Monday, February 1, 2021

Tony Kattoura - the man who gave the population a needed smile.

All right, I admit I did not watch him live because simply I do not watch television at all. But I woke up to the phenomenon of "Captain Tony Kattoura"... His style of singing are light-hearted songs with cute lyrics about anything from love, to bemye w riz, to all other topics.

Sure it is easy to laugh him off. But we do live in a world where a tiktoker went to number 3 in the UK charts for his rendition of sea shanty Wellerman, so basically stranger things (no pun!) have happened. But the craze of Tony Kattoura who is trending on Twitter tells you how much the Lebanese populace needed a smile - a laugh, a frivoulous thing just for them to unwind a little. Now, the vocals of Mr. Kattoura could need sharpening, his a capella style (I am not sure but I did detect hints of the great Alain Merheb's houwwara tunes) is truly engulfing however. 

Since I am a big believer in pop culture as a bridging ability to cultures, I think Kattoura's presence was just what the Lebanese needed, which obviously translates into the online craze which has happened since his live on MTV's "3a gheir kawkab" (on another planet) show. Remember however, all the "el fan el habet" (the falling art) as it was used to be called in the 80s, are now its classics. People who dismissed singers are one-hit wonders, or equipped with a bad or untrained voice, eventually proved staying power. And those who did not, still managed to give out hits that are transmitted from one generation to another.

I think of certain examples. If you remember the great diva Sabah, she has some incredible songs which truly fulfilled her vocal potential (by her own admission, the song "Sa3at sa3at" was her best performance - and listen to it and you will understand why), but ask anyone about Sabah, and mostly her more "pop" songs come to mind - ya dala3, Allo Beyrouth, ra2isni heik, or the classic 3al day3a. I distinctly remember the concert by The Golden Age (the trio Sammy Clark, Abdo Mounzer, Le Petit Prince) at the Ramadaniyat festival in 2015: they started with some English and French classics to which the public was lukewarm. But it took the first notes of Clark's "Ah 3ala hal iyyam" and the whole house burned down across all generations, everyone went balistic about it.

So here we are, Kattoura just provided us with one such example. It takes little for people to get excited, especially when they are this down. Now, if he proves to be someone who will stay the course is another matter.