This blog has been quiet for a long time due to lack of time, but we are going to make it up to you. Today I saw a new video of the female Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Wow, what a difference with the anarchist-low-budget clips of the beginning. No more colored balaclavas, no more shouting, no more crappy guitars and bad camerawork. Their newest video ‘Chaika’ is well produced, directed by Andrey Fenochka and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. The music is super mellow, hip hop-like, made by the American musician and producer Dave Sitek. The cause for the clip is the documentary of the Russian political activist Alexei Navalny. He unraveled the ties between Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, and the country’s mafia (source: The Rolling Stone)
To complain about gum and skin allergies is not very sexy. How clever of campaigning organization Jhatkaa to ask rapper Sofia Ashraf to help out. A video directly addressed to consumer goods giant Unilever for exposing residents of Kodaikanal, India, to toxic mercury contamination, went viral. Not only because of the music, it is based on the pop-hit Anaconda, but also because of the lyrics.
The other day I was reading about the alternative rock band Bulletproof Stocking. The band based in New York, consists of Hasidic women. This caught me by surprise, because I reckoned that there is a taboo on female chant in this ultra-orthodox Jewish community. In an article (NRC. Next, August 27, 2014) founder, singer and keyboard player Perl Wolfe explains that men aren’t allowed to listen to female chant, because it may seduce them. However, that commandment is true merely for men. The solution is that Bulletproof Stockings plays for an only-female audience. Of course this evokes some juicy headlines.
For the third time in three years artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) or L7a9ed, got arrested on Sunday 18 May 2014. “El Haqed has been targeted for his political views and his participation in Morocco’s February 20th movement: On 20 February 2011, what began as a group of Moroccans expressing their frustration with the status quo grew to a nationwide movement that demanded change in Morocco.” (Free L7a9ed – Music is not a crime). Filmmaker, photographer and activist Nadir Bouhmouch put a video on his You Tube channel to call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed.
One of the worst things that has happened to Africa, musically speaking, is We Are The World. Saccharine lyrics, simple melody and yes, of course, that earworm refrain. It sticks in memory but rather like any ditty written for soap advertisements.
We Are The World. Africa has several inexplicable love affairs with similar sentimental sludge. There was a time, mercifully mostly behind us, that you could not turn on a radio station without being subjected to Céline Dion. But We Are The World has staying power and some thirty years after it escaped from the studios, there is still no escaping it. Especially around Christmas.
Last Saturday, Iranian people were taken by surprise in a strange way. The Good Morning Iran Show for IRIB’s Channel 1, broadcasted music from the group Avaye Parsian (Persian voice)! The group, led by musician Saman Alipour, consists of kamancheh (a bowed string instrument) santoor (a trapezoid-shaped dulcimer) played by wooden hammers and tar (lute). You might think that it is pretty normal to show traditional instruments on TV, but this is really unusual for Iranian people. They were even not sure if they were dreaming or not. For many of them it was the first time they had seen such instruments on national television.
Yesterday the two members of Pussy Riot got free from prison. Masja Aljochina and Nadejda Tolokonnikova were supposed to stay until March next year. After two years they are reunited again. For them it was a bit abrupt, because they were deprived from any information. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the constitution, Putin wanted to give amnesty to different groups of people, like for mothers with children. They both are mothers. Tolokonnikova, who wrote an open letter about the slavery and violence in camp number 14, district of Moldovia, and who later went on hunger strike, gave her comments to the reporters right after she got free.