#CokeStudio7 Episode 2: An array of 'could have been' moments
Coke Studio gives us another episode filled with people who are worthy of being called ‘musicians’.
However, there were some stumbles and bigger fumbles by the producers when it came to handling big names and their songs.
Akhtar Chanal, Komal Rizvi and Momin Durrani: Washmallay
So how does a Balochi song get hijacked from under the nose of a Balochi folk artist himself, relegating him to a dancing performer of sorts while non-singers like Komal Rizvi and Momin Durrani take top credits for a song when they only contributed to its ruin? Does mere chutzpah maketh a song? Or do we just randomly line up female singers who think of themselves as singers and let them have a go at any song as long as they deliver oomph?
As a result, we got a great song, terrible arrangement and even more terrible choice of contemporary singers. It is to the credit of our Pakistani folk songs that despite the ruin we may bring upon it, they stand above the pettiness and deliver the joy they are supposed to!
While the guitar skills were relatively strong in episode one, hearing Adeel Ali was a disappointment. What was he doing in the song? Strings should well remember that as nepotism creeps in, the grace and beauty of music walks out. Rohail Hyatt’s downfall probably began when he let his half-baked so-called musician of a son feature as the main artist in Coke Studio. This is precisely what Strings have done here. Adeel may be the backing musician in the ‘Strings’ band but he had nothing to contribute to in the song. Luckily for him, we have other things to pick on in this song!
Zoheb Hassan: Chehra
Once again a “Coors” style sound opening by the strings section (violins) orchestrated beautifully under the management of Javed Iqbal. With years of experience playing for films, he can add even more value to the songs on Coke Studio. Zoheb Hassan chose to sing an old solo song of his, but we missed Nazia Hasan all the same (may she rest in peace)!
The guitar, played by Imran Akhoond, riffed with the vocals whereas the table, played by Babar Khanna, was a little muted and a slight enhancement would have given the song a fresher feel. The backing vocals were arranged well and once again Aamir Zaki did a repeat of what he did in Asrar’s song – he stole the show with his ending solo! And one does not hear him asking for ‘top credits’ like other guest musicians as your work speaks for itself. Brilliance shines no matter where it is!
Javed Bashir: Charkha
Javed Bashir is a powerhouse singer. His qawwali voice is crafted to sing any song to perfection! Aj Latha Naeeo from season two was one of his best performances and was arranged to perfection by Hyatt.
Charkha sees Javed in his more comfortable qawwali environment. Tanveer Tafu shows off his rubab skills in this song, but just like Abida ji and Ustad Raees’s song, the opportunity for a jugalbandi was lost! Similarly, the sargams of Javed could have taken a notch up with an even better arrangement.
Here’s an idea for the Coke Studio team: Give Javed’s majestic vocals and powerful sargams an electronic-funk spin! We are blessed to have a classical vocalist open to an eclectic mix of music so let’s not waste the beautiful opportunity like it has been in Charkha.
Humera Channa and Abbas Ali Khan: Phool Banro
Humera ji regaled us all in raga ‘Tilak Kamod’ with Phool Banro. Traditionally a wedding song, Humera ji captured all its emotion and delivered a superb rendition. Abbas Ali Khan’s “akaars” were just wonderful! He is a man worthy of being called a musician and ably matched with Humera ji.
However, doubling of the ‘leh’ in the ‘aakar’ towards the end could have been even more interesting. Jaffer Zaidi’s opening piano sequence set the right mood, but guest musician Shallum of Fuzon was either the wrong choice for the song or he just couldn’t find his element throughout the song. He was clearly a misfit. The producers can also take a leaf out of Meekal Hasan’s albums on how to innovatively arrange classical pieces to make such songs even more exciting.
Clearly all songs of episode two had ‘could have been’ moments. There were many lapses and misses in the arrangement and production, which makes one wonder if the producers have enough time to think through each song. They clearly need more help with classical and folk singers and songs. The overall forte of Coke Studio remains ‘pop’ which is clearly being enjoyed by the masses as well.