From Nancy Ajram to Tamer Hosny: Which Arab pop stars are behind the songs for 2021's Ramadan TV dramas?

A good opening song is as important as the drama that follows

Arab singers Sherine Abdel Wahab, Melhem Zein and Carole Samaha lent their vocal talents to Ramadan dramas in 2021. Ruel Pableo for The National, Getty Images, Mawazine Festival
Arab singers Sherine Abdel Wahab, Melhem Zein and Carole Samaha lent their vocal talents to Ramadan dramas in 2021. Ruel Pableo for The National, Getty Images, Mawazine Festival

Singers and actors have once again united to collaborate on some of the most-anticipated television shows filmed for Ramadan this year.

And the theme songs for these programmes, known as ‘Titrat’, can be as important as the talent on screen in determining the show’s success.

But while actors mostly receive the glory for a hit show, what do the singers get for their troubles? Egyptian chanteuse Carmen Soliman, who is no stranger to Ramadan dramas, with her latest contribution being 2019’s Hikayati, starring Yasmine Sabri, says the benefits are shared by everyone.

“For 30 days millions of people get to hear your song each night at the beginning and end of each episode,” she tells The National. “This is great exposure because it also attracts listeners who are not familiar with my work.”

But that visibility comes on the back of hard work. Soliman says that with so much riding on the success of a Ramadan theme song, recording one is a lot of pressure.

“What you are doing is serving the vision of the creative people behind the show, such as the producers, writers and director,” she says.

“So when you are given the song you really have to understand what the concept of the show is about and then you do your best in capturing that mood. I find it really creative and exciting.”

Soliman is not the only singer who enjoys the thrill of the challenge. Each year a growing list of Arab pop heavyweights and rising talents get involved. As a result, the Ramadan TV series song has grown into a genre of its own, with major streaming services offering playlists featuring tracks from shows present and past.

This year has been no different. Superstar singers known internationally, including Lebanon's Nancy Ajram, Egypt’s Tamer Hosny and Syria’s Nassif Zeytoun, all hit the studio, alongside smaller names who have made an impact locally, such as Morocco’s Asma Lmnawar and Algeria’s Soolking.

While their respective programmes battle it out for ratings, the associated songs go on to serve as the soundtrack for a memorable Ramadan.

Here are 10 new theme songs to listen out for, which feature in this year's anticipated Ramadan dramas from across the Arab world.

1. 'Wated' by Muslim (Series: 'Mousa')

Egyptian artist Muslim, a musician in the country's electro dance style mahraganat, landed the plum gig of singing the theme song for epic drama Mousa.

Considering it's for the show that stars renowned drama king Mohamed Ramadan, the track immediately trended on Twitter in Egypt once it arrived on YouTube on Wednesday.

The song is composed in an Egyptian folk arrangement, and Muslim’s mountainous tenor vocals sketch out Ramadan's titular character, a poor crocodile-hunter and blacksmith who falls in love with the local mayor’s daughter.

2. ‘Nasl El Aghrab’ by Tamer Hosny (Series: 'Nasl El Aghrab')

On its way to becoming a hit in its own right, Tamer Hosny’s title track racked up more than three million views in 48 hours.

The anguish and sorrow of the lyrics set the viewer up for the tale of an ex-convict returning to his community to discover his best friend has married his wife and has moved into the family home.

3. 'Ma Tehkom Ala Hada' by Nancy Ajram (Series: 'Rahou')

When you get Nancy Ajram to sing the theme song, you make big a deal about it. So that's what the producers of Lebanese drama Rahou did, when they released the track last month – way before the full plot line was revealed.

Not that Ajram’s fervent fan base minded. This is another trademark glossy ballad from the singer they love.

4. 'Ayech Wahdi' by Melhem Zein (Series: '350 Gram')

Anticipation surrounding 350 Gram, about a shady lawyer who gets his comeuppance, was only heightened after the Syrian drama’s theme song was released on YouTube this month.

A Lebanese superstar collaboration, the sweeping orchestral track is composed by Oussama Rahbani and sung by Melhem Zein.

5. 'Aw'at' by Nassif Zeytoun (Series: 'Lil Mout')

A go-to for television producers, Syrian singer Nassif Zeytoun delivers a string-laden ballad for Lebanese romantic drama Lil Mout. The song finds Zeytoun addressing a former flame and decrying the lies leading to their split.

The accompanying music video features series stars Maguy Bou Ghosn and Daniella Rahme.

6. 'Elli Khann' by Carole Samaha (Series: ‘Ded El Kaser’)

In this dramatic ballad, Lebanese songstress Carole Samaha channels the rage and anguish of Salma, the main character of Ded El Kaser, who strives to come to terms with her destructive husband.

7. 'Weftash' by Asma Lmnawar (Series: ‘Bint El Assas’)

A big Moroccan production needs one of the country’s biggest stars. Enter Asma Lmnawar, whose angst-ridden ballad captures the gravity of the show – the patriarch of a family becomes addicted to alcohol and gambling.

8. 'Washi Al Haqiqi' by Sherine Abdel Wahab (Series: ‘Lahm Ghazal’)

The Egyptian pop star is no stranger to Ramadan dramas, whether starring in them or singing the main track.

Sherine Abdel Wahab opts for the latter this year, with this folky ballad featuring conversational lyrics that reflect on a relationship teetering on the brink. The drama stars Egyptian actress Ghada Abdel Razek.

9. ‘'Mamnou’ Al Tajawol' by Rashed Al Majed (From the series 'Mamnou’ Al Tajawol')

Ramadan sitcoms by Saudi Arabian actor and satirist Nasser Al Qasabi always come with a jaunty theme song.

This year is no different, with Saudi singer Rashed Al Majed enlisted for the breezy Khaleeji pop tune.

The lyrics match the plot line of the series, which looks at social anxiety caused by the pandemic in the kingdom.

10. ‘Millionaire’ by Soolking (Series: ‘Millionaire')

Soolking also enters the Ramadan theme song fray this year.

The Algerian singer lends his smooth croon to the family comedy-drama Millionaire.

Fans will be pleased it’s not the typical ballad associated with theme songs. Instead, Millionaire is composed of the clubby French-Arabic pop that made him a superstar across North Africa.

Published: April 15, 2021 08:39 PM


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