Playlist #17: Arabic Cartoon Music

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Get ready for a vintage and analog take on Arabic cartoon music. This time around, we visit the legendary Arabic cartoons that swept the region during the 1980’s and 1990’s, cementing themselves as a staple of youth nostalgia and retro aesthetics, many of which still hold a significant place in the hearts of those who grew up with them. The orchestral music of the cartoons’ theme songs, the cross-country collaborative works, and the vocal mastery of many of the musicians behind them often go unnoticed. Yet, the story of music behind the cartoons is one that needs to be highlighted.

Many of the Arabic-speaking cartoons were dubbed by the Gulf Cooperation Council established in Kuwait in 1976 that included Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen in an effort to fortify the cultural links and heritage of the region. This enabled actors and companies from the Gulf, like Kuwait and Iraq to work together. The now iconic children’s program “Open Sesame – إفتح يا سمسم” was one of its premier educational programs that spanned over 3 generations of children and was recorded across multiple Arabic-speaking countries.

The theme song of ‘Adnan wa Lina – عدنان ولينا ‘ is the Arabic version of the Japanese anime Future Boy Conan. The apocalyptic scenery of the destruction that descended on planet earth is skillfully narrated by the two main protagonists and created by renowned Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki who later went on to found the world famous Ghibli Studios.

Most of the songs praise equality (including gender equality and diversity), love, truth and nurturing hope in the hearts of children. Syrian singer Tarek Tarqan who, together with his children, participated in many of these programs, is still considered the spiritual father of cartoon music, alongside international Lebanese singer Sammy Clark. Jordan also contributed to the high quality children’s production with programs like ‘Al-Manahel – المناهل ‘. While being orchestral, the music often reflects local melodies and musical flavors, a stimulating and revolutionary edge and incorporates quick drumming beats and choral singing.

Bring out the child in you and explore the musical universe of Arabic cartoons.

What are MARSM Playlists?

Marsm’s bi-weekly playlists take on the musical history, trends and upcoming productions from the music scene in the Arabic-speaking countries. Each playlist focuses on a new theme, showcasing both underground and established artists – from the more dance-able to the most experimental – and everything in between.