Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Musical Greats of 2008

Award season may be verging upon completion in Hollywood, with the mother of all ceremonies falling this Sunday in L.A. (the Oscars, for those of you perhaps living on another planet), but they are all but halfway done over on the other side of the world. The Hindi film industry’s two main ceremonies, Filmfare and IIFA, are in fact yet to occur, and hence I will be taking you along my Top 10 lists for the year 2008.

Given music really is the first thing that attracts us to – or in some cases detracts us from – many a Hindi film, it only makes sense that I begin by outlining my Top 10 Songs of the year. Let it be known that these songs are chosen based on a combination of lyrics, melody and vocal performance rather than anything else, which is also why you will not see foot-tapping chartbusters along the lines of Maa Da Laadla, Talli Ho Gayi and Pappu Can’t Dance. It’s not that those songs are not enjoyable in their own right, but rather the fact that there is a huge dearth of the classic, Indian music that once defined Indian cinema – a genre of music that did not have to rely on 2/3 of a song being in English rather than just about every participant’s mother tongue…

Top 10 Songs of 2008, in Order of Release

1. Jashn-e-Bahara (Jodhaa Akbar)

It makes all too much sense that A.R. Rahman kicked off 2008 with a stellar album for Ashutosh Gowarikar's magnum opus. While Khwaja Mere Khwaja may be the most unique and inspired track on the album, the soft sweetness of this ditty and Mr. Javed Akhtar's incredible lyrical imagery leave it with a much wider appeal than any of the other tracks can boast of.

2. Pehli Nazar Mein (Race)

The term ‘overplayed’ was no match for Atif Aslam in what could very well be termed the love anthem of the year. The lyrics may be nothing spectacular, but it’s the melody and Aslam’s soulful singing that rendered this song a favorite for slow dances, Valentine’s Day surprises, long drives and even entrances/first dances at weddings. Who knew a simple song could go such a long way?

3. Falak Tak (Tashan)

In the midst of the loud, borderline strange music of Tashan that could probably serve as a pinnacle for how Hindi music has changed over time, this Udit Narayan/Kavita Krishnamurthy duet almost seemed recycled from the 90s. But let’s face it: Wouldn’t it be nice if those hilltop love songs weren’t so few and far between? We did, after all, listen to them for the last 60-odd years.

4. Zara Si (Jannat)

Love him or hate him, Emraan Hashmi never ceases to deliver at least one chartbuster per film. Kay Kay’s crooning could easily be confused for the aforementioned Aslam, as could this song for Hashmi’s own Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai (Gangster). Nonetheless, it’s devotional enough for girls to wish a guy would sing it to them, and for guys to wish they were clever enough to do so.

5. Kabhi Kabhi Aditi (Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na)

This Top 10 may not be ranked in any particular order, but you better believe if there was a song of the year, this would be it right here. It’s an unconventional song with an equally unconventional singer and alarmingly has nothing to do with romance. But who said a song about embracing the concept of loving, losing and moving on in life would have no takers? Even if in the end it was all about a cat.

6. Bakhuda Tumhi Ho (Kismat Konnection)

Some people referred to this album as a meek attempt to recreate the success of Jab We Met. Those people may be on to something, but on that same token so were the music directors. In another album full of club-like, Hinglish numbers (what else would Shahid Kapur gyrate to?), what really stood out was a song that utilized the Urdu of yore and called upon magic man Aslam yet again, and the now sadly underexposed Alka Yagnik.

7. Khuda Jaane (Bachna Ae Haseeno)

Real-life lovebirds Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone may have failed to live up to on-screen chemistry expectations in the majority of the film, but somehow they absolutely sizzled in this song more or less akin to a breath of fresh air. With unusual lyrics and the picturesque backdrops of Venice and Capri, to see it was to further appreciate it. If there would be one complaint, it’d have been to find a better singer than the rather one-tone Shilpa Rao.

8. Tu Muskura (Yuvvraaj)

It was a near two-way tie between this and Tu Meri Dost Hai, but then I decided not to be as accommodating as our desi awards sadly are in reality. The album as a whole may have been a disappointment from the Rahman-Subhash Ghai (read: Taal) combination, but it was a sincerely welcome return to classical music. You know, the one that makes use of an orchestra and lives on for generations? It was also nice to hear Alka Yagnik back in full form, after having sadly been replaced with the Shilpa Rao’s of this world.

9. Haule Haule (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi)

Again, I was tempted to create a tie between this one and Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hai. The latter may have superior wordings, but it’s Sukhwinder Singh’s rustic outline of slowly falling in love that was as infectious as they come. The accordion base that also made up a large part of the background score could not have added a better touch.

10. Guzarish (Ghajini)

If Rahman kicked off the year, he also rounded it off. The sad case of Guzarish is that it maybe promised more in the promos than it turned out to be as a full song, but that does not take away from the fact that this series of ‘requests’ from a love-stricken Aamir Khan were all that disappointing. We do wish Sonu Nigam had sung it instead of Javed Ali, because what we ended up with was Ali putting on his best Nigam impression. That notwithstanding, it is the one song you truly take away from the film.

Honorable Mention: Teri Ore (Singh Is Kinng)

The song is very much as pretty as can be, but what prevented it from making the list was: a) the idea of anyone lip-syncing to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, especially Akshay Kumar in a pagdi b) the video’s attempt to unsuccessfully do its own Suraj Hua Maddham and c) the fact that for all the nice little wordings in there, 80% of the song still passes with nothing but the words ‘teri ore’ on repeat, at times making you wonder if it was your track that was skipping.


Roopam said...

I prefer kaise mujhe tum over guzarish from fav song from this year will probably be pehli nazar from race..

Prachi Patel said...

I agree! Jashn-E-Bahara, Khwaja Mere Khwaja and Pehli Nazar are my favorites of the year

Gamesmaster G9 said...

Nothing from Rock on?

S.K.S. said...

I alllmost included Tum Ho To from Rock On!!, but as much as I love Farhan the actor, Farhan the singer is a bit much for me.

Sue said...

love em all, but i would have to put khuda jaane in my top 5 for the year...great job =)

S.K.S. said...

Haha Sue - read the top - they are not ranked, they are in order of release :P

Sana Anwar said...

I agree with it all EXCEPT pehli nazar mein. That song is a direct rip off of a Korean song and I hate Pritam for it. I mean, he didn't even try to change it.

Hafsa said...

I think my fav. song from this year was "Tujh mein rab dikta hain" from Rab Ne Banaya Jodi...

Roopam said...

Pritam is the biggest thief bollywood has ever seen.... Anu malik gave bunch of original good albums also..but this guy....

Manish Agarwal said...

I would take out "Kabhi Kabhi Aditi" and throw in something from Rock on or, even Pappu can't dance :D.

Mannie said...

Good list, disagree with a few but overall good. I couldn't stand "Bakhuda Tumhi Ho", though... I felt like it was a generic "omg I'm in love with you" song that was trying way too hard to be Western and belty. Lyrics seemed copied from "Tum Se Hi," only not nearly as good, and the melody somehow gave me the impression that I'd heard it before, many times. The first time I heard it, I thought I could sing along to it, and it was sadly partially true. First listen made me feel that it was composed by Pri... oh wait, it was.

Oh, and Shahid Kapoor waving his arms around while the camera is circling around him for minutes on end certainly didn't help either. "Khuda Jaane" had the same problem, but who gives a crap when KK is serenading you through the speakers?