Friday, May 18, 2012

POPULAR WESTERN SONGS WITH A MIDDLE EASTERN INFLUENCE




Before I started belly dancing I was a confirmed rock ‘n’roll chick. For years, I went out to clubs almost every night to listen to live music, rockin’ torn up fishnets and leather jackets. My record collection was huge, and I enjoyed music of all genres… as long as the songs I was listening to had “that certain something”.

Shortly after I became obsessed with belly dancing- and had been listening to Middle Eastern and North African music non-stop- I began to make a connection and realized that many of my favorite western pop songs all had something in common.

The certain something they all had was that many of them featured some sort of Arabic influence, whether in the time signatures, minor-keyed chord progressions, subject matter in the title or lyrics, or the use of certain sounds, like the sustained drones in The Velvet Underground’s “Venus In Furs”. I loved The Stones in their Moroccan period, U2’s “Mysterious Ways" not only had an amazing riff but they also featured a belly dancer in the video for the song, and I couldn’t get enough of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir”.

Later in my career, bringing this all to full circle, I performed twice for The Rolling Stones, and appeared belly dancing in the 2002 music video for "Addicitive" by R&B Truth Hurts, featuring Bollywood samples and guest starring Rakim.

You can see me belly dancing towards the end of the video here:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTjPmgN98H8


Thinking about all of this the other night, I compiled a list of these unique songs just for fun, off the top of my head. Aside from the absolutely obvious, such as Sting's "Desert Rose" featuring Cheb Mami, lots of Shakira's work or pretty much anything by Natacha Atlas, quite a lot of songs made my impromptu list.

All of these western tunes-of all genres- feature a Middle Eastern sound, some sort of lyrical reference to Middle Eastern-influenced fantasies, or use Arabic or Indian musical samples.

Here’s what I came up with:


PAINT IT BLACK The Rolling Stones

MYSTERIOUS WAYS U2

FATHER FIGURE George Michael

VENUS IN FURS The Velvet Underground

KASHMIR Led Zeppelin

HAREM SCAREM Elvis Presley

WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN The Bangles

BELLY DANCER Akon

LITTLE EGYPT The Coasters

ROCK THE CASBAH The Clash

DANCE Nas

BLUE BLUE ELECTRIC BLUE David Bowie

ARAB MONEY Busta Rhymes

ADDICTIVE Truth Hurts

NIGHT BOAT TO CAIRO Madness

ISAAC Madonna

HOOD SCRIPTURES Foxy Brown

ALI BABA Linval Thompson

WHITE RABBIT The Jefferson Airplane

BUTTONS The Pussycat Dolls

I WANNA SEE YOU BELLY DANCE the Red Elvises

BIG PIMPIN’ Jay-Z

TOXIC Britney Spears

FUNTIME Iggy Pop

ON THE NILE Egyptian Lover

CITIES IN DUST Siouxsie & The Banshees

BELLY DANCER Amina

LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS The Beatles

GALVANIZE The Chemical Brothers

LAYLA Eric Clapton

MISERLOU Dick Dale

Can you think of any more songs like this?


PHOTOS: ELVIS IN THE 1965 FILM "HAREM SCAREM", BRINEY SPEARS RAQQIN' OUT, COVER OF "ROCK THE CASBAH" BY THE CLASH

21 comments:

  1. Sting's Desert Rose... or maybe that's an actual ME/NA song?

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    1. Hi, I mentioned that song in the paragraph before the list... cause it's one of the "standards" , along w/ stuff by Shakira & Natacha Atlas : )

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  2. I could be reaching, but I kinda hear that "thing" in She Blinded Me With Science (Thomas Dolby). And of course there's The Gap - Thompson Twins, and maybe even some early Duran Duran (Night Boat and Tel Aviv)...can you tell I was a teenager in the 80s?

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    Replies
    1. Oh you're so right!
      And when Duran Duran first came out, I always thought of Sirhan Sirhan ; P

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  3. Green Tambourine by the Lemon Pipers? (probably more Indian since - if it's not one - it sounds like a sitar). I came across a couple other songs recently - one was something my daughter was listening to and they sampled (I'm pretty certain) an Umm Kulthum song. Also, I heard that Dick Dale's mom was a belly dancer - do you have any info on that? Definitely will be back to post!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, Green Tamborine! Totally!

      I do have a Dick Dale story- when I met him, first thing he told me ( without knowing) was "You look like a belly dancer" and he told he worked at his father's falafel stand as ateenager!!!!!

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  4. Tomorrow by the Strawberry Alarm Clock, Paul Revere and the Raiders - 1001 Arabian Nights (often thought of doing a choreo. to this), Tied Up -Yello and Joe Satriani - Bellydancer...

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  5. Istanbul, Not Constantinople...either version.

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  6. Temple of Love by the Sisters of Mercy

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  7. I can't believe no one's said "Killing an Arab" by The Cure yet ... or maybe I can believe it! Oddly, "Fire in Cairo" doesn't sound ME at all, but to me "Lovecats" does!
    I think The Banshees went through a thing - as well as "Cities in Dust" there's also their "Arabian Nights."

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  8. I don't know if you're still using this blog or this entry but there's this song called bad girls by M.i.a and it def fits under this bloggy thing. Would you happen to know any songs that sound similar?

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  9. Im Nin'alu, - Ofra Jaza,
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bc35GBJY1VY

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  10. ORPHANED LAND - Ocean Land
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf7i6UB5vGw

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  11. Elvis Crespo - Pegaíto Suavecito ft. Fito Blanko
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1B_MQU14Lg
    A videoclip with bellydancers.

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  12. Shakira - Ojos Así
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z9w8s2l8NM

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  13. Alabina - Alabina (Yalla Bina Yalla) - Original Version
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDhmKrW4F6Y
    Alabina - Salma Ya Salama (Olé Y Ola) - Official Video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rhSu5kzpeo4

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. I have got a new listing in Tiba Resort from £8,140

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  16. Stargazer & Gates of Babylon by Rainbow.

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