It is the era of YouTube prominence
Contemporary Eritrean songs are becoming hits on social networks. Some have even entered several international billboards. Okay, it is not a big deal, when in reality, nowadays songs get incredible amounts of likes and shares. The iconic thumbs-up is a click away on our phones. Therefore, the thumbs-up, like, share and subscribe swung at songs and video-clips we like are billions if not more.
Conventionally speaking, especially in the recent 10 years –in a big world minimized to the size as small as that of our gadget’s inches we live in, the commonly liked songs are English songs from the US and UK billboards. Spanish songs, both from, the newly divided but once one state of Spain and South America are always avidly welcomed universally. Who is not swayed by Latinos?… Nobody. And that is why even non Spanish speakers pretend to be professional salsa dancers even if it is their first time attempting those twisted steps.
French songs add the chocolate in our playlist. The unimaginably rigid accents don’t seem to be hindering the universal audience from chanting Stromae’s “Sommeil”, Maitre Gims and his boys in the WatiB crew and just more boys and girls who don’t know how to pronounce “r”. We just love them.
Not to mention the UAE habibities. Arab songs are extremely loved too. Nowadays, less than in the late 80s and early 90s, Bollywood and their 20 minute long songs are still amongst the top. They are also still very faithful to their skinny jeans. African music gloriously enters many countries’ night clubs, festivals and party arenas. No beat tops that of Africa dum-dadas in the categories of upbeats. They have finally become celebrated for their most original upbeat! Come on world, what took you so long to recognize the drums in African music? Before we move on it is worth the while to mention Kpop, the immerging Asian sensation from Korea!
And the list can go on and on. Music is a great way for cultural exchange. It brings culture, peoples and generations together.
Back to the top music list. I stated at the beginning of the article that some Eritrean contemporary songs are making the queue next to non- Eritrean songs. And yes we are used to seeing songs battle for the top 20 and top 10 but when Nahom Meste’s song stands in conspicuous billboard list, the same list a few spots after Ed Sheeran, then that is worth the note! Nahom Meste in the same list as Ed Sheeran! It must have been huge, right? I mean, everybody loves Ed Sheeran… even gangsters. His songs have that special touch that mesmerizes people of all ages and all walks of life. But I do not want to shed the spot light on this huge pop star known by the whole world. Ladies and gentlemen, today I, in fact, want to turn the spot light on our Eri made Nahom Meste.
Nahom’s full name is Nahom Yohanness, age 27, an Eritrean singer. His nick name “Meste” literally means beverage, alcohol to be specific. He rose to fame with his unconventional appearance. His hair and dressing style break the typical “Eritrean Style”. Which is not the traditional one; but the chic of Asmarinos. He carries more of rock star panache. He has liked singing since a young age, but his artistic endeavor shone to the public much later. From day one his friend musician, Awet Tekleab, accompanied him with his majestic talent playing the saxophone. The two are always together. Just like his music and his friend, Nahom’s life style is rocky… or should I be polite and say full of surprises. He was married to the love of his adolescence, Adiam Sibhatu, a young advertisement model and a fairly new actress with small roles here and there. But certainly beautiful. The two had their baby daughter few months after their wedding date, their break up came soon after.
But that is not the point here. Why is Nahom so amiable? Why do the young generations like him? And why I am writing an article about him? Why do Nahom’s songs rise on the poll? The answer is clear. He is new. Everything about him is new. Generally speaking the concept of “new” might be alarming and scary to previous generations. On the contrary, it is exactly what the actual generation craves for.
The song that was played and replayed on YouTube putting Nahom’s name some spots down well-known names in the international music platform is entitled “Guya Guya”. It refers to the run and chase. The theme is what all boys like; a girl running away from the love of her youth to chase big boys with money. Job well done. All boys relate to the theme automatically, even if they have not been in the same situation. The irony.
The biggest factor contributing to the rise of Eritrean songs in several billboards is social network. The internet and its multi-faceted aspects have surely promoted our world’s entertainment industry and Eritrea’s too. Social networks are so accessible and so user-friendly that artists’ products are in the hands of the public in no time. They are advertised and commercialized in the same way. When Eritrean songs hit YouTube they are not restricted to Eritreans at home and abroad. They become accessible to regional and international audience as well.
Last but not least nowadays the public feels close to the artist they love or even hate. The virtual ecosphere is making every artist’s daily step disclosed to the public. Which brings me to my point exactly. People sympathized with the core theme of Nahom’s song because by the time the song was released everybody knew that Nahom was left single by his former wife.
People felt Nahom’s spirit in his song. He was left alone. And as a proficient artist and an exceedingly talented singer he expressed the theme of his new single ‘Guya Guya’ in realistic ways. The world liked it. The number of thumb ups, likes, shares and subscribes rose with every replay on YouTube.
However, it is just Nahom mesmerizing non Eritrean audience. Milen Hailu is Eritrea’s sweet heart. Word has it she spends so much time on the production of her singles, especially on set when it is time for video clips. The efforts she invests are evident. Just look at how many likes her videos get.
Making a commotion on the net are the two sisters, Semhar Yohannes and Danait Yohannes, in their first duo ever decided to raise a rather sensitive issue. In the single they released they touch the issue of migration and criticize the youth who have migrated for having forgotten about the promise Eritrean youth made to the homeland. The reaction on social network is, once again, stirring. Many of the youth comment below their video –after a clear thumb down, saying that the sisters haven’t done enough research on the subject matter. Most of the comment are rhetorical questions like “How do you, Yohannes Sisters, explain the huge number of young people that come back home every summer even after migrating?”
I don’t want to branch out of my original topic. But one hobby that artists seem to have in common is stirring a commotion for good or bad. And although Youhannes sisters are being criticized, they are being watched and listened to, either way they win.
After officially declaring her love to a bad boy, a scunisso as we Asmarinos say in Italian, Saba Andemariam shined in controversy. People hated her and loved her for praising the good for nothing. Isn’t art a funny thing?
Are Eritrean contemporary songs getting better? Are they outshining the golden oldies? That is another theme I will look at in a future article after I have done enough research. I do not dare to compare the legacy of Eritrea’s 70s, 80s and early 90s legends. The theme they picked were patriotic. They sang to the beautiful girl lost in the fields (metaphorically speaking about their stolen liberty and the armed struggle in the fields). Nahom Meste and his peers sing about real girls’ run away.
Comparing productions of two different eras is just a technical error. But I know for a fact that the youth singers have great respect for their seniors as we receive beautiful remix and remakes of our golden oldies. Artist of those days carried their box guitars and toured for months. While Nohom and his peers are a click away. With all due respect to all Eritrean artists’ of all generations, their legacy, their hard work and their contribution, for today’s article I will stop by stating the obvious fact that Eritrean songs have become regional and international sensations thanks to social network.