There are many works treating of music and its relationship with social class, age, gender, race and several other dimensions. Somebody’s musical tastes give some interesting hints on who they are.
I don’t know if such studies have been carried in Algeria and I hope they have because, I am sure, there is a lot to learn about Algerians from the music they like. I am not aware of which music today’s young Algerians like, and I reckon you’ll a lot of hip-hop and its likes. Amateurs must forgive my ignorance of these not-my-cup-of-tea styles. I will therefore write a few words on what my friends used to listen to during high school years and how their tastes related to their social and cultural conditions.
Let’s start with the obvious.
There was this group of comrades who listened to Kabyle singers and to nothing else. Whenever you approach one you’ll hear him humming Matoub or Ait-Menguellet’s songs. They played the guitar or the mandolin, and they had long curly hair and Ait Menguellet’s beard. At some occasions, they listened to Arabic songs but only when the singer is Kabyle (Boudjemaa El Ankis, Kamel Messaoudi, Cheikh Hasnaoui, etc.) They supported the FFS and the MCB, and they felt it was their duty to unnerve the second group.
The second group was not very big. They were all scouts but not from FLN-related sections. They were close to Irshad and Islah and they listened exclusively to Anasheed. I remember I borrowed many of their tapes. It was new to me, most Munshidin were Middle-Eastern and sang about Palestine. I still recall one title “thuwwar” and another one, a marriage nasheed, with a chorus that goes like “ana sa3id, ana sa3id, etc.” (meaning “I am happy”).
Some other comrades, considered as more mature, split into two groups. One listened to Chaabi and the other to Oriental music. They used to argue on who was the best between Cheikh Amar Ezzahi and Mohamed Abdelwahab. I never understood how they could listen to those lengthy songs of Oum Kalthoum without falling asleep. They used to say that I would become like them in a few years. Many many years later, I still cannot listen to Oriental music, besides Fairuz that is, probably because mazalni sghir.
One group, of one or two, was special. Its members listened to bands such as Nirvana, AC/DC, Guns N’Roses or Dire Straits. They were rich, watched French TV, and were like they were living abroad. They spoke in French and were members of some rock band. Now I realise they were copies of those teenagers one can see in American high school TV shows.
The last group was the biggest in size. Its members listened to everything but mostly to Rai music. The group was divided into two major subgroups: those with big hearts and overwhelming feelings (lol) and these listened to Hasni, and the rest who listened to Khaled, Mami, Raina Rai, etc.
Now I wonder to which group I belong. I guess I’ll just create a new one and invite you all to join me. The below’s song fan group is born!
I realise the blatant generalisations I am making but hey it’s not a social analysis.