Kurdish pop singer drops beats to defeat IS

Kurdish pop singer drops beats to defeat IS
3 min read
15 June, 2015
Helly Luv's anti-IS video for her latest song 'Revolution' has proved a hit in the Iraqi Kurdish region and elsewhere.
The video for Helly Luv's song 'Revolution' has more than 800,000 views [AFP]
A rocket slams into a building in an unnamed Kurdish village, before Islamic State group fighters emerge through the smoke and fire with tanks. Civilians run for cover, bodies lie on the ground, as it looks like IS is to expand even further.

But then, a golden pair of high-heeled shoes announce the entry of our heroine, with her shock of red hair and a kuffiyah wrapped around her face. Walking past the fleeing locals, she walks right up to the tank, and unfurls a banner. It's in English, but the IS fighter gets the message: 'END THE VIOLENCE'.

The scene is not actual footage of a battle with IS, but a music video for the song 'Revolution', and a very well-made one at that, featuring Kurdish-Finnish pop star Helly Luv, who says she was only a couple of kilometres away from the frontline between Kurdish peshmerga forces and IS in Iraq to film the video.

"There were some who warned me against going there, but I insisted that filming be in real places affected by Daesh terrorism," Luv told AFP in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil, referring to IS by their Arabic acronym.

The video sends the message that the world must unite to fight IS, that Kurds are a world apart from their IS nemesis. A catchy Eurodance beat can also do no harm, it seems.

The video shows images of coexistence, with different religions and different nationalities waving their respective flags and holding up signs for peace in different languages.

But Luv is far from a pacifist, with a bullet motif to many of her outfits, and peshmerga fighters featuring prominently as her backing crew.

"I want to give something to the peshmerga because I consider myself one of them," Luv said. "I wore peshmerga clothes in the song to support them."

The Los Angeles-based singer, who has worked with hip-hop giants such as The Game, appears to have made the music video in coordination with the Kurdish government. The ministry of peshmerga, interior ministry and Erbil's police academy are all thanked in the credits.

The video has already hit 800,000 views since its release on YouTube two weeks ago, and is proving popular.

"The Kurdish singers have begun singing for the peshmerga in other languages, and this is a beautiful step and will result in the world knowing more about who the peshmerga are," said a peshmerga officer, Nawzad Saleh.

Helly Luv, real name Helan Abdulla, was born to Kurdish parents in Iran, who later fled to Turkey and then Finland, before she moved to the US at 18 to try her luck there. However, the peshmerga was always in her blood – her grandfather was one of their fighters.

The peshmerga appear to be a theme in her videos, with her last major video, for her song 'Risk it All', released last year, also featuring her with the Kurdish soldiers, as well as throwing a petrol bomb.