Coke Studio upstages Cyclone Phet

Published: June 7, 2010
Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi put in a sensational performance for the first episode of Coke Studio. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi put in a sensational performance for the first episode of Coke Studio. PHOTO: KOHI MARRI

The first episode of Coke Studio’s third season premiered on Pakistani television channels on Sunday night with six exemplary artists on the bill: Abida Parveen, Arieb Azhar, Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi, Karavan and Zeb and Haniya.

But the real shocker of the night was how fantastic the Arif Lohar-Meesha Shafi collaboration, “Alif Allah Chambay Di Booti” was. The idea of combining one musical powerhouse – Arif Lohar (who an entire generation of young Pakistanis grew up seeing almost daily on Pakistan Television) and the edgy, young Meesha Shafi, was bound to be either very, very good, or very, very bad.

It turned into a win-win situation. Shafi managed to show off that she has remarkably strong vocals and held her own against Lohar, who reminded why exactly he was – and is – a musical powerhouse. Their song has garnered more hits on YouTube than any of the others featured on the episode, and was an exemplary fusion of Lohar’s signature use of chimtas and the “Jugni” chorus.

Gumby told The Express Tribune last month that Meesha Shafi was the biggest surprise of the season for him, since he had never imagined how powerful her voice could be.

Meesha Shafi got the same reaction from musician Ali Noor, who posted on Twitter: “Listening to ‘Alif Allah’ on repeat … goose bumps are not going away … Meesha Shafi is the next big thing man … way to go CS!”

Even though the show was airing simultaneously on multiple television channels, the Coke Studio website was unavailable 45 minutes into the show.

The other strong point of the show was Arieb Azhar’s powerful recitation of poetry by Bulleh Shah, “Na Raindee Hai”, which the backing vocalists contributed to with a haunting chorus. The trippy vibe to the song, combined with its dark undertones and Azhar’s expressive voice, speaks volumes about Rohail Hyatt’s vision as a producer.

Zeb and Haniya’s groovy rendition of the Dari song, “Bibi Sanam Janem”, featured the rubab and like “Paimona Bitte”, they managed to make the popular tune and unfamiliar words into a beautiful, catchy song.

While Abida Parveen was consistent with “Ramooz-e-Ishq”, Karavan’s debut was mistimed, since the mellow “Yaadein” was an immediate downer after “Alif Allah Chambay Di Booti”.

Lohar told The Express Tribune that he hoped Pakistanis would look at the show and realise “kuch bata nahi, sab aik hai” (nothing has divided, we’re all one).

At the very least, Lohar managed to unite hundreds of Pakistanis in front of their television screens, spellbound by the magic created by the team behind Coke Studio.

Published in the Express Tribune, June 8th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (30)

  • Hammad
    Jun 8, 2010 - 12:55AM

    Alif ALLAH was Exceptional…
    Unbelievable both voices and specially melody.Recommend

  • sammy
    Jun 8, 2010 - 1:13AM

    Bibi Sanam Janam is a Persian song. Its farsi, not dari. the original version by wahid qasmee is the real thing. the energy cannot be matched by zeb and haniya (who are good in their own way).

    also, arif is a way bigger star than meesha will ever be (she sounded raw, not in a good way).

    listen to this maybe toooo low brow for the yuppies but way better then the coke studio version. Recommend

  • Maryam
    Jun 8, 2010 - 8:58AM

    Alif Allah was exceptional….i listened to it and still am, like anything….

    Meesha Shafi was good but not like Arif front of Arif Lohar she sounded immautre.

    way to Coke Studio….
    Royhail Hyatt thanks for this amalgam !!Recommend

  • Alizeh Haider
    Jun 8, 2010 - 10:00AM

    Abida Parveen’s number was very disappointing and I dont agree that Areib’s diction and delivery was good. It was actually very flat and expressionless in many places. Could have been far more spontaneous and live! I wish he had a session with Zia Moiyuddin in order to prepare for this.Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    Jun 8, 2010 - 10:16AM

    I am loving it. I am simply loving it. Can not stop listening!!!!Recommend

  • Nuzhat
    Jun 8, 2010 - 10:51AM

    Coke Studio may be awesome beyond measure, but this has to be the most insensitive and irresponsible title for an article put up by Express Tribune. While we were enjoying Coke Studio, hundreds were sitting in makeshift camps, waiting for the bad weather to pass.

    A little more discretion required from the editorial team. Thank you. Recommend

  • Saif
    Jun 8, 2010 - 11:00AM

    This indeed is the best performance I have seen in Coke Studio sessions!!! Just amazing!Recommend

  • Jun 8, 2010 - 11:12AM

    I am sure that there is more of Abida Parveen in the coming episodes..Recommend

  • Usman Saeed
    Jun 8, 2010 - 11:15AM

    welll awesum

    gr8 mind blowing performanceRecommend

  • Ednan
    Jun 8, 2010 - 11:52AM

    Abida Aunty is just superb …. Such a voice and gr8 sense of music. Know how to make others dissolve in her kalam …Recommend

  • Kamran
    Jun 8, 2010 - 12:36PM

    Since the time I have listened Arif and Meesha’s jugni
    and Zeb Haniya with bibi Sanem Janem, its the 2nd second day and I still cannot stop these two songs…
    They are in my air…everywhere…and its continuous!Recommend

    Jun 8, 2010 - 1:34PM


  • Jun 8, 2010 - 1:49PM

    Most beautifully sang AN filimed keep doingn good thingRecommend

  • imrani ab
    Jun 8, 2010 - 1:59PM

    i absolutely love Abida Parveen voice and her way of singing sufi songs… her concerts r spellbounding…… good job by CS…top nouch guys……Recommend

  • Aroob Akbar
    Jun 8, 2010 - 2:10PM

    I appreciate good music even when I don’t get the lyrics but I have to say Arieb’s performance/recitation whatever, to say the least, was disappointing. I can’t fathom why was he included and in the first episode no less. Really what was the point? If Coke Studio wanted a ‘sufina kalam’ recitation I am sure there were better orators like Zia Moiunuddin and Abida Perveen should have sufficed. Recommend

  • Aroob Akbar
    Jun 8, 2010 - 2:22PM

    Did the writer do her homework before submitting her review? I don’t think so. The first paragraph in bold, for example, is incorrect. There were at least seven stars, not six. Zeb and Haniya are two individuals and should not be seen as one of “six exemplary artists on the bill”.Recommend

  • Kanwar Nabeel
    Jun 8, 2010 - 2:25PM

    Alif ALLAH is simply magical , i m getting addctive to it , have heared it many many times but everytime gives the same magic Hats off Arif Lohar and Ruhail Hayat but Meesha shafi was the cream of crop heard her voice for the first time , she sounds so good …….thumbs up


  • Malang
    Jun 8, 2010 - 3:33PM

    This is revolting! Much as I loved Coke Studio’s first episode I find the headline of this aricle genuinely offensive.
    You simply cannot compare the destruction of hundreds perhaps even thousands of lives in a natural disaster to a musical collaboration no matter how brilliant it was. There needs to be some degree of journalistic sensitivity.
    It is irresponsible, trivialising and crude!Recommend

  • Saif
    Jun 8, 2010 - 3:35PM

    The surprise of the episode was Meesha Shafi. I mean the gal has proven that shes not just a pretty face. Man O man did she hold her own. I think Ali Noor is absolutely right about her being the next big thing.
    I wanna see more of her before this season ends.Recommend

  • Alisha khan
    Jun 8, 2010 - 4:03PM

    Hiii Bibi sanam is soo nice song i love it…Recommend

  • zaigham
    Jun 8, 2010 - 4:22PM

    i agree with Alizeh, Arieb was quite flat in his recital…
    May be a good idea by the producer but he failed to execute it properly…
    karavaan should have done some of their old song…
    lets hope coke studio has better to offer from abida parveen, her performance was not powerful…

    stupid title…
    express “opinion” is fast catching a bad reputation…Recommend

  • Tahir
    Jun 8, 2010 - 6:34PM

    There’s nothing in my mind right now except for………
    Dum gutkoon…..Dum Gutkoon…Recommend

  • Laiba
    Jun 8, 2010 - 8:11PM

    I love ‘Alif Allah chambay di booty’….Its fantastic!!Recommend

  • Ebad
    Jun 9, 2010 - 2:35AM

    Arif u totally rocked man!, Seriously u proved the world that u are a powerhouse in your own self!….Honestly, my mind has been captivated by this track…Keep up the good work!…Hats off!!!….At the same time it would be unfair to not to mention Meesha`s contribution, this girl proved her singing, i totally agree with Ali Noor, she got a bright future in Pakistani Music Industry.Recommend

  • JJ Lalwani
    Jun 9, 2010 - 6:34AM

    Coke studio’s new season seems amazing. It seems that all of south asia is commenting on the recent performance by Lohar Sahib via twitter and facebook. Ironically, one exceptionally vocal twitterati (by the name of Sara Taseer Shoaibullah) said that the song Alif Allah (a song mostly about letting go of worldly possessions and experiencing spiritually and nothing else) reminded her of her diamond necklaces! Guess the young generation has their own interpretation of folk music these days.Recommend

  • mazhar
    Jun 9, 2010 - 3:33PM


  • Naveed Khan
    Jun 9, 2010 - 11:49PM

    I am on holidays in Pakistan Peshawar.I had a chance to watch coke studio the other what a fantastic performance by Arif Lohar.I realy love the song “DUM GUTKO DUM GUTKO”…this was something very unique and different I have never listened anywhere in the world.AWESOME SONG.The Credit goes to Coke company as well.Thanks.Recommend

  • Jun 10, 2010 - 12:59AM

    I’ve never been moved so powerfully by any other kalaam than Alif Allah. This collaboration was simply mind-blowing. Great job by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi.Recommend

  • manto
    Jun 11, 2010 - 10:01AM

    Meesha was pretty good considering her brief experience in the music industry and almost negligible exposure to ‘Lohar’ kind of music; we shouldn’t compare her to Arif Lohar, because honestly speaking it doesn’t make sense, but kudos to her for complimenting Arif such beautifully.
    As far as the recital is concerned, it was a disappointment! one can do so much with such a powerful voice even if the lyrics aren’t that good you can inject emotions and feelings through your expression, but this flat recital didn’t do justice to Bulleh Shah’s kalam at all. The chorus was good so I somewhat get Rohail’s idea but the execution should’ve been more powerful.
    Abida Perween’s performance was extremely good. We have gotten used to CS making songs more forceful through innovative beats and unique instruments and because we didn’t see that in this performance therefore it didn’t give the listeners what they were expecting. We need to realize that Abida Perween’s singing itself is so convincing, powerful and unique plus the kalaam was just amazing that it just needed some musical backing and that’s it, and that’s exactly what Rohail did. I think it was brilliant.
    Zeb and Haniya were both very fresh and melodious like last year’s ‘paimona bite’.

    Overall a good start!Recommend

  • zainab
    Jun 24, 2010 - 1:46PM

    areeb azhar’s recital was so amazing, the whole performance was very psychedelic and hypnoticRecommend

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