Remixing of Fairuz’s Hit Gives Confidence to Beirut After Its Devastation

A new techno reimagining of Fairuz’s iconic song “Li Beirut” has been released to mark six months since the deadly Beirut Port blast.

Created by Lebanese-Armenian DJ and producer Roy Malakian – known from “The Pulse” on Radio One – the track features vocalist Manel al-Mallat.

The original tune has had a resurgence of popularity since Aug. 4, played for its patriotic yet melancholy tone, as an expression of grief for the lives lost and homes destroyed in the explosion.

The remix takes a more modern approach to the much-loved classic, with western beats and English lyrics.

“I usually work with international artists but after the blast I started this project,” Malakian told The Daily Star. “I gave Manel a challenge to change the lyrics and write something more positive because I wanted to give Lebanon more hope.

“The track is more into electronic and down tempo style so it’s livelier and I redid the whole thing from scratch,” he added. “The main melody is Spanish and did my own style with the arrangement. The verses are in English and only the chorus is in Arabic from the original song.”

Makakian’s isn’t the first pop-tune remix of a Lebanese classic to have arisen since Lebanon descended into the netherland of pandemic-flavored financial collapse.

October last, death metal band Kimaera marked their 20th anniversary with a unique cover of Majida al-Roumi’s “Beirut Sett El Donia,” conceived by the band’s front man Jean-Pierre “JP” Haddad. That homage provoked threats of legal action.

Makakian’s collaboration with Mallat is part of the DJ’s new project, a series of collaborations with a number of prominent vocalists around the world to create new tracks.

He’s been using the pandemic’s stay-at-home lifestyle to focus on producing new work, spending some 12-15 hours a day in the studio or writing new music.

“I’ve had many booking requests but last year and especially around New Year’s Eve I cancelled everything. I will not perform until [coronavirus] leaves us,” he said. “I’m not going to travel or do any shows until things get better because people are not being aware of this disease.”

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