Nora Fatehi takes on the avatar of Noriana in her latest song “Pepeta”. The moniker, as well as various parts of the music video, is a nod to international pop icon Ariana Grande. However, that’s where any similarity between the two ends because “Pepeta” is nothing like a Grande song.
The song is a confusing medley of styles and genres thrown together to make a pop number. The prominent use of dancehall beats, autotune, and lyrics inflected to sound like Patois (think “Work” by Rihanna, but in English) are the core components of this song. Everything about it screams ‘beach vibes’ but that doesn’t hold up in the face of its blandness.
The first thing you will hear on “Pepeta” is S2Kizzy and Tizaf Mohcine’s beat. There is very little to say about it because there is nothing here that hasn’t been heard before. It’s dancehall, and it’s a little tired. This is not to say that the beat is subpar in any way. It’s just that the listeners have been saturated with music that uses this beat for some time now.
The beat gives way to Nora Fatehi’s verse that has been written, at least in part, by Raja Kumari. Her voice has been autotuned extensively during the verses, perhaps to inflect words in a particular style. It is clear from parts of the song with minimal autotune that Fatehi can sing and the use of autotune is a stylistic choice. That knowledge, however, does little to lessen the impact of the artificial-sounding verses.
Perhaps the only redeeming part of “Pepeta” is Tanzanian artist RayVanny’s verses which lend the song an interesting slant.
On the whole, the song’s use of a tired beat and slathering of autotune on the verses hold it back from being memorable. Nora Fatehi’s return to music after the Arabic version of “Dilbar” comes with talent but lacks ingenuity.