As we discussed in class, Dana International is a transgendered Israeli pop star of Yemeni descent who is considered among the most popular musicians in Israel. In particular, I would like to focus on her song “Saida Sultana”. This track was produced early in International’s career, a period in which she gained fame by satirizing famous female stars. “Saida Sultana” was a satire of Whitney Houston’s “My Name is Not Susan” and gained considerable fame allowing International to begin a successful career that lasts until this day.
Saida Sultana contains a number of important elements that warrant discussion and comment. Stylistically, the song successfully blends elements of Western pop music, as well as traditional eastern forms such as the tabla drums and opening piano riffs. International’s choice to recreate her own version of “My name is not Susan” is perhaps also a personal identification not of a man, but as a woman. Many of the listeners of this song at the time were unaware of her transgender status. Furthermore, it is likely that many listeners would have never heard the Whitney Houston version. With her blending of eastern and western styles, I find myself curious: would a listener from the Middle East find the Houston or International version more pleasing? Would this song be pleasing to a listener in the West? IE- Does International create a product that successfully blends a number of musical styles thereby removing her song from “time and place”?