Umm Kulthum, also known as “The Star of the East,” is one of the most legendary and influential Arab singers of all time. Born in Egypt in 1904, she began her career at a young age and went on to become a prominent figure in the music industry, known for her powerful and emotive voice, as well as her unique style and captivating stage presence.
Over the course of her career, Umm Kulthum recorded hundreds of songs that continue to be beloved by fans around the world to this day. Her music was known for its rich melodies, intricate vocalizations, and poignant lyrics, often touching on themes of love, loss, and longing.
In this list of the top 10 best Umm Kulthum songs of all time, we will explore some of her most iconic and memorable works. From the sweeping orchestration of “Al Atlal” to the haunting beauty of “Arouh Lemin,” these songs showcase Umm Kulthum’s incredible talent and enduring legacy as one of the most revered voices in Arabic music history.
1. “El Awela fel Gharam”
“El Awela fel Gharam” is a classic Arabic song performed by the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. The song was composed by Baligh Hamdi, with lyrics written by Abdel Rahman El Abnoudi. It was first released in 1965 and has since become one of Umm Kulthum’s most beloved songs.
The song features Umm Kulthum’s signature rich and powerful voice, as she sings of the pains and pleasures of love. The orchestration is masterfully done, with the use of traditional Arabic instruments such as the oud and qanun blending seamlessly with Western instruments like the violin and accordion.
The lyrics of “El Awela fel Gharam” are poetic and introspective, exploring the complexities of human emotion and the enduring power of love. Umm Kulthum’s passionate delivery of the lyrics, combined with the intricate musical arrangements, create an unforgettable listening experience that has stood the test of time. The song has been covered by numerous artists and remains a favorite among fans of Arabic music.
2. “Salou Qalbi”
“Salou Qalbi” is a classic Egyptian song by the legendary Umm Kulthum. The song was written by the famous Egyptian poet Ahmed Rami and composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab. It was first performed by Umm Kulthum in 1957 and has since become one of her most beloved songs.
The song is a poignant and emotional ballad about longing and heartache. Umm Kulthum’s voice, as always, is the centerpiece of the song, and she delivers the lyrics with raw emotion and power. The song’s orchestration is minimal, with a simple arrangement that allows Umm Kulthum’s voice to shine.
The lyrics of “Salou Qalbi” are particularly poignant, with lines like “My heart is a prisoner of your love, and your love is the fire that burns it.” The song speaks to the universal experience of heartbreak and longing, and Umm Kulthum’s delivery is nothing short of masterful.
Overall, “Salou Qalbi” is a classic example of Umm Kulthum’s artistry and a testament to her enduring legacy as one of the greatest vocalists in Arabic music history.
3. “Al Nil”
“Al Nil” (The Nile) is a mesmerizing masterpiece by the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum. The song, which was released in 1968, was written by the renowned Egyptian poet Ahmed Rami and composed by Baligh Hamdi, who was Umm Kulthum’s favorite composer.
“Al Nil” is an ode to the Nile, the life-giving river of Egypt, and a celebration of its role in shaping the country’s history and identity. Umm Kulthum’s powerful and emotive voice brings to life the vivid imagery and symbolism in the lyrics, taking the listener on a poetic journey through the river’s journey from its source in Ethiopia to its delta in the Mediterranean Sea. The song’s orchestration, which includes traditional Egyptian instruments like the oud and qanun, adds a beautiful and authentic touch to the overall composition.
“Al Nil” has since become a classic and one of Umm Kulthum’s most iconic songs, with its deep and timeless message still resonating with audiences today. It is a testament to Umm Kulthum’s enduring legacy and her unique ability to capture the hearts and minds of listeners through her music.
4. “Rubaiyat Al-Khayyam”
“Rubaiyat Al-Khayyam” is a captivating Umm Kulthum song that showcases her mastery of classical Arabic music. This song is based on the works of the renowned Persian poet Omar Khayyam. Umm Kulthum’s soulful voice draws listeners into the poetic verses, transporting them to another time and place. The orchestra’s use of traditional instruments, such as the oud and qanun, adds to the overall emotional depth of the piece.
The song’s structure is a testament to Umm Kulthum’s musical ability, with the melody building gradually to a powerful and passionate crescendo. Her vocal range and control are on full display throughout the piece, as she effortlessly navigates the intricate melodies and transitions. “Rubaiyat Al-Khayyam” is a timeless classic that continues to captivate listeners with its beauty and emotional resonance.
5. “Arouh Lemin”
“Arouh Lemin” is a captivating Arabic song performed by Umm Kulthum. The title roughly translates to “I’ll Go to Whom?” and the lyrics touch upon the theme of longing for a lost love. The song begins with a slow, mournful melody that gradually picks up pace as the singer’s emotions become more intense. Umm Kulthum’s soulful voice is accompanied by a traditional Arabic musical arrangement featuring a mix of stringed instruments and percussion.
The music builds up to a climax as Umm Kulthum expresses her yearning for her lover, making it a heart-wrenching and emotional performance. The song has become a timeless classic and is still popular among Arab audiences today, highlighting Umm Kulthum’s status as an iconic and influential figure in Arabic music. “Arouh Lemin” showcases the power of Umm Kulthum’s voice and her ability to convey deep emotions through her music.
6. “Enta Omri”
“Enta Omri” is a legendary song performed by Umm Kulthum, one of the greatest and most beloved singers in the Arab world. The song was released in 1964 and became an instant classic, earning Umm Kulthum a permanent place in the hearts of her fans. The song was composed by Mohammed Abdel Wahab, one of the most renowned composers of the time, and the lyrics were written by Ahmed Shafiq Kamel. The song is known for its beautiful melody, intricate orchestration, and Umm Kulthum’s emotional and powerful voice.
“Enta Omri” is a love song that expresses deep feelings of passion, longing, and devotion. The lyrics speak of a lover who has become the singer’s entire world, and who has captured her heart completely. Umm Kulthum’s delivery of the lyrics is mesmerizing, and her voice is full of raw emotion that can touch the soul of anyone who listens to it. The song has been covered and remade by many artists over the years, but Umm Kulthum’s original version remains the most iconic and timeless rendition of this beautiful song.
7. “Siret el Hobb”
“Siret el Hobb” is a powerful and moving song by Umm Kulthum, one of the most renowned and beloved Arab singers of all time. The song is characterized by its soulful and melancholic melody, which is expertly paired with Umm Kulthum’s powerful and emotive voice. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a woman who has been abandoned by her lover and left alone to suffer in her grief. Umm Kulthum’s delivery of the lyrics is haunting and evocative, capturing the deep pain and heartbreak of the protagonist.
Throughout the song, Umm Kulthum’s voice rises and falls in intensity, building to a powerful and cathartic climax that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. The instrumentation of the song is minimal, allowing Umm Kulthum’s voice to take center stage and carry the emotional weight of the lyrics. Overall, “Siret el Hobb” is a masterpiece of Arab music, showcasing Umm Kulthum’s incredible talent as both a singer and an interpreter of emotion.
8. “Amal Hayati”
“Amal Hayati” (Hope of My Life) is a beautiful and moving song by Umm Kulthum, one of the most iconic singers in the Arab world. Released in the early 1960s, it became an instant classic and remains popular to this day. The song features Umm Kulthum’s powerful and emotive voice, backed by a lush orchestral arrangement that builds in intensity as the song progresses.
The lyrics are a tribute to hope and resilience, urging listeners to stay strong in the face of adversity and to never give up on their dreams. Umm Kulthum’s passionate delivery of the lyrics adds a sense of urgency and conviction to the message, making it all the more impactful. “Amal Hayati” is a shining example of Umm Kulthum’s incredible talent and enduring legacy as one of the greatest Arab singers of all time.
9. “Al Atlal”
“Al Atlal” (The Ruins) is one of the most famous and beloved songs by Umm Kulthum. Composed by the legendary Egyptian composer Riad Al-Sunbati with lyrics by the renowned poet Ibrahim Nagi, the song is a powerful expression of loss and longing. The haunting melody, combined with Umm Kulthum’s expressive vocals and emotional delivery, create a sense of nostalgia and sorrow that has resonated with audiences for decades.
The lyrics speak of a lover who has left without a trace, leaving only the ruins of a relationship behind. Umm Kulthum’s performance is filled with dramatic pauses, allowing the listener to feel the weight of the lyrics and the depth of emotion in the music. “Al Atlal” is a testament to Umm Kulthum’s ability to convey complex emotions through music, and it continues to be a favorite among fans of Arabic music.
10. “Al Leila w Leila”
“Al Leila w Leila” or “The Night and the Enchanted” is a popular song by Umm Kulthum, one of the most famous and beloved singers in Arabic music history. The song was released in 1969, and it has since become one of her most celebrated pieces.
“Al Leila w Leila” is a grand and epic piece, lasting over 45 minutes in its full form. The song takes listeners on a journey through Arabic music and poetry, with its rich melodies and intricate rhythms. Umm Kulthum’s vocals are powerful and emotional, conveying a sense of longing and passion throughout the piece. The lyrics, written by the renowned poet Ahmed Rami, evoke images of love, mysticism, and the beauty of the night.