CokeStudio Explorer – 2018

It is hard for me to get excited about most of the music which is coming out these days. 2014-fication of music on Indian scene happened much before achche din of 2014.  Long time ago when social media wasn’t about getting employment/assignments through ‘liking’ and ‘retweeting’, we used to have a good set of music freaks who would celebrate music by talking about it and boy was it refreshing! Then, 2014-fication happened. Useless songs became popular just because a lot of people were talking about them and appreciation of good music was welcomed (largely) by presenting elaborate relocation plans to Pakistan to those who were liking music from across the border. I am of course referring to CokeStudio Pakistan or as we know it ‘That movement we tried copying in India and it resulted in a clufter duck of epic proportions’ . Anyway, like all humans, lovely music creators from across the border also lost their way a bit when they let Rohail Hyatt go from CokeStudio. Since then, season wise,  CokeStudio Pakistan was mostly wayward (barring the fabulous season 8).


(picture credit –

Cut to 2018. CokeStudio went out of the studio and added the tag of ‘explorer’ and by the looks of what they have done, it seems like for once someone actually deserves the said tag. The producers for this season are Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza. We have covered the work of Zohaib Kazi in 2016 and if you haven’t explored it yet, you might want to click here to read about it.

Zohaib and Ali  have travelled across Pakistan  to record songs and sounds and then present them to the ever starving music lovers. They explored Kalash Folk and presented it in the form of Pareek. The visuals, the music, the singers and basically everything – pitch perfect. You know there is a certain feeling of being satiated when one comes across a good book. CokeStudio Pakistan used to give me that feeling, even in their not so great seasons with odd gems finding their way out of the clutter. Pareek, the moment it starts, sets you up and makes you fly and not with self congratulatory nods or self aware discussion on ‘ragas’ or ‘alaaps’. Just pure clinical brilliance at work. Ariana, Amrina and those lovely set of ladies deserve all the accolades we can shower on them and what about that smart-ass start of the song with the engine revving…as if CokeStudio Pakistan is saying ‘Plene paha!’

Shamu bai and Vishnu were next with faqeera. Right from the moment you notice that Shamu Bai is at places, pronouncing it as ‘phakira’ and not ‘fakira’, you know you are getting raw talent which is still undiluted by complications of survival. A word on Vishnu – The timber of his voice and his ‘Riyaz’ sparkles through out his part. What a lovely song! I hope they sing more and take their art places, including India (or in U.A.E at least)

Naseebaya by Mangal, Darshan and Shayan is an absolute riot. Sure we got a taste of what Balochi songs sound like but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Naseebaya started. The Balochi riff and the singing in the song has such a ‘mela’ like innocence and rhythm to it! The video of the song is deliciously done as well.

Maahi ve by Mishal Khawaja has a S-E-L-isque sound that is a bit ‘phir dekhiye’ and a little ‘ye tumhari Meri baatein’ feel to it and to me the song to me sounded just about ok. Somehow, when I read explorer’s tagline ‘exploring music across Pakistan’, I failed to note that they could mean Instagram as well.  Alternatively, we all must surely remember how Cokestudio Pakistan was accused —> ‘it is not a platform to fresh artists’. Well, to those skeptics, may I gently ask Is ‘Instagram to CokeStudio explorer’ ‘fresh’ enough for you? You look at the song in this context and the song is not bad, though I won’t go looking out for it on my playlist.

The innocence of Altaf Mir’s Ha Gulo reminded me so much of the simplicity of Ahesta bero. A brilliant groovy treatment to something that is beautifully traditional, pay attention from 2:46 mins when you hear a brief interjecting voice singing different line from the same song along with the main track – brilliant. While it is difficult to pick the favourite from this season of explorer, the video of Ha Gulo remains most adorable. Too cool for school people at it!

I used to shout from virtual rooftops of social media about how hopeful I am whenever new season of CokeStudio was in the offing. Post season 6, the cacophonous arrangement and disco lighting was jarring and almost overnight everyone become too camera aware. There were off and on good songs which we have reviewed on this blog here here and here. Still, the anticipation was gradually waning and I almost stopped rushing to conference rooms or washrooms in the middle of the day just so I could hear the newest song that has come out from CokeStudio Pakistan. Explorer has brought back *that* excitement and trust me I have witnesses to prove it and no they are not from India.

I remember people arguing whether Remo Fernandes says ‘ya ve ey’ or ‘yaari hai’ or something else right in the beginning of Humma Humma. I remember all of them enjoying the song no matter what those words meant. I just hope everyone gives CokeStudio Explorer a chance. They have good music this time and yes they have subtitles too! So yes, I am excited about music after a long long time.

You can find out lyrics, team, artist credits and the picture I have used on this post by clicking here –

29 thoughts on “CokeStudio Explorer – 2018

  1. Bro, your reviews are as beautiful as the music coming out from Coke Studio Pakistan. Whenever fresh episode of CS is aired/released then after watching it I anxiously wait for your review. Keep this good work up!

    Hopefully, CS 2018 will take legacy of Rohail Hyatt to the next level. Cheers from Islamabad.

  2. Badhiya.. this season I’m telling is going to be different. No safe stuff. Aar ya paar. I’m one of lucky few who got a chance to meet Hamza n Ali Noor when they were in India for a concert before acche din arrived and Pakistani artists turned into Gaumaas! So so stoked for S11(hope no Jinx) .. also check out a band called Xarb. I used to trip on their Tashnagi cover on SoundCloud for a while. They just did an awesome cover on Pepsi BoB s3e1. Saale Kitna zyada qatal talent hai yaar udhar..

    1. I know Duke. Let me head to Xarb. And tashnagi I guess I know – just that I didnt know it was them. Used to discuss this a lot before achche din arrived on twitter and people started sucking up to get livelihood. I keep getting amazing recommendations to read and explore music from a dear dear colleague who belongs to the other side of the border. This is one advantage to stay where I am staying. Oh and did I forget to tell you – I met and attended a concert by someone called – Ali Sethi. Heard of him?

      1. Haan I know. Najam Sethi ka ladka hai.. writer hai shayad..ek novel likha that kuch saal pehle. 🙂

  3. I was the founding member of “get Ali Sethi to CS” movement in 2014 🙂 BTW S11 lineup is out… Hassan Jahangir, Young Desi, Lyari Underground, Chand Tara Orchestra and the usual suspects. And Khumariyaan ( the best contemporary band in Pakistan IMO) .. this season will be epic. And Ali Sethi returns 🙂

    1. Mere bhai – So kind. Yes I was in discussion with someone for Cs11 reviews but thanks to my wayward schedule kuch nahi ho raha hai. Just traveling like mads. Will update here soon bhai. Cheers!

  4. Wassalam Bhai!

    CS festival (I would like to call it a festival now) adhoora hota hai apkey baghair. Aap aur mein tou shuru se hi iskey Maashooq hain baad mein loag miltey gaye aur karvaan banta gaya. Ek saal ke baad yahan akathey hotey hain phir vohi apney kamon mein busy.

    Muntazir rahen ge apkey

      1. Naye Pakistan ke sath Naya sound bhi aya hai jo mujhey kuch samajh nai aa raha tbh. Soch achi hai iskey peechey shayad time lagey adjust honay ke liye. Mein Irada i like the most from ep1.

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