Maysan Haydar

Maysan Haydar has been on staff at culture and news magazines, and has essays in the anthologies Body Outlaws (Seal Press) and Damage Control (HarperCollins). She spent several semesters studying in Damascus, Syria.


"Wild in the (Arab) Streets: Songs for the Revolutions"

Along with new governments in three countries (and counting), the Arab Spring ushered in attention to music beyond pop legends Najwa Karam and Amr Diab. The documentary 'Heavy Metal in Baghdad' was prescient in describing how well heavy metal describes the volatility of repressive government and the chaos of fighting it. Arabic-language rap (and songs written in English by Western-raised children of immigrants from Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria) gained a following (and a new respectability) for accurately and sensibly reporting the events in a way that traditional music had not.

The impact has been felt at every level of songwriting and production: Some of the biggest stars have fallen from grace for writing songs praising the regimes, and amateur songwriters became famous posthumously after songs they posted on youtube led to their tortured deaths.

I will briefly describe Arabic pop music styles before the revolution, and then touch on what music inspired the crowds in Tahrir Square and beyond, and what music came from the protests.