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Punjabi music takes hold of listeners

October 01, 2023


f there is one way to discover how trends in music are shifting within the country, Spotify data has to be one of the most accurate.

But before we dive into the data, remember the summer of 2023, when Pharrell Williams was officially announced as the menswear artistic director for Louis Vuitton at a top-tier show? More memorable than the fashion show or Williams’ collection was Jay-Z’s performance of Punjabi MC’s remix of ‘Mundian To Bach Ke’ to a roaring crowd. Soon enough, the performance went viral across the internet.

Now back to Spotify data on shifting music trends. Jay-Z wasn’t the only one to bring back an old Punjabi hit to the forefront.

As Spotify data obtained by Instep suggests, Punjabi music has gained momentum worldwide and Pakistan is not behind. If anything, the shift is higher than we might think.

Noted a press statement, “As compared to 2021, the total number of Punjabi track releases has nearly doubled, showcasing the industry’s vibrant growth and creative evolution.

Punjabi pop, with its infectious beats and catchy tunes, has witnessed a remarkable 99% year-on-year increase in listener consumption.”

Punjabi hip-hop has, “seen an astounding 106% growth in its listenership. This surge in popularity reflects the genre’s universal appeal, transcending borders and cultures.”

In this particular domain, ‘Pasoori’ by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill from Coke Studio 14 is still capturing hearts, and reigns supreme.

“Punjabi is catching on to be a worldwide phenomenon, and we’re starting to see its effects in Pakistan too. More and more artists are experimenting with Punjabi and the growth in consumption of Punjabi music is going through the roof,” said Rutaba Yaqub, Spotify’s Senior Editor for Pakistan, Sri Lanka & Bangladesh. “Spotify is at the forefront when it comes to showcasing and promoting Punjabi music, which is why we’re confident that this genre is only going to get bigger. Our playlist Punjabi Sauce features some of the top Punjabi tracks in Pakistan right now.”

Spotify data suggests that Punjabi songs by Pakistani artists crossing geographical boundaries in terms of popularity include ‘Pasoori’ as well as ‘Dil Diyan Gallan’ by Atif Aslam, ‘Baari’ by Bilal Saeed and Momina Mustehsan, ‘Samjhawan – Lofi Flip’ by Jawad Ahmad, ‘Khuda Aur Mohabbat’ (original score)’ by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and ‘Tu Jhoom’ by Naseebo Lal and Abida Parveen [from Coke Studio 14].”

In terms of streaming,
the top five tracks include ‘Beqadra’ by Nehaal Naseem, Spotify’s Fresh Finds artist, ‘4U’ by Maanu, Spo-tify’s RADAR artist, ‘Mangan Aiyaan’ by Atif Aslam, ‘Lagda Nahi’ by Toshi and Ammy Gill and ‘Bin Maahi’ by the everlasting Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

It seems like the public listening to music on Spotify has spoken and hip-hop and Punjabi music are among the most dominant musical genres.


A for Aleph Recordsrelease Shariq Lalani’s debut single

By Maheen Sabeeh


state-of-the-art recording studio and an independent record label based out of Karachi, A for Aleph Records can never be discounted when speaking of new music.

Among recent releases is ‘Unmoved Mover’ by Sharik Lalani, which is his debut single from a forthcoming EP.

Unassuming, surprisingly sharp and playing in a multi-genre format, ‘Unmoved Mover’ is perhaps a reflection of Lalani’s journey and will certainly appeal to anyone who is a jazz or world music enthusiast.

A collaborative effort, the single features Shariq Lalani on piano and vocals, Sean Torres on guitar, Max Gann on bass, Jemarcus Bridges on sax, Kazu Tanaka on trumpet and Frank Mona on drums. Produced, mixed and composed by Shariq Salani, the credit for lyrics and concept belong to Asif Virani, with the song recorded by John Pedigo at Audio Dallas Recording Studio and mastered at the iconic Abbey Road Studios by Alex Gordon.

As a press statement reveals his story, it does look like Lalani is in music for the long haul.

The song is a precursor to an upcoming Jazz EP.

As for his story, it begins from Karachi…

Noted the press release, “Hailing from Karachi and now making waves in Dallas, Lalani’s music beautifully combines his South Asian roots with the vibrant jazz sounds of the west.”

“It further states, ‘Unmoved mover’ was brought to life at the Audio Dallas Recording Studio, thanks to John Pedigo, and finely polished by Alex Gordon at the iconic Abbey Road Studios. The single not only spotlights Lalani on piano and vocals but also brings together a gifted team.”

It is said to be a big gamechanger for Pakistan’s music ecosystem as this is the first-ever jazz album signed by A for Aleph Records.

The effort has been spearheaded by Senior A&R director Anas Alam Khan, “who recognized the potential,” and how the artist has an ability to mix and fuse different genres.

Apart from the audio version available for streaming on multiple platforms, this beautiful song is accompanied by a music video, which is directed by Kory Williams and available on YouTube.

If an artist is signed by A for Aleph Records, judging it before giving it multiple listening is certainly a loss for anyone who is remotely interested in Pakistani music and its global reach.

A for Aleph Records also has an interesting history given their roster. They have music from an eclectic batch of curious and thrilling artists such as co-VEN, Ali Suhail, Aizaz Sohail, Surkhwaab, Aam Taateel, Irfan Ali Taj, and Malang Party.

For now, check out their newest release, which is opening the door to the underrated - at least in Pakistan - genre such as jazz.