Posts Tagged ‘Coke Studio’

Illustrated Book Cover - Plain

‘Ismail Ka Urdu Sheher’ is a Sci-fi comic by Zohaib Kazi. He has been associated with Pakistan’s Coke Studio for a long time. I have never come across a  music album that is cut for a comic, so it was obvious that I was too keen to explore it. What I found next has taken the shape of the write up below.

Have you ever heard the sound of faith when it tells you that you can fly? That is exactly the feeling you get when you hear Sara Haider’s alaap in the intro song of the album. It is hardly 2 minutes but be rest assured these 2 minutes would make your spirits soar.

Samra Khan doesn’t get lost in the  geek talk that introduces Wake up/Jaago. Partly in English, the song really didn’t affect me much singing wise. Of course the tracks of the album are meant largely to further the narrative, but I feel this composition would have been better without the Hindi/Urdu lyrics. Just the background radio would have been enough. In Awaaz/the last radiowave, Jaffer Zaidi and Samra khan try to merge with the sound and the effort is good in pieces. I did feel there was no need to ‘compose’ this into a song because just the music would have left a larger effect on the senses.

Black coffee starts with addictive keyboard notes that will play in your head long after the song is over. Sung by the solid Jaffar Zaidi, it has all the qualities of a ‘never-leaves-the-playlist’ song. Jaffar’s voice has a heavy vibe to it and this composition uses the same for good effect. The Santoor towards the end is smartly used! In the reprise version of this song, we hear Abbas Ali Khan teaming up with Sara Haider, and a bit more complex music arrangement at play. Sara is top class though she doesn’t get much to do in the song but like me, most probably you would also be indecisive to pick the favorite from the two versions. What competes with Jaffar’s rock solid singing is an overall celan rendition  and that alaap from Khan towards the end of his version.

Orange sung by Samara Khan has all ingredients of a 90s pop song and with the help of good back up vocals, the song breezes through. I might not go back to the song again but it has a likable quality to it, the way we (90s kids) remember Ace of base today.  In Mehr Jaan, you would hear Zoe Viccaji giving us one of those late night, ‘by-the-guitar’ songs that talk of longing,  and make you miss your loved one who has left you with a song on your lips. Like always, Zoe is superb. Kinara makes you forget the sadness of Mehr Jaan. With Sara Haider teasing her way along with an equally tantalizing guitar by Omran Shafique, it’s very easy to fall in love with the song. A simple, melodic song that is a perfect fit for slow dances as well as a long drive.

Listen to Nida Khurram in Raat Bazaar when she goes ‘saadey libaas mein, sawan naraaz hai kyu?‘ and you would wish this track was longer than 2 minutes. A track that is arranged light, but decorated with words so rich, you would hit ‘repeat’ more number of times than you would be able to count.

In Death Of Mehr-Un-Nisa, you would be greeted with complex music for about a minute and then Sara Haider soars. You would be excused to think that this track would probably be floating in a lot of music with nothing memorable to hum, yet by the time it ends, you would be humming along with Sara…’Tu rooth ke na jaa, meri jaan‘. There is an element of finality in the song that of course resonates with the serious track name, still, a good song.

With tune largely similar to Mehrjaan, Mehr-Un-Nisa Falls in love is a bit more spaced out composition and thereby sounds more insightful. Of course, the solid vocals of Jaffar Zaidi make it impossible to not sink in the song. I absolutely loved the way the song is set. It’s like someone is sitting right next to you with a Piano, letting his fingers wander on the keys the way his life has moved over the years. The sense of calm in the song is reassuring and has an abstract feel to it.

Butterfly In Space is a bit too techno for my liking but it didn’t hurt hearing faint samples of Rahat Ali and Zara Madani. The flute is the winner in this track, more like a glue that keeps the central tune soothing. Not a bad track if you like fusion. Back up vocals are good too. On a related note, I would never understand why Zara Madani is not doing more international projects?

Overall a fantastic set of songs which you must surely check. Don’t let iTunes fool you into believing that the music was released in December 2015. The album was available to Indian iTunes from May 2016.

(Disclaimer – Zohaib shared these songs (not the comic) with me in December 2015. Why is this a disclaimer? I don’t know, we felt like we must tell you. 🙂

Written, Composed, Arranged & Produced by Zohaib Kazi
Recorded by Zohaib Kazi

You can hear the album here

Complete artist credits here

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Coke Studio Pakistan remains Coke Studio Pakistan even when it isn’t quite Coke Studio Pakistan. This was evident in the last season when the studio got it wrong more times than it got it right, but still gave us some good melodies to weather the storm of life for few months. Strings were retained for Season 8, and right from the first promo that presented the artists line up, it appeared that the new producers have got it right. We have reviewed all episodes and you can find those reviews here. In this post I am listing down my 10 absolutely favorite songs from this season. Are these the only songs I liked? No, but in the interest of keeping the post shorter than a Sooraj Barjatya film, have cut down the numbers. You can click on the title of the song to watch the videos. In order of preference, here it goes.

10. Chiriyan da Chamba – Not so much for any breathtaking musical arrangement, the song makes it to the list for the simple reason of Anwar Maqsood’s recitation. It’s been a while since we heard a recitation in the studio. Suraiya Khanum kept the singing more or less simple.

9. Kinaray – Mekaal Hasan band made a heroic entry to the studio with Sayon but it is Kinaray that gets our vote for being the better of the two. The tonal structure was more or less similar to Pt. Ajoy Chakraborty’s rendition of the same qalaam which you can listen to here. Apart from Sharmishta’s beautiful singing, the back up trio was top class in the song, but then they have been like that throughout the season this time round.

8. Khari neem – Take an iconic classic like in this case, this iconic song by Mai Bhagi and put some flamenco influence coupled with killer violins and spot on singing, you have what is Coke Studio’s style of paying tribute with their unique signature on it. The flute by Sajid Ali just adds to the tempo of the song and sprays an image of a playful banter between two lovers. What a beauty!

7. Bewajah – After winning the Sur Khsetra, there couldn’t have been a better stage for Nabeel Shaukat ali to showcase his talent, and boy, did he grab that opportunity or what! The beauty of this song is that it reminds you a classic ghazal style treatment of antras but doesn’t bore you with a constant mellow mood. The pop treatment and that velvet voice of Nabeel package the entire song into what could be one of the most romantic songs of this year.

6. Ve Baneya – Fizza Javed and Mulazim Hussain is quite a unique combination to be featured in the same song. While both Fizza and Mulazim have excellent range, in this song it is Fizza who took the song to a completely different level by singing a banna-banni song(?). Mulazim was quietly paying tribute to Reshma by giving his version of this song. It’s been quite a while that the song is in public domain but it is difficult for me to control tears at every antra that Fizza sings. Be it those long alaaps or the way dholak (by Baber Ali khanna) changes the pace in the second line of the same. Truly beautiful stuff!

5. Hare hare baans – Having grown up listening to a lot of Pakistani songs, Shazia Manzoor was not an unfamiliar name. What took the anticipation level to unmanageable proportions was when we were shown that the Rizwan-Muazzam group would be teaming up with her. As a result, we got an awadhi song that again touches a genre which is always out there, but somehow the producers of today are busy ignoring it. Any music movement is judged with the variations of genre it touches. Coke Studio Pakistan wipes the floor with the ‘others-music-movements’ for this simple reason and they keep things melodious as well, just like this song. What a pleasure to hear Rizwan-Muazzam complimenting the ‘pitch and note perfect’ Shazia in their own powerful style, yet not compromising the feel of the song. How many songs like this can come to your mind in the recent times? There is a tuneful pain in the word babul that you have to hear to experience. (Not to forget the song touching the familiar raga pattern as piya tose naina lage rey between 5:25 to 5:31 mins)

4. Umran lagiyan – was a mix of Umran lagiyaan by Asad Amanat ali and the Chan chan chankan by Allah Ditta Lonaywala. The original songs have a momentous mounting already. It took the uber talented, clean voiced Ali Sethi to retain the emotion of the song as he crooned Umraan lagiyaan. Even if someone is made up of steel, they are likely to develop goosebumps thanks to the melodious yet intense beginning of the song by Ali Sethi. What’s more, Ali is gentle, suave and desi in equal measure throughout the song. It is songs like these that define the entire season of a program and this song did exactly that. Nabeel was good in his rendition of Chan chan chankan but the song belongs to Ali Sethi…Watch (Yes watch!) the way he brings the song back at 4:11 mins onwards and you will know what I mean.

3. Tajdar-e-Haram – It has become some sort of a fashion to dislike Atif Aslam. While I have always liked him, there are times when he goes overboard. In this song, however, he hits the bulls eye with the same ease with which you just blinked your eyes reading this sentence. Holding a cult classic like one holds a new born baby and delivering a soul stirring song that connects you to the powers that be is what Coke Studio does most often than not, and it works. The tune would have been a hoot for the houseband to keep up for the duration of the song and for that we cannot write enough good things. High point – Aao madine chalein..

2. Rockstar – Like Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar also got three songs in the season, and what’s more surprising is both the artists delivered their best in just one of those three songs. Rockstar is a song that either you will like or absolutely abhor. It came very close for me to label it as the song of the season. Lyrics full of pun (including a jibe at being allowed four marriages!), that desi detour in between, the mention of Kim Kardashian, the excellent back up vocals, that mild lullaby like whisper in between, Omran on Guitar, and so MUCH more! The song has too much going for it and I doubt if Ali can ever better this effort. I hope he proves me wrong tomorrow itself! Ho Socho Ghalib ne pehna ho designer se leke coat neela! WTF! Mind blown!

1. Sakal bann – If music programs cannot give the generation of today a reason to look up our traditional compositions which have stood the test of time, it is all quite pointless. Thankfully, Coke Studio has always excelled in this area. Rizwan-Muazzam group have given us a song that would have made Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan saab proud, and has surely put a smile on Rohail Hyatt’s face. The sheer power of the composition is so infectious, you would start head-banging. Tanveer Tafu, who can play burnt wood in his sleep apparently, took the song to a level that would remain unmatched throughout this season. Songs like these are the reward for lesser mortals to keep going with their messed up lives. The entire song is worth every second in gold but the way the song ends, it gives me goosebumps to even type about it here.

 Aaj Jaane ki ZidThere are always people around who would be horrible singers but in their head, they would think they are Tansens. Nothing wrong with that. The trouble is when they start putting their ‘talent’ out to public at large. That’s a punishment. Every tom, dick, harry and sally has put her/his ‘tribute’ to this evergreen Nazm out in public domain and they are all quite pointless and some are downright embarrassing. Farida Khanum graced Coke Studio in an emotional 3:10 mins recreation of this ghazal. They have made a fascinating video of the song which you must not miss, Farida Khanum’s presence is undoubtedly the biggest thing to have happened to Coke Studio Pakistan and it left us all in tears.

I want to write about 9 more songs, the houseband, and a lot more but the post is already way too long. To sum up, about 19 songs out of 29 songs were top class, and some of them outdid the best work of artists so far across albums/genres. A thoroughly enjoyable Season comes to an end and should there be a season 9, the expectations would be sky high…Strings take a bow!

And what do we do in India? We make music vidoes of songs which aren’t even 1% near the melody that oozes out of the lights on the sets of Coke Studio Pakistan, let alone compare them with actual songs.

And remember, all this is distributed free, legally.

–  Rohwit

UPDATE – Thanks to Ankit, he has made a playlist of all the songs.

What happened with Coke Studio (Pakistan) Season 6?

Posted: January 15, 2014 by moifightclub in music, WTF
Tags: , , ,

Our regular music contributor Rohwit is angry. He is in full Hulk mode. Here’s why.

Coke-Studio-Season-6

Background

Like every year, the entire commune of music lovers (and cynics) waited for the new season of Coke Studio Pakistan to air, and despite so many delays, it finally did. The modus operandi was different this time. It was to showcase what ‘logistics proof’ fusion can achieve thanks to technology. The melodies were handpicked by the studio and were given a twist by recording a part of it live in Pakistan and add to the same with musicians outside Pakistan, by way of post production.

The result

Clearly communicated in their press events and in Pakistan local media, the season was expected to have 8 episodes. However, much to everyone’s surprise, after episode 5 came an abrupt announcement that it was the last episode of the season.

The hate

Not many liked the new sound because of many reasons. Some were logical (stating they missed the wholesome feel to it and so forth). What took my goat was when I heard few really stupid stuff from the so called musicians who I used to adore. Calling the producer of Coke Studio a ‘corporate douchebag’ and venting out their venomous reaction seemed kind of ‘khattey angoor’ish to me because they haven’t been invited to the Studio thus far.

Anyway, here are some really stupid ‘reasons’ doing rounds with our modest replies to them. Feel free to add your reply or questions

1.       The local musicians were ignored by collaborating with outside musicians

Yes, you are right. After all it is only Coke Studio Pakistan’s duty to put the entire country’s musicians on the world map. Everyone else can continue aping this movement and sing the same old compositions with shoddy camera work. More so, when the studio communicated right from the beginning that this time they will attempt next level of fusion by mixing their sound with foreign musicians, they should have totally ignored foreign musicians. Makes sense. Isn’t it?

2.       In one of the song, the local musicians’ footage was cut. Blasphemy!

Very sad that in the final edit the musician got edited out. Can you ask that musician to return the cheque because apparently he was looking at a TV appearance, and couldn’t make the final cut?

3.       Imagine! For listening to music we now have to see T.V.!  (click here)

Err what? Please read the point allegation number 2 above. It wasn’t supposed to be about T.V, yet people are up roaring against this? Confusing. Can you repeat the question please? This time without being in the influence of substance abuse? Thank you.

 4.       Non musician corporate douchebag shouldn’t be the project manager of such a movement.

Absolutely right. To us he looks like a failed corporate executive. I mean why give out the music for free when you can make money by selling it? Right?

Our Submission

Coke Studio Pakistan has always been about music, and the fun the band has been creating with that music. Of course, this year they went a step ahead and tried to present their music to the world at large by treating it differently with ‘foreign musicians’. We feel the season went great and was pleasantly different from what we have all accustomed ourselves whenever a mention of Coke Studio Pakistan is made. They tried something new this year, just like they tried something new when they kick started season 1. Rather than jumping up and down literally forcing them to pre-end the season and keeping us all devoid of the experiments that Coke Studio is known for, we could have allowed them to go on.

Our folk music will always be a treasure trove. The art is to produce it and arrange it in a way that it reaches maximum people. For that, sitting with a 12Kbps file will not help. Let the art out. Let it be explored. Let people mix classical with new, serious with silly…let it all flow. Somehow whatever is good will stick. That’s the beauty of art in any form.

Like we read in an article somewhere – Past all borders, music begs for us to look deeper, when understanding the idea of what is ours. Can we do that? Or is it too tough?

Rohwit

It’s that time of the year again. Time for a new season of Coke Studio India. That time when we will again become hopeful about it, and then finally give up, and go back to the edition of Pakistan. Aha, still not there.

Rohwit earlier wrote this post wondering if this new edition will finally deliver what Coke Studio really stands for in our neighboring country. This season opened with A R Rahman. And then? Well, play the songs and keep reading. And let us know in comments section if you agree with our views or not.

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The much awaited Season 3 of the Indian Version of Coke Studio kickstarted with a bang on August 17, with none other than ARRahman and his team of musicians. The anticipation was 2 inches above sky high because of the hype that MTV successfully created with systematic ‘leaks’ and a million teasers. Let’s see if it did what it has to do and must do!

ZariyaAni Choying Drolma sets the pace with superb bass accompanying the arrangement. She chants, and enchants! Not before long the backup girls spring into action (One of them is the Indian Idol Season 1 contestant Prajakta shukre as well). Couldn’t help but feel the girls were singing on that all too familiar ‘ishwar allah’ (1947 The Earth) tune. But that’s when Farah Siraj makes an entry and stays till the end of the song. A typical ‘hook’ in the song is missing and arrives just 2 mins before the song ends. It’s not a ‘typical’ song. It’s a prayer, a call for love and we have never experienced Tibetan chants the way this song makes you experience them. There are 3 vocal characters in the song – Ani, Back up vocals, and Farah Siraj. Farah is the ‘hook’ and she soon infects the backup girls to sing to her tune as Ani goes about with the chants. Music equivalent of the word ‘heaven’ was explored with this song and HOW! The percussion is spot on, ARR on fingerboard was spot on so much so that he was smiling, swaying, something we thought we would never see! The arrangement feels studio, Coke Studio!

Naan yen – Rayhanah calls out and while the call in itself sounded a little rough, AR Rahman brings in polish with this free flowing composition that gives the soul some rest the same way Nenjukulle soothed us in Unplugged. We would have liked a bite more from Reyhanah though. A Tamil track that makes the entire ‘language barrier’ incidental and almost insignificant. Highly recommended!

Aao Balma – Padma Bhushan Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan (one of the doyens of Indian classical music and the uncle of Ustad Rashid Khan) in all his glory takes the dias in this song. A Hindustani classical piece that flirts melodiously with Carnatic. The song starts delicately giving an overall feel of a beloved welcoming her lover. The sargam in between was arranged well and even though at times the arrangement dominated the voice, nothing went out of sync. The percussion in between did very little to lift the song and in my view it broke the continuity of the song. Towards the end it felt a little scattered. Will I hear it again? Not much. Will I see it again? YES! perhaps a million times! The visual delight that we have come to associate with Coke Studio is there for all to see in it’s full glory in this song. Be it the Juganbandi between Ustad and Prasanna (who makes the electric guitar sound like an electric bulbul tarang at times in the song). The grandson Faiz Mustafa sounds promising along with Murtuza, Qadir, Rabbani and Hasan Mustafa.

Ennile Maha Oliyo – The shortest offering from the episode and we wish that was longer. Issrath and Rayhanah sing the song together and you can make out easily how well prepared they are. Easy on ears, the tune will lead you to play this on repeat (just like Naan Yen) and I am referring to people who don’t understand Tamil (like me). That’s what ARR does and does it in style! The guitar man (Prasanna) flirts with carnatic notes yet again and does a huge favor on our senses. The percussion by Sivamani is fragile yet perfect!

Jagao mere desh ko – AR Rahman tries his hand in Bangla in the opening part of the song and does rather well. However, the continuous descending tone of the opening notes is what will catch your attention first. It is from there, the song goes up up and away! Fusion at its (Coke Studio) best! It is quite tough what to praise most. The superb arrangement, the excellent Suchi, the superlative backups or Blaaze. Back in Pakistan they used bohemia in turns and not together with the singers but here, ARR gets Blaaze to sing along and boy does it sound good! Of course there were some pronunciation issues and towards the end you feel the song if going a bit off track, but when you can live with someone pronouncing ‘ghut ke’ as ‘gutkhe’ here, you can certainly let go of these minor glitches. We did! And it felt superb! Try it.

Soz O Salaam – Again the three generations team up to present this song. The magician Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab welomes us to the composition and his grandson Faiz Mustafa holds his ground well. The song could have done slight better had the words been clearer. The tune makes up for it though. Tune wise (even though the rest of the season remains to be seen), this would be one of the best this year. The ‘ARR’ continuum fingerboard adds an overall feeling of a spaced out composition which is unmatched by any other song from this episode. Ironical that this song wasn’t featured on August 17 episode (but is available here). Word has it that this will be featured on T.V. in the ‘sum up’ episode that will have one song from each producer.

With so much already being said (rightfully so, most of it) about Coke Studio India, this episode has set the right tone and it looks like we are in for a cracking season, finally! With the promising line up ahead, we have all the reasons to believe so.

It also reinforces the new formula that a lot of music shows would want to imitate….’When in trouble, call Allah-Rakha Rahman’

We continue our “Rewind 2012” series with a music post this time. To read our previous post in the series, click here (Coming of age for desi indies – Miss Lovely and Ship Of Theseus), here (So what happened to Agent Vinod? Part 2. Now read the script), here (What kind of bird are YOU?) and here (A for Allah duhayee hai, B for Bakchodi, C for Chutiyapa).

And if you are regular reader of the blog, you probably know that if it’s music, it’s over to Rohit. The only rule we followed here is “NO BOLLYWOOD” because there is nothing left to explore there as we have heard everything possible that Bollywood had to offer in terms of music. So over to Rohit and see if you have heard these gems. If not, do check out all the audio/video links and let us know what gem you discovered this year.

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So its another ‘top this’ ‘2012 that’ post. Yes, you are right. This year though, we have tried to move out of our shell and yet stay there. Confused? So were we, so we decided to look around for music that hasn’t been tweeted much, shared much and made much noise on the otherwise ‘forever active’ social networks/forums.

1. Faran Ensemble, the band – is a 3 player group who got together and are exploring music via some of the best teachers around the world. With a distinct Arabic sound, the group plays mostly instrumental music. We are putting a link to one of their music presentations titled ‘Dune’ (click on the link, go to youtube page and click “show more” under “About” section)

Faran, is a dry desert wadi, which fills with water and life only in rainy winters; and in the hot season, otherwise silent. It crosses Israel on its way from Sinai, ignoring all borders. More on the group on the link. Explore and you shall not be disappointed. For their FB page, click here.

2. Safar, the band – Their single ‘Khoye hain’ came out earlier this year. Granted, the video was a little too cute but the song is light and easy on ears. We would ideally like to listen more from them. Their webpage has been surprisingly static since months (this in spite of the fact that they have got over 90,000 youtube hits since April 2012 which is a big deal!). Click on the play button and check out the song/video. You can visit their home page here. Go check!

3. Thumri Funk, the album – Pandit Ajay Pohankar and Abhijit Pohankar might not have given us the ‘pia bavri’ again but with this album, they gave a contemporary touch to Thumris. A delightfully innovative album to bring thumris to the masses. The album sadly wasn’t publicised much (but can be bought for a mere INR 63 from Flipkart, you can play the sample audio tracks also), features good tracks all around, our special picks remain – Ab ke sawan ghar aaja (that’s a mix of 2 thumris in one), Ras ke bhare torey nain, Yaad pia ki aaye and Balamwa tum kya jaano.

4. Tera Bayaan Ghalib, the album – Taking the trademarked and owned style of recitation along with some intelligent use of ghazals/songs, Gulzar saab presented this gem to us. Those familiar with his book (Mirza Ghalib by Gulzar) and the T.V. Serial would quickly identify with the text of this presentation (in which Gulzar saab recites some letters posing as Ghalib) and for the others, it’s a fantastic peep into the life and times of Ghalib and India. The album is put here only because of the fact that this genre has been revived by Gulzar sahab this year and we are hoping some more albums like these are on their way to our iPods/Music players.

5. Chakwal Group, Pakistan – Gifted to us by Coke Studio Pakistan (Season 5) and hailing from Chakwal, Pakistan, this is typically a 16 member group that stands and sings to a single dhol almost every time. Powerful poetry and excellent rendition is their trademark. Be it collaborating with the wonderful Meesha shafi or Bohemia, he group stood it’s ground effortlessly. A treat to hear 16 men singing and emoting so well without missing out a single beat. (Hear the Kandyaari Dhol Geet and you will know what we mean) Thank God for music, really! Can’t wait to hear more from them in the coming years.

6. Mauje Naina, the song – performed by Bianca Gomes, Shadab and Altamash and was featured in the BIG BANG season 2 Episode 1 of the cokestudio India version that was orchestrated by Clinton Cerejo. The song deserves a mention because it marries the mood so dangerously! A song about a man who is pulled by the dark yet tempting persona of the ‘other lady’. For us, this was the song of the year for Coke Studio India (Yes, including Amit trivedi’s excellent episode, but then no points to Amit Trivedi because his second name is excellence anyway!). What mood! A song that scares you, literally.

7. Neray Aah, the song – Performed by the wonderful Rachel Viccaji & Farhad Humayun, this song (Via CokeStudio Pakistan, Season 5) is a case study on how to ‘reinvent’ a filmy song to the fusion/new age setting. The original song is here  that was launched in 1998 and this version by Rachel and Farhad is embed here  – Do we remember any filmy songs being ‘adapted’ by Coke Studio India so well? We give up. Oh wait! We remember the near disgusting ‘Jugni ji’ that Cocktail ‘borrowed’ from Coke Studio (Without Meesha Shafi) and how bad it fell on our ears. Case. Study. This. Discovery? HELL YEAH!

8. Somrass, the album – Remember Pankaj Awasthi? Remember khuda ka wasta? Remember ‘Tera hee karam’? Blessed with a powerful voice, Pankaj doesn’t stop at that. Experimenting with jazz, electronica, Sant Kabir, poetry recitation, old Hindu mantras and so much more, he gives us arguably the BEST Indi-pop album of the year. Surprisingly, Times Music decided to leave the music album on Flipkart and may be a music shop or two. Do check it out!

9. Thagni, the album – Launched by SaReGaMa, Shreyas and Abhas gave a beautiful twist to age old poems/bhajans by Sant Kabir and Kamali. The album takes a fresh look at bhajans like ‘Udd jayega hans akela’, ‘jheeni re’ and ‘Moko kahan dhundhey re bandey’ among others. Superlative strings and percussions coupled with soothing singing style of the duo, this album, we feel needs to be heard and publicised. Not surprisingly, the album hasn’t been publicised much. Flipkart Link.

10. Reidi Gul, the song – showcased first by Ufone (Pakistan) in their reality show, Yasir & Jawad Khan were eventually asked to make a music video of this beautiful pashto poem by Abdul Ghani Khan saab. The tune is typically pashto but the affectionate style of singing and a clever tune of the song stays with you for a long time. We discovered it earlier this year, hence this features in the list. Here is the entire episode (11 minutes, including the song)  We hope Yasir and Jawad come back with many more gems!

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 www.sifar.in 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.)

Not sure why but I was expecting a Harmony kind of show. Remember that musical show on Sony/Set Max? But Coke Studio at MTv went to the other extreme and started without any warm-up. It opened with a jugalbandi pitching a bollywood/popular name with a folk (unknown) singer and followed the same pattern for the entire show.  And there was more jazz with every possible camera angle covered and fast cuts to show that they have it all. What i missed was thehraav. Leave the camera angles and cuts outside the music, let the singers do the jazz. Introduce the singers to us with solo numbers. Give that slow warm-up, let us absorb and then built the tempo with jugalbandi. At least that’s the pattern which every music or anything that’s musical, follows. Also, can we please have subtitles for the songs in other languages. Some of us are insane when it comes to lyrics.

Aha, that’s just the intro. This post is by Rohit, for whom music is lifeline and whose middle name these days is Coke Studio. I don’t know anyone who follows it with so much passion and enthusiasm. Don’t think even MTV was so excited about the show as Rohit was. Read on..

This is not a review. It can never be.

This is a chance to showcase an opinion. If you have one, please use the ‘comment’ box. Would love to hear it.

Being one who drives the car from a longer route because the favorite song hasn’t ended yet, it was a blessing when I came across Coke Studio Pakistan last year.

Any new sound from Pakistan has an extra oomph attached to it, and this is quite accentuated by the fact that our filmmakers have been using the Pakistani artists in our films a lot.

The first thing which struck me about the Coke Studio was its setting. A small but cozy arrangement of musicians with latest (And most of the times traditional) musical instruments weaved nicely in the presence of the vocal performer. The second was the lighting. Dull but not sad, and at times, the spotlight on the vocal lead. Looks like a concert, sounds like a studio, I thought to myself.

Then exploring began.

Most of the songs in Coke Studio Pakistan centered around Punjabi/Arabic/Urdu or a combination of these. That’s not entirely, is it? The artist set had a collective feel to it. You had folk singers from Balochistan and then you had new age ‘rockstars’ like Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar. Less popular guys with the popular ones did make a lot of impact (especiallly if you hear the likes of Season 1 rendition of Ali zafar’s allah hu along with Tufail Ahmed).

The obvious reaction was – Man! when are they coming to India? With the excessive incredible India overdose, I thought it would be amazing to see the various sounds we have in our beautiful country going at it with the popular guys to begin with.

Then I went to Coke Studio India sets.

Of course the expectations I had were at least 20 feet above the sky. There was a lot of positivity flowing in the air with artists trying variations to get it right…and the when they got it right, they tried to better it.

But why are they singing Bollywood numbers?

Especially when I heard Benny Dayal and Suzanne singing ‘kanchi rey kanchi rey’, I thought am I missing something? One reason that I could decipher was that they are changing the treatment of the song and giving the audience a familiar song to chew upon as they try to capture the mind space of the populists (because the other loyalists are already in place). The second and the final reason which came to my mind was that may be they will attempt to fuse a folk song and its ‘commercial’ counterpart in one composition and give us a hang of it.

This was proven right when the India version premiered with the folk and commercial composition interwoven in a beautiful ‘O mahi rey‘ by the folk singer (Mano) and Shaan (who should stop swaying on the mic with a smile. When you are ‘passionate’ you don’t get a smile…you just ‘be’)

Coke Studio at MTV

Of course there were hits and misses.

Am not sure why the lighting was going (at times) mad like it was a dance floor, and some camera movements (especially in the otherwise brilliant Tochi Raina and Magati song) had me confused.

Shankar mahadevan and Khagen Gogoi couldn’t touch me as yet. KK and Sabri brothers did strike a chord and that’s largely due to the fact that they were singing an old classic (chadhta suraj). Watching KK, I couldn’t help but feel that he is too ‘aware’ of his surroundings. Nope! not done. The only thing the coke studio in Pakistan singers/performers are aware is the microphone in front and NOTHING else.

Tochi, Kailash Kher, Chinnaponu, Bondu and Harshdeep Kaur managed to hit the right chord because none of these guys were aware of how their videos would come across when millions of fans would see it on youtube. Yes. That is passion. Hope we get to see that more in the forthcoming episodes…

Criticism

Coke Studio at MTV happened. Then loads of variations of the same happened tonight. People came out with loaded guns to shoot and tear it apart.

Let me try and organise my thoughts before ‘judging’ (Indian Idol isshtyle! by the way last I saw Abhijit sawant, he was doing comedy for a living. This is besides the point)

Criticism 1. Lot of bollywood influence – Hmm. This is true. I guess the endeavor is towards presenting us with the sound of our country from every nook and corner, and to mingle it with someone who is well known (bolly singers, I tell u!) and that’s not entirely bad. At least now we can bash the bolly singers better because they have their regional/folk contemporaries performing right next to them? The show opened with Shaan. But was it just Shaan? Who was singing along with him? Don’t google it. Also, when you are googling, ask yourself if you would have waited to see Coke Studio at MTV had there been 2 unknown singers going at it? (Remember the Pakistani Coke Studio had 2-3 familiar singers who were termed ‘besura‘ in India?)

Criticism 2 – Horrendous lighting, bad camera angels – Hmmm. This I will agree to. The exquisite performance by Tochi Raina (And Magathi, I guess) & Kailash Kher (with the tamil singer) was particularly spoiled by wayward camera movement and dinchak lighting.

Criticism 3 – A wanna be show – Hmmm. Aren’t we going on an overkill by expecting a little too much and benchmarking the first one hour episode against a show which is in it’s 3rd year? All of us spoiled Maggi when we first prepared, no? Anyway.

Criticism 4 – Couldn’t touch the soul – I guess it will continue to be this way for sometime. We are enamored by, and look forward to a lot of ‘Allah hu‘ like songs from Indian version from the first day. What is obviously clear is that Coke Studio at MTV will first premier all the ‘sounds’ from all parts of country (along with a popular voice) and then run a riot of ‘placing’ and ‘innovating’ within these genres more effectively.

It is a first step and I don’t say that Coke Studio at MTV is ‘Holier than thou’. We need to be a little patient and am sure that the Indian version will give us more reasons to smile than to crib about.

By the way my favorite from the night were Tochi Raina’s Mera yaar basenda mere wich and Harshdeep Kaur’s Hoo.

Wait a second! The above songs resemble (in theme and treatment) with the Coke Studio Pakistan version. Isn’t it?

May be that’s why….

(PS – And how do you explain this?)

Rohit blogs at http://almostareview.wordpress.com/