Like everyone else, we have also started our “best of the year” posts. You can click here to read about the songs we looped and click here to read about the movie moments that stayed with us. In this post, Rohit looks back at the non-film music scene – on small screen, remixes, ghazals, virals and more. Read on.

While various music factories continue to churn out mass products (some of them as genuine and ‘durable’ as chinese products), we try to take a look at 11 instances wherein something good came out of independent factory owners. Of course they faltered as well, but they scored on more occasions and that’s what counts. Remember, this is what we feel. Let’s hear what you feel should be added/deleted/trashed/modified. Ok Mama ready? In no particular order.

1. Coke Studio@MTV – Finally, the channel went back to what it was known for – music. Expectations were huge. Almost everyone who has seen a coca cola bottle ever in their lives had an opinion on what the music in the ‘studio’ should sound like. While secretly everyone was waiting to see ‘Pakistan wala’ coke studio being performed in India, even the die hard fans of Coke studio like me will agree that what was missing was ‘stillness’. In presentation, in the execution and of course lights! didn’t help either. Some compositions that stood out purely in terms of innovation include

* Theme of Coke studio India – (heard it?)

* Mera Yaar basenda – Tochi raina and Mathangi Rajshekhar

* Piya Ghar aavengey – Kailasa

* Indian Jadoo – Sanjeev Thomas and ChinnaPonnu

* Kaatyaayni – Ustad Rashid Khan and Bombay Jayashree

* Vethalai – Kailash Kher and Chinnaponnu

Not going into the details of what we didn’t like or what didn’t click. There is a separate post for it  which you can read here.

2) MTV Unplugged – The expectations were again high and the reasons were quite same. World over we have seen the artists, good artists holding our hands and leading us to euphoria when it comes to MTV Unplugged. The teasers were inviting. However somewhere in between (and I mean – Indian Ocean, Rekha and Euphoria), they missed the trick. Lights were good! Setting was less intruding, artists were good too. Yet we couldn’t help but feel that it was all done in a hurry (leaving Mohit chauhan and Rabbi’s episode). The music setting overpowered the vocals (Especially in Rekha ji’s performance) and Couldn’t help but feel that Ranjit barot was trying too hard and can someone PLEASE tell Euphoria that there is a difference between LIVE ‘performance’ and MTV Unplugged. Inviting crowd participation killed the episode for us. Still. Some gems linger in our mind…

* Jugni – Rabbi

* Bilqis – Rabbi

* Babaji – Mohit chauhan

* Chambey – Mohit chauhan

3. The Bartender RemixMikey McClearly – Khoya Khoya chand! Wo ‘shaitan’ wala gaana!🙂 An interesting (I dislike using this word for ‘remixes but well!) experiment done to some old gems from our old hindi film rack. Undoubtedly, the strategically smart choice to showcase the song in Shaitan and not featuring it on the OST CD worked well for the ‘curiosity’ factor but you take this superbly shot song out and you are left with ‘the following songs that made some impact

* Ye raat ye chandni – Loved the overall effect of the song.

* Babuji dheerey chalna – Goes well with the theme of the album.

Do NOT listen to waqt ne kiya kya haseen sitam.🙂. Wish the album was stirred a little. Still a good concept and superb marketing.

4. Depth of Ocean – Susmit Sen takes the guitar and tells us why it is the most prominent sound of the legendary group of India. A group we are all very very proud of. All the die hard fans of Indian ocean will hold on to this album forever. The album features Shubha Mudgal as well who has whispered melodiously in the track ‘city of lights’. The not-so-die hard fans will also do well to pick it up mainly for the tracks mentioned below

* Tribute – 11 minutes of pure guitar. Tell me if this piece doesn’t take you back to the days when you preferred to let the room be dark while you sit and ponder life and beyond.

* City of lights – Whispering melody by Shubha Mudgal along with Susmit da.

* Rejuvenation – Aseem da features in it. Enough said

* Six string tribute – Probably the best version of the National anthem that has hit our ears in a long time.

Click here to hear some of the tracks.

(P.S. – I wanted to put the track intimacy also but am worried that it will all be too lengthy. So there! Just listen to it ok?🙂

5. A.R. Rahman – Superheavy – Lots of bass, lots of message and a lot of beat embelished Satyamev Jayatey wraps this 4 track album which showed us how easily the emperor (AR Rahman) melts in the setting still makes his presence felt. Don’t tell me that anything in this album reminds you of ‘Jai Ho’ on sterioids.🙂. Our pick is of course Satyamev Jayatey (The one with radio mix)

6. Sifar, The band – Easily the most ambitious, exciting and important find of 2011. Sifar is an Alternative/Indie rock band from New Delhi. Lead by Amit Yadav on vocals (and at times on drums!), this band has come out with their first album and if you forget the fact that they haven’t been featured on ‘T.V’, you will be bowled over by the ‘sound’ of their music. Don’t go finding if they are trying to sound like some ‘Angreji bands of yore’. With no popular names attached to their band, it’s incredible how they have managed to create a good vibe about their work in a short span (click for more and for free downloads as well!). Our picks from their album (titled – 1) are

o Main Jaunga – Powerful

o Roko na – Powerful

o Mita do – Powerful

o TV – Heard anything like this before in Hindi?

7. Dewarists – Someone told me ‘Dewarists’ is what Coke studio in India should have been. Hmmm. While that’s a bit harsh and out of context (because Dewarists is more of a journey in making music and showing the product at the same time, Coke studio is supposed to undertake the journey off camera and get the performers to the studio to perform and make the world watch it), I guess the end result is what matters. This was a great initiative to show the artists, travel with them to a new place and make a new song. Though the format made the show look repetitive after few episodes but this was the best thing that happened on Indian Tv in 2011.

As long as there are more hits than misses, we are fine! Our picks

o Minds without fear – Imogen Heap teamed up with Vishal-Shekhar and gave us a very ‘bollywood-ish’ offerring but it touched the right tracks thanks to some superb mixing.

o Kya Khayal hai – Zeb, Haniya, Swanand kirkire and Shantanu moitra. I guess we don’t need to mention anything else.

o Sacred Science – Hear it. Hear it.

o Khule da rabb – Finally a song where someone looks Rabbi right into his eyes and challenges, melodiously of course. This is the song of the season according to us.

o Durr Kinara – Shubha Mudgal and Swarathma come together to showcase beautifully what Dewarists is all about. The video. The music. Superlative.

Wilfully not mentioning much on Indian ocean, Punditz and the parikrama song, which starts so well and loses it’s steam mid-way thanks to too many efforts to tug at your heart strings. Strange as it sounds, Shilpa Rao wasn’t required in this song.

Can we please have the 2nd season soon?

8. Band called Nine – Rewind – Who doesn’t want to go back to their good old days with a dash of melody and a cup of coffee? Thats just ‘Rewind’ does. A unique album comprising of a story which is narrated in a conversational mode with some songs thrown in for good measure. Although it has a strong North Indian bent to the entire story, chances are you will like it almost immediately. (Am a small town guy from Lucknow so well I may have extrapolated your liking a little bit)🙂. The band which is called nine consists of Shilpa Rao (famous bollywood singer), Amartya Rahut and the famous lyricist Neelesh Mishra.

No particular favorite as the entire album is worth a good listen.

9. Ae DosheezaKshitij Tarey – The singer whose voice has given ‘soothing’ a new definition, has come out with a good album. Mixed with romantic and traditional songs with a dash of jazz, it’s quite an exciting album. Let the videos hit the T.V. (We sure hope it does). A detailed review is posted here. And you can can hear some of the songs from the album here.

 Our picks would be

 o Yaad piya ki aaye – A traditional thumri sung in jazz arrangement and boy does Kshitij does a justice to this one! Must Must Must hear.

o Saanware – Originally done by Roop kumar rathod and was also featured in the album Shor In The City, Kshitij displays consummate ease which is so good on ears.

10. Irshaad – Rekha and Sudeep – A very good and pure ghazal album with such variety! Not many of us have heard of this album isn’t it? Just hear it at one go and tell us if you don’t feel for such good efforts when they go unnoticed? Anyway, this album gets Rekha Bharadwaj and Sudeep Banerjee (Earlier albums – Phir bhi, Saqiya). Our pick for this album would be

o Wafa karne se – The way we all know ghazals.

o Subhe Roshan se – Spectacular lyrics with a haunting tune. Ghazal at it’s best.

o Mere mehboob – Recited by Ameeta Parsuram

o Mere Mehboob – Sudeep.

If you like ghazals, our request to you is to NOT miss this entire album. Click here to read the detailed review of the album.

11. Why this Kolaveri di – Dhanush and Anirudh – Yes, the song that gets us to the end of 2011. Amidst a lot of bashing and some self declared regulators of pure hearted fun, this song has made a splash like no other this year. A tamil song (Yes, Ms. Shoba Narayan, it will be tagged Tamil song forever) creating such a rage in the world is such a pleasant surprise. Heck! Any Indian song causing so many smiles is a matter of pride for us all. So if  someone is crying because their tamil milkman and other tamil people who interact with her isn’t singing/talking about this song, let me suggest her to write an email to her milkman asking for a litre of milk and perhaps she will get her answer.

Amidst funny lyrics and funnier music arrangement, don’t understimate the music director Anirudh for a minute because if you listen to the song intently, you will actually come across smartness of execution. A music director to look forward to. Surely.

The year hasn’t been great for non film music but what’s promising is so many ‘Music projects’ blooming (read finding sponsors!), and reaching us just the way they intend to. Coke studio didn’t get it right fully but then the same applies to Dewarists, MTV Unplugged and ‘The Tehelka Music Project (heard of it?) as well. The best part is to see all of them going live with what they create and improvise as they go along…and sometimes that just adds up to the melody…hai na?

What’s your pick?

(PS – To read more posts by Rohit, click here.)

  1. ladynimue says:

    I havent heard three of the mentioned music albums/ artists😐
    But what I have heard , is on the list !
    Definitely a good one !!

  2. moifightclub says:

    yet to check out 10, 9 and 6. Heard Sushmit’s album just once. Was bit disappointed. it was familiar sound, nothing new. Need to check it again.
    On dewarists, didn’t the indian ocean episode much when i saw on t. But when i just played the song, it was great fun. my fav. may eb 2nd only to agnee, parikrama and shilpa jam session which i loved. such energy!

    • @Rohwit says:

      Yes it all became repetitive (dewarists). You will like irshad. I am sure and more than the band sifar, i am excited to know what you make of their sound. Yes.

  3. Agree with most of them…. and I haven’t heard “Irshad” yet… But very well put sirji….
    For me the best Dewarist’s Track was “Kya Khayaal hai” and then “I believe”…. An yes.. After initial episodes{Dewarists} i wasn’t watching the show but jus waiting for the song to release… And loving them all….
    As of Coke studio, barring a Few songs here and there, it jus didn’t work… Neways I wud have added KK’s Tu ashiqui Hai to the list too…..
    All said and done… It was a really Good year Music-wise… Thanks for the post again..

  4. Shoaib says:

    There is one song missing in this – Swarathma’s ‘Aaj ki Taaza Fikr’ – it was a brilliant satire on the present Indian media.

  5. Rohit – Excellent round-up. A few comments – a) Live music was all over the place in 2011. The Coke Studio guys toured the country, it sounded like the NH7 Weekender was a huge success, the Metallica concert was big despite the Delhi fiasco and guys like TRDP, Swarathma, et al seem to be in a different city (if not country) every other week. Some analysis on the live music scene would have been interesting. But perhaps the scope of that subject is larger than this post. b) I didn’t follow MTV Roots but according to friends who did, it was better than the more hyped Coke Studio. Your take? c) Nitpick – Kolaveri was recorded for a movie (3), so it does not quite belong in this list.🙂

    • @Rohwit says:

      Param sir…I didn’t know it’s for the movie (Jhooth bol raha hu). Actually I couldn’t resist the urge to put it. Let’s see if it makes the same splash when it hits the screen. I think it will not because the hype is quite over the top since sometime.🙂

      Point A of yours is taken completely. Point B – Yet to come across good recommendations on Roots. I couldn’t catch it at all and haven’t been referred to by anyone. You suggest anything?

  6. Amazing work.

    Lot more reccos noted… adding to the ones you mail without fail (damn, it rhymes!)

    Keep writing (and goes without saying, sharing).

  7. arti says:

    very good post rohwit. keep bringing such beautiful music to us. n my fav of course is kya khayaal hai

  8. angrykopite says:

    brilliant read rohwit sirjee..khoob sanjya hai..
    personally i liked dewarist more than coke studio mtv.. cs paki hangover maybe..

    • @Rohwit says:

      May be. But then they did mess up at key moments plus the bollywood sangeet mala feel didn’t help either. This time, may be it will be better.🙂

  9. rony dcosta (@ronyd) says:

    a good piece to catch up on some hidden gems. heard Nine at this place called Pali in Maharashthra. halki halki baarish. chai ka gara pyaala and Nine was the perfect company. still to hear Irshad, Sifar ,kshitij taare and depths of the ocean. thanks for the post.

  10. @Rohwit says:

    Rony I am quite hopeful that you will love Irshaad and KT’s album.🙂

  11. Sifar easily is the best thing to come from India in terms of ROCK…I heard two of their songs in 2009 and developed an instant liking…was looking for more from them…never found anything about them on web…except their myspace page…!!
    Eagerly waiting for anything from Sifar…Roko na as you mentioned is one of the tracks I have heard…rest I haven’t …I wish all the good things to happen to Sifar…they really have a delightful distinct sound and I hope they stay original…!!

  12. flemingsarah9 says:

    Really nice list.

  13. […] jQuery("#errors*").hide(); window.location= data.themeInternalUrl; } }); } – Today, 1:43 […]

  14. chintan says:

    nice insights sirjee..had missed more stuff this yr then i knew🙂

  15. […] 2011 Rewind – 11 Non-Bollywood Hits that kept us hooked […]

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