October 6, 2015
2015, Aahad Nayani, ali azmat, ali haider, ali zafar, alycia dias, arif lohar, Arsalan Ali, Atif aslam, babar ali khanna, bakshi brothers, bewajah, Cokestudio pakistan, CokeStudio8, CokeStudio8 round up, farida khanum, fizza javed, Hamid Ali Khan, humnava, Imran akhoond, India, jaffer ali zaidi, kaavish, kangna, Karam abbas, Khari Neem, Mai Bhagi, Mai dhai, mekaal hasan band, piya dekhan k, piya dekhan ko, Rizwan-Muazzam, rohail hyatt, rung jindri, sajid ali, sara haider, Season 8, siege, sikandar mufti, sohini dharti, strings, sur khshetra, tajdar e haram, Tanveer Tafu, tanweer tafu, Ve Baneya
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 Haider. The ‘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.
October 3, 2015
2015, Aahad Nayani, aaj jaane ki zid, ajj din vehre vich, ajj din verhe wich, ali zafar, alicia dias, alycia dias, armaan, Arsalan Ali, Arsalan Rabbani (Harmoium), babar ali khanna, coke studio, Cokestudio, Cokestudio pakistan, CokeStudio8, Cokestudio8 Final episode, farida khanum, flute, Ibn-e-mariam, ibrahim, Imran akhoond, India, islamudden mir, islamuddin meer, jaffer ali zaidi, Javed iqbal, kamran mannu zafar, malang party, Malika-e-Ghazal, mannu, manzoor ahmed, Mirza Ghalib, Momin Durrani, momo, omran momo shafique, Omran Shafique, pakistan, rachel viccaji, rohail hyatt, sajid ali, Sajid Ali (Flute), sara haider, siege, sikandar mufti, strings, tafu, Tanveer Tafu, zain ali, Zishan Mansoor
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’
September 19, 2015
Aahad Nayani, ali haider, Arsalan Ali, Atif aslam, babar ali khanna, braj ki boli, Cokestudio pakistan, cokestudio pakistan review, cokestudio season 8 episode 6, cokestudio season 8 episode 6 review, CokeStudio8, fizza javed, haider ali, Hare hare baans, Imran akhoond, India, islamuddin meer, jaffer ali zaidi, Javed iqbal, jiya karay, jiya karey, kadi aao ni, kamran mannu zafar, Mai dhai, mannu, manzoor ahmed, Momin Durrani, momo, mulazim hussain, music, Music Review, omran momo shafique, Omran Shafique, pakistan, rachel, rachel viccaji, Rizwan-Muazzam, sajid ali, sara haider, Sara Raza, Shazia Manzoor, sikandar mufti, strings, tafu, Tanveer Tafu, Ve Baneya
Previous Episode review here – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Ve Baneya is a song that is fused brilliantly with an old song of Reshma. All of us have a film song for which we have bought an entire album at some stage in our lives. Mulazim Hussain’s part reminds you of that song. He is a good singer and the ease with which he sank his teeth to his part speaks volumes about his talent. Not once would you miss the feel of the song and that is just brilliant. Fizza Javed owns the song by simply staying close to the classical brief oh her part. It is a part so nice, I wish she got more songs this season. She reminded me a bit of Humeira Channa though. I am surely looking forward to more from her in the days to come. Sajid ali and Arsalan keep the setting simple yet stick quite close to the song and create an armosphere which will have you swaying to this simple yet effective song.
Hare Hare Baans by Shazia Manzoor and Rizwan-Muazzam was the most anticipated song for me for the simple reason that I am yet to get out of the magic of Sakal Bann. (I still feel that is the best song of the season and would remain that way). Add to that the honey dipped voice of Shazia Manzoor and the wait was just unbearable. Fair to say, the song did exactly what I was expecting it to do. The voice and rendition of Shazia hits the bulls eye with ease. Rizwan-Muazzam and party are probably a gift to us listeners who like to listen to pucca music and not get carried over by cacophony. Easily one of the best songs of the season. There is a subtle tribute to piya tose naina laage re I feel in between 5:29 to 5:32 mins in the song, but then I am not a raga knowing chap, so please excuse me if you feel otherwise. Songs like these make it easy to wait for the next season of CokeStudio Pakistan…Thank God for that!
Jiya Karay – Truth be told, I was never a fan of anything except Purani jeans by Ali Haider. I remember while growing up, I used to have serious reservations listening to the voice and somewhat average gayaki of Ali. Still, I remember smiling ear to ear when I saw him in the artist line up. Nostalgia, may be. In this song, he teams up with Sara raza. Age doesn’t seem to have done anything wrong to Ali Haider because he sounds exactly the same (and goes slightly out of tune the way he used to!). Sara raza is the star of the song in my view. What is undoubtedly the star of the song is the arrangement. Be it the splendid Sitar from Shehroze or the harmonica or the flute by Abid ali and Sajid Ali. The song has a beautiful retro feel to it and even if I won’t play it again and again, it will surely become a song that you won’t skip if you are on a long drive. Not giving a solo song to Ali Haider tells us that Strings learnt from the massive embarassment of getting Zohaib Hassan last year and giving him a lot of songs, including a solo. Old stars look and sound even better when they acknowledge and model their sound/work around the limitations age brings with it.
Kadi aao ni – All the fusion movements in the present day are about bringing mukhtalif artists/sounds and creating something which was not fathomed so far by most of us. With this song, Mai dhai and Atif Aslam came together. The promise of something exciting was always there. Just like Strings avoided the temptation of going berserk with Rizwan Muazzam in a simple babul song in hare hare baans, they have done a good job by keeping the pop feel in tact and keeping the wonderful Mai Dhai relatively subtle than her previous outing in the studio. The song has a pop feel to it but if you ask me, I would probably not listen to it again and again. Part of the reason is below average lyrics (Atif’s part). It is strictly average. Atif is good especially towards the end but somehow it didn’t come together very well for me. That said, I am in love with the first 14 seconds of the song and that wonderful harmonium which very quietly moves along the voice throughout the song.
Over all an average episode with 2 songs making the cut and going on the loop (Ve Baneya and Hare hare baans) and the remaining two just about hummable but nothing much at that.
Now we have just one episode left and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who all will make an appearance in that. Still, am unable to figure out one name (or several names depending on the line up per song). The probable line up looks likes this
Malika-e-ghazal Mohtarma Farida khanum
Alicia Dias with siege
September 5, 2015
Aahad Nayani, ali zafar, babar ali khanna, Coke studio pakistan, CokeStudio8, coksestudio review, haider ali, Hamid Ali Khan, India, kamran mannu zafar, Khari Neem, Mai Bhagi, mannu, manzoor ahmed, Momin Durrani, Mulazim, mulazim hussain, Omran Shafique, pakistan, rabba ho, rachel viccaji, saeed ahmed, sajid ali, sara haider, Shehroze Hussain, siege, siege band, sikandar mufti, sindhi, Sitar, tafu, tafu is GOD, Tanveer Tafu, thari
Episode 1 review here, Episode 2 here, Episode 3 here
Rabba Ho – Trust Strings of season 8 to have a million variation in a song that is less than 7 mins. So far it has worked and this song here is no different. Mulazim Hussain reminds me of Sonu nigam and with all the positive vibes (not comparing so cynics, calm your tits please!). The rhythm structure is beautiful especially the way the stanzas are done. Don’t you just love Mulazim when he adds a bit extra ‘hoo’ (with a smile) after that longish alaap of ‘rabbbbbbbbbaaaaaaaaa’? The string section is top class and kudos to Shehroze Hussain on Sitar. Tanveer Tafu can basically play anything. I wonder how much time Tafu sahab takes at the ATM machine. He must get busy playing a tune on the damn ATM card itself! A song that is penned beautifully, composed tactfully and delivered passionately…mashallah!
Khari Neem – We saw what Strings can do with a perfectly simple vintage song when they turned this song by its head and gave us an impressive result here. This time, they got Siege to go crazy along with the entire houseband when they presented their tribute to this song. Fit to say they pretty much brought the house down. This sort of singing might not be everyone’s cup of tea, to me the song is a perfect blend of passion and rhythm. Flashes of brilliance from everyone else in the studio makes up for such a happy song! Those claps, the string section, percussion, everything and everyone top class! The last minute and a half of the song just elevates the proceedings and leaves you there…awestruck! Siege, Please sing one more song for us this season, will you?
Piya Dekhan Ko – True to the expectations which creep up at the slightest promise of two good artists performing together, you will see loads of musical dialogue between Ustad Hamid and Nafees and it is beautiful! The arrangement minimal, the feel just right and the presentation filled with old world charm of raga based compositions, this could be the simplest song of the season yet it will not fail you. A song perfect for light listening as well as dancing. Yes! Dancing!
Ae Dil – Beautiful keyboard starts the song and then it occurs to you that Ali Zafar is singing in English. I am not a fan of english efforts on the Studio. Sara Haider (Who we remember over emoting and jumping in Season 7) sings well and even though the composition is good, the ‘take it away’ from Ali Zafar kills the song because the song is not a ‘take it away’ genre if you know what I mean. The guitar is amazing but it tries too hard to hold the song which is good in pieces (read – Sara’s portions). Ali Zafar is good but somehow we expect much more from him and you do feel that the english part actually compromises the feel of the song from the beginning itself which jeopardizes the continuity in one’s mind. It is not a bad song, just that it sounds broken, especially with the ‘original song’ kept in context in the beginning of the video. Great chemistry between Sara and Ali.
Overall a decent episode where you can listen to 3 out 4 songs on the loop and to be honest, the 4th song isn’t all that bad, just that it is good in portions.
Thumbs up to the producers, this season is turning out to be a revelation!
October 18, 2014
#Cokestudio7, abbas ali khan, Average episode, Cokestudio pakistan, Cokestudio Season 7, css07e05, ghazal fusion, heer, India, jimmy khan, Kheriyaan de naal, momin, mujhe ek bar, niazi brother, Niazi brothers, Omran Shafique, pakistan, pehla pyar, rachel, rachel viccaji, sajid ali, sara haider, shallum xavier
Mujhe Ek baar – The wonderful Abbas Ali Khan who enthralled us in Phool Banro earlier this season returns with a modern ghazal treated somewhat too much. The qalaam is superlative but the overall track sounds overproduced. The singing is top class and I am in love with the element of finality with which this track starts. The guest musician here is Shallum Xavier.This is an qalaam by Hazrat Baba Gulzar Sabri and Abbas voiced this first in his album Tamam alam mast. Hear it a couple of times and you can’t help but feel Abbas’ voice had to really fight through the cacophony that follows him throughout the track more of less. Disappointing.
Kheriyaan – Sajid ali teams with Niazi brothers to lend pain to the ever so beautiful ‘Heer’. You don’t have to consult ‘word meanings’ to understand the immense pain of the song. Barely 2:23 mins in the song, you will know what I am talking about. So much pain, such ease of singing…beautiful! If you do feel like knowing more about the song go to cokestudio.com.pk where the meaning of the song can be found under ‘song info’. I still don’t understand why there are no subtitles? That aside, I recommend you get a taste of this beautiful composition.
Pehla Pyar – Jimmy khan goes solo for this song (which is penned by him as well) accompanied by the guest musicians Omran Shafique and the magician with a flute, Sajid Ali. It is wonderful seeing Omran sing along at times, Give him a microphone already! The singing is sweet and the overall feel of the song is innocent. Backup Vocals by Sara, Momin and Zoe are synced well with the song. In a song that is less than 4 minutes, one does come to expect some magic (given the kind of musicians at work here). It is what we can call a bonfire song. The song is hummable but not ‘CokeStudio Pakistan level hummable’.
Mitti da Pehlwan – Jawwad Ahmad, accompanied by Omran, Jaffer hussain gives us the most powerful song of the episode. The voice of Jawwad sahab and the singing style is laced with nostalgia. Everyone of us has grown up listening one or two artists who sound what could be described as musical equivalent of pure gold. The song talks of the arrogance in mere mortals who think they are invincible whereas they are just fragile creatures of clay. As if Jawwad sahab was not enough, we saw the backup vocalists give their best so far in this song. Omran Shafique has been the best guest musician so far in the show and he raises the song many folds with this part here as well. A winner song!
Only 2 songs stand out in this episode and I hope we are done with all the weak songs for now. Thank God for Niazi brothers, Jawwad Ahmad, Sajid ali and Omran Shafique!
August 26, 2014
amit, hypnosh, India, jao roko music ko, krishna ashok, krishnashok, meemeera, meera, memeera, new sound, pakistan, rvijaynarain, saad, saad follows, shahi hasan, shahi hasan pakistan, sooha saha, Soundcloud, suggest some, tajdar e haram
From converting simple button pusher into an almostareview sorts, Internet has helped us in more ways than one.
Off late there have been too many links of superb musical experiments that have been passed along to everyone around me. This is my effort to put on record, which ones are my favorite.
1. Where it all started – I am too backward when it comes to exploring things and sounds on internet. Thanks to Amit who sent me this song. It’s a simple take on an old classic and somehow there is a lot of emotion in this one. Check it out here if you wish to. To me, this is the attempt that pushed me into buying a guitar for myself. My favorite part? The humming towards the end and a superb guitar throughout! Thank you Amit!
2. There are attempts and then there are full ballistic super professional presentation! Our man @krishashok is all about good stuff and –this track is just like that! The background, arrangement and superb singing by @rvijaynarain I cannot get enough of this track.
3. It’s time for some goodness from Pakistan. Meet Shahi Hasan. Every track on this channel is quite good but it will take some getting for me to move beyond Tajdar-e-haram full version. Check it out and preferably on a good music system or a good pair of headphones.
4. Some channels haven’t been very active since sometime but their existing uploads have given us a good reason to cheer and wait for more. Saad follows is one of the many channels that fall under this category. Do check it out
5. Last but not the least, have you checked out Meera’s channel? Go hear the Sooha Saha done by her. Lyrics Nazis might not like it much. Hear it and tell me if you also don’t feel like picking up the microphone/voice recorder and give singing a try.
As you can see, I am totally poor at soundcloud’s treasure hunting. If you have some links, pass on may be?
January 4, 2014
2013, abhogi kangra, Abrar ul haq, Asli maal, Atif aslam, Ayesha omar, babu bhai, bhopali, brass bands, brass bands rock, Channa, Cokestudio, Cokestudio pakistan, Fariha Pervez, fusion, haniya, India, ishq di booti, jogi, kabir, khayal, kora, lage re nain, laili jaan, Muazzam ali khan, music, neer bharan kaise jau, Not CokestudioatMTV, oud, pakistan, pashto, rabba ho, rachel and zoe, rachel viccaji, raga, rohail hyatt, Rustam fateh ali khan, saieen zahoor, Sain zahoor, sanam marvi, Sumru Ağıryürüyen, Tori chab, Umair Jaswal, upright bass, uth sangiya, west afican music, Yaar vekho, Zara madani, zeb, zeb and hainya, Zebhaniya, Zoe vic, zoe viccaji
The yearly ritual of waiting for the new season of CokeStudio ‘Original wala’ was rewarded by the entire team of CokeStudio Pakistan. While most musicians are still struggling with ‘fusion’, Rohail has upped the ante and has moved the entire CokeStudio Pakistan to the next level of fusion this time round. You can read more about it on their official website – cokestudio.com.pk
Will everyone like it? No! Good food isn’t easily acceptable to many if they are mostly fed sub-par food.
The two ‘singles’ so far
Jogi* – starts with Fariha Pervez crooning out the all too familiar traditional lyrics that Pakistan has over used in almost every album that has ever come out. Still, this version has a lyrical twist in between for a bit which is refreshing. Add to that the taraana by Muazzam ali khan. Along with the supremely talented dholis in the studio and International musicians, the song becomes hummable for sure but lacks an overall playlist punch.
Laili jaan* – Zeb-Haniya bring the house down with this simply worded old song. A lot of people went down to Youtube to discredit the cokestudio team for any effort (because you know, for them it’s ‘copied’). Still, hear it once and tell me if you don’t smile everytime the insane drummer is shown having fun! The arrangement is top class, the overall extended house band tears the screen apart with this fantastic song!
Without a doubt, the last year belonged to Charkha Nolakha amongst other songs and the chief reason was Umair Jaswal with this husky calls and energetic singing. So it wasn’t a surprise to see him start the season with ‘Khayaal’. It’s an out an out ‘long drive’ song with some good variations by Umair. Clearly, those who hate Atif (because he is ‘besura’ in their own head), have another name to hate now! Superb song!
Babu bhai* – Ali Azmat is back! And this time, expectedly, he is back with songs that ooze out messages. Good or bad? You decide. In this episode Ali Azmat takes a direct aim at those suck ups who would do anything to reach the top by any means (Koun yahan sochay hai, haram hai ya halaal hai). The pace is peppy and the arrangement just right. A song that is just over 4 minute, it packs a lot of punch. Don’t be fooled by the light tune of the song, it might just unsettle you!
Rabba ho* Oud starts the next song with Hazrat Saieen Zahoor for company. Now it’s no surprise that Zahoor snores more melodiously than many wannabe singers of India and Pakistan sing. So it comes as no surprise when we hear Zahoor sitting on a chair and just going about it. What we disliked slightly was the reverb his voice was subjected to at some places in the song. Let Zahoor be! Reverb doesn’t need him. Sanam Marvi on the other hand can very quickly confuse you whether it is really her or Mahotarma Abida Parveen who is singing the song. Clearly, the best song of the episode.
Laage re nain* – Sarangi by Anil starts this song and remains a character of it’s own throughout this breathtaking song. Ayesha Omar hits it and boy does it stay hit! Zoe and Rachel add sweetness to the song and the Serbian house band keeps it mellow. The song also introduces us to a west African instrument called Kora. The arrangement sounds exotic and neat. What a delight to hear the girls sing in poorbi language. Top class!
Tori chab – Kalenin Burcu Muyam – Rustam fateh ali khan takes up the hitherto less tried Indian (credit on the website as such, by theway) raga Abhogi Kangra and presents us with an earthy composition. The singing is free flowing and the overall structure of the song sounds surreal. Turkish Singer Sumru Ağıryürüyen weaves her song (Kalenin Burcu Muyam) within this. Although it’s a good enough collaboration, at times I felt Sumru went slightly off key and that stalled the flow of the song.
Abrar ul haq did his bit with Ishq di booti and has a terrific house-band to fall back to. Special mention of the brass section that lifted the song. The song has a message of love and peaceful coexistence and it’s delivered alright! Towards the end of the song, we are introduced to ‘Tar’. The bass section is in fact so good that by the end of the song, I won’t blame you if you forget that it is infact keyboards that start the song!
Neer bharan* – (Zara Madani, featuring Muazzam Ali Khan) We are all human. So I blame my ‘preset’ notion that led me into believing this song will sound exactly like Rohail Hyatt’s presentation of the same in ‘Khuda ke liye’. Still, Zara madani does an able job to sing the entire song on a difficult and near whispering scale. Accompanied ably by Muazzam Ali khan, the song doesn’t ruffle any feathers and quietly ends.
Channa* – And in comes Atif! This time not taking long ‘taans’ but whispering Channa. Brass elevates the song higher. At times playful, at times yodeling, Atif mixes it up very well. The Punjabi lyrics are penned very well and inspite of being an out and out love song with what the ‘youth’ calls ‘mush’, you can totally workout with this song in the background. I would pay a million bucks to hear something similar by this collaboration just for the way the song builds up and ends. Top class Top class top class!
Yaar Vekho – Sanam Marvi brings a good amount of ‘stillness’ with this insightful composition (in raga bhopali). The setting is lifted by the excellent use of Violins. The song is pretty much flat with no flamboyance, beat wise. The interim calls and recitations by Sanam Marvi are bound to make even Mahotarma Abida Parveen Smile. If you cannot understand Punjabi, switch on the subtitles and watch the video and get addicted. Special mention of Asad Ahmed on guitar and the atmosphere he creates. Mashallah!
Raat gaey* – Zoe viccaji delivers an urdu song with a total jazzed up treatment. The song lightens you up and gives out that foot tapping vibe. Brass (Expectedly) play a superb role along with drums and don’t be surprised if you are transported to an old club with a good singer lighting it up with her singing. A clever song that is delightful to watch (thanks to the violin gang) *toothy smile*
Notice the *mark? These are all the songs in which backup girls (mostly Zoe and Rachel Viccaji) appear and it won’t be wrong to say that they lend a finishing touch to the overall song.
It could have been very easy to continue the same fusion template that Rohail has followed with the present houseband over the years. Still, to disrupt it all and involve musicians from across the world (using technology in a way that logistics don’t hinder the creative process), Rohail Hyatt and the Team CokeStudio Pakistan have raised the bar very high.
Who is willing to catch up?
Episode 5 premieres tonight, do not miss it!