A Bahraini cover (above) of Bob Marley’s classic song No Woman No Cry has sparked a controversy on social media with viewers commenting on the fact that many monarchies in the Gulf hold a poor track record when it comes to women’s rights.
In a performance led by Bahraini singer Mohammed al-Bakri, an all-male choir dressed in traditional Arab thobes belt out the reggae tune, accompanied by traditional instruments like the oud and hennaed drums. Some of the men even get up towards the end of the song to showcase their dance moves. The video, shared by Tunes Arabia’s YouTube Channel, quickly raked up millions of views across various social media platforms.
Many viewers praised the singing and the unique, stylish rendering of the song. Some called it a “kick-ass Bahraini version” while others remarked on how much the choir seemed to enjoy it. The irony of the song chosen, however, irked several social media users who wasted no time in pointing it out.
The original song, released in 1974 by Bob Marley and the Wailers, addresses a poor woman growing up in the Jamaican slums. Marley asks her not to cry, promising her that “everything’s gonna be alright”. But many social media users were not impressed with a group of Arab men singing about the plight of women. A Facebook user commented on the video, “Apart from when I stone you to death in the square for looking at another man...I think that’s how the second verse goes...”
A Facebook user took the liberty of altering the lyrics, writing, “No woman no cry, you are gonna finally drive.” The comments refer to the parody cover of Bob Marley’s track by Saudi comedian and activist Hisham Fageeh, which was aptly titled No Woman No Drive. A Twitter user even posted the video of the parody version (below) calling it “Original version 2013.”
For some others, though, the music mattered more, with one viewer pointing out in the comments, “Can we not mix hatred with creativity in music?”