If you, like me, think M.I.A. jumped the world pop shark with the “Born Free” video, try Abjeez, an Iranian pop/ska group based in Sweden fronted by sisters Melody and Safoura Safavi. Their music is political, personal, satirical, funny, catchy and accompanied by great videos.
You speak Persian, right? Okay, good, because Abjeez sings mostly in Persian, with the occasional jaunt into Swedish. (If you don’t, you’ll just have to buy their CDs, which include kinda awkward English-translated lyrics.) While not every member of the six-piece group is Iranian, the non-Iranian members all have Persianized nicknames (Robin becomes Ramin, Paulo becomes Pahlevan, etc). Their latest album, Perfectly Displaced, also includes a cover of Puerto Rican salsa singer Eddie Santiago’s “Tu Me Haces Falta”(“I Need You”). Abjeez sings it in Spanish with a little bit of Persian mixed into the chorus.
“Barab Barab”, my personal favorite song of theirs, also has a good video in which they wear stereotypical rap-video finery while singing about how everything they have is really crappy.
Many of Abjeez’s songs are social commentary in the form of gentle satire - like “Khaastegaari”, which pokes fun at the process of arranged marriage in Iran (this video may only be funny if you’re Persian).
More political songs like “Eddeaa (Pretensions)”, “Nasle Man (My Generation)” and “Demokracy” (video below, includes English subtitles; trigger warning: war violence, wounded children) address cultural modes of thought in Iran and the current political climate in the Middle East.
All of the songs mentioned (except for “Tu Me Haces Falta”) are from their 2007 album Hameh (Everyone).Last but not least, check out this adorable video they made for the Iranian national soccer team: