2011 was a bad year for Arabic celebrities. Arab Revolutions stole the thunder – and made a lot of noise - as revolution news merged with entertainment, as it were. Notably entertainment-worthy, were flamboyant leaders astonishing us with their theatrical speeches and spoofed speech-songs like the unforgettable, ‘Zenga-Zenga’. Gaddafi’s superstar hit, courtesy of inventive Israeli DJ who didn’t miss an opportunity to spread the Revolution on YouTube, captured the Arab and Western world’s attention, and moved the real entertainers – musical artists and actors of the region- to the side-line.
As for the entertainers’ bread and butter for 2011, their songs and films and soaps, there was a distinct lull in the industry and business slowed to a standstill. The music and film that was hitting the radio and satellite waves this year was either pre-revolution released or else experimental- new material that risked being buried or ignored during this underfunded under subscribed entertainment season.
Some stars even fell into a deep sleep during 2011, hardly a year to sleep through. Blink and you might miss a revolution or a fallen leader! After a stroke to the brain George Wassouf fell into a critical coma. His family and friends transferred him to AUB hospital in Beirut, where he has since been recovering and going from strength to strength. Fortunately for business and the fans, he had recorded an album just before he went out of action, and so we are due to be treated with a Christmas release.
Often, a pattern that did the trick for most artists, was surviving on their most recent work churned out pre-revolution that was still flooding the charts. For quite a few, their album of two years was still doing well, affording the artists a Revolution year off.
Since production companies and marketing outfits could not dedicate the resources they would, contingencies were relied on. Other artists attempted to exploit or profit from the revolution madness by dedicating songs and such to the headlines. This proved experimental and success depended on the level of promotion.
Egypt's "Jan 25" Revolution (that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak) impacted all releases, incurring delays, hitches and hampering productivity. Some artists delayed releases, some went ahead and released revolution songs.
Tamer Husni followed others’ successful example swith ‘What's Round the Corner's Better’ but flopped. In his case, he may have alienated fans with his political stand during his country’s Revolution.
It is also hard to say with Egypt, as many stars made a comeback after an absence, missing the spotlight and did well in personal sales some out of revolution some not.
Here is a round up of the celebrity highlights, and lowlights, of 2011 which was a bizarre year of misfortune for many. Scandals, hospitalizations and deaths marred what was a joyful year of motherhood or successful comebacks with record sales for others.
2011 was the year the political news stole the limelight from the Arab World's celebrities and stars. Revolutions were the fodder for the people's entertainment, where once the pop songs and soap operas had been their daily bread. A highlight of the year's drama for the celebrity camp, in a star-studded line-up.