Yasalam music rundown

From Kanye West to Prince on Yas Island to Haifa Wehbe and Easy Star All Stars on the Corniche, there's something for everyone this F1 weekend.

Kanye West performs during Rolling Stone magazine's 40th anniversary VIP party at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2007. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

The worlds of sport and pop music might seem like strange bedfellows, but the frenzied response that follows the naming of the half-time acts at the Super Bowl every year shows how the two have converged in the name of mass entertainment.

It's no coincidence, then, that the busiest week in Abu Dhabi's sporting calendar - that of the Formula 1 grand prix - has also become the time when fans of live music have the greatest selection of gigs from which to choose.

This year's group of artists is the the most diverse yet; topping the bill are the rapper Kanye West, the alt-rockers Linkin Park and the genre-defying showman, Prince. All three will play to thousands at the Yas Arena. The booking of West, one of the hottest hip-hop artists in the world on the eve of releasing his fifth album, is certainly a coup for the Abu Dhabi promoter Flash. As was securing a rare Middle Eastern appearance from Prince - considered to be among the greatest songwriters of all time. The artist's 21-night residency at London's O2 Arena in 2007 went down as one of the decade's greatest live experiences.

But the Yas Island concerts will be largely off-limits to those without tickets to the grand prix itself. Beats on the Beach is intended to be the antidote to this; the line-up of free concerts offers everything from internationally recognised Arab and western artists to local acts.

Starting tonight and continuing until Saturday, the Corniche is hosting almost five hours of live music every night. The Jamaican dancehall singer Sean Paul (playing on Thursday) is perhaps the best-known internationally, famous for the huge singles 'Gimme the Light','We Be Burnin' and 'Temperature'. Middle Eastern artists are also well represented though, with the Tunisian pop heart-throb Ahmed al Sherif, the glamorous Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe and the Dabke musician Fares Karam (also from Lebanon) taking the other three headlining slots.

With up to seven artists playing each day, the Beats on the Beach line-up contains several unusual artists; not least the reggae collective Easy Star All Stars. The group scored an international cult hit in 2003 with their album Dub Side of the Moon, a blissed-out Jamaican re-working of Pink Floyd's classic opus. They followed it up in 2006 with Radiodread, which (to the delight of long-haired students the world over) was a reggae take on OK Computer.

In little need of introduction, the US R&B diva Kelis will also play the Corniche. The star's electronica-based 2010 album, Flesh Tone, has been lauded as an incredible return to form for the artist, best known for the 2003 hit 'Milkshake'. Emerging artists will also be well represented, with one of the major proponents of the UK's underground grime scene, Chipmunk, taking to the stage, while the ubiquitous Dubai rockers Sho? will be flying the flag for hard-working bands from the region.

In the slightly more lavish surroundings of the Yas Hotel, three highly exclusive acoustic performances will take place over the weekend. The soul singer Gabrielle will dazzle an audience of just 300 on Friday; crowd members will be able to speculate on which of her two UK number one singles will start the set - 1993's 'Dreams' or 1999's 'Rise'. She will be followed by the revolving line-up girl group the Sugababes and the recent Mercury Prize-nominee Corinne Bailey Rae on the evening of the race.

Those who like their music to have a higher number of beats per minute shouldn't feel left out. Basement Jaxx, Tinie Tempah and Flo Rida top the line-up of DJs and hip-hop acts due to perform at the Yas Hotel's Skybar after-parties, beginning tomorrow night.

Go to www.thinkflash.ae for tickets.