Ladies and gentlemen, the hottest thing smoking in Kurdistan, at least, music wise. We give you, Helly Luv. (We have a sneaking suspicion it’s not her real name).
After the classically Middle East ululation at the beginning, she gets down to singing a pretty conventional pop song, Risk it All, in English. The background singing and dancing, etc., is that sort of cosmic East-meets-West that you see in the Kurdish areas. She herself is a beautiful ambassador for the de facto Kurdish nation that puts every head of state in the region into the nonlinear processing zone.
She was born in Iraq. Her mother was a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter, but the family left during the Iran-Iraq war. She grew up in Finland and in the USA.
Best of all: Islamists of all varieties (including her own Kurds) absolutely loathe her. Since her music video was released in February, a variety of people that you probably wouldn’t like very much have sworn to behead, or stone, or do something else unpleasant to this harmless young woman. If you don’t like her music, change the channel, why don’t you?
Kurdish pop singer Helly Luv says she will not be put off by death threats from Iraqi Islamist militants since release of her first music video but, drawing on its title, insists she will “Risk It All” to help a push for an independent Kurdistan.
Iraqi-born Luv, 25, has seen her video rack up more than 2.5 million views on YouTube since its release in February; but she has faced criticism for what some see as provocative imagery in the clip accompanying the modern mix of dance, hip-hop and traditional Middle Eastern music.
Luv said the video, which includes exploding petrol bombs, backing dancers with AK-47 rifles, and the singer dancing in a mid-thigh silver dress atop a citadel, represents the Kurdish spirit and struggle for an independent state.
“There were death threats from many Islamic groups… it was a really hard time for me,” Luv said in an interview in Arbil, the autonomous Kurdistan region’s capital. “(But) my whole message is that, Kurdish people, we need to risk everything for our dreams and fight for our country.”
She isn’t just talking about patriotism… she recently visited Peshmerga troops near the front close to ISIL-held Mosul. She could be safe in the USA. Instead, she’s placed herself mere miles from people who absolutely would kill her in painful and slow ways, and feel righteous about doing it.
Most of the online trolls seem to have decided she is a Freemason, or a tool of the Illuminati (would that make her an Illuminatus? Not up on moon-worshipper mysticism). And the things they post are… well, every one of her videos’ comments becomes a battlezone for dim, angry Turks, Iranians, mullahs, and God knows who else — into which she sometimes steps and gives as good as she gets, insult-wise.
Here she is a few months ago, doing the same song (appears to be lipsynched actually) “live” in Irbil for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which is a holy day for Zoroastrians, Parsees, Sufis, Ismailis, and the Baha’i… it’s been celebrated for 3,000 years or so. But her performance begins with powerful nationalistic imagery: newsreel footage of Saddam’s massacre of the Kurds in Halabja in 1988.
As you can see from the video, Nowruz has become a national holiday in Kurdistan. (Kurds spell it Newroz… a spelling that’s banned in Turkey, as was the holiday itself for decades).
There’s quite a bit more video and audio online from this pop star from the world’s hardest-luck country. For a secular track (with suggestive lyrics in English) that’s appropriate to the People of the Gun, we recommend “Shooter.” Put up on YouTube last month, and it hasn’t made the Salafists’ heads explode yet.
Maybe her music isn’t your three cups of tea. We can understand… most of what we listen to is from the 1960s or the 1770s, we confess. It’s beat and we don’t want to restore it, or it’s baroque and we don’t want to fix it. But we were entertained by our sojourn with Helly Luv and her dance music, and we wish her, and the Kurdish people, all the best.