This post first appeared in The Asian age sometime in December 2014. I couldn’t find it anywhere so publishing it on my blog because some kind souls asked me about my thoughts on this season off late.

CokeStudio Pakistan doesn’t get the credit it deserves for throwing open a lot of subcontinent’s sound for experimentation and allowing everyone a peek in the same without having to pay for the music. Couple that with the more or less regularity with which the program appears yearly and you get a feast that is eagerly awaited by the lovers of music all across the globe. CokeStudio Pakistan has just finished its 7th season and there is a lot to talk about it. Beginning from a badly managed departure of Rohail Hyatt, who started CokeStudio Pakistan and made it what it is till season 6, there was a lot of catching up to do by the new producers, ‘Strings’. Here are some of our favorite moments from this season

Abida Parveen and Ustad Raees Khan appeared together to present us ‘Main sufi hoon’ and right from the time the first promo aired, we knew we were in for a treat. You really need special skills to go wrong with the music when artists of such caliber are at the helm, so it wasn’t a surprise that the song was done up nicely. Still, one could feel that the songs were over produced and to make matters worse, Ustad’s Sitar had a tough time cutting the noisy overalls in the presentation.

There was a certain rustic brilliance when we heard Niazi brothers perform Lai Beqadraan Naal Yaari and it was ably complemented by the backup vocals in the studio, who missed the mark quite often this season. In comparison, Kheriyaan was quieter and reasonably well produced.

Akhtar chanal Zahiri enthralled us in Season 4 with his powerful voice along with an efficient Komal Rizvi and this time this duo was joined by the talented Momin durrani  for Washmallay. Essentially a song of celebration, the song had everything right for it except those over the top theatrics by everyone in the studio. CokeStudio Pakistan is just not an audio property. There is much anticipation for the videos as well given the fact that a lot of effort goes into recording the audio-video.

Till Season 6, videos had a quiet elegance about them but in the season 7, it felt prey to over enthusiasm. It doesn’t mean that fun songs weren’t fun in the studio pre-season 7. Look up ‘dannah pa dannah’ from season 4 to understand what we mean. That said, Washmallay was quite nice and Momin durrani is an excellent addition to the Studio’s artist line up.

The Studio has always looked up for folk and traditional inspiration to present them with contemporary music changes and it has nearly always worked. With Phool banro, we got a taste of what CokeStudio really used to be in good old days. Humeira channa and Abbas Ali Khan mesmerized the senses with this song that was originally sung by Reshma.

Recreating old film songs with a touch of rock/pop isn’t something new for CokeStudio but when the producers recreated an old gem from Noorjehan, they took things to an altogether different orbit. Meesha Shafi’s Sun Ve balori was definitely a high point of the season with ample help from Omran Shafique on the guitars.

Recording a version of his original song ‘Nadiya par par’, Jimmy khan paired with Rahma ali to present us with an adorable 1950s sound filled with innocence and melody.

In ‘Mitti da pahlwan’ Jawad Ahmed showed us the mirror and made us reflect on the false pride most of us are filled with, when all we actually are vulnerable creature made of clay. The song didn’t sound overproduced  and remains one of the best from the season.

The producers had Ustad Raees Khan to their disposal to extract a solo and all they could do was present us with a barely 4 minute long hans dhuni which left us craving for more.

Pashto is always interesting as it is or fused. Naseer and Shahab presented us Za Sta Pashan na Yam with such ease that we didn’t miss a ‘typical’ rabaab from the setting and that is precisely what this duo aims to achieve, to open the definition of Pashto fusion that doesn’t have rabaab playing a prominent (or any) role.

In what is a commendable step by the new producers, the instrumental pieces (Bone shaker and Descent to the floor), were a good step and it was nice to hear the innovative jugalbandi in both the pieces.

Cokestudio Pakistan had already reached cult status when it was handed over to Strings and all they had to do was to keep doing the right thing. They have the resources and talent for it anyway. Sadly, with too many loose ends, the season didn’t come together as one would normally expect. Wasting 3 songs on Zoheb hassan didn’t impress many because the singer is way past his golden days. You can applaud his singing in a closed mehfil but certainly he wasn’t CokeStudio Pakistan worthy. We are yet to find the reason of neon lighting overdose on the sets and the logic behind overproducing every song. Subtlety is apparently out and that is worrying. Hope at least the music is produced better going forward.

There is less to thank Cokestudio Pakistan for and more to get worried, thanks to the Season 7.