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The Controversial Legacy of “The Orange”: A Look Back at Alaa Saad’s 2004 Song

In 2004, the Iraqi singer Alaa Saad released his song “The Orange”, which was a popular success and very popular in Iraq and the Arab world.

The owner of the song had started his artistic career at the end of the eighties of the last century, singing in nightclubs and hotels, before he began producing songs after 2003, says Iraqi writer and music critic Ali Abdul Amir.

Abdel-Amir explains, in his book “The Last Red Dress Dance”, saying: “The phenomenon of producing songs by these singers surfaced after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, but from Dubai, where Hatem Al-Iraqi, Salah Al-Bahr and Alaa Saad, the owner of “Orange”, resided. In addition to what is produced by less well-known Iraqi singers in Damascus and Amman.

Abdul Amir continues that they “found, instead of ‘Al-Shabab TV’, Arabic channels broadcasting songs, in addition to some Iraqi commercial channels.”

The Iraqi critic strongly criticized this type of songs, describing his melodies as “low” and the singers’ voices as “inconsistent with the technical conditions.” It is considered that the song “Orange”, for example, relies on “the abundance of dancing bodies to cover its artistic incoherence.”

The song, which sold thousands of copies, sparked a great controversy that spanned for years, and the controversy did not end even with the death of the owner of the song on this day in 2012, at the age of 45.

The song is available today on the YouTube platform and has achieved millions of views.

Three years after the song was released, in March 2007, Iraqi singer Saadoun Jaber accused Saad Alaa of distorting the song “Orange”. In an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, Jaber said, “The orange song is an old folk song by Masoud Al-Amartli, who is a great Iraqi artist.” However, he criticized Alaa Saad’s singing of the song, saying that it was “a beautiful song, but it was re-sung and directed in an invalid way that damaged the reputation of Iraqi women and offended her. He offered her to promote it through the dances of naked girls. The song was not supposed to appear in this way, and now let’s see where is the song Orange? It is dead.”

While news circulated about the famous Iraqi singer Kazem El Saher’s anger at the song, in fact, Al Saher praised the song and its singer in January 2005, during a press conference on the sidelines of the Sixth Doha Music Festival.

Al-Saher was asked about the song “The Orange” and the spread of similar songs at that time. Al-Saher said, in response to journalists’ questions, that he “never finds ‘Orange’ as bad or ridiculous as some say, but rather it is a beautiful and good song.”

He added that “the dance scenes in the clip, which captured the lion’s share of criticism, are from the Iraqi heritage found among the gypsies in one of the regions of Iraq, meaning that what the Arab audience watched is from the core of folklore,” considering that “it was better to present the dance scenes in a deliberate manner.” more and more respectful.” He also wished that “the girls would wear the traditional dress for these dances.”

The controversy over the song arose not only because it sparked artistic discontent among critics and artists, but also because it turned all of its participants into a potential target for physical liquidation, after their photos were published in the port of Umm Qasr in Basra, and an extremist group threatened to kill them, according to news published by the Saudi newspaper Al-Youm. .

The threat has already been implemented, by killing one of the performers who participated in the video clip of the song, called Hanadi.

“Her kidnappers fired four bullets into her skull, killing her instantly, and the motive, according to the group’s claim, was the scandalous dance in the song Orange by Alaa Saad,” according to the “Al-Youm” news published on October 23, 2004.

At the time, this news sparked a wave of rumors about the killing of the main dancer in the video clip, Ghaida Saad, whose nickname, after the song spread, became “The Orange Artist”. She was living in Dubai and appearing as a solo dancer in the nightclubs of the city.

According to the Iraqi journalist Sari Hussam, many people thought that the one who was killed at the time was Ghaida, not Hanadi. But the truth, Hossam confirms, is that the high school dancer Hanadi is the one who fell victim to extremism, after she was kidnapped and killed by members of her clan.

Hossam indicates that Ghaida still lives in the Emirates and has been out of news for a long time, since 2006, and reveals news published in a Gulf newspaper about her marriage to a Saudi businessman.

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