When rock goes up against religion, why does it always start with heavy metal? The New York Times recently reported on an all-girl rock band in Saudi Arabia that has a hit with their song “Pinocchio,” a wail about love gone wrong. They aren’t Muslim rockers, per se, but in the Middle East’s most conservative Islamic nation just using the words “girl,” “rock,” and “band,” represents a pushback against the Saudi culture’s stiffly enforced moral codes, based in Wahhabist Islam and enforced by government.
Like early Christian rockers Resurrection Band, the taboo-defying teens of The AccoLade and other bands mentioned in the Times piece rock hard. Wouldn’t it be easier to start off with a little Muslim Amy Grant?
While the band, The AccoLade, only performs for closed audiences, and doesn’t dare record an album, the Times attributes the band’s existence to a liberalizing trend in Saudi Arabia, especially in the country’s commercial capital and The AccoLade’s home, Jidda. As recently as 1995, a rock concert could invite arrest; now the Times cites “dozens of bands,” including several metal groups and, of course, hip-hoppers. Obviously, kids in a repressive society are bound to rage against the machine, and revolution is all very well. But if it’s a record industry they want, the Saudi headbangers had better first come up with an Islamic folkie.