Yasmine Hamdan Resurfacing

Yasmine Hamdan

The latest by Lebanese songstress Yasmine Hamdan is spearheaded by Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin.

Following 2009’s collaboration with the producing genius that is Mirwais Ahmadzaï, it appears that the urban, electro-bathed beats of Y.A.S. have been abandoned. Nonetheless, Hamdan continues to draw from her discography, retaining her haunting vocals all the while cultivating a new-found harmony with acoustic instrumentation.

In Kan Fouadi (If My Heart) is an extremely delicate, dainty ditty, expressive of heart wrench. What is most striking about Hamdan is her continuing ability to showcase the Arabic song in unconventional lights. Her formula never appears contrived, a malady of modern-day Arabic pop. Refreshingly, Hamdan has a beautiful tendency to serve idiosyncratic lyrics steeped with pan-Arab colloquialisms, set amidst a cosmopolitan range of musical styles.

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Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale

Britney Spears

In its 12 years of running who can believe that the mediocre machine otherwise known as Britney Spears could still churn out some of the most relevant beats and tunes? This isn’t a disparaging entry on an artist who has and continues to hold a lot of clout on the music landscape. Rather, it is an acknowledgement of success. Ever since her life got deranged, her music seems to have gotten better. The latest, Femme Fatale is hardly a classic, nonetheless it is some of the sweetest ear candy we’ll hear in 2011. And while Britney’s voice is manipulated so much at times, the results are extremely interesting. “Trip to Your Heart” is a heart-aching slice of electro pop. Who knew that trance could be so vocally melancholic? I guess robots do cry.

The moody ebbs and flows of Britney’s producers, Max Martin and Dr. Luke are more than apparent on the record. While still maintaining a dance-based fingerprint, the record gets hot and cold and has a lot of experimentation. “I Wanna Go” paves the way for a very effervescent Euro-pop experience. “How I Roll” has some real genius behind it. It has the cool down that you would expect to hear after a bouncy Black Eyed Peas experience. Will.I.Am is on a track titled “Big Fat Bass.”

What Britney does next will be highly anticipated. My recommendation? Get in touch with Mirwais Ahmadzaï, William Orbit and Moby. Make a completely different record that has strong biographical and social contexts. Sort of like Madonna’s American Life.

Soapkills, Yasmine Hamdan, and Mirwais Ahmadzaï

Yasmine Hamdan

Building upon trip-hop and the sound that’s synonymous with ambient acts like Portishead and Lamb, Soapkills (الصابون يقتل) became Beirut’s riposte to electro-pop.

While you’d have trouble not thinking this would be tacked on the next Buddha Bar compilation, the result was a successful symbiosis of Arabtronica, Arabic electronica if you will, sans the neo-orientalist nuances that often taint many an ethnic beat.

Fronted by Yasmine Hamdan and Zeid Hamdan, the indie-electro duo formed in 1997 and then disbanded as each set to embark on solo projects.

Recently, I discovered Y.A.S., an electro-pop duo made up of Yasmine Hamdan and Mirwais Ahmadzaï. I could barely contain my underground music excitement. Mirwais is a production luminary, joining the caliber of other sub rosa virtuosos such as William Orbit and Moby.

Arabology (Y.A.S’s debut) is an attempt to catapult Arabic music and Yasmine Hamdan into the global sphere. It has Mirwais’ fingerprints all over it, and it’s hard not to make comparisons and see the record as a transliteration of Madonna’s post Ray of Light era.

“Get it Right”, the first single, is a delicious slice of electro pop served with a repeating enumeration of Arabic numbers. “Yaspop” is unlike anything ever heard before. It combines a dabke style Lebanese refrain with the most infectious of urban rhythms.

“Coit Me” is my favorite track on the album. Radiating with melancholy, the lyrics and music resemble the euphoric moment I experienced when I first heard Madonna’s “Paradise Not For Me.”