In the aftermath of the government ban on YouTube in light of the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims, the local music industry — which gauges its success from video virality on the video-sharing website — was affected adversely.
Projects were put on hold, and many feared the end of the ‘viral age’ which was signified by the likes of Ali Gul Pir, Beyghairat Brigade and many others who relied on the website to upload their content. But a few weeks ago, the release of the single “Sher Khan” by Lahore-based musician Ahmed Siddiq defied the notion that the viral age has reached a standstill.
“YouTube is banned in Pakistan but there are other options, like Vimeo,” says Siddiq. “Facebook is a major platform for content sharing as well. ‘Sher Khan’ was released via Vimeo on Facebook,” he explains. “The response has been amazing! I believe it [the video] is still in the process of reaching out to the masses.”
Talking about the popularity of the song, which Siddiq says is based on his experiences in Karachi, he says: “I am from Karachi and almost every street of Karachi has Quetta walay ‘hotels’ [tea stalls] and since I love the tea they offer, I used to visit them whenever I wanted, so they have partially influenced my song.”
He describes the number as a love song about a simple guy who falls in love with a beautiful girl, and says that the idea stemmed from personal influences. Siddiq’s Urdu track with a Pashto tinge has accumulated around 40,000 views on Vimeo since its release. The song showcases Siddiq as a rough, alternative rocker but also includes fast tempo portions that are sung in a Pashto accent. The song’s varying tempos with exciting lyrics generate an extremely catchy track, which has been played regularly on the radio.
“Songs are not written; they land onto a composer and that’s what happened with ‘Sher Khan’ — it just sort of landed on me,” he says. “The song has been sung in mostly a Pashto accent, while the slow parts are sung in an Urdu accent. The various tempo shifts make the composition interesting,” Siddiq adds.
Talking about the video of the song, Siddiq says that the video has no stereotypes. “It’s a simple love song written with love and simplicity,” he says, referring to claims that the video had stereotyped Pashto speakers.
Siddiq’s success for the song did not come without the help of one of the best lyricists. He explained that he had written most of the songs on his own and requested some contribution by Sabir Zafar.
“I have written approximately 90% of ‘Sher Khans’ lyrics. I had to repeat the melody but could not come up with lyrics for a verse, so I approached Sabir Zafar sahib and he wrote the remaining [song],” says Siddiq. The video production has been done by Fayyaz Ahmed and audio production by Mubashir Amdani.
Siddiq says that the success of “Sher Khan” will also pave the way for his album To Untalees, which is ready for release. The album has eight tracks and includes seven original tracks with one remixed rock track. But for now, Siddiq says he is focusing on promoting his latest track instead of contemplating the release of his album.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 4th, 2012.