Coke Studio 10: A strong recovery
Coke Studio 10 has managed to score both hits and misses with its ongoing tenth season. While some songs have been utter disasters with Salman Ahmed-directed ‘Sayonee’ being nothing short of an abomination, we have also encountered some beautiful musical moments.
Excellent singles to have emerged this season include ‘Ranjish Hi Sahi’ (sung by Ali Sethi and produced by Jaffer Zaidi), ‘Faasle’ (sung by Kaavish and Quratulain Balouch and produced by Jaffer Zaidi), ‘Tinak Dhin’ (sung by Ali Hamza, Ali Sethi and Waqar Ehsin and produced by Ali Hamza) and ‘Mujh Se Pahli Si Muhabbat’ (sung by Humera Channa and Nabeel Shaukat and produced by Mekaal Hasan).
With episode four, Coke Studio 10 has found at least three more songs that can be added to the shortlist of powerful singles mentioned above. Our story, therefore, begins with Ali Zafar who has made up for the lackluster ‘Jaan-e-Bahaaraan’ that appeared in the second episode with ‘Julie’, an original, larger-than-life single that is found in episode four.
Joined by younger brother Danyal Zafar (on guitar), ‘Julie’ is penned by Zafar and is meant to be “a bright take on heartbreak”. This is similar to the kind of magic Zafar spun with ‘Rockstar’ in season eight but sound-wise, ‘Julie’ has much more flavour. Tipsy and unpredictable, it delves into pop, blues and jazz while the instrumentation, particularly the mournful shehnai, adds gorgeous texture. Zafar’s energy throughout the song is so high that it is infectious. A glimpse can be found in the video of this song where the house-band is grooving to the rhythm almost unconsciously which is always the hallmark of a decent song. ‘Julie’ is plenty of proof that Ali Zafar should stick to originals. He’s so much better at them.
The second artist worth mentioning here is Ali Hamza, whose evolution from Noori lyricist/vocalist/bassist to solo music director in the present season is a joyful thing to watch for any music fan.
Having impressed one and all with ‘Tinak Dhin’, Hamza has returned with a harmonious song called ‘Jindjaani’. It is an original composition that Hamza has fused with ‘Jhanjar Phabdina’, which is originally composed by Wazir Afzal with lyrics by Baba Alamsiyah Posh.
There are plenty of reasons why ‘Jindjaani’ works. One, the original parts of ‘Jindjaani’ and the folk ‘Jhanjar Phabdina’ come together in complete harmony. Unlike many singles on Coke Studio where the fusion element never really gels well, here is a mixture that feels just right. Hamza’s vocals remain another high point and Nirmal Roy’s addition works too. This is not a song that is too ambitious and knows its own identity. It’s a floating folk-fusion where the musical departures don’t bore you; it enters your subconscious and stays there.
Moving away from the festive airs of Jindjaani’ and the infectious energy of ‘Julie’, the third song worth applauding belongs to music director Jaffer Zaidi who more than delivers with the somber ‘Naina Moray’.
Featuring Javed Bashir and Akbar Ali on vocals with a thrilling guitar solo from the late Amir Zaki, it is a sacred and thoughtful exploration of Raag Bhairvi. The song, backed by astonishing vocals, evokes a kind of sorrow that can’t be put into words and is haunting as it is mystic. Running over ten minutes, it’s a masterful creation that is made special by Gul Muhammad’s sarangi notes and Zaki, whose last appearance is one that we will forever cherish.
The positivity ends here though because the fourth song, ‘Dekh Tera-Latthay Di Chaada’ which is sung by Quratulain Balouch and Farhan Saeed, is quite monotonous. A mixture of various hues, it is a concoction that is deeply confusing and dull to get through. The only saving grace is Quratulain Balouch, whose vocals are so strong that it makes a case for a solo appearance. Fusing two songs to make a new concoction is done-to-death, especially in Coke Studio so any song that attempts to repeat this formula must do it with some intelligence. This one, however, is all over the place.