KARACHI: Coke Studio‘s latest season, which commenced yesterday, has already created a stir. The first episode left some impressed and others… possibly confused; not knowing what to make of it. But here are four things I took away from it.
1. Intertwining rock and ‘qawwali’ in ‘Shikwa/ Jawab e Shikwa’
One may need to have an acquired taste for this formation, as it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Taking century old poems, written by renowned poet Allama Iqbal, is courageous in itself. Add a mellow rock backdrop to the words and there you have Natasha Baig’s Shikwa. Her vocals are very strong, enough to hold her own throughout the whole five minutes of her part and not get lost in the bold drumming and electric guitars.
The song then takes a turn and becomes a qawwali, with Fareed Ayaz, Abu Mohammed and their harmoniums forming Jawab e Shikwa. The groundbreaking ending is probably my favourite part of the melody, with the two parts of the song merging ever-so-seamlessly. It may essentially be an amalgamation of two songs, but Shikwa/Jawab e Shikwa is truly one of a kind.
2. Appearance of transgenders in ‘Baalkada’
This tune left me stunned… but I’m not sure whether it was in a good way. Let’s first address the elephant in the studio – the first ever appearance of transgenders on Coke Studio. Lucky and Naghma sure made this song their own, alongside Jimmy Khan’s vocals.
The song started off quite well, with the intro leaving me intrigued due to the use of both traditional and modern instruments backing comical, wedding-appropriate lyrics. However, my eyes were left wide as the chorus began. Although very playful, the varying tempo within the song, mixed with the funk aspect, just didn’t work for me.
3. Multi-lingual rapping in ‘Rap Hai Saara’
The beginning of a song is supposed to leave you wanting more, but that was not the case here. This tune’s starting point didn’t draw me in at all, with the singers doing nothing more than continuously chanting the title of the song. Nonetheless, it does get better as the strumming of the guitar begins and Lyari Underground breaks into Balochi rap.
And contrary to the first galling 10 seconds of the intro (which also serves as the chorus), I quite like the vocals. The music is a little monotonous though, seeing hardly any variations other than the introduction of dhol, building up to the bridge which is rapped by Young Desi in Punjabi, and features a hint of humour. While the song climaxes with the chorus, one gets used to the constant chanting of ‘rap hai saara rap,’ so it’s not as bothersome.
4. Women empowerment through ‘Main Irada’
The final song was a creation of an all-women band, which is quite fascinating in itself. The melody begins with a mellow backdrop, comprising soft drumming interlaced with the sound of maracas and the harmonium, exuding a calming quality and setting a rather soothing tone for the rest of the song.
Like Baalkaada, Main Irada also features a fusion of traditional and modern instruments. The bridge consists of tablas and the sitaar, backing Shamu Bai’s robust classical singing.
Impeccably entwining the euphonic music and meaningful lyrics with the differing vocals, this song is able to send out a very powerful message without having the need to raise volumes; keeping at a low-pitch, led by earthy crooning.
So this episode saw a mixed bag – rock, classical, funk, qawwali, rap… you name it, they had it. The episode managed to display an array of formations and stood for change featuring transgenders and an all-female band. I think it’s safe to say, Coke Studio‘s latest offering did not fail to make a mark.
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