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CokeStudio 9, Season Finale

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Sab Jag SoyeQuratulain Balouch and Shuja Haider do their best to give us a different song that has been cleverly composed but they somehow fail to make any mark. I have always liked QB but somehow for songs like these, her voice comes across way too heavy and weighs the composition down, pace wise. Having said that, I would pay in dollars to hear Shuja sing. His voice is clean and absolutely a treat. How I wish this was just his song!

Tu Kuja Man KujaShiraz Uppal & Rafaqat Ali Khan presented us with a song that is fitting to be a part of a finale. Rafaqat ali Khan sahib’s voice and singing is so clean and soulful, it will make you whistle. Just hear him go ‘tu  ameer-i-haram’ and you feel all is good. Shiraz uppal deserves all the bloody praises in the world for giving this composition the love it deserves. Ustad Nusrat fateh ali khan would have been so proud at this re-imagination of his classic. Amir azhar, the humnawa gang, the entire bloody studio…everyone top class!

Nimma Nimma –  Shani Arshad has a voice that is soothing and vulnerable. Mad respect for him to have chosen a song from this genre. What takes you by a pleasant surprise is the way Shahab hussain starts the song, what a master stroke! Listen how the playful Tanweer tafu compliments Shahab in the opening of the song, like a child who is negotiating twists and turns. Although even in this song I felt that overproduction was doing its best to spoil it all, the sheer innocence of composition, lyrics and singing makes you forget all that. Simply superb!

O Re – has Noori giving us a simple, unambitious song that goes a level higher thanks to that brief mischief by Ustad Tanveer Tafu. Apart from that, there is absolutely nothing that would make want to play this again. You know why? Simply because in almost every song of theirs, Noori was always there, jumping and trying to show how great they are. There was zero mystery about their song and even if we are to forget the mystery, this track could have passed away like just another song in an album, let alone being featured in a finale. Nothing to write home about. Sad.

Dil Kamla – by Faakhir Mehmood and Natasha Khan has an easy feel going for it. Even though the tune constantly risks being too linear, loved the singing and arrangement, that has been Faakhir’s strength this season. Natasha is such a revelation though. Faakhir has already voiced Dilruba na razi and he was fabulous in that to say the least. There is just such a quiet confidence the guy oozes. Coming back to the song, not ‘finale worthy’ but certainly not bad at all.

Rang – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Amjad Sabri – Emotionally overwhelming, vibrant and soul enchanting. That is all I can write about it. God bless music. God bless you Sabri sahib. We didn’t deserve you. You deserved better.

Season 9 ends.

I kept wondering where was Jaffer in finale?

You can read my thoughts on previous episodes here – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Banjo Music review

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You can listen to music review of Banjo here

http://www.bbc.com/hindi/media-37386137

An ordinary soundtrack that soars a little but falls flat mostly.

MSD – Template overload yet surprisingly good at times!

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Thoughts on the music album – M.S. Dhoni – The Untold story

Music – Amaal Malik and Rochak Kohli

Lyrics – Manoj Muntashir

M.S. Dhoni has done many a good things for the aspirational small town cricketer because of  which he will always be a shining star in the narrative of modern day cricket. In a bid to tell his story, let us find out if the music has been able to keep up with the man who loves bikes and helicopter shots.

BesabriyanArmaan malik sounds real and understated in what is probably the best song of the album. No one is shouting about how they will change the world, In fact, there is a quiet determination in the mood and the grit of the song is ‘all dhoni’. I won’t be surprised if one particular part of the string section in the song is used repeatedly in the film as ‘theme music’.

Kaun tujhe – In ‘kaun tujhe’,palak muchhal tries her best to sound delicate and somewhat succeeds but she is trapped in what can be conveniently called as predictably dull template of a modern day bollywood love song. Giving her company are good words from Manoj muntashir but the tune appears to be content with its limitations resulting in a plain forgettable song.

Jab tak – If you think the predictability of tunes is restricted to just one song of the album, you are wrong. With the gap filling ‘hoo oo’ in the picture, Jab Tak is reduced to an elaborately arranged song that is short on emotions. Armaan Malik’s voice is good but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a single differentiating factor from his ever increasing body of work. The ‘redux’ version is arranged lightly and doesn’t weigh you down and will probably be liked more than the original version.

Phir Kabhi – Yet another Arijit song, that sounds same. Yet. another. This ‘sameness overload’ is frustrating and doesn’t move you as a listener even when the words are good, which is the case here.

Parwah nahi – The song with electrical guitars. Siddhartha basrur soars in the song but at times you do feel that the energy is a bit controlled and as a result the song falls one step short of being a desi tubthumper. At best it is a sanitized attempt at being wild.

Padhoge Likhoge – is a delightful banter between Ananya Nanda and Adithyan A Prithviraj. The central theme of the song is the age old ‘warning’ that parents (or elder siblings) used to handout freely to unsuspecting young ones about the devastating effects of not studying. This is a kid song like they should be, utterly enjoyable with lots of repeat value. Thumbs up!

Har gully mein dhoni hai – is composed and sung by Rochak Kohli. The near grunge feel in the beginning of the song might lull you into believing that this is a lazy song. In spite of my problems with ordinary back up vocals of the song, this is a song that actually makes you root for the main character. Rochak sounds low on confidence sporadically but makes you soar especially when he goes ‘awaazon mil jao…’ Their is a distinct small town pride in the way the singer goes ‘aa rahey hain hum..’ Trust the this song to outlast the film.

The O.S.T. has 8 songs filled with good lyrics and while most tunes lack soul, 3 out of 8 make the cut – Besabriyan, har gully mein dhoni hai and Parhoge likhoge. How we wish the other songs were more than album fillers! We will all remember M.S. Dhoni as someone who got disruptive courage to the game,  How I wish he could compose music for indian films because we could do with some courage there!

An album that starts well, loses its way horribly in between and ends with a flash!

CokeStudio 9, Episode 4

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Uddi Ja  – Mohsin Abbas Haider has a strong voice and he sung this song rather well. At the risk of being repetitive, the arrangement was a bit too much for me. The lyrics and composition were top class no doubt but it could have been a bit more subtle.

Aaya Laariye  – Meesha Shafi, Naeem Abbas Rufi and everyone else in the studio pretty much brought the house down with this one. What I kept wondering was where the brass band musicians were in the song? This is because the song has a pretty heavy brass band set but I was later told it was being played out of the keyboards. Rufi was a revelation to me though, loved his voice and the energy.

Paar Chanaa De  – Noori and Shilpa Rao gave us their version of this evergreen song and I came back disappointed. The track was over produced like anything and too linear in my view. Mohan veena and the overall string section was the only saving grace and poor Shilpa rao had to literally struggle towards the end of the song to be heard. Yet again, the tune that was lent to the song was good but the production was all over the place

Ala Baali by  Nirmal Roy & Jabar Abbas came across as a beautiful song with nice layers and excellent arrangement. I absolutely loved how Nirmal and Jabar complimented each other. The teasing arabic vibe of the song is just so good! They could have done away with the Punjabi part in between to be honest, but that said, superb song!

By no means a good episode and even though all is already recorded and done, I am worried about the remaining episodes. It was episode 4 today and the noise is already unbearable. I wonder what else is in store for us.

You can read my thoughts on previous episodes by clicking on episode number 3, 2, 1

CokeStudio 9, Episode 2

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Bholay bhalay saiyya – starts with the autotuned (or whatever the hell it is called) voice of shani Arshad. It didn’t put me off because experiments are important aren’t they? I am quite keen to understand how the song was conceptualised. In a bid to sound a bit too ‘desi’, the nasal calls of ‘saiyyan’ look plain silly and we know Meesha Shafi can do much better than this. That said, I absolutely loved the crisp production of the song. Apart from a minor part when Sitar enters the composition, there isn’t an instance where the arrangement is over powering the designated sound in a song. Now coming to the video. Those who say ‘why are people concentrating on video?’ are probably unaware that Cokestudio is just NOT an audio property. Had it been the case, we wouldn’t have seen so many ‘red mushrooms of nescafe and what not’ try to copy the way Cokestudio videos are made. So yes, I found the video absolutely silly and repulsive and by GOD the heart called out for the subtle days of Rohail Hyatt. Did I like the song? Yes! Will I go looking for the song in a playlist? Absolutely not!

Afreen Afreen – has been re-imagined by Faakhir Mehmood and boy has he aced it! Rahat fateh ali khan is in top form as he lures you to sleep with his sugar dipped singing and what adds to the sing songy feel of the song is the beautiful singing by Momina Musteshan…I wish she sings another song in the season and I wish she had more sing time in this song. The arrangement of the song is delicate and God those strings! There is a strong sentiment of ‘how dare they change the song of the great NFAK’, I don’t subscribe to it. If we cannot play with classics, then what are we? Play, change, interpret, use, mix and open everything for being retold to the generation that ‘listens song on youtube’. Not everyone would come around to the soulful yet classically heavy grand compositions of our times. So take them, mix them with whatever is contemporary and leave others to explore the original gems…Trust me, you will do a big service to the classics which would otherwise remain un-heard and would be in a folder that would be named as ‘Maa-Papa ko pata nahi kya pasand hai iss type ke songs mein’. Loved it, loved it so much!

Baliye (Laung gawacha) – composed by Noori  and sung by Haroon Shahid (HS) and Quratulain Baloch (QB) has infectious energy all throughout especially the first part of the song when Haroon plays with an interesting tune. I didn’t like QB and HS interplaying each other’s lines. It was almost comical to hear HS sing ‘mera laung gawacha’ and it was tiring to hear QB sing HS’s lines right before her solo part comes in. Nothing sexist intended, just that it diluted the attitude of the song and turned a supposedly rock song (the HS part) into a mushy romantic song which was awkward. QB’s part is the one that could make me explore the song again. I wonder when the hell will she get her solo song? I am yet to hear a more controlled song from her than ‘Ankhiyan nu rein de’. Some might find the Noori band’s sing-along as cute, I find it silly and just a failed attempt to hold the urge to hog the screen…alas! not everyone can see others taking a centerstage. Funny thing – Do we remember Rohail Hyatt? Could we see this on-screen circus when he was there? Think. Overall, a song high on energy (full points to the band and composers for that) and extremely dull on melody and content.

Mann Kunto Maula is composed by the talent powerhouse Jaffer ali zaidi and predictably, the song has a smooth start, a start that is perhaps too perfect. I loved the way Ali Amat has started the song in a pop mood. The way Bashir enters the song is plain calming to the soul. After that the song goes southwards in terms of energy. It is perhaps the most underwhelming Mann kunto maula you will hear thanks to the dip in the energy…but right about 7:16 mins in the song, the energy comes back and how! I wish they would have just made it a simple ‘mann kunto maula…aum tum ta na na na re’ tarana on repeat and it would have worked wonders. Liked it, didn’t love it.

Quite a depressing episode and thanks to the onscreen circus of what appears like lightsabers in the hands of a drunk chimpanzee, there is way too much distraction and subtlety has possibly been forcefully evicted from the studio.

Pick – Afreen afreen

 

CokeStudio Season 9, Episode 1

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Sasu MangayNaseebo lal and Umair Jaswal are in their elements in Sasu Mangay. I for one was so relieved to see Umair focussing on singing and not his distracting theatrics, and I quite liked his part. While I absolutely loved the way  Mahotarma Naseebo lends the colour of Rajasthan to the song,  what stood out was the superb twist to the composition (structure wise) and the fantastic house band including Amir Azhar…what a delight to see him back! I might not hear this on repeat but surely won’t skip it when it comes on the playlist. Well done Shiraz uppal, (music director) for getting the scratchy vocals of Umair and the power throw of Mahotarma Naseebo lal’s together. I strongly feel that the potential and the possibilities that Naseebo lal’s voice brought to the table weren’t fully utilised here.

Janay na tu – sung by Ali khan and composed by Jaffer zaidi Ali Khan himself,  the song has a delicate and adorable ‘nindiya re’ feel in the opening. Riding on the smooth and almost effortless singing of Ali Khan, the song is a treat! This is how a ‘soulful romantic song’ is done. What provides a melodious layer to a rather simple tune is the string section along with the new set of back up vocalists (except Rachel, she is a Cokestudio Veteran now!). Way to go Ali! It might not be ‘bewajah’ from the last season but wait till you see this one ‘inspiring’ a Bollywood song soon (not that it is a criteria).

Aaja re moray saiyyan – is composed by Noori and sung by Zebunisha bangash.  The sound is over produced and at times it felt like Zeb’s voice is trying hard to be heard amidst cluttered arrangement. Having said that, even Zeb falters, especially towards the end (finally! she is human it means!). It is a happy song and while I am not one of those who think ‘Cokestudio should only do songs that make you go crazzzzzaaaaaaay and spread junoonnnniyat’, I would have liked a bit more fine tuning in the song. if you sing this song in a group, you will enjoy it because the tune is very nice. Here, it fails to deliver. Easily one of the weakest compositions to ever feature in CokeStudio post Rohail Hyatt. Royal has spoilt us rotten! He raised the expectations so much that we have all come to be believe – ‘Nothing can go wrong even by mistake in CokeStudio Pakistan. It is too important a platform to err, even by mistake.’

Aaqa – Whoever thought of getting Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi together deserves all the praises. Ali’s free flowing soft vocals with the powerful Abida Parveen sets it up nicely. The composition is rock solid and for that Shuja haider deserves a pat on the back. Ali Sethi and the humnavas are in top form. There is a free flowing quality to Ali Sethi’s voice and that is why it is a bold step for him to try a composition like this. A fabulous ode to the almighty that will resonate long after the season is over. I wish the ending was managed better, it gave me an ‘over produced’ feel. Simply put, you do NOT come in the way (even in the form of an over excited music arrangement) when Abida parveen is concluding a song.

Overall an underwhelming start to the season 9, hope it gets better from here.

My picks – Jaanay na tu and Aaqa

Music review – Dishoom

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Forgot to post it here earlier. You can listen to my review of the music of Dishoom here

http://www.bbc.com/hindi/multimedia/2016/07/160722_bbc_music_review_spk

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