Nour Ardakani wasted no time in making her mark on Now United.
Fresh from signing on as sole Arab member of the 16-piece multicultural pop group, the 18-year-old showcased both her talent and heritage in new single Habibi.
Released on October 19 with a music video shot in Beirut and Dubai, the track marks Now United’s first foray into regional sounds. Co-written and produced by Grammy-nominated duo Jordan Orvosh (Shawn Mendes and Sean Paul) and Emile Ghantous (Boyz II Men and JLS) the track’s pop vibe is infused with Arabic percussion and oud riffs.
Vocally, Ardakani is the star as she delivers silky English verses about the optimism that comes with new relationships, before other members of the group chime in for the chorus: "Everyday ya habibi, you and me ya habibi"
The music video cuts between Beirut and Dubai. For the former, Ardakani is solo as she provides verses from various coastal and forest locations, as well as the downtown Solidere district.
The video becomes an ensemble performance in the Dubai section of the shoot dedicated to the chorus. Ardakani joins seven other members of the group, all clad in white sports gear, as they deliver some slick choreography among the confetti strewn streets of the historical Al Fahidi district.
"I’m so excited for you guys to finally see the music video. I’m so honoured to have worked with such amazing people from the directors to the producers," Ardakani said in a statement. "I’m so grateful and it couldn’t have been better. To the members, thank you for making this experience such a memorable one."
Now United’s Dubai trip was more business than pleasure
The video caps off a whirlwind month for Ardakani, that saw her plucked out of hundreds of contestants to be part of the group. It is also an example of the relentless worth ethic and global reach of Now United, which saw them release a staggering 33 singles and 30 music videos all within three years and in languages including Tagalog and Spanish.
Upon arriving in Dubai in late September to formally meet the group, Ardakani immediately got to work with choreography classes, recording sessions and video shoots for Habibi. The track is the fourth video Now United shot in Dubai over the course of two weeks, two of which featured an all-girl cast of four singers. With the pandemic restricting the scope and the number of people working on set, most of the videos were limited to one location.
Now United's Dubai hotel take over
Released on September 18, the first video was for The Weekend's Here and was shot in the rooms and grounds of The Paramount and Al Seef Heritage hotels.
The follow up for Somebody, released on September 30, had the group shooting amid the neon lit edifices of The W Dubai – The Palm.
For the October 7 release of Chained Up, it was the boys' turn to step up with five members singing and dancing around the opulent lobby, restaurants and lush parks of the One and Only Royal Mirage
Speaking to The National a few days after her appointment, Ardakani knew what she was signing up for when joining the group. With back to back videos shoots, constant rehearsals and recording sessions, she expects the band to be a well-oiled machine by the time they are able to tour again.
"With Covid-19, and everything, I guess we're doing the best that we can,” she said. “And right now to make things work we practice to be ready for everything that's going to come.”