DJs such as David Guetta have undoubtedly played an instrumental role in bringing dance music into the mainstream through a string of high-profile collaborations with pop and rap artists. The mainstream visibility of dance music is not limited solely to the charts in the top pop music markets but has also extended to nightclubs that have traditionally catered to the “typical” club-goers. There is a very fine line that divides “danceable pop” (something the music of the 80s and early 90s was famous for) from “dance music” – which is a highly beat-driven genre underscored by a sound manufactured by DJs such as David Guetta and Paul Oakenfold. The detractors of dance music criticize it for its homogeneity and predictable and sometimes monotonous sound. Dance music aficionados are more likely to defend this argument by saying that the rest of the music listeners simply “don’t get it”. Regardless of who is right, dance music is here to stay at least for a while and is starting to define what the mainstream considers as being both current and relevant. This trend has forced many veteran artists to fit their music into the sometimes confining boundaries of dance music’s standard template. Based on Amr Diab’s latest single “We Redeit”, it is obvious that he is one of the veteran artists that believes that he needs to adopt this musical template in order to sound current and modern.
Amr Diab is blessed with a voice and looks that have made him a “poster-boy” for the Arab World for decades. More importantly, he is among those select few male artists that has defied biology and maintained a youthful look despite being in his early 50s. The positive aspect to that is that he is not a victim of the rampant ageism that most pop stars are undoubtedly prone to as they approach the age of 40. He has successfully nurtured an audience that spans multiple generations and multiple continents – a monumental achievement for a pop star that does NOT sing in English. But one cannot help but think that he is increasingly aiming to please the younger end of his fanbase. In doing so, he is starting to slowly drift away from the winning musical template that made him an international star in the early 2000s. Instead of a Latin beat-influenced “danceable pop” style embellished with the sweet sound of the Spanish guitar, Amr Diab appears to be consciously moving towards house-flavored “dance music” territory. There were some initial signs of this move on his “Wayah” album (released in July 2009). He flirted more with this style on his “Banadeek Talaa” album. A single listen of “We Redeit” would suggest that Amr Diab is continuing in the same vein of the lead singles of his last two albums. Many of Diab’s die-hard fans will probably welcome this. Yet, when the song opens with a generic pulsating beat with no dramatic intro-worthy musical embellishments, one cannot help but think that the song is a bit of a rehash of older tracks such as “Wayah”, “Banadeek Talaa”, and “Aslaha Bitifrek”. That being said, “We Redeit” is superior to all three songs.
“We Redeit” retains some (if not all) of the elements that make Amr Diab’s music great. Diab has maintained his musical partnership with producer Adel Hakki. Diab’s smooth vocals drift gently over the synthesized beats that drive the song. The beats do not overpower the vocals. The harmony-driven chorus is reasonably catchy but does not have the instant hook that classic upbeat tracks such as “Leily Nahary”, “La Yestahel” (a limited digital-only release not made available legally in the western world), and “Tameny” benefit greatly from. In a nutshell, “We Redeit” is a pleasing song if not groundbreaking. Amr Diab has played it safe with this track – which is not necessarily a bad thing but if you are trying to introduce a skeptic or a new listener to Amr Diab, this is probably not the track to pick. Songs like “Leily Nahary” or the romantic classic “Tamally Maak” might serve that purpose better.
Last, but not least, “We Redeit” is a reminder that Amr Diab is still very much around and is intent on doing what he does best. The prospect of a new Amr Diab album is always an exciting one. Hopefully, the new album is the eclectic “mixed bag” that the “Wayah” album was. Without further ado, we present to you a full-length clip of the new Amr Diab single “We Redeit”: