Listen: Khaleeji music and K-pop come together in new Spotify song 'Is it On'

Bader Al Shuaibi and AleXa bring the party vibes with their collaborative track

Kuwaiti-Saudi pop artist Bader Al Shuaibi and Korean-American singer AleXa release 'Is It On' on Spotify. Courtesy Spotify
Kuwaiti-Saudi pop artist Bader Al Shuaibi and Korean-American singer AleXa release 'Is It On' on Spotify. Courtesy Spotify

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia meet Korea in a new Spotify release.

As part of the platform’s emerging artist initiative, Radar Mena, Kuwaiti-Saudi singer Bader Al Shuaibi teams up with K-pop artist AleXa for Is it On, a dance-pop number fit for the summer.

The track is Radar Mena’s first collaboration featuring a K-pop act as it continues its mission of paring regional artists with international names.

Other tacks released under the banner include last month’s remix of Jordanian singer Issam Alnajjar’s viral hit Hadal Ahbek with Canada’s Ali Gates and Loud Luxury, as well as 2020’s Save Me, featuring Dubai-based British electronic music duo Hollaphonic and Lebanese soul singer Xriss Jor.

The numbers don’t lie

While Is it On may initially sound like a random pairing, the collaboration occurred off the back of impressive streaming numbers.

“K-pop is performing amazingly well across the world, but especially so in the Gulf, where we see K-Pop releases shoot to the peak position on charts,” says Wissam Khodur, head of Artist and Label Partnerships at Spotify Mena.

“Equally as important is opening up the export market to artists both ways, growing their fan bases globally and paving the way for more opportunities in their career development.”

Al Shuaibi, 26, also sees the possibilities, with musical and physical borders no longer challenges to overcome.

“It’s 2021, we barely see any borders between cultures and people", he says.

"This project is the child of globalisation and my personal love for Korean Pop culture.

“AleXa is an extremely talented artist and together I believe we created the coolest cross-cultural collaboration, ever.”

Alexa says: “I’m so grateful for this collaboration. It’s a fresh, never-heard-before mix of cultures and sound.

“I really can’t wait for our fans to hear this track all over the world.”

K-Pop a regional force

While global popularity beckons, Is it On will surely find a receptive audience in the region.

K-pop continues to be a dominant music force across the Arab world with leading groups BTS and Monsta X playing sold-out shows in Riyadh in 2019.

The UAE also hosted large concerts including the 2018 SMTOWN Live festival in Dubai featuring 10 acts including Exo, BoA and Super Junior.

Abu Dhabi was also home to a KCon event in 2016 featuring BTS pre-mega stardom.

While it remains to be seen if Is it On will become a hit, the collaboration between Al Shuaibi and AleXa proves everyone can join the K-pop party.

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Read more:

'Hadal Ahbek': How Jordanian teen Issam Alnajjar captured the attention of The Weeknd's manager

The international rise of Korean pop music

How K-pop conquered India

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Updated: May 24, 2021 01:48 PM

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