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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

CokeStudio Season 9, Episode 6

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Lagi Bina / Chall Mele Noon Challiye  by Sanam Marvi & Saieen ZahoorJaffer Zaidi.  What a clean rendition by Sanam Marwi to start the song. I had goosebumps when the padharo share des part made a quick appearance. She is closest to Abida parveen in terms of never losing a note even when she goes high or low. You know why Bullah danced when he danced? Probably because he heard a fakir called Saien Zahoor sing. Now on to Sain Zahoor – it is impossible not to be moved by his voice and here even though his parts are not composed with a soaring call to allah, you cannot help but sway when he takes a jibe at the ‘mela’ that is life. I am just blessed to be alive in the era of Zahoor. Mashallah song!

Tera Who Pyar/ Nawazishein Karam by Asim Azhar & Momina musteshan – Shuja Haider  – It is probably not a good thing for me to write but the sinking feel that the song gave me in the first 3 minutes, it made me sad, very sad. A beautiful medley of two songs (originally by Shuja himself). A song that probably dying lovers would sing as they leave this world for another. I loved Asim because you could actually hear the pain in his ‘nawazishein karam meherbaniyan’…God bless you kid!

Anokha Laadla by Damia Farooq & Basit AliFaakhir mehmood   Quite impressed with the tune and the way raga based fusion is romancing with rich instruments like accordion
And Sitar with a murderous guitar in the background and almost all throughout. Basit is so good! I haven’t heard anything from him so I would assume he is new. It is so reassuring to see new talent pay their respects to classical stuff with a hint of guitar here and a hint of grunge there. Mighty impressed by Faakhir’s composition. Damia could have been a bit more relaxed. She sounds stressed, may be because her parts are slightly more challenging.

Meri Meri –  Rizwan Butt & Sara HaiderShani Arshad  – Criminal injustice was meted out to us by keeping this song short. Sara Haider is too good and so is Rizwan butt. However, I felt Rizwan would have been better reciting the lines or perhaps choosing a different tune. Sara, whatever she got excelled in that. I absolutely adore the tune and the arrangement of the song, if only it was longer..

Not a single song came across as overproduced in this episode and that is such a relief…I have zero complaints now because I am too busy waiting for the last episode of the season next week, in which we will see Sabri saheb sing….for the last time.

This was a good episode overall

Previous episode review links here – 1, 2, 3, 4,

CokeStudio 9, Episode 5

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Thoughts on CokeStudio 9, Episode 5

Jhalliya by  Javed Bashir, Masooma Anwar & Shahzad Nawaz has such a confident start and that voice of Shahzad! Pleasantly surprised at the solid and controlled voice of Masooma, what a find (for us Indians, that is!). This is a good song by all means, still not something that we expect in season 9 of CokeStudio Cokestudio Pakistan. The goodness of the composition has gone out of the window because of shoddy bollywood type lyrics (what’s with ‘piya’ gap filler?). What a pity, still a decent song and by God Shahzad…what a voice, hope there wasn’t so much music when he was speaking. Give me Shahzad’s voice instead of (increasingly predictable and boring) alaaps and tarana from Bashir.

Sadaa – Something gave me an impression that Rahat fateh ali khan was playing a ‘catch up’ to the tune. There is nothing bad with the song. I liked the tarana towards the end more than anything.  I wish there were more variations composition wise. Rahat fateh ali khan is so good, wish he was used better here though.

Shamaan Pai Gaiyaan/Kee Dam Da Bharosa Rachel Viccaji and Kashif Ali have given us the best song of the episode by paying their tribute in a way that would make the original composers so proud. Don’t waste time reading this, head to cokestudio.com.pk and listen to this right away! The composition, singing, variations, back up vocals…everything just on the spot. Take a bow team! 

Main Raasta  by Noori Momina Mustehsan and Junaid Khan is a rock song with real energy (unlike fake star singers who dumb down music with their autotunes). After paar channa de (which was spoiled by the cacophonous ending), I was quite scared to see yet another song where Noori might refuse to stay in background, but in this song, their participation just adds the perfect grunge that you expect from a kickass song like this. Insanely talented Junaid and Momina, we are watching, give us more stuff will ya?

Overall a satisfying episode thanks largely to Rachel, Momina, Shiraz uppal, Noori, Junaid and Kashif ali. With two episodes remaining and Stars like, Mr. Sabri, Sain zahoor and Sanam marvi’s songs waiting in the wings, I hope the season ends with a splash.

You can read previous episode reviews by clicking on the episode numbers below

1, 2, 3, 4

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 3

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Khaki Banda – Apart from the fact that Ahmed Hussain’s portions appeared to be loosely composed (at times), there is absolutely nothing that disrupted the experience of listening to this power song. The ease with which Ahmed throws his voice in the bylanes of melody is quite a contrast to the way Umair explores variation. Here though, Umair is splendid and controlled. Shuja haider has composed the song very well and a special word for Strings for producing the song so well! There are a lot of dips in the composition but none break the tempo of the song. The dips actually set up the song for a superb encore..I just loved the strings and drums in the song! Kudos!

Dilruba na raaziZeb‘s voice has a calming effect on the soul. In dilruba na raazi, she opens the song and leads you to a tune that is rich and adorable. With murderous strings from Tanveer hussain and some excellent houseband participation, we get a cracker of a tune, something we always expect when a new season of Cokestudio Pakistan is announced. Granted that Faakhir Mehmood‘s voice is slightly underpowered to handle a composition like this, but one cannot take away anything for the way he has tried. Not to forget, he is the one who has composed the song as well. Absolutely loved the song and before I forget, a special salute to Azhar hussain for the excellent Accordion play. How can you not start dancing in that slow Afghani style when this is playing?? (Guess what? You don’t even need to know the form of dance I am referring to…you will automatically get it…the tune is just *So* good!)

Tu hi tu – The ‘light’ song of the episode, the one song you would probably like to play on a long drive. I absolutely loved the tune of the song although but arrangement was too heavy all throughout. The power vocals of Hayat and Shiraz could have done with  a lighter arrangement and that is the reason the song didn’t hit me instantly. Perhaps it will grow on those who would like to give it a repeat listening. A good song, could have been superlative though.

Maula e kull – We all love Abida parveen and her powerful voice and style of singing. It is always a treat to hear her calling out to the powers that be. Trust Shani Arshad to give prominence to what we like about Abida Parveen, her voice. For first 5 mins, all we hear is the soulful voice of Abida Parveen with minimal arrangement at play. Just when you think this would be all, you are hit by a powerful yet understated music arrangement that throws you in the clouds and you feel the lightness of being…why? because you are floating on the voice of Abida who is busy calling the voice, the name, the power, the light that we are all destined to follow, even unknowingly at times. Experience your heart soar at ‘Hai dairyman kalandaram mastam’. I am soaring as I type this, Thank you Cokestudio Pakistan. Thank you Mahotarma Abida Parveen. I love you. All this and on top of it we see Tanveer hussain on a Sarod! Not enough words to praise the song!

We are 3 episodes old and I cannot help but feel the new composers are trying way too hard. They just don’t know where to keep it light and where to hit it hard. That said, this was easily the best episode so far and even though the occasional jarring arrangement breaks the cokestudio trance we are all used to, it seems to be getting back to the groove.

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