“In order for man to gain peace, man must fight his wars with music,” parps the cringingly trite message, administered with as solemn and heartfelt a voice as if conducting a reading at a funeral. It concludes with the ground-shaking call to action: “Now sit back and enjoy the groove,” before something approximating haggard ’90s dance music tries and fails to reconcile the slip at the starting gate.
The assailant in question is naRa, a singer and, it says here, “dance music enthusiast” from Beirut. On this evidence, the Lebanese capital is a little off the pace when it comes to dance music. Serenity was produced by naRa and the humorously titled Tom Dell’Arso. Their hackneyed attempts at euro-pop, possibly better aimed at a Eurovision market than anywhere else, are firmly stuck in the very worst traditions of music that wasn’t even much cop 15 years ago.
Alas, on with the album. The second track, Soul Food, sees naRa’s foam-headed cack-ramblings mark a semi-inevitable turn for the worse. A snapshot of her lyrical output: “Come on people let me see you get up”; “Can you feel it coming on so strong?”; and “It’s all about the music”.
Although apparently not. Because this music is shocking. However, when the song thankfully concludes, it does so with a pretty nice, if woefully out of place, piano motif. It’s almost in time and everything.
Genuinely naRa’s lyrics are like she’s reciting from the outlawed manual Lyrics To Make Blood Boil. There’s no shortage of cringingly trite sentiments. “My life is filled with joy!” – Serenity; “I knew it was you, this time it’s true” – Love At First Sight; “Let your feet do all of the walking, let your hips do all of the talking” – Rhythm; and “Tonight is the night, come on people let me see you do it right” – repeated ad infinitum on Tonight.
But such unforgivable lyrical shortcomings mask a greater indiscretion. naRa can’t sing. Her timing is all over the place, her harmonies discordant, and she struggles to hit the right notes. Bad melodies are often overdubbed with worse melodies with catastrophic consequence. Tonight is a fine example.
The song titles give all this away. Can naRa honestly come up with nothing more enticing than Rhythm, Tonight, Stay or I Am? Half-baked. That’s what You Are.
Her official website unpretentiously proclaims that “any true connoisseur of fine music cannot but help find her approach fascinating.” Well, queer syntax aside, the only approach of naRa’s that could possibly bring about fascination is one that leads into a pool of sharks from a very high diving board.