One of the prime reasons why the fifth season of “Coke Studio” (CS) did not satiate the music lover’s appetite is its weak artist line-up.
Season five’s artists are either too young to have a say — at least in front of the CS house band members — or too old to bring anything fresh to the platform. However, despite the overall low appeal, rapper Bohemia manages to shine out with yet another lyrical chapter of his life and Bilal Khan finally gives us a track worth listening to.
‘Neray Aa’: Have we run out of singers?
“Neray Aa” was a cover done by Overload that garnered attention right after its release due to its unique sound and almost abstract video. However, the CS version of the song offers nothing new and is in fact a replica of the same song. The only difference is the addition of live instruments and the leading lady Rachel Viccaji. Viccaji has the capability to shout (and perhaps perform) in front of the camera, but she certainly is not capable of leading a song. She did her best to sing the Punjabi track, but her accent made the audible experience amusing (and not in a good way).
A piece of advice for Farhad Humayun: Stick to drumming and refrain from testing your vocal potential on popular forums like “Coke Studio”. Truth be told, Humayun’s red, skinny pants and strange expressions and Viccaji’s hairdo get more attention than their singing.
‘Rung’: Hadiqa Kiyani is trying too hard
Hadiqa Kiyani is a brilliant vocalist but throughout “Coke Studio”, she is trying to prove something that still remains unproven. Starting from the brilliant single “Tere Liye” right up to albums like Rough Cut and her recent works in Pashto and Persian, Kiyani has an impressive career and has shown versatility. So it’s only natural to expect something much more innovative from the singer than half-hearted renditions of Sufi kalams. In a nutshell, “Rung” is a Sufi rendition gone wrong, which dilutes the originality and essence usually found in Sufi poetry.
‘Tere Bin’: Uzair Jaswal, vocal training will do the trick
Uzair Jaswal revamped his popular song “Tere Bin” and fused it with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song by the same name. His own song is well-written and when mixed with NFK’s song, gives off a larger-than-life feeling. Unfortunately, the problem here is that Jaswal is not a good vocalist. His voice is flat; anyone with a decent voice and no singing experience could have pulled this song off with a little help from auto-tuning.
‘Taaray’: Bilal Khan gets his act together
There is no doubt that Khan’s compositions are as mature as nursery rhymes. But like nursery rhymes, his songs are catchy too. All they need is a little tweaking by maestros like Rohail Hyatt and brilliant guitar solos by Asad Ahmed to transform into something relatively more pleasant if not outstanding.“Taaray” is a catchy song and the only other track worth listening to after Bohemia’s “School Di Kitaab”.
‘School Di Kitaab’: Bohemia’s life arc
One thing that makes this song the most memorable track of the episode is that it has more of Bohemia and less of the house band members. Even though the heavy instrumental sound seems too overpowering for a rap song, Bohemia’s “School Di Kitaab” still manages to make you nostalgic. Bohemia is someone who has provided a new language to the desi rap music genre.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.