Lil Watan للوطن, by Mashrou’ Leila مشروع ليلى

mashrou leila 800px-Demco1

Photo by Tania Trabulsi, taken in December 2009 during an album release concert. Left to right, the members are Ibrahim Badr, Hamed Sinno, Andre Chedid, Carl Gerges, Firas Abou-Fakher, Haig Papazian and Omaya Malaeb. From Wikipedia, click to go there.

Mashrou’ Leila مشروع ليلى is an indie-pop band that sings in Arabic and is based in Beirut, Lebanon. It was formed in February 2008 at the American University of Beirut.

Their lead singer is the handsome and openly-gay Hamed Sinno. The band has also released songs that feature gay love right from the beginning with their 2009 self-titled first album, such as Shim El Yasmine (Smell the Jasmine).

I am delighted to have just been introduced to the band via Gaybros, where redditor Larikush has provided a link to their song Lil Watan للوطن.

The info accompanying the video at YouTube states that the title means ‘For the Motherland’, and that it is:

a song that discusses the way we are taught to acquiesce to the status quo, and the apathy we are rewarded for in Lebanese politics. “Every time you demand change, they make you despair until you sell out all your freedom. They tell you to stop preaching and come dance with them.”

Shake them boobies and booteh, baybeh!

I love the groovy and laid-back yet catchy sounds of the song. For the gist of what the song means, click here for several versions of its Arabic lyrics’ translation. The video itself was kinda ‘meh’ to me at first. However, this is from someone who was ignorant of the intention and message behind the video. From what I gather from comments on YouTube and the band’s Facebook, I’ve learnt that the video expresses a lament on certain segments of society in Lebanon.

Comments about the video on their Facebook include:

  • We’am Hamdan: The video is very sarcastic. VERY. It’s a parody.
  • Asmaa Faris: To everyone complaining about the video. This might be Mashrou Leilas strongest conceptual music video ever. The belly dancing is not the point. It’s about our shallow middle eastern society; how we can be distracted easily.
  • Ahmed Al Tamimi: 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.
  • George Audi: Love it. The contrast of the band wearing black (mourning the sad state of the country?) contrasted with the disconcerted dancer (the government?) is very well played. The filter effects, low production feel and simplicity of the video only emphasize this point further.

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