Last fall, RFE/RL’s Persian-language service Radio Farda
launched "Top 10," a monthly music program featuring new music being produced in Iran and throughout the Iranian diaspora worldwide.
We talked to Radio Farda's chief music producer Payam Razi about the "Top 10" from May and take a look at this month's program. June marks the one year anniversary of the protests that broke out in Iran following controversial presidential elections.
(Click here for a previous chat we had with Payam
about Iranian underground music).
---What's the basic concept of the show?
The idea is simple: each month, our music team selects 10 songs, and these songs are aired daily. Our listeners then vote for their favorite song by e-mail or text message. At the end of each month we present the winners in a special program. Before the Revolution, Iranian public radio had similar programs, but now this kind of show no longer exists on Iranian radio as far as I am aware.
How do you select the songs each month?
New music is being produced all the time, inside Iran as well as by Iranian artists around the world. We also receive a number of songs composed by mostly young Iranian underground artists each month. This generation of musicians faces a number of obstacles in Iran, from not having access to proper studios and equipment to not passing the governmental and official filters and censorship. Our radio can be an outlet for such artists.
From all this material, we select 10 songs based on various criteria: lyrics, music, the song's message, and so on. Especially in the current situation, a lot of the music that's being produced is very political. We're careful not to play anything that is overly aggressive or even inciting. Who won in May?
Our listeners chose the song "Donyaye in roozaye man"
(My World These Days) by the legendary Iranian singer Dariush - he has been one the most popular singers for the last 40 years.
The song "Rain"
by Googoosh - another musical legend - was the runner-up. By the way, Radio Farda sponsored a Googoosh concert
a few weeks ago in Dubai .
In third place was a song by Mehdi Moghaddam, a very talented young singer who lives in Iran and has become very popular during the last few years. His song is called "Loneliness."
On a related note, we recently held a separate song contest for "Best Song Of The Year" to mark the Persian New Year (Noruz). The winner of that competion was Dariush with the song "Khoon Bazi."
The lyrics are very much related to the post-election events.What's planned for this month's Top 10?
As you know, this month marks the first anniversary of the presidential election in Iran which caused public protest and demonstrations last year. Many human rights activists, students, politicians and artists were arrested and some were unfortunately killed in the demonstrations.
Those sad days were very inspiring for Iranian artists and musicians, and many songs have been composed related to what happened after the election in Iran. So we have decided to select the best 10 songs under the name of "songs of protest" and let our audience chose their favorites.
The most important one to mention is a song by the Iranian maestro Mohammad Reza Shajarian called "Zabane Atash"
(The Language Of Fire). Another one is by Abjeez called "Bia"
(Come). Finally, I would like to point out a very popular song by an anonymous singer who goes by the name of "Mazdosht" and the song is called "Nedaye Sohrab"
(a combination of names of two victims of the protests).-- Julian Knapp