August 21, 2017

The tenth season of Coke Sudio is off to a strong start. Opening with a hamd in the dulcet voices of Shafqat Amanat Ali and Ahmed Jahanzeb, Allahu Akbar exemplifies the modern classical/sufi sound which is one of the hallmarks  of Coke Studio.

Shafqat Amant Ali is one of the best singers of his generation and its good to see him back in Coke Studio. Music director Shuja Haider is to be commended for the musical arrangments and the strong backing vocals. A total supplication to the almighty, the intensity poured into this rendition can move to tears or lull one into a state of calm. .

 

From the sublime to the more frivolous ….the Momina Mustehsan and Danyal Zafar duet. Momina Mustehsan’s meteoric rise to stardom has less to do with her vocal skills and more with her girl-next-door charm. But in this soft, romantic ballad she is perfectly paired with the equally beauteous Danyal Zafar. Making his debut on the show, the younger Zafar is poised to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Written and composed by Strings, there is nothing particularly remarkable about the song or the singers, but the overall effect is inexplicably pleasing.

As for Danyal Zafar, he looks uncannily like his brother, sounds very much like him and has the same endearing quality. It remains to be seen how he will distinguish his career from that of his brother’s .

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Ali Sethi took the intrepid step of taking on the immortal Mehdi Hasan classic Ranjish hi Sahi. If one doesn’t compare it to the original, it stands quite well on its own. Ali Sethi pays homage to the master in his style of rendition which seems inspired by the master while managing not to sound like he is copying him. However, the original still soars above this version, with Mehdi Hasan trying much less and delivering far more.

 

It is also good to see under-represented singers like Amanat Ali gracing the Coke Studio stage and one hopes to see more from this talented artist.

So far, my personal favourite has to be Tinak Dhin composed and written by Ali Hamza and performed by himself, Ali Sethi and  Waqar Ehsin. The electric energy in this number defies listeners to remain still. The chemistry between the three performers, the incredibly catchy beat and clever lyrics all blend together seamlessly. Also Sethi and Waqar Ehsin bring some impressive vocals to this number with their classical taans to create a powerhouse performance.

 

Ali Zafar revisits another old favourite, Jaan e Baharan , in a rather swashbuckling avatar – his shirt may have got more reactions than the song. He pulls it off creditably, aided by a creative musical arrangement, involving a mean violin score, percussion and interesting backing vocals.

 

The only real let down so far is the Junoon classic Sayonee. In fact, the outcry from Ali Azmat fans on social media has been deafening. The reboot lacks the raw appeal and manic energy Ali Azmat brought to the original. The obvious misstep was asking Rahat Fateh Ali to sing this one. A virtuoso in his own right, he is entirely unremarkable in this genre. And Ali Noor does nothing to improve matters.

One of the best things about Coke Studio is the spirit of positivity and camaraderie that pervades the entire production. The committment and ownership felt by the musicians enlivens each recording.

Zahra Chughtai has worked and written for Pakistan’s leading publications. She is currently Newsline’s website editor.