From 4 million TikTok followers to signing with Universal Music, Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa goes a long way
DUBAI: 20-year-old Dubai-based Egyptian singer Basmala Alaa – who goes by the artist name Bsmalla – recently released her latest single on Universal Music MENA, having signed with the label after garnering more than 4 million followers on social media platform TikTok over the past few years.
At first, Alaa didn’t sing in her TikTok videos, but – as she grew in popularity, she decided to test the waters with a few covers of popular Arabic songs.
“I’ve been singing since I was 10,” Alaa told Arab News. “The older I got, the more my voice developed. My parents noticed it and said, “This child has something special. They supported me a lot, but I also trained.
Alaa, self-taught, may have inherited her love of music – and talent – from her father, who was in a band during her formative years in Egypt. “He made me listen to music and helped me understand music,” she says.
“I will never forget how much my family has always supported me,” she continues. “Not many people have families that support them, so I want to thank mine.”
Alaa – who speaks with a noticeable Khaleeji accent, despite her Egyptian heritage, having grown up in the United Arab Emirates – began posting videos of herself covering songs in a variety of Arabic dialects, from the Gulf to North Africa. Her followers were quick to praise her natural vocal ability. “What encouraged me were people’s comments, saying my voice is exactly what you hear in the recording,” she says. “I don’t fake my voice.”
Alaa says she is a fan of Sherine Abdel-Wahab, Asala Nasri and Kadim Al-Sahir, among others. As for Egyptian pop, she likes Tamer Hosny and Mohamed Hamaki.
His own music is not easily classifiable. She has so far released six Arabic songs with Universal, in a variety of dialects and genres. “I explore what people like. I like to impress my audience. I love it when they like what I do,” she says. “The style of singing that I like may not resonate with people – I like classical, romantic and quiet songs with a lot of emotion, but I have noticed that my audience likes, from me, songs that have more excitement and love for life.”
His latest, “Helo Moodak”, is a perfect example of the latter – a sweet pop song with a light-hearted video that includes touches of original animation with a cartoonish feel, stop-motion imagery and includes cutscenes. ‘Alaa and a big cuddly toy that she throws then cuddles in turn.
“It’s my favorite song so far,” Alaa told Arab News. “It’s the story of a teenager who imagines herself to be in love with someone. And that person is like his teddy bear.
The song was written for her by lyricist Ehab Abdelazeem and composer Amr Al-Shazly. Alaa recalls feeling a bit anxious during recording sessions, imagining how things would turn out.
“I’m not saying that I still ‘officially’ record, but I’ve recorded a lot of songs. Yet there’s always that slight feeling of nervousness thinking, ‘What are people going to say? What will their reaction be? How is my voice? What about the music video? »
It turns out his nerves were unfounded. The song was well received, and there are already plenty of people posting clips of them singing and dancing to the catchy track.
“I see a lot of kids playing my song and I see adults imitating them,” she says. “Which makes me happy. It makes me smile.”
As a member of the so-called “TikTok generation”, Alaa’s story bears some resemblance to those of Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo, who were also discovered through the video app. TikTok is unquestionably influencing the music landscape, for better or for worse. Alaa, perhaps unsurprisingly, prefers to see him in a positive light.
“TikTok is a platform for talent,” she explained. “Before being on TikTok, I used to sing on other platforms, but TikTok has helped me show my talent more. People see me not just in one country, but in all countries of the world.
So far, Alaa has only played online. She says she has turned down offers of live performances because she thinks it’s still too early for her to hit the stage in the real world. “I want to establish myself more first, and I want to have a wide repertoire of songs,” she says.
The singer currently has 4.7 million followers on TikTok, a stat she still struggles to comprehend. “It’s a very strange feeling. I thought, ‘Four million people on the planet are literally following me!’ But it’s a very nice feeling at the same time. I am very happy and I aspire to have more followers,” she said.
“Music is everything to me,” she continues. “Music always touches something in my heart. I would like to show people what is in my heart through my music.