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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

Who is Issam Alnajjar? The Jordanian teen singer proving more popular on Spotify than Justin Bieber

From the US to the UAE, the singer-songwriter has topped a number of Spotify music charts

Jordanian singer Issam Al Najjar is an artist to watch. YouTube
Jordanian singer Issam Al Najjar is an artist to watch. YouTube

A song by a Jordanian teenager has become a viral sensation.

Released last September, Hadal Ahbek by singer-songwriter Issam Alnajjar is one of Spotify’s most streamed songs.

The track currently sits on the top spot of the platform’s Global Viral 50 – a chart measuring how songs are shared on the platform, blogs and social media.

That rise to the top is the culmination of reaching several number one positions in similar country-specific charts on the platform, including in the US, UK, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and India.

This means Alnajjar’s track, the title of which translates to I'll Keep Loving You, is right now being shared more than those of superstars Justin Bieber and The Weeknd.

The song found similar success on a range of social media platforms and streaming sites.

At present, it is on top of music discovery app Shazam’s Global chart with 1.7 million hits, while on YouTube, Hadal Ahbek's music video has achieved more than 17 million streams.

On TikTok, the song generated more than 91,000 videos that were watched by 45 million users. The song’s associated hashtag #hadal_ahbek also resulted in 301 million views to date on the app.

“We are so happy to see that one of our Mena music creators was able to make it, not just regionally but also globally,” TikTok's head of video and creative Rami Zeidan tells The National.

“Issam Alnajjar is a brilliant young upcoming artist and we look forward to continuing to be part of his growth journey through Arabic music.”

Why is it so popular?

Simply put: the song is catchy in all the right ways.

Where viral tracks have a habit of quickly outstaying their welcome, Hadal Ahbek's slow-burning success comes from how organic it all sounds.

Built on breezy folk arrangements recalling singers Ed Sheeran or Jason Mraz, the song exudes a gentle melancholy as it details a rocky relationship.

With a mixture of candour and conviction, Alnajjar’s lyrics directly address his partner, as he promises he will remain by her side.

“I will always be with you,” he croons. “Even if everyone is against you I'll keep loving you.”

The best part of all is the ingeniously simple scatting chorus ("Ra-pa-pa-pa-ra-pa-ra-pa"), which makes it hummable from Amman to Amsterdam.

A new star on the scene

Alnajjar, who is based in the Jordanian capital, seemingly burst on to the scene less than a year ago.

His YouTube channel, which has 326,000 subscribers, only has four songs, with Hadal Ahbek being one of two originals. The other self-penned tune is One Of A Kind, a more bluesy affair that was uploaded in June 2020.

That Alnajjar has yet to make a major media appearance is also in line with the low key vibe of his social media channels. His Instagram account rarely alludes to the fact that he is one of the most talked-about artists in the music industry. Instead, we are treated to videos of bedroom performances on his acoustic guitar and intimate snaps with "BFFs".

However, a rare post acknowledging his growing popularity is found in November.

Wearing a hoodie with Hadal Ahbek emblazoned across his chest, Alnajjar looks at the camera with a hand stretched.

The caption reads: "the dream is coming true."

Updated: February 3, 2021 03:54 PM

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