DUBAI: From recording covers at home to having his face emblazoned across a billboard in New York City’s Times Square this month, Jordanian singer Issam Al-Najjar has been making moves in the region with his Arabic hit “Hadal Ahbek” that went viral on social media app TikTok.
His TikTok hashtag “#hadal_ahbek” so far has more than 480 million views, while his music, lyric and performance videos on YouTube have a total of 77 million views.
The catchy upbeat song, which was released a few months ago, also took the top spot on Spotify’s Global Viral 50 with more than 30 million streams — and he is using the fame to pioneer a new genre of music, A-Pop.
“It’s Arabian pop. You know how Koreans have K-pop, I just wanted it to be a possibility — you know — because the music that I am making is a little bit different than the normal Arabic music that we hear,” the young star, who turns 18 in May, told Arab News.
“I’ve been singing professionally for the past year,” said the musician, recalling his rise to fame over the past year with the smash hit “Hadal Ahbek.”
“We wrote this song and we posted a video of it on Instagram and people actually liked it. Six months later, we recorded that song ‘Hadal Ahebek,’ which was a success,” he said. “We just dropped it unofficially because we weren’t expecting anything from this song.”
The music sensation, who is now signed with Universal Arabic Music — the label under the umbrella of Universal Global — said that he was only hoping for 10,000 views, which he hit in a day, he recalled.
“The story behind this song was that I was facetiming one of my friends and she had her head on the pillow and I said ‘Hoty rasek aal makhade’ (place your head on the pillow) and it went from there,” Al-Najjar said.
Managed by Lebanese-Canadian mogul Wassim Slaiby — who also counts Canadian superstar The Weeknd as a client — Al-Najjar is set to make waves with his dual-language repertoire, although he believes his audience prefers it when he croons in Arabic.
His first recorded song was “One of a Kind,” which was an English song that Al-Najjar said he recorded in his room. “But, I think because I have an Arabian audience, I feel like people accepted (“Hadal Ahebek”) or liked it more.”
Earlier this month, Spotify collaborated with Al-Najjar who became its latest RADAR artist in the Middle East and North Africa region.
RADAR is an emerging-artist program that spotlights rising talent from around the world.
The partnership saw the global chart-topper collaborate with Canadian music production and DJ duo Loud Luxury and Iraqi-Canadian singer and songwriter Ali Gatie for the release of “Turning Me Up,” the English version of “Hadal Ahbek.”