3 Minutes- Mashrou’ Leila

3 Minutes completely exceeded my expectations! I love the lyrics so much! Here they are in Arabic and English :

فيي إتخبى بجلدك، فيي البس كل وجوهك. هول
فيي إتخبى بخزانتك، فيي البس كل بدلاتك. بس قول
فيي كونك إذا بدك، فيي غني كل كلماتك. هول
فيي مثّل لك حياتك، لما تسمعني بمرايتك عم قول

بس قول لي مين بدي كون علشان ارضيك
اعطيني ٣ دقائق – داريني ب٣ دقائق
بس قول لي مين بدي كون علشان ارضيك
اتركلي مهري علطاولة – شك حلمك بخلخالي

فيي أوقف إذا بدك، أو اتمدد إذا ما بدك. قول
فيي اضحك إذا بدك، يا ما ابكي إذا انسبلك. بس قول

ليه ليهمني اني كون بدل من اني صير؟
كل الاشياء بتعيش لتنتهي بلحن جديد
الفرق بين الحرية والخضوع تخيير
أنا لي اخترت. أنا لي قبلت. أنا لي قلت
سمي الشيطان بإسمو وسمي الفنان كذاب
نصف الاشياء يلي بحسها بتجي من الخيال
وإذا بناقد نفسي كلنا منحتوي أعداء
أنا لي كبرت. أنا لي قبلت. أنا لي قلت

I could hide in your skin; I could wear all your faces. These (faces).

I could hide in your closet; I could wear all your suits. Just tell me to.
I could be you if you want me to; I could sing all your words. These (words).
I could act out your life, when you hear me in your mirror. And I’m saying:

Tell me who to be to please
Humor me for a 3 minute pop song.
Tell me who to be to please
leave the money on the nightstand; pin your fantasies to my anklet.

Standing up if you want it, or laying down if you’d prefer it. just tell me to.
I could laugh if you want, or cry if it better suits you. Just tell me to.

Why bother being, instead of becoming?
Anyway, all things live to die as a new tune.
The difference between freedom and submission is agency.
I made the choice. I permitted it. I said it.

Call the devil by his name, and call a musician a liar.
Half the things I feel, I imagined altogether.
“If I contradict myself, we all contain multitudes.
I became larger.” I permitted it. I said it.

Here’s my take on what the song means:

So, the first meaning that I saw was about challenging the father figure. The first verse made me think of a little girl wearing her mothers heels and trying her clothes from the closet or putting make up on her face. But very quickly there is a sense of desperation that I got from the song.  It seems to be asking “What is it that you want me to do?” “What other grand plan did you prepare for my future?” “Why can’t I be who I want to be?”.
It also sounds like the “the child” feels guilty for not speaking up and for baring with it all without complaining. The verse that got me to think this is :” I am the one who made the choice, I permitted it “.
The verse about calling the artist a liar may be hinting at parents who do not support their children’s artistic pursuits and just plan for them to be doctors or engineers (which is pretty much the entire population of the arab world). Another hint to this interpretation is the verse ” Leave the dowry on the table. Pin your fantasies to my ankle.” I can totally picture a teenager getting the pocket money that his parents left on the table and feeling like a dumb ass for being so needy. feeling so guilty for giving up his dreams and living the ones his parents want for him.
So this was my first reading.
But then…..
I remembered the Absolute collab thingy and very quickly it hit me: This song is the manifesto of the new Mashrou3 Leila, successful and famous and yet incorruptible!
In a way, this is a very big “fuck you” to all the industrial horse shit Rotana and Cie call music. It’s a big stand up for who Mashrou3 Leila is and promises to remain the free spirits, the last men standing. It’s just saying “We’re not gonna be your bitches!”
I think this meaning is created from the apparent conflict between the video and the lyrics:
You watch the video and you are like “ OMG I am so disappointed, what? Playing it cool? riding bikes with sexy girls? It’s called 3 minutes? Are they really going for a Madonna and Justin Timberlake “4 minutes” hit song? Why are they all so dolled up?
You get many questions, but if you listen carefully, you can see that the whole thing from a new perspective:
The older man comes in and he represents the production companies and he clearly tells the group what to do. It’s backstage. He gives them his instructions. In order for Absolute to sell more, there is a whole list that the band should do to be cool. After the meeting, Hamed comes out of the room as a politician. It makes sense because he’s now kind of a puppet who repeats what he is told, like most politicians these days. The other members of the group also do as the are told. Haig uses that axe kind of implying destruction or maybe manliness, Carl rides his bike with a sexy girl and Ibrahim is the barber who looks like he is butchering the girl. All of this is very much ironical. I think that it’s denouncing how the music industry turns men into macho bad boys who slaughter women by objectifying them.
But 2:21 is where the shift happens. They go back on stage where they belong. They’re in their element. They are not behind the curtains anymore.
I am not entirely sure what showing Hamed as a butcher means but I know that when Haig comes out as the badass he is (rocking that tattoo) and when Firas comes out as a nerd, they are affirming exactly what Mashrou’ Leila is and will remain: a nerdy, yet cheeky, edgy and even sexy music group that plays the game with their own rules.
Clearly the older man is not very pleased by what he sees on the screens and the confrontation at 4:06 is absolutely amazing. He looks so sweaty and just defeated. The microphone is hiding his mouth so they basically shut him down.
So all in all, the song and the music video are completely batching the whole pop music industry and how demeaning it is to both men and women. It’s also taking a clear stand: “Just because we got money from you doesn’t mean that we’re gonna be your bitches.”
Only Leila can do this so brilliantly.
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6 thoughts on “3 Minutes- Mashrou’ Leila

  1. I love your take on the lyrics! It’s very deep tbh. I absolutely love the meme at the start of the page. You’re a 9gagger aren’t you!! Anyway, I totally agree with your thoughts and ideas keep up the good work on your blog! 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks a lot Hana! I am glad you enjoyed it.
      I actually got the meme from Mashrou’ leila’s Facebook page. They had a contest before their last concert in Cairo where they gave out 20 tickets for people who posted original memes.
      You should definitely take a look at them, there’s some seriously hilarious ones!

      Like

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