Coke Studio 8: Sugar, spice and some things nice

Episode two layered with nostalgia and an Ali Zafar track that pushes the envelope further

Ali Raj August 24, 2015
Episode two layered with nostalgia and an Ali Zafar track that pushes the envelope further.


While the dust from the previous episode was yet to settle, Strings rolled out the second instalment of season 8. Comprising only one original track and three helpings of melodies of the past, dangerously layered with nostalgia, the episode hints at its producers finding their true calling. With Ustad Tanveer Hussain and Sajid Ali in the driving seat, and Ali Zafar on the roof, the wagon putters through a path that was steamrolled by the first episode.


It is safe to say Ali might have just saved the season for Bilal and Faisal. With a plethora of covers and revisits already on the assembly line, Ali’s Axl Rose produced sheer magic with an original that leaves little room for scrutiny. It has been long since the last time we heard such cleverly-crafted lyrics coupled with an on-point arrangement that do justice to their hype; lessons to learn for Salman Ahmed, we believe. While the track bears testimony to how much Ali has grown as an artist since his last visit to the show, Rockstar embodies what the series really stands, or rather should continue standing for — experimenting with care. The only thing that seems out of place in the entire track is Sara Haider’s jacket.

Read: Coke Studio 8: From boys to men

Sakal Ban

Although attracting the least attention for all the depressing reasons, Sakal Ban is a heavy dose of musical prowess. Ever since Aj Latha Naeeo, this is the first time I felt the race between the house band and the vocal powerhouses. Rizwan and Muazzam sit tight in their comfort zones, weaving intricacies into the ‘traditional’ cover. The song contradicts the episode’s overall approach of taking leaps in experimentation. Hussain shows glimpses of sheer brilliance throughout the track as Aahad Nayani enjoys every bit of the freedom given to his wings. Khusrow lives on and so does his brainchild.

Sammi Meri Waar

Ever since the song hit the air waves, Umair Jaswal has been the talk of the town. The ridiculously photogenic duo of Jaswal and Quratulain Balouch reworked a tune that on the face seems like Coke Studio’s first negotiation with a folk song gone wrong. However, the rings that Jaswal runs around Balouch to fill in for the lack of ink on her lyrics sheet are bold, desperate yet somewhat catchy. In a nutshell, fifth minute onwards, the track yearns for Rohail Hyatt. While the house band literally kills it, both the vocalists surrender their bags of tricks. Charkha Nolakha may have been an exception, but the sight of one of Pakistan’s most exciting rock vocalists whimpering at being out-of-place is just painful.

Read: Ali Zafar spoofs himself for Coke Studio season 8: Look for Rockstar revealed

Chirya Da Chamba

Suraiyya Khanum’s accolade to Tufail Niazi is accentuated by the presence of the giant Anwar Maqsood. While the music is minimal and good enough to form its bedrock, Khanum’s command on singing is intimidating. Anwar recites bits from a letter that a newly-wed girl writes to her father back home in her village, where she was set free by the simple things in life. Bringing him in and tehtul lafz back in turn bring validation to Strings’ intent. The song might discomfort the rigid who have already begun writing it off as an overdone melodrama. From my standpoint, with Bilal already in charge, avoiding the cameo would have inflicted little harm on Anwar. With the world bearing testimony to the excellence of his entire family, we have seldom seen him appear in Zubaida Aapa’s cooking shows, Fatima Suraiyya Bajya’s plays or Zehra Nigah’s writings. Your individuality is what sets you all apart, sire.

Verdict: An impressionable production that still tugs at heartstrings. Although it may be too early to say this, the season’s high point may have already passed.


Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2015.

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abdullah | 7 years ago | Reply ali zafar is real hero rockstar
Ali | 7 years ago | Reply @The Express Tribune I guess that any type of criticism against Coke Studio is strictly not allowed in this forum.
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