November 01, 2007

Are You Ready to Rock, Jenin?

It is an unfortunate truism that nothing makes you appreciate the aural detritus of American popular music quite as much as the even more noxious cacophony of international pop tunes. Yes, even though you (justly) despise, say, the Backstreet Boys and Billy Joel, the horrors of other countries’ hit songs almost—almost!—force you to appreciate American pop stars.

And no wonder: Have you ever heard, for example, Indian popular music? Oh, what palaver! And to think that these are the people who have bestowed us with the delicious sounds of Indian classical music!

What about, say, Italian pop songs? Nothing quite says “downward spiral” as much as a culture that previously gave us Virgil and now presents us with that utter garbage.

As usual, however, the Middle East is home to the worst crap you can find. Or so we read in The Daily Telegraph, Britain’s staunchly pro-Tory newspaper. Under the peculiar title “Hamas Boy Band to Bring Harmony to Gaza,” journalist Tim Butcher writes the following:

Hamas militants have launched a new weapon in their struggle with Israel: a troupe of honey-voiced singers known as Protectors of the Homeland. Wearing crisply pressed fatigues in urban camouflage blue, the six band members gather each day to practise in an old office within the Gaza City police headquarters. The small room throbbed with energy as their dusty 12-track amplifier screeched with feedback before being tamed by an engineer. To the accompaniment of a backing track from a laptop computer, the men then started polishing their routine of songs, almost all of which have strong Islamic and militaristic content and titles like Change and Reform. Such uplifting lyrics as "By the shrouds of the dead we are inspired" are typical. "It is our job to inspire the foot soldiers," said Maj Hosam Abu Abdu, a 40-year-old former police officer who now fronts the band. "We want to urge the soldiers and officers to push on, to make the effort needed in the struggle to end the occupation [of Palestinian land by Israel]." Formed in the summer as part of the arts department of Hamas's domestic security service, the Executive Force, the group has performed for police units around Gaza City.

Sounds pretty good, eh? As you can tell from the charming picture that accompanies the article, these mellifluous fellahs remind one very much of 98 Degrees, except for the fact that everyone in the band (Allah be praised) sports a beard. And those military fatigues are awfully fetching.

Further, unlike those saccharine American boy-bands, who warble tunes of the “I Want it That Way” ilk, the Protectors of the Homeland offer delightful four-part harmony and incitements to genocide. Take that, Justin Timberlake.

Until you’ve heard their “Kill the Jews Rap,” you haven’t heard anything. Move over, George Michael.

Posted at November 1, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack