Lebanon’s alternative music sweethearts, Mashrou’ Leila, recently released their highly-anticipated third album Raasük, and last night, debuted its first music video for the song Lil Watan.

The video features the band performing on stage in an auditorium, all prim and proper, clad in black suits, accompanied by a bellydancer, clad in… not very much. The one-take video seems to revolve around the bellydancer, not the band themselves, as she is in frame for the entire duration of the video, and even blocks the performers by dancing in front of them. But here’s the twist: that’s the whole point.

The video serves as a tongue-in-cheek critique of commercial musical performances in the Arab world, where a seductive bellydancer would be dancing on stage while the musicians perform, shifting the focus of the audience from the skilled musicians playing the music itself, to a dazzling, yet irrelevant, “object of distraction”. That concept can be summed up in one portion of the clip where while frontman Hamed Sinno sings, the bellydancer juts forward, blocking him from view, shakes her breasts with gusto, then carries on with her routine. Even the sickeningly-glitzy background décor, mediocre video filters, and the overall “plainness” of everything re-enforces this message.

But that didn’t stop the band’s blatant mockery of these practices from being misconstrued as a genuine tribute to them, as a number of the band’s fans voiced their disappointment on Leila's Facebook page and, dare I say, unfathomable outrage. One fan commented: "this doesn't suit you guys!!!!", while another said: "It's a low budget video which is quite surprising since the previous videos were no that cheap.And still I wouldn't call this creative, what's creative about bringing a belly dancer and make the whole video revolve around her ! DISAPPOINTED".

Others were more perceptive though, like this dude who said: "Obviously the video serves as a parody of the arab world. That's how arabic musicians sing they stand on a stage and have a girl belly dance around their talent-less selves", or this guy, who explained: "Big like i understand the message! I think its about how media or any other powerful controller, just add a "sex symbol" to Divert of all the shity things that going around".

Where other bands who reach this level of mass popularity would succumb to the expectations of the public and stick to their guns, Mashrou’ Leila have shown that they are willing to challenge and defy them, even if it means being at odds with their own fanbase.

Articles & Media

Spotted: Haig Papazian on the... Blog on Jan 24, 2014
Eight of Our Favorite Lebanese... #NowPlaying on Nov 12, 2013
Album Review: Mashrou' Leila's... #NowPlaying on Sep 18, 2013


Avatar 1
Post to facebook