Who will win the battle: Kashmir or Badnaam? -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Who will win the battle: Kashmir or Badnaam?

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: The journey which started seven weeks ago, with about 100 bands finally came down to the final two last Sunday. The Pepsi Battle of the Bands jury selected Badnaam and Kashmir as the top two bands of Pakistani music.

With the winner to be decided through public voting, the two bands clashed in the latest episode of Battle of the Bands. Both bands performed a medley as well as an original song to impress the judges and the audience, to leave one final lasting impression and get the fans to vote for them.

Badnaam’s mashup consisted of a couple of songs by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, an Abida Parveen track and their original Ishq Mein Tere. And while vocalist Ahmed Jilani’s Sufi Rockstar persona, the band’s usual we-own-the-universe-and-you-don’t-matter attitude and the bursting energy won the judges and the audience over, it was the transitions between the tracks that received a little criticism.
Same was the case with Kashmir’s medley of Atif Aslam’s early hit Aadatand Vital Signs’ Aitbaar, although their creative performance of the two songs made up for all other minor flaws. When Atif tells you that he likes your rendition of Aadat, you believe him.

In the second round, both bands performed their originals. Badnaam went with a kalaam Kalyaan Ishq, originally written by Bulleh Shah, and Kashmir performed Kaaghaz Ka Jahaaz. In what was only the second one in the entire season of Battle of the Bands, the band received a standing ovation for their original track (and a hug by Atif).

Badnaam has that gritty, unique and raw, animal energy about them; their presence and the way they command the stage is unparalleled. It may be a radical opinion, but I feel an artist, a writer or a musician must have that superior attitude about him or her, at least for the duration of the performance. He or she must make me feel why they belong on the stage and why I should be honored to listen to them.

And Badnaam does it better than anyone else on the show. Yes, Jilani’s vocals have room for improvement, but his vocal texture and aggression make up for it. On an unrelated note, I must mention Jilani’s jacket during the mashup performance, which reminded me of Jordan, played by Ranbir Kapoor in Rockstar.

On the other hand, Kashmir is a complete package. Their original compositions have blown everyone away, from Buddha Baba to Soch and now Kaaghaz Ka Jahaaz. And that is one quality that takes a musician or a group of them far ahead of others.

Though each member is equally skillful, talented and equally contributes to make the group sound cohesive, Bilal Ali’s vocals and Vais Khan’s guitar playing is exceptional. Ali can go low and mellow, and even hit falsetto notes with ease and perfection. Vais’ passion shows every time he performs.
While Badnaam may have a more local flavour, Kashmir just might be the more modern sound. At this point, it may not matter who wins or loses but as Josh member Qurram Hussain pointed out while conversing backstage during the show, “Now it’s about how the bands use it as a launchpad, stay in the music scene and make their space.”