The first episode of the much-awaited musical programme “Coke Studio” was released on Saturday night. This time around, the episode was released on the internet before it got aired on channels, which resulted in tracks like “Paisay Da Nasha” by Bohemia and “Charkha Nolakha” by Atif Aslam and Qayaas receiving over a 100,000 likes within a day.
The episode itself, however, didn’t live up to the high expectations and hype that surrounded this season and didn’t get the raging response “Coke Studio” episodes usually get through social media. It seems that the show has set the bar so high with phenomenal performances in the past that anything that is less than perfect disappoints fans and puts them off.
However, one thing that can easily be concluded after listening to the first episode is that “Coke Studio” may not get as popular this time around but will definitely be more experimental.
‘Charkha Nolakha’: Atif Aslam and Umair Jaswal a deadly duo
The first thing that comes to mind after listening to “Charkha” is that amazing vocalists like Atif Aslam and Umair Jaswal didn’t really need backing vocalists to make a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan classic sound brilliant. Aslam proves his critics wrong once again by displaying the best of his vocal range and strength in this song. However, on the other hand, a hardcore Qayaas fan would have wished the band to perform their own song “Charkha” and bring forth their own signature style of music instead of working on renditions.
‘Kamlee’: Hadiqa Kiyani and Sufi rock
With “Kamlee” the iconic Hadiqa Kiyani demonstrated her love for Sufi poetry and attempted at doing something extraordinary with an already overdone song, which unfortunately doesn’t leave a lasting impression . The song stands out for its groove and the lyrical content but the overall make-up of the track is cliched and done to death.
‘Tum Kaho’: The filler performance
Symt has been creating quite a buzz in the music industry because of their hit songs like “Zamana” and “Pyar Di Ganderi”. Their latest track, however, “Tum Kaho”, despite being a sweet, mellow number wasn’t worthy of being featured in “Coke Studio”. Even though the song isn’t all that bad, it just could not match the unprecedented standards set by outstanding performances in previous seasons.
One word of advice is that bands like Symt should refrain from experimenting and mixing, as incorporating a short piece by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in their act didn’t do their average song any good. The only thing that stands out is the backing vocals by the Viccaji sisters, who outdid themselves in this song.
‘Paisay Da Nasha’: Rap gets a makeover
Bohemia’s performance could have been labelled as ‘just another rap song’ but “Coke Studio” manages to bring out an unexplored facet of rap fusion. Kudos to the team of the show for not replicating what is happening in rap music all around the world and in fact generating their own way of treating rap music with funk and pop influences. The song “Paisay Da Nasha” is a lyrical masterpiece that has received an ideal launch via “Coke Studio”. One shouldn’t be surprised if the song becomes the next youth anthem in Pakistan.
‘Larsha Pekhawar Ta’: Hamayoon Khan redefines Pashto pop
Hamayoon Khan is among the new breed of Pashto musicians from Peshawar and his love for modern music has gained him immense popularity in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Afghanistan. “Larsha Pekhawar Ta” is one of the many folk tunes that serve as the essence of Pashto music and what “Coke Studio” did with it is truly experimental in nature. However, where funky rendition of it amazed many new listeners, some traditional Pashto music fans are of the opinion that it lacks the soul original folk tune had.
Regardless, such a piece is definitely an achievement for the “Coke Studio” house band. Guitarist Asad Ahmed and keyboardist Mobi deserve a pat on the back for their contribution to this song.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2012.