On My Valentine’s Day Playlist


About 10 years ago, I spent a semester in Morocco.  One of my closest friends from that semester did a really sweet thing for her boyfriend/love interest of the time.

She made him mix CD (do people even use CDs any more???) of songs, all with the theme of young love. When I state young love, I mean budding romance… songs like Groove Theory’s “Tell me if you Want Me to”

I thought it was the cutest idea and ever since had hoped that I would one day have a SO that would do the same for me (selfish I know!)…Songs are so awesome and poignant, even when they are simple and seem stupid. I think almost everyone can think of a song that pretty accurately and aptly encapsulated how they felt at a certain moment in time. I am that on steroids… It’s all about the words more so than the beat and such… and yet, It’s something that people tend to not notice about me.

So it’s no surprise that now that it’s ten years and counting and this old brown cow has crossed the 30 threshold,

9 Months? … Try 30 years!…. Some of us are the experience personified on earth!… ha ha

I am willing to give up on that dream (and I never expressed this wish to anyone, and somehow hoped that some guy would intuitively do this thing, so you get what you put out there).

But before I let my dream die, I decided to create the mixtape/playlist on my own.

Here are the tracks

12. Jon B- They Don’t know

Jon B paved the road for Justin Timberlake and all these blue-eyed soul artists that proliferate the market these days.  Tu Amor is a fave of mine because of the mix of Spanish, but also because his vocals are on point.  Some group did a cover of this song and their version just doesn’t cut it.  There had to be some LaFace representation on this list… just had to be (I am child of the 90s, after all)

11. Michael Jackson- Remember the Time

This is my favorite MJ song (next to Stranger in Moscow) and I remember watching it when it premiered, I was all of 8 years old.  But that video ya’ll, it was epic. I am a sucker for a song about old love that is still there after years have past.

10. Backstreet Boys- All I have to Give

This was the first Backstreet Boys song I ever heard and still love it to this day.  The message is simple, it’s not about nice things, it’s about the sincerity that comes with truly loving someone.

9. Luis Fonsi – No Me Doy Por Vencido (I am not giving up)

The song is about not giving up on a relationship, that saving what they have is worthwhile.  I listen to it when I need inspiration for other stuff too… go figure.

8. Jen Carlos Canela- Mi Corazon Insiste (My heart Insists)

Not only do I think Jen Carlos has the coolest name and is the quintessential example of the Hot Latino leading man, but I love this song (duh hence it’s on my playlist!… ha ha). It’s about loving someone despite yourself, trying to replace them with someone else, or to erase their memory, all to no avail.  Some loves are like that, I think.  Their’s something really passionate about that  yet, calming because in the end, all roads lead back to that major love.

7.  98 Degrees and Stevie Wonder- True to Your Heart

Aside from being the song off the Mulan soundtrack, le message rings clear and is pretty self-explanatory.  Plus, I loved the late 90s Boy bands, well just the three that make this list, and this is probably my favorite 98 Degrees song.

6.  Sabr Alroba3i- Atahada al3alam (Usually translated as “I Defy the World” but I think that “I Declare to the World” makes more sense)

The song is awesome… and I love it because it’s one of those that I loved even before I actually understood what the words meant. Sabr alroba3i has an amazing voice and this song, this song… It was on my list as possible wedding song back in the day… ha ha…. my favorite line translates as something like (and You are my love, my heart and soul are with you, come close and let me live out my feelings of love…. hmmm this translation is weird… ha ha).

5. NSYNC- Something like You

It was really hard to pick just one NSYNC Song, there are too many that love, these guys were the bona fide soundtrack of my youth…le sigh.  I actually wasn’t a great fan of “This I promise you” or “God Must have Spent”… mostly because they got so much play. I like this song because it’s about love in its early stages, but the singer can tell it’s something deeep… ha ha… yup in case you haven’t noticed I am soppy romantic at heart.

6. Billy Joel- The Longest Time

The message is pretty much the same as the NSYNC song, but it’s Billy Joel! Funnily enough, I love this song because Alvin and Chipmunks used to sing it a lot… ha ha…

5. India Arie- I see the God in You

This is one of those songs that were on constantly for me ten years ago.  Aside from featuring Ms. Arie’s awesome voice, the message is yet again about young love, about feeling this intrinsic connection with someone else. I still remember walking down the streets of the old Medina in Rabat with this blasting in my ears…. FYI… I did not see God in any of the men that I past by daily… not in the way she is talking about anyway… ha ha…

4. Alanis Morissette- Head Over Feet

Probably my favorite song from Alanis, and the lyrics are simple, but awesome. I think the little things the guy does in the song, have always clicked with me like (yes!)… again going with the theme of it’s not about the materials crap, it’s about things like Asking me how my day was, just saying the right things at the right times… the kind of love that makes you love the person back for all that they are!

3. Rob Thomas- Lonely No More

Because I looooooved Matchbox Twenty and because this is the ultimate “Piss or get off the Pot” type songs… like, I don’t want any more BS so be sure this is what you want.

2. Banky W- Strong Ting

Practically an ancient Afro-pop song, but it’s still one of my faves.  Just another song about young love, although this is probably more of the superficial sort… ha ha …

1. 112- Only You

One of 112’s best songs, back when Biggy was still alive and Bad Boy was in it’s heydey. Yet another where exactly do we stand?- type songs… but their vocals as ever are awesome. And this song also happens to be one the biggest ones out there back when I was in 8th grade.

Of course there are tons of songs left off here- Celine Dion could Easily be on this mixtape as could several others (Mariah, Whitney, some more representation from girl groups and a few other Arab artists… At least one Country song), but whatever. … no revenue will be made or collected from this post. So, I don’t think anyone cares…

And with that, the dream is put to rest. Moving on to other things.

Got the playlist. Now all I need is the date… Wait, I said, moving on to other things Gazelle!


Hamza Namira: My new Favorite Egyptian Artist


I must admit, I don’t  really like many Egyptian pop singers, maybe it’s the dialect and the fact that I focused more on Levantine and could understand Levantine songs more than I could Egyptian ones even before I started learning Arabic, but Amr Diab just doesn’t do it for me, don’t know why. (although I there are plenty of Arabs from other countries who sing in teh Egyptian dialect… but I like them just fine… oh well)  But you know who does?  Hamza Namira.  I am in love with this man now.

ولله العظيم

Due to provenance, I got a call from an old acqaitance two weeks ago, inviting me to his concert, I was totally down.  At the time I only knew one song of his, but liked the song a lot:

We had a pseudoe Egyptian Arabic crash-course during the summer, nothing particularly useful, just one hour a week.  But this song was one of the song the teacher taught, and I loved how the video has all the other translations.

Anywhoo, the concert was فزيعة (fantastic)  I got to hear a lot more of his songs nd realized that I really like his stuff.  Namira doesn’t really sing about love (not those sappy love songs anyway) he talks about abstract but beautiful things like the beauty that lies in everyone (as in his song, Insan, above), the beauty of faith in God and trying to live by his precepts (as in his song “ala bab Allah” below:

I won’t translate it all, not right now anyway but it starts out

“At God’s door, satisfied in every cirmcumstance

At God’s door,  carrying everything in my heart

Don’t get accustomed to leaving a place for hatred

Don’t get accustomed to seeing anything except beauty in others”

of course this is a very rough translation…

But then he’s also funny as in this song “ya Hana” about the problems in the Egyptian education system:

It starts out “who says the education system in our country is oudated?  no!  we’re just fine… I swear”  and then it goes on to describe the different problems in a very fun and satirical way.

It’s times like this that I appreciate this opportunity. For one thing Hamza Namira is coming back to Alexandria next month and Inshallah I will see him again (he tickets as so cheap!  about 4 bucks, I’m sure if he comes to the States it will cost a heck of a lot more)..  But more importantly I think about how studying a language has opened so many different opportunities to be exposed to a culture and understand it, and love aspects of it, that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ll never be Egyptian, but I’m happy to understand certain cultural nuances in a way that I would never have had I not come here, had I not studied Arabic.  and on that note, I will stop procrastinating and get some work done.

ON boy bands and the past


sigh, I have been going back in time to 98, 99, 00 to my Total Request live, Boy band loving days.  I looooooooooved NSYNC!  (whatever, I got so much flack for it in high school, I don’t care what anyone thinks… I would pay good money to see them if they had a reunion tour….lol…. I really would).  

I remember where I was when I first heard “I want it that way”  on a three way phone conversation with two other Backstreet Boy fanatics…. we heard the new single of their next album was coming out and had pitched tents to radio stations… It was a complete surprise, as were expecting them to just release a song that had been on their European album.  Wow, I had posters calendars, folders, pencils… oh adolescence.  

I know their music was kinda cheesy and (especially in the case of the backstreet boys) weird for these grown a&%#$ men to be singing sexually suggestive songs… but who cares, I was 14-17 and in love with their “poetic” lyrics.. .I actually remember writing in my journal that I wanted someone to love me like the Backstreet Boys song said ” I don’t care who you are, where your from , what you did, as long as you love me…lol” 


It’s been years since I played this stuff… It’s funny, I can see my children cringe as I rush to buy tickets to the Nsync reuniion, the same way I don’t get grown women who flock to New Edition, NKOTB concerts (they are too old to be singing “the right stuff” and “Mr. Telephone man” tooo old!…lol. 

Sigh.  What a trip down memory lane.  


And let’s not forget fighting over who was the best/favorite… I always preffered JC chasez to Justin (not really feeling him that much as solo artist either… everything is about love and sex in his songs now… booooring).  and AJ was hands down THE backstreet boy for Me! …The bad boy! the rebel…. lol… I feel sorry for his drug problem, but am happy that he was able to clean up his life.  


oh yeah and all the boy band spin offs: 5ive, O-town, s club 7, Bewitched, … the days of cheesiness reigned learning lyrics, taping videos to learn the choreography….


Does anyone else remember when Jordan Knight and Joey Mcintyre came out with solo albums? … Oh my gosh… I am grinning from ear to ear…lol.

ON What I’m listening to….


Music and I have been pretty eh, for a while simply no time for it lately… but I’A that will be changing in the near distant future.  

I decided to take a peak at some billboard and video music charts.    There are some artists I really don’t get what the fuss is about (Lady Gaga… she seems a bit like Christian Aguilera without the booming voice… and I don’t really like the beats… but maybe she’ll grow on me).  

So far, here are songs I like-


David Cooke- come back to me 

Britney Spears- (I can’t help it, I really like all her songs…lol) 

Maxwell- pretty wings (I am soooooooooo happy he’s come back, can’t wait till the album comes out… loving it!) 

Jesse Mcartney- How do you sleep (this surprised me, but I heard the song before I found out he sang it, not a Mcartney fan in general but the chorus is catchy 🙂 

Katy Perry- Hot and cold

black eye peas- boom boom pow (nice beat) 


Spanish songs: 

Makano- te amo

 Luis Fonsi- aqui estoy yo,   no me doy por vencido, nada es para siempre 

 Enrique eglesias- lloro por ti 

Juanes odio por amor 



Saber al-robaey- daek bik, ala nar

 Aancy ajram- betfakir bi eh 

samira said awaam keda 


listening to music made me think about my dancing days… (I wasn’t Juliard bound or anything but)   I miss it.  That’s what music is for me… beats and rythyms I can  move and express myself with… I think when I grow up I’m going to have a dance studio where I can just work it out all by myself… Hopefully by then this chrondomalacia will be under control… sigh.

on K’Naan


I love his new album!    …  I have not kept track of music trends nowadays… mostly listening to random (what I consider to be) classics.

His has one song in particular this is in English and Somali,  I was actually surprised that I could pick out words (though not general meaning).   Sigh, I need to get back on the Somali train, then again Spanish and Arabic are feeling neglected these days too.

I love albums that I can play and have in the background while I work and this is definitely one of those.  There are of course songs that I enjoy more than others, but I don’t think I skip any of them (well not yet anyway…lol).

I feel like I can relate to so much of what he talks about, maybe because of Sierra Leone’s war, and certainly because of the immigrant experience, I find myself laughing at songs like 15 minutes away, which is about making wire transfers  the chorus is “You can pick it up today, it’s 15 minutes away”

or ABCs which talks about the harsh reality of life in a war torn county ( I love the beat… times like this I wish I was still on a dance team so I could choreograph something to it, it has this throwback to the 1990s feel to it… oh well… those days are gone).

Then there is the song Fatima, which is about, well the harsh realities of a war torn country again… oh yes, I think his voice sounds awesome in the song Fire in Freetown… which is not really about Salone oh well, he has some Somali words in it.

Oh yes and waving flag, which is inspirationalish without being cheesy ( I hate cheesiness)

Yay Africa!   Yay Muslims!  Yay Somalia!

Ella: A Song that Inspires Me


I love the Spanish Singer Bebe.

The first time I went to Spain was Cordoba in fall of ’04.

There happened to be region wide campaign against domestic violence: “Basta! la maltrata de las mujeres!”

(stop! the mistreatment of women!). Bebe had a song called “Malo” which was a woman renouncing her abusive husband and was the theme song for the campaign.

I love Spanish language music or music in other languages in general because the figurative language is so richly different from my own.

And Bebe’s song, Ella is like that. It’s the ultimate girl power piece and I listen and sing it whenever I feel down.

A piece of the chorus was part of my email signature. Spoken in true Andalusian dialect with missing letter “s”es and garbled middle syllables it brings me back to the few good moments of my time there.

Hoy vas a descubrir que el mundo es solo para ti
que nadie puede hacerte daño, nadie puede hacerte daño
Hoy vas a comprender
que el miedo te puede romper con un solo portazo.
Hoy vas a hacer reir
porque tus ojos se han cansado de ser llanto, de ser llanto…
Hoy vas a conseguir
reir tanto de ti y ver que lo has logrado que…

“Today you will discover that the world is only for you, that no one can hurt you, no one can hurt you.

Today you will understand that fear can be broken with only one punch. Today you will smile because your eyes are tired of crying, Today you will smile at yourself and see what you have achieved. ”

Hoy vas conquistar el cielo
sin mirar lo alto que queda del suelo
Hoy vas a ser feliz
aunque el invierno sea frio y sea largo, y sea largo…
Hoy vas a conseguir
reir tanto de ti y ver que lo has logrado…

“… today you will conquer the heavens without looking to see how far you are above ground.

Today you will be happy even if winter is cold and long. You will smile so much at yourself and see what you have achieved”

I know my translation may be a wee bit off here and there, but you get the picture. I love Bebe!