they're selling this track on iTunes? Whereas iTunes isn't officially available for more than half of the Arab countries (unless they have a US, European or credit card from a verified country)? Even if people did want to buy the track, you're not making it easy for them. Well done. Clap clap.
I really wanted this to make an impact, if anything, the Arab world needs something to push them forward through the multiple crises. We need to know there is hope and that everything will be fine. For all I can see, Bokra hasn't come close to achieving this, and it's a little depressing to be honest. Music was the way to speak to the masses, and with the way the industry is headed nowadays I don't know what it can achieve any more.
Go to www.TomorrowBokra.org for the track website, video, initiative etc.
(I know i'm probably going to get a wave of hate for not being supportive of the cause and so on. I actually went out and bought the track, not for the song itself but in support of the cause only. I know it was a good-willed initiative, but the whole thing was badly managed & executed, and on that grand level, is a total failure).