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Soundbites: Four strong contenders battle for pop stardom

Finalists of Project: Aloft Star will perform in Abu Dhabi on November 10


Four strong contenders are going head-to-head in the finale of Project: Aloft Star in the UAE, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will walk away with the a distribution deal from Sony Music Middle East.

Danny Aridi, Stephon LaMar, Yousuf Khalil and Iva Georgieva were shortlisted from a pool of 130 submissions, and they all have something worthy to offer — from rocky tones and disco funk, to rap sonnets and pop-tinged anthems.

Gulf News tabloid! breaks down their singles ahead of the live finale on November 10 at Relax@12 in Aloft, Abu Dhabi, where they will perform one last time before a winner is crowned.


Danny Aridi — Home

Feels like: Incubus, Tyler Hilton

What we like: Aridi’s distinct, raspy vocals come apart at the edges, providing the perfect counterpart to his acoustic guitar musings. Post-grunge track Home mixes a familiar singer-songwriter melancholy with a fuller, more rigorous band sound — think 3 Doors Down meets James Blake.

Aridi says: “My style of music is based on events that I went through, or that my friends and family have experienced. I wouldn’t categorise it in a genre as I think people can identify and relate to it in their own way. However, I do have a raspy voice which I have been told adds a unique touch to my singing style.”


Iva Georgieva — Wondering

Feels like: Christina Aguilera, Evanescence

What we like: Georgieva has a versatile lilt that can at once turn dark and commanding, making for a fully satisfying emotional build-up and apex on her track, Wondering. The tune starts innocuous enough before the real, growling fervour kicks in, reminding us of our favourite pop stars who eventually turned to rock to blow off some steam.

Georgieva says: “My music is a place where everyone can find themselves. I write about the life we all go through, the challenges that gives us, with all the colours [through which] we face it every day ... I like to challenge myself and challenge the people who listen to my music to think more, feel more, and always try to be more."


Yousuf Khalil — Carpe Diem

Feels like: Future, Logic

What we like: Khalil infuses a laid-back edge into his highly listenable rhymes, sounding frantic and composed in the same breath. Polished rap track Carpe Diem mixes philosophy, soft politics and personal growth into one, starting with a grainy intro that tells its listeners: “My home is the stars, the cosmos, that’s where my people are from.”

Khalil says: “[My sound] ranges from ‘hip pop’ to ‘rap’, which is the contrast between a song which is repeatedly played everywhere, commercially successful, to a song that only hip hop-heads talk about and break down to a science. Either way the goal is to… get people to feel or relate to something.”


Stephon LaMar — Obsession

Feels like: John Legend, Aloe Blacc

What we like: LaMar knows how to create a song that sticks, layering a thick layer of disco funk onto his earworm of a track, Obsession. One listen will have you singing along to the single-word chorus. LaMar’s sultry voice, sharp style and smooth production values can easily put him on the map.

LaMar says: “I would describe my music as romantic. I’ve been writing love songs as long as I can remember. Although, I write many different styles, love songs tend to be my go to. The music scene here is really on the rise. I’ve enjoyed getting to listen to so many different artists.“


Don’t miss it!

The live finale of Project: Aloft Star will take place on November 10 at Relax@12, Aloft, Abu Dhabi, from 7-10pm. The event is 21+ and is open to the public.