Sunday, November 30, 2008

Accolade - The All-Girl Saudi Rock Band

If you read the New York Times or any of the major blogs, you've probably heard about the first all-girl Saudi rock band. It's a pretty interesting story - Saudi culture has relaxed to the point that the band is a possibility, and they are apparently becoming a bit of an underground hit in the country. This, of course, is wonderful news from a feminist and humanitarian point of view. It's a sign of the improving cultural conditions that reformers in the country have been working hard to achieve.

Here's an excellent commentary on the band and the reactions to it, and you can hear the band's single here.

Despite many of the reactions on the web, Accolade isn't exactly on the cutting edge of Saudi cultural change. (Several Saudis have commented that they aren't even the first all-girl rock band, only the first one to go public) And while their existence is certainly nothing to sniff at, I think that their most important impact may come from a rather different direction.

Accolade is musically quite good. I've only hear the one song, of course, but I think they might turn out to be really, really good. In five years they might be as good as, say, Girlschool. This means that they could have staying power far beyond the "Ooh, a Saudi Girl Band! Shiny!" that the media has latched on to. They could have an international following - and they wouldn't be the "First All-Girl Saudi Band" - they would be "Accolade! (Of Saudi Arabia)".

And that would be something incredible. They would be an inspiration to women in oppressed cultures everywhere. They would spawn imitators, and hasten the cultural changes in Muslim countries. And perhaps most interesting of all, they would change the world's perception of Muslim Arabs. Whereas now, when the average paranoid westerner hears 'Muslim' or 'Arab', the first thought that comes to mind is 'Terrorist!' Wouldn't it be amazing if, instead, people thought "Hey, that new album from Accolade is AWESOME!"

Perhaps it won't happen - but I think that there's a chance! Their song has already received 78,000 listens - in only twenty days. Google "Saudi Rock Band" - it's all them. All they need now is a youtube video!

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