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CokeStudio Season 8 round-up #CokeStudio8

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You can find my earlier post on the 10 best songs of CokeStudio Season 8 here. And if you don’t want to read this long post, simply click the playlist below. Simple that way. Thanks a lot Ankit bhai for putting the playlist together.

Here is the list of all songs I liked from this season and all ‘things’ I didn’t like.

With the Season 7 not cutting much ice with the music fanatics who were disturbed to see Rohail Hyatt’s departure, the show’s new producers – Strings, had their job cut out. They had to economize on the over-expressive presentation and clamour in the studio and focus on what CokeStudio Pakistan is best known for – Fusion of the known with unknown and revitalizing old classics. The season 8 has just concluded and here is what we think was good  and not so good with it.

Artist line up – You could sense from the artist line up promo that producers were quite confident. The house-band was more or less similar to the last year’s show but with some welcome additions like a child Sitar Prodigee Shehroze. Having Farida Khanum, Shazia manzoor, Mai Dhai, Ali Azmat, Ali Haider, Ali Zafar, Arif Lohar, Atif Aslam, Ali Sethi and host of other exciting new names meant there would be a right mix of mellifluous outings with some euphoric sounds peppered generously.

The Season started with a bang with Mai Dhai and Karam Abbas presenting us with a thunderous Aankharli Pharookai which was an attempt of recreating desert sounds with the unique CokeStudio Pakistan Signature and it worked. The Sur Kshetra music reality show winner Nabeel Shaukat Ali mesmerized us with this flawless rendition of Bewajah which is a ghazal-sque composition treated with pop sensibilities. The runner up from the same reality show Mulazim Hussain is also a good voice to look forward to because in both his outings in the show, he came across as someone who has a good range blessed with excellent voice. His Ve Baneya would be no doubt one of the best songs of this season as he complimented a polished Fizza Javed to give us an old classic that was fused brilliantly with an earthy folk song.

Staying with the folk brief, it was an absolute delight to hear Siege recreate Mai bhagi’s thari cult classic ‘Khari neem’ and transform it into a song that retains the desert charm but with a solid flamenco influence and violins to die for! Staying put with folk fusion, Rung jindri had a strong tune that needed a set of solid vocals to catapult the song to the orbit we are all familiar with when it comes to CokeStudio Pakistan. Thank God for Arif lohar and those backup singers who did just that.

Jaffer Zaidi is much more than keyboard and accordion player. We heard him sing a motherly lullaby years back in CokeStudio and he made a comeback behind the microphone this season with possibly the most understated sung song in Nyun la leya which might not be everyone’s cup of tea but has a haunting presence. Speaking of a haunting experience, although it wasn’t a special song ‘music wise’, but you hear chiriyan da chamba and chances are you would be affected by the song for a very long time. In addition to steady singing by Suraiya Khanum, the recitation by Anwar Maqsood stirs your soul and makes you wonder what caused the lump in your throat

Apart from doing cover versions of old classics and folk songs, there are always attempts at creating something new in the studio. Bakshi brothers, who sound like a bundle of talent gave us Khalis Makhan which navigated our senses back to good old days where ‘likes’ were real and happiness was more than ‘lol’. It was a comforting to see Malang party sing their hit single Dil jalay and mix it with wild guitars in the studio. Shazia manzoor, in the company of arguably the best qawwals of today from Pakistan, The Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group, gave us a beautiful awadhi song in Hare hare baans. Ustad Hamid Ali’s Piya dekhan ko might sound too simple for CokeStudio Pakistan but it remains a favorite from the season because it is simple and very well presented. Meekal hassan band finally got inside CokeStudio and did rather well in both their songs Sayon and Kinaray, with kinaray being the calmer of the two. It would be no less than a crime to not hear Sharmistha Chatterjee’s voice in some Indian projects.

Now on to the songs which in our view have defined the season.  In no particular order, we begin with Atif Aslam paying a worthy tribute to Sabri brothers by reimagining the cult classic Tajdar-e-haram and in the process, giving us his best song till date in all the seasons of CokeStudio to date. The sheer energy of the song is divine, to put it mildly. We then move to Umran Lagiyaan that is fused with Chan Chan Chakan and even though Nabeel Shaukat ali does well, the song belongs to the magnificent Ali Sethi whose voice and singing is captivating and fluent, what a rare quality to have these days! Ali Zafar disappointed us in 2 out of 3 songs that he did for the studio this season. Rockstar is the song in which he soars! Penned as a pun on himself (read – rockstars!), probably this song is the most innovative song of the season and delivers what Ali Zafar will have a tough time to beat for a long time. Lastly, in what is the song of the season for us, The Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group brought the house down and inched us closer to heaven in their powerful sakal bann. The sheer energy and correctness of the rendition transcends everything else done in Season 7 and Season 8 by strings and reminded us of the ‘yet to be toppled’ 16 minute rendition of ‘Kangna’ by Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad which was a part of the Season 4 when Rohail Hyatt was at the helm.

There were other not so good attempts as well ranging from Umair Jaswal pouring in too much emotion in a song that didn’t require any, or for that matter the highly auto tuned sounding Asim Azhar. Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam were quite ordinary in their other two songs. Specifically talking about Ali Zafar’s ‘Ae dil’ song – the ‘take it away’ part from Ali Zafar and an attempt to put in too much into one song just killed the feel and continuity and left me quite confused, although pleasantly surprised to hear Sara HaiderThe ‘Ajj din’ song starts so well that you will probably have tears in your eyes and then it all goes south when Ali Zafar comes across unprepared as he reads out Ghalib..and reads it badly. Quratulain balouch still hasn’t got a solo song and that is plain sad. Two biggest disappointments were Ali Azmat and Ali Haider. While Ali Azmat’s song sounded too pre recorded and devoid of any real energy, Ali Haider kept going out of tune like he used to during his prime. That said, Samra Khan, Alycia Dias and Sara Raza were very good.

It was heartening to see the phenomenal presentation of Farida Khanum’s Aaj jaane ki zid na karo by the songstress herself and this would remain the high point of all the musical movements forever.

Lastly, the houseband including guest musicians were brilliant throughout the season. Tanveer Tafu, Sajid Ali, Arsalan Ali are probably the best thing to happen the houseband which was splendid even before these wonderful musicians joined them.

One of the many duties of regional music movements like CokeStudio is dissemination of their creative riches to the world at large. Even in the age of streaming content, there remains a big challenge whether the listener would lend her/his ear to  someone who she/he doesn’t know. Music movements like CokeStudio act as an assurance for people to try out new sounds/artists.

CokeStudio Pakistan has been consistently doing it and it is assuring to see Strings getting it right on more occasions than their last outing in the Studio. They come as a respite to music lovers in the subcontinent who are sick of lousy music videos and hollow musical attempts  with no sincerity that end up looking like click baiting celebrity vehicles, taking listeners for granted.

And remember – all this is distributed free, legally.

#CokeStudio8 – Episode 7 Review

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Previous Episodes review here – 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Armaan –  With the powerhouse performance in Khari neem in their bag, It was hardly a surprise to see Siege get another song.  Alycia Dias gave them company this time round though. A resurrection of sorts of their old song, Siege is on the top of their game with this one.  The treatment is what takes the cake apart from Alycia’s powerful yet melodious delivery. This reminded me of good old pop songs of old days which never required a ‘music video’. I won’t be listening to this again and again but if it does appear in the playlist, I won’t skip and that is mainly because of the way antraas are done and that jugaldandi of sorts at about 4:00 mins in the song.

Ajj Din Vehre Wichh  – is a song that is composed beautifully but watching and listening to this you cannot help but feel that Ali Zafar was quite unprepared. The ChaCha Ghalib’s lines in between come off disjointed because Ali reads it out the way bad politicans read their speeches. This is a pity because the song has everything else going for it otherwise. An intimate tune, minimal arrangement and as I said, super lyrics. When the promo for this episode showed Ali Zafar‘s name, I wasn’t particularly thrilled. Not because I don’t like the singer, but I felt having 3 songs from an artist in one season is a bit tiring. I have the same opinion on Atif Aslam in this season. Merely goes on to show that the producers were pandering to ‘clicks’ than ‘variety’. Anyway, Just a thought – Ali Sethi would have sung this better and it would have been his second song of the season. Did not like.

Dil Jaley – I came across Malang party thanks to my music list interactions with someone who I am sure is reading this and smiling. Anyway, for the reasons unknown, I missed ‘making noise’ about them earlier because I simply loved their official version of this song which they came out with about 3 years back or so. Right from the word ‘Go’, the song captures your attention with that addictive guitar riff that transforms into a mellow yet very present loop. To my ears, the first part of the song didn’t sound much different from their original version but for the wonderful backup (watch out for the backup singers towards the end!), but then came the excellent improvisation that gives a blues feel and makes the aggressive song fluid in its character. My pick of the episode…boy we have GOT to hear Malang party more and more! Give us more songs Malangs!

Aaj Jaane ki Zid – I am sure I am in minority (and won’t be surprised if It is just me in entire world who thinks so) but I feel that one of the most embarassing efforts of A.R. Rahman is when he tried to sing ‘Aaj jaane ki zid na karo’. It just didn’t work, even superficially! Here, the songstress tells us why She is Malika-e-ghazal. Farida Khanum. If you have heard her original rendition and if you have heard it growing up, chances are your eyes will well up with this fantastic version. Nothing more to add. Thank you Farida Khanum. Thank you for giving melody to our emotions.

Funny slide before the song says – We would like to thank Farida Khanum saheba for gracing CokeStudio, it should have read We would all like to thank Farida Khanum to grace us all by choosing music.

Yes they have excellently made a slide show of her pictures to play during the song. Still better to take a deviation for a living legend like Farida Khanum  than for  a flunky making a music video about bulleh shah mere ghar aaya kas ke mujhko galey lagaya! Ugh!

Tumko apni kasam jaanejaan…baat itni meri maan lo…

Strings, Thank you for this episode that had 1 bad song, 2 good songs (Malang party and Siege) and one Ghazal which I am incapable of ‘reviewing’

Talvar – artist credits (full)

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Easily the most anticipated film of the year, Talvar will hit the screens October 2. Last year it was Haider that appeared on the same date. Here are the full artist credits, the music is out on iTunes.  You can stream all the songs for free here

Thank you @NotsoSnob and Junglee pictures for the credits

Zinda

Lyrics:​​​​GULZAR
Music:​​​​VISHAL BHARDWAJ
Singer:​​​​REKHA BHARDWAJ

Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA

Guitars:​​​​MAYUKH SARKAR

Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI@ Studio Satya, Mumbai.

Mixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 Artists

Assistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELIS

Mixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS,LondonMastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT@ Abbey Road Studios,London. 

PATLI GALI
Lyrics:​​​​GULZAR 

Music:​​​​VISHAL BHARDWAJ.  

Singer:​​​​SUKHWINDER SINGH

Choir:​​​​DEEPTI REGE, MAYURI PATWARDHAN, ARCHANA GORE & PRAGATI JOSHI

Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA

Shehnai:​​​OMKAR DHUMAL

Dholak:​​​​HAFEEZ AHMAD, GIRISH VISHWA, RAJU SARDAR & SHREEDHARAN CHARI

Tabla:​​​​MUSHARRAF KHAN & SANJIV SEN

Percussions:​​​DEEPAK BORKAR 

Music Assistant:​​​MAYUKH SARKARRecorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI @ Studio Satya, MumbaiMixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 Artists

Assistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELISMixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS, LondonMastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT@ Abbey Road Studios,London. 

 INSAAF

Lyrics:​​​​GULZAR Music:​​​​VISHAL BHARDWAJ

Singer:​​​​AROOJ AFTAB

Choir:​​​​MARRIANNE D’CRUZ, NEISHA MASCARENHAS, MIMOSA PINTO & SAMANTHA PACHECO
Music Producer:​​​KETAN SODHA

Sarangi:​​​​SABIR KHAN

Choir Arrangements:​​RAJIV SUNDARESANMusic Assistant:​​​MAYUKH SARKAR

Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI@ Studio Satya, Mumbai 

Mixed By:​​​STEVE FITZMAURICE for 365 ArtistsAssistant Mix Engineer:​​DARREN HEELISMixed at:​​​THE PIERCE ROOMS, LondonMastered by:​​​ CHRISTIAN WRIGHT @ Abbey Road Studios, London. 

SHAAM KE SAAYE

Lyrics:​​​​GULZAR Music:​​​​VISHAL BHARDWAJ

Singer:​​​​ARIJIT SINGH

Music Producer:​​​TUSHAR PARTE & KETAN SODHANylon Guitar:​​​TUSHAR PARTEA

Guitar:​​​MAYUKH SARKAR

Flute:​​​​PARAS NATH

Recorded By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI @ Studio Satya, Mumbai

Mixed By:​​​SALMAN KHAN AFRIDI

Assistant Mix Engineer:​​NAREN KAPOORMixed at:​​​Studio Satya, Mumbai

Mastered by:​​​CHRISTIAN WRIGHT @ Abbey Road Studios, London. 

CokeStudio Season 8 Episode 3 #CokeStudio8

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You can read the Episode 1 review here and Episode 2 review here

Man Amadeh amGul and Atif give us a folk-pop-routine fused song which is brilliant in bits but cacophonous in the rest. I would have loved a slightly subtle arrangement in the middle portions of the song. Absolutely loved the way the song started and last 2:45 mins of the song. Gul is superb and she should get a solo song soon. I guess the producers weren’t confident that an out and out folk song would fly. I won’t hear this song in repeat but am sure if you do, you will like it more times than the times you will dislike it. Still, could have been better, much better. Meanwhile, while we are at it, please see the inspiration behind the song by GooGoosh (what a cute name!)   (Observe how the arrangement follows the singer and not the otherway round). Also, observe how I didn’t know about the song before this song came out from CokeStudio. So thank you again CokeStudio!

Ali Sethi and Nabeel Shaukat had so so much fun and it rubs off on you when you hear and see Umran Langiyaan. The voice of Ali Sethi opens the song with a call that is so melodious you might not believe. The song defines perfection. Be it the subtle flute all throughout Nabeel’s part in the song, the simple yet effective harmonium or be it the impeccable Ali Sethi. I don’t know about you but the song took me to a village with perfectly combed gardens and a pond and then right about then Ali Sethi added the rock/pop touch to the song. Oh yea, I also loved the way Nabeel took to the microphone. A pat on the back of the producers to merge two excellent songs the way they did.

Neun La LeyaJaffer is much more than a keyboard player and that was established in CokeStudio long back when he mesmerised us with Nindiya re. Here, he gives us a hypnotic song. It is a relief to note that the song is not over produced and lends prominence to the voice because Jaffer has a throw that is quite controlled and doesn’t come across as someone trying to prove a point and yes! he keeps it all melodious, very melodious. His voice touches your heart and you can empathise with the helpless emotions of the song. It took a while for Kaavish to do another song for CokeStudio, and it was worth the wait. So worth it!

Rung Jindri – With the name Arif Lohar comes a tank full of expectations that he would rock the video and the song. In a somewhat poignant presentation here, the tiger from punjab keeps the tune slow and focusses more on the lyrics. A song that talks about life and that too in a somewhat ‘pind meets pop’ treatment. The arrangement is fine and the excellent additional backup singers lend a unique character to the sound of the song which reminds you of Chakwal group, only quieter (because they are in background). The strings section in this song elevates the song without dominating the sound. I especially loved the last few minutes of the song. Don’t expect a ‘jugnee ji’, you will get something similar energy wise but with much more meaning. A good genre for Lohar to touch. Watch out for the clinks of the chimta towards the end. Fantastic touch that!

Overall a super episode which wobbled a little bit in Atif-Gul song but just soared higher and higher post that. The effort is clearly there and the results melodious. A special word for the talented as ever, only quieter and more subtle houseband (when compared to the last year) – Kudos! I love the Aahad Nayani now. For me, he was the star in Atif-Gul Song.

Waiting for next episode of CokeStudio Pakistan is how life is being lived these days and for that, I am thankful to everyone associated with the project.

Main Kurbaan!

Bajrangi Bhaijaan Music review

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Seriously if they have to just show what bhai can do, they should do us all a favor and not have any music in his films going forward.

A music album that is a joke in the name of music. Listen to my review here http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2015/07/150710_bbcmusicreview_bajrangi_spk.shtml

Music review – Ajab Ishq…Maati da by Harpreet

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Very rarely do I come across an album that makes me happy about doing the review. Call it a recco post if you will, but this album is something you must not let go without giving it a listen. Track wise review below. This review first appeared here https://moifightclub.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/music-recco-ajab-ishq-maati-da-by-harpreet/ and My B.B.C. review appeared here (audio review) http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2015/06/150619_musicreview_harpreet_vdz

Call it the effect of the much awaited rains in Bombay, but in spite of average lyrics, the song Ajnabi sounds top drawer. Harpreet sounds comfortable, soothing and musical without making a big deal of it. The song ‘Kutte‘ has a ‘bulleya ki jaana main koun’ vibe in the beginning, but the similarity ends when you observe that the tune and words are too direct and aggressive. The superb music arrangement of the song lends a ‘wanderer’ feel perfectly. The song is in Punjabi, but trust me that wont matter one bit. It’s been a while since man with all fallacies have found a expression, and this song is a beautiful exception to that. ‘Man can’t live alone and can’t live with people’…a crisis we are all too familiar with, aren’t we?

Nirala is what takes my breath away every time I hear it. The melodious possibilities are endless when you mix Hindi poetry with contemporary fusion-sque presentation, and boy is this song a case study to that or what! For the want of better expression, this song is about 6 minutes of continuous goosebumps. Harpreet is a joy to listen to…mujhe gagan ka dikha saghan wah chhor…By God, I saw the chhor with Harpreet when I heard this part, so what if I was sitting in the confines of my room. Easily, the best non-filmi song of the year so far.

Even in the song like ‘Maati‘ whose composition is more like a continuous fast pop nazm, he keeps it simple and free flowing without overpowering the composition with too many instruments. The long taans in the beginning of Ajab Jodi, paired with fabulous guitar and percussion might well work better than Kerala ‘stuff’, if you know what I mean. The tune isn’t easy and that is hardly an issue for him who sings it  with an ease that would put most of the auto tune wonders at discomfort. The lyrics are pure and insightful.

We can never have enough of good ‘Heer‘ and this album adds to the glowing collection of ‘Heers’ with its tribute to the same. The composition is the clear winner here. The track is Punjabi and even if it is not your first language, you will love the track, I am quite sure. Sonapani has a lullaby like treatment and is perhaps the easiest composition of the album to hum along.

Pipli is again a Punjabi track but you listen to it once and you will know what I have already mentioned time and again…’language-doesn’t-matter’! Breezy composition and passionate singing make up for any linguistic limitations this song might present itself with.

I would love to hear what you have to say about the album, but personally speaking, all the new talent that comes up these days has just bollywood aspirations, and that leaves us music fanatics to look to our neighbors and get jealous. There are very few bands which try to present themselves as viable alternatives to the ‘drum-dholki-dafli-autotune-infected-Bollywood’ sound company. Harpreet represents a new sound which I hope gets popular and sells!

Art speaks differently to different people. To me, a good music album always makes me want to become a musician and explore the wondrous heritage of music that our country has. Take the old sounds, mix them with new, let nothing be what it has been since ages. Change, because it is wonderful.

We always tag the foreign music with ‘genres’, this album is Indian, and boy, what a genre it would be if paid attention and money.

For once, I wish we would give out ‘star’ rating because this album and the supreme effort would have got 10 stars out of 5. Illogical? Well, which star rating isn’t?

Music review – Hamari Adhuri Kahaani

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Like it or not, Mohit Suri gives out contemporary melodies which resonate long after the film leaves.

Hamari Adhuri Kahani music is no different. With a new talent ‘Ami mishra’ giving out the ‘teri galiyan-sque’ song for the film and Arijit in top form in the title song (Thanks to his collaboration with the soothing melody pied piper Jeet Ganguly), here is an album that will pick up with the fate of the film.

If you are a fan of new albums, you are likely to finish the album without much of an issue

My B.B.C. music review can be heard here – http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2015/06/150605_bbc_music_review_vm

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