Coke Studio is set for a resounding finale - reportedly featuring all of the artists who have appeared on the show - on August 1, but the first four episodes have left their own indelible mark.
Karachiites have been blaring “Alif Allah Chambay Di Booti” on weekends as they race around in their cars, and Meesha Shafi has become this summer’s pin-up idol. The influence of the four episodes, which have seen fans turn against stars for their mediocre performances and rediscover old icons, is what has made this show a success so far.
Watching the show has become a collective experience for many. Facebook and Twitter users post updates throughout the one-hour episode, ranting, raving and reviewing. Some of the angriest comments came the night EP performed their cover of Sajjad Ali’s “Bolo Bolo”, with several fans expressing bewilderment at what their favourite band had done to the 1990s hit.
However, the show has had its fair share of successes. Arif Lohar’s metal influenced “Mirza Sahibaan” and Abida Parveen’s renditions of sufi poetry have helped remind one of their lasting impact on music. Stars such as Sanam Marvi, who is extremely popular in Sindh, have notched her own share of fans through their performances on the show.
The misses this season have been the bands - Aunty Disco Project, EP, Zeb and Haniya, Karavan and Noori - who have all paled in comparison to the musicians performing. For some, such as Karavan, it was bad luck to be lumped into an episode line-up that had far more powerful voices. For others, it was bad song writing that did the trick (“Tann dolay/mann dolay/raaton main” is far from being Noori and Zeb and Haniya’s best effort) or repetitiveness (how many times will we hear “Sultanat” before Aunty Disco Project gets rid of it?)
Arieb Azhar is one of this season’s most underrated stars. From the haunting rendition of”Na Raindee Hai” to his collaboration with Tina Sani on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s “Mori Araj Suno”, Azhar’s mesmerising voice has added more depth to each episode, and lent a feeling of introspection that is missing from the lighter songs such as “Nazar Eyle”. Building up from his performance on last year’s season of Coke Studio, Ali Hamza has proved that he is the stronger voice in Noori. His vocal talents shine on “Hor Vi Neevan Ho”, and one looks forward to hearing what Ali Hamza brings to Noori’s next record.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.