As the iconic pop-rock band Strings announces the end of its journey and leaves fans broken-hearted, The Express Tribune does a little rundown for the rookies who do not understand why Strings is worth the hype.
Get The Ball Rolling:
Strings started off as a four-member boy band back in 1988 when the concept of ‘boy bands’ was foreign to the subcontinent. The original band members included Bilal Maqsood, Faisal Kapadia, Rafiq Wazir Ali and Kareem Bashir Bhoy. Rumour has it that they formed the band at their college farewell party - just a bunch of boys wanting to be famous.
The band released their debut album, Strings, in the year 1990. Twelve out of the 14 songs of the album were written by Pakistani scriptwriter and satirist Anwar Maqsood, and all songs were composed by his son and band member Bilal Maqsood. Strings, however, disbanded shortly after, in 1992. They returned in 1999, with two of the original members, Bilal and Faisal.
While the first album was a success, Strings’ initial experimentation with sounds and rhythms was not recognised up until the release of their second album, with the critically acclaimed single Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar, which took the country by storm.
In an interview with Pakistan's music streaming platform Patari, Bilal sheds light on the real story behind the song, saying that he was madly in love with someone when he wrote the song.
The single was first aired on MTV Asia and became a nationwide hit overnight. After that, the dynamic duo released Duur in 2000, reviving the band’s popularity, followed by Dhaani in 2003. Since then, Bilal and Faisal have ruled the Pakistani pop music scene.
Duur made waves not only in Pakistan but in India as well. It was reissued by the Indian label, Magnasound, which had launched pop stars like Baba Sehgal and Remo Fernandes in 2002.
After the phenomenal success of Duur, Strings released their fourth album, Dhaani. One of the singles from it, Najane Kyun, was later featured as a soundtrack for the sequel of Hollywood’s Spider-Man, in 2004.
With that, Strings became the first Pakistani band to ever sing for Hollywood. Following this, in 2005, String went on to win its first international award - MTV Asia’s Favourite Artist India.
Subsequently, in 2008, the duo released their album, Koi Anay Wala Hai - from which, two tracks were picked up by Bollywood. The album was co-produced by Bollywood actor John Abraham and was remarkably successful in both Pakistan and India. However, their Bollywood stardom was short-lived as 2008 was also the year of the Mumbai attacks, which led to a curb in Pakistani artists collaborating with Indian musicians.
Taking the Wheels of Coke Studio:
In 2014, Strings made a debut at Coke Studio Season 7 and produced four consecutive seasons till 2017. While the platform gained popularity, it also netted criticism for Strings, something the band was not used to.
In an interview with Instep, Bilal said, "We learnt a lot from Coke Studio musically as well otherwise. Lessons about life and 100 things that I couldn’t have anticipated going in," adding, "Success came very easily to Strings. Everything we created, from day one, did well. With Coke Studio, we learnt to face criticism also and it was something we never had to face before. The first time we saw negative comments related to Strings, it was a major blow. Never had we anticipated that people would criticize us and where were the fans who’d defend us? That was a life lesson: negativity can come into your life. And for four years, as we tackled it, we became stronger as people."
"Strings have their own style of working and we were in our domain but in Coke Studio, we saw how other artists work," confesses Bilal. "We were absorbing things and although the process that dictates how we as Strings make songs hasn’t changed, the filtering process of what should not be done has become stronger.
They bid farewell to Coke Studio in 2017.
Back With A Bang:
After the Coke Studio fiasco, the band announced that they would resume touring after a 10-year hiatus.
Strings announced a comeback in 2018, with an album named ‘30’. To Strings, the name signified the band's eventful journey of music spread over a span of 30 years, however, some argue that the hiatus from 1992 to 1999 where the band did not produce any music should not be included in the ‘30’ years of Strings. But such criticism mellowed down soon after they dropped 30’s first single, Sajni.
End of an Era:
On Thursday, March 25th, Bilal took to his official Instagram handle to announce the termination of the band.
In an emotional note, the 50-year-old singer wrote, "Today, 25/03/2021, is the day we graciously get to conclude Strings."
It wouldn't be wrong to say that almost all songs by the powerhouse duo are acclaimed for their stringed rhythms and melodious poetry; however, a few of those songs have been deemed timeless by fans as well as critics. Here's a list of those iconic, critically acclaimed songs that will make you swoon:
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