Coke Studio 8: Still haven't found what they're looking for

Published: September 14, 2015
Rangeela by Ali Azmat was eccentric, outlandish yet very typical. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Rangeela by Ali Azmat was eccentric, outlandish yet very typical. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


After it was announced that Coke Studio’s episode 5 has been delayed due to the Makkah tragedy, the songs were released only 24 hours later.

Proceeding in a retrograde motion, this was the first time this season that Ali Zafar and Atif Aslam were not carrying the weight of predictability on their shoulders. They now have accomplices.


Mekaal Hassan Band is a brass-necked proponent of fusion music and Kinare refused to skirt the philosophy. MHB’s second track in the season was another serving from their latest record that was left untouched by Strings, perhaps for the better. The band’s forte lies in its sense of direction; Mekaal knows exactly what he is doing and that sets him apart from most other faces on the show. He and Imran share a riff that summons emotions to be dealt by Sharmista and the flute department. Sharmista meanders through the track with considerable ease in comparison to her previous appearance and is further cushioned by the monosyllabic presence of the backing vocalists.

Read: The showstoppers of Coke Studio 8

Asim Azhar


Ali Azmat was a dash of lemon in the generic Rooh Afza that was served at the drink’s counter. His Freddie Mercury moustache and theatrics upped an otherwise unexciting race to the finish line. Rangeela was eccentric and outlandish, yet very typical. Azmat’s signature originality leaves the listener grateful and cheery. Momo’s face was evidently lit up as he saw his dependable partner in control. Yet the spell breaks exactly the way the track was conceived — instantly.

Khalis Makhan

Bakshi Brothers walked in with heads held high. Identically dressed and poised, the quartet sounded like a well-rehearsed school choir performing at the annual day. They stretched a celebratory Ramazan ad film jingle into a six-minute hymn that keeps reminding the listener of the displeasing cliché that ‘revolutionary thinkers’ like Hassan Nisar regurgitate every day. Strings seem in no mood to let go of Peera Ho too soon. It was dragged into the confusion exactly the way parents drag us to elaborate family gatherings. Attributed to Saeen Zahoor on the official website, it is slaughtered on charges of being a crowd pleaser. Waiting for the house band to break through the shackles of purposelessness is like waiting for Imran Khan to admit the 35 puncture story was a blatant lie — you know it’s never going to happen but the hope still doesn’t diminish fully.

Hina Ki Khushboo

At two different occasions was Noor Jehan remembered this week — Coke Studio and Sarmad Khoosat’s Manto — and both left questions of why and how unanswered. Hina ki Khushboo was a typical dholki episode: the chirpy cousin with a reasonably sound voice exerting herself in the company of the other cousin from the States, whose antics bring all the aunties to the yard. Asim Azhar is a bright and interesting brand that has attracted a lot of attention, but the soloist’s charm is killed by Coke Studio’s obsession with collaborations. It is certainly ‘too risky’ a task to let a woman carry the day without meddling from a disoriented male vocalist.

Verdict: The episode accentuates the argument that all that is left are known faces and showy instruments.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th,  2015.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • sensible
    Sep 14, 2015 - 9:15PM

    Rangeela is the best track of the season Period!Recommend

  • Hanif
    Sep 14, 2015 - 10:41PM

    Cmon guys, I don’t really understand this write up. Hina Ki Khushboo is really cool.
    And Kinaray is awesome to say the least. Don’t understand why everyone feels like bashing coke studio for fun.Recommend

  • Chief
    Sep 15, 2015 - 2:05AM

    Huh?? One and a Half stars, you seriously need to wake up and appreciate good music.

    Rangeela was one of the best songs so far, and to be honest they were all good and the music outputted from the band was exemplary. Recommend

  • Abdul Hannan
    Sep 15, 2015 - 6:09AM

    I really do not think this season is for you. I really liked the whole episode. I would say that the MHB song was not long enough for a Coke Studio version but still the whole episode was great. Better than the Rockstar oneRecommend

  • shaikhmustafa
    Sep 15, 2015 - 8:31AM

    Barring MHB, no other artist really made much sense this time around. MHB is clearly in a league of its own, but then cant the other at least try and measure up. Recommend

  • SAC
    Sep 15, 2015 - 9:29AM

    I can’t understand why most of the coke studio people are wearing sunglasses in a dark/ dim light atmosphere. Recommend

  • Ravian
    Sep 15, 2015 - 9:39AM

    Coke studio 8 is producing excellent……………. covers of the hits from the past. They are doing “jhankar” music (adding some music to the old tunes). I think Strings have already exhausted the very limited creativity that they had. I am looking forward to the return of Rohail Hayat for the next season……. or better still…………… Shoaib Mansoor…………………..Recommend

  • Mulla Diesel
    Sep 15, 2015 - 1:16PM

    This has to be the most pathetic Season of Coke Studio. The performances make Komal Rizvi sound good. Strings have totally failed as expected. They are a one hit wonder duo. Please bring back Rohail Hyatt. Recommend

  • Sep 15, 2015 - 2:56PM

    Hina ke khushboo is a fantastic song. Possibly the song of the season. Recommend

  • jhamat
    Sep 15, 2015 - 4:51PM

    I think atif and gul prana song become song ow season … awesome ….Recommend

  • Sep 15, 2015 - 6:05PM

    Since many years I have been trying to collaborate with Coke Studio. I am certain my compositions “Deshatgardika khaatma” or “Piyarka Des” would rock the scene of Pakistani music. Listen these tracks on my soundcloud page…God bless!Recommend

  • hamza
    Sep 16, 2015 - 11:06AM

    String definitely produced an continuous viewer engaging season this time around. And Rock star,hina ki khusboo & rangella are great hits.Recommend

  • anam
    Sep 19, 2015 - 6:24PM

    It’s like you went into my mind and stole my thoughts. While I really like this season, I also agree with every thing you are pointing out. It isn’t that these tracks (and the others of s8) aren’t good, it’s just that they could have been better. There is so much potential and it is not being utilized to its full extent, and that’s what saddens me.Recommend

  • Sep 22, 2015 - 12:53AM

    Well, Rangeela was among the top 5 of Coke Studio 8 so far. Period and as far as Hina Ki Khushboo, It could not get any better than this, i mean seriously Samra Khan was more than awesome alongside her charm, i solely don’t understand this write up. Recommend

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