Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Israeli, Musical Happiness Revolution

This is a wonderful article. 

Mizrachi music when it's happy, is insanely happy.

I can't really listen to the sad stuff, it's just too much. It's too schmaltzy for me.

But the other thing that is interesting is that the adulation lyrics really are never racy or misogynistic.

They are catchy, clever and adoring:

"But compared to much contemporary music in the United States the mood here is unusually innocent. The attitude toward women rarely deviates from saccharine: They’re “queens” or “beauties,” or described in terms of endearment lifted directly from Arabic songs into Hebrew, like “my life,” “my eyes,” or “my heart.” 

"They’re objects, certainly, but objects of adoration. In mainstream Mizrahi pop one can be heartbroken about a woman but never too angry. There are no “bitches” or anything remotely close. Foul language is unthinkable."


"The noises in my kitchen are echoes of a battle decided. As a friend of mine, a Jerusalem sound man, put it: In 2015 it isn’t accurate to say that Mizrahi is a sub-genre of Israeli pop, or even a successful genre, or that it threatens the mainstream. It is the mainstream. It is Israeli pop."

"If you put a stethoscope to the country’s chest right now, the rhythm you’d hear would be Mizrahi."

"Every wedding I’ve attended in the past few years has featured Mizrahi dance music, no matter the ethnicity of the bride, groom, or guests. Even at Russian weddings not only is Mizrahi played alongside Russian pop and greeted with enthusiasm, but people born in places like Omsk can now pull off the wrist-twirling, hip-shaking dance moves that go with it, as Ilya Spitsarov reported for the Mizrahi culture site Café Gibraltar."

“The Russian population of Israel, too,” he wrote, “has internalized the accepted link between Mediterranean pop and happiness.”

Great piece.

Kudos to Tablet for always having a really nice variety of articles from an equally interesting variety of writers.