When you think about Middle Eastern music, what do you typically think of? Do you think of singers like Amr Diab, Cheb Khaled, and Fayrouz?

While I understand anyone’s love for these singers (I do love them myself), you are definitely missing out on the Middle Eastern music scene if you are not aware of the wide variety of genres that it has to offer.

For example, let us consider the Lebanese group Mashrou’ Leila. The kings of Lebanese alternative rock, as one might call them.

Their songs are melancholic, their lyrics relatable, their music videos artistic, and their music fantastic.

Although they started as just a workshop at the American University of Beirut, their dramatic (and political) lyrics soon made them widely known and immensely popular in Lebanon. And in 2014, they became the first Arabic group to ever be featured on a Rolling Stone magazine cover.

A typical product of the educated and highly political Lebanese people, Mashrou’ Leila represents the result of an art scene in a country with more widespread artistic underground movements and more traditional freedom of expression than most other countries in the region.

The band may be called a musical rebellion, but what I like the most about them is their expressed hope and belief for a greater and more popular alternative and independent creative scene in the Middle East. Yes, I want more!

Read more about this band here.

Thank you for this musical and creative contribution, Lebanon!