Wednesday, November 29, 2023

On the Samira Toufic, Sabah, and the Ayyam el Loulou debacle

Bassem Feghali impersonating both Samira Toufic and Sabah on The Stage (LBC)

Well, this has been sitting on my chest for a while. In 1986 our late national diva Sabah released her hit single "Ayyam El Loulou" written by the late Elie Choueiri. Not only that, she followed the hit with a film as well, staring her and the late Karim Abou Chacra (here). Whereas there were many "versions" to this story not the late of which is the one told by female impersonator Bassem Feghali recently in "The Stage" which is broadcast on LBC and hosted by Carla Haddad (and due to a directing trick he impersonated both divas singing the hit at the same time as the image above shows), the original story goes like this:

Elie Choueiri first sold the song to Samira Toufic. This being the war, the artists could not easily go to studios and record and release new singles or albums or whatever. So Toufic took her time. Choueiri ended up selling the song to Sabah, who promptly recorded it and released it. Toufic started singing the song live in her own repertoire (interestingly, the first instance of Toufic releasing the song officially was 1994 even if by then it was a staple in her concerts). So in that summer - there was the same hit by two different singers. Both had their fair of success mind you.

Sometime in the 90s, both singers were reunited in a TeleLiban program (if I am not mistaken with Abdel Ghani Tlais), and he asks them point blank about the debacle. Toufic simply says:

انا شتريتا بالاول وما سجلتا وكانت ايام حرب العالم بدها تعيش

(I bought it first and did not record it, and these war times and people needed to live (meaning make money - pointing to Choueiri selling the song to both of her, and Sabah))

To which the Sabah retorted with:

ايه بس انا بحبها بصوتك اكتر

(Yes but I love it in your voice more than in mine)

Seriously, what should have been major drama, saw the two artists - who at the time were still making new music - instead of pulling each other's chignons, they simply dismissed the whole incident.

If both singers took the highroad about it, I remember a different story when Dominique Hourani released her song "Wawa Ah" (booboo too hot) followed very closely by Haifa Wehbe releasing "El wawa" (the boobou), both singers went into a mediatic war about the term and really went all out berating the other. When to begin with it was not even the same song. Which is why the Samira Toufic/Sabah issue still impressed me of how they settled things and moved on, demonstrating how much of great ladies they were.