Now That’s What I Call MUSIKA, vol. 1

I’ve never seen such natural musical-inclination than I have in Samoan people. They can harmonize on the first try, pick up song lyrics after just one repetition, and they can all sing beautifully. (Honestly, I have not heard one “bad” singer here. It’s absolutely amazing. And I’m slightly envious.)

It’s hard to recall a day in the nearly 600 days I’ve been here (what now!) when I didn’t hear any music. Speakers are always blaring and people are always singing–whether it’s along with the music or a cappella in church, school, or playing music on their phones while hanging out. Music is always around.

So much so, in fact, my host brother named his dog, Despa, after an immensely popular track that you may have heard– Despacito. (We had another dog named Cito for awhile before he “ran away”…)

There’s something unique about the tunes that are playing in buses, cars, and portable bluetooth speakers. You’ll hear a range from a Samoan tune with superimposed Cardi B clip to a FABULOUS mashup of Moana and Hollaback Girl (I’m still trying to find this on YouTube) to a Samoan version of a once popular Top 40 song from last season. Rest assured, you’ll hear the same songs OVER and OVER. Repetition is not taboo. I think I dreamt of Khalid’s “Young, Dumb, and Broke” during my first few months because I would hear it so often.

While I initially was not the biggest fan of the music, the catchiness seems to have gotten the best of me and maybe I’m becoming more musically-inclined through association (**wishful thinking**) because as people know, I can’t carry a tune for the life of me and will make up my own lyrics for fun. My host sisters will sometimes tease me and say “Leaga le leo, Lina.” (Bad sounds, Lena), and since I am an absolute admirer of alliteration, I can’t help but sing a little louder for their pleasure.

Someone once told me that Samoan music is as if a twelve-year-old boy somehow got his hands on some DJ equipment. And…it’s true….




and another [34 minute] point:

But if you’re looking to hear a bit of what non-remixed tunes I’ve come to love here, I’ve curated a playlist with all my favorite songs (Samoan and not) that I have heard consistently. These are songs that I’ve sung my heart out to while babysitting my cute host nieces and nephews, making koko Sāmoa, cooking with my sous chefs (my lizard, Wili, and rat guests that hang out in my kitchen), walking around my village, dancing in front of hundreds of people (and alone in my room), bopping along on my long bus rides or short car rides, not teaching almost every Friday at school, leading assemblies once a week, and riding in the bed of a truck a car with my sisters as we head to the beach or come home staring up at the stars and Milky Way. Click the image below or this link to be redirected to my Spotify playlist:


I also create bimonthly playlists that include a variety of other music — if you’re interested in some groovy tunes. Check out the May-June 2019 one and past ones here.

There was a moment when I was packing up my life in preparation to coming to Samoa and I debated cancelling my Spotify subscription. THANK GOODNESS I DIDN’T. (h/t to y’all PC Invitees who might read this)

In other news, Ramadan is going well, elhamdolilah. I’ve honestly been feeling lonelier and missing my family HEAPS. So I’ve been calling and texting them more than usual (not sorry, mama!)

However, I’ve been even more determined to focus on using this month to cultivate my spiritual growth—grace, acceptance, forgiveness, mercy—as always, through patience and prayer.

Our acts of worship are magnified in this holiest of months merely by our intentions. And I pray to continue on this path of spiritual growth through the rest of this Holy Month and after it comes to an end.

May Allah accept our fasting and prayers. May He forgive us and may this month bring us closer to Him. Ameen.

Ramadan Kareem. 🌙 🕌

Me and two-month-old Lena Junior. My cousin’s baby — my namesake and legacy!

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