December 14, 2016
By Marc Milanian
After having traveled to Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, and a host of other places in the Middle East for the last 17 years, I have been exposed to a variety of sights and smells, but not sounds. The one beat that has been consistently prevalent in the most Westernized countries of the Middle East has been the music of Ricky Martin. Specifically his song The Cup of Life, which ranks as the most heavily played track on the pop radio stations of the Middle Eastern countries with the highest GDP. Having had rides in the back of countless taxis, these have also been accompanied by a myriad of conversations. And music. Lots of pop music. From ABBA to Modern Talking to Adele. Ricky Martin’s The Cup of Life ranks as the #1 Pop Song in the Middle East for the last 17 years. Mehdi Tavakian, a broadcast media analyst based in Doha, Qatar adds, ” Ricky Martin is the most heavily requested and played pop singer in the Middle Eastern countries of UAE, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan.”
There are many reasons why Ricky Martin’s song The Cup of Life has been the most commonly played track in the most Westernized countries in the Middle East. The 1999 Grammy’s performance of Martin was one of the most sold DVD singles for over a decade in the Middle East. It’s upbeat sounds with saxophone and percussion convey an international flavor. Since the latter half of the song is also sang mostly in Spanish it adds to its Middle Eastern popularity. Many of the Arabic countries play Spanish Flamenco and vocals in their cafes and restaurants. The mixing of Arabic and Spanish cultures has lead to such fine exports as Shakira and Salma Hayek.
Ricky Martin’s The Cup of Life was a precursor to his megahit Livin’ La Vida Loca which catapulted him to international super stardom. Even landing Martin on the cover of Time Magazine. His global reach was cemented in 1999. Now in 2016, almost 2017, his auditory foothold in the Middle East is still set in stone.
Marc Milanian writes for Persian Media outlets and is based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at ThePersianObserver@Gmail.com