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The Sound of Music

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By G.N
Tue, 01, 21

2020 remained a tough year for music industry due to Covid-19. However, despite the challenges, quality compositions were produced by music stations like Coke Studio and Velo Sound Station – featuring a number of powerful songs revolved around women empowerment. You! takes a look…

Coke Studio 2020

This year Coke Studio Season 13 was produced by Rohail Hyatt, featured 12 original new songs, accompanied by a revised video format. It was administered under a careful management and maintenance of Covid-19 SOPs which resulted in both singers and musicians being recorded separately. The limited yet exclusive season boasted an assortment of veteran and new artists including Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Meesha Shafi, Fariha Pervez, Umair Jaswal, Ali Noor, Bohemia, Sanam Marvi, Zara Madani and Ali Pervez Mehdi alongside new-comers such as Mehdi Maloof, Aizaz Sohail, Sehar Gul Khan and Wajiha Naqvi.

The highlight of this season was an all-female anthem on women’s empowerment called Na Tutteya Ve featuring Meesha Shafi, Fariha Pervez, Sehar Gul Khan, Sanam Marvi, Wajiha Naqvi, and Zara Madani. Moreover, given the new format and advantages of technology, this season also collaborated with international musicians from across the world including Turkey, Nepal, Lebanon and Serbia.

The first episode consisted of three original tracks featuring a lineup of emerging artists like Mehdi Maloof, Seher Gul and Wajiha Naqvi, along with industry veterans Meesha Shafi, Fariha Pervez, Ali Noor, Sanam Marvi and Zara Madani. The song, Na Tutteya Ve consisted of a rap section performed by Meesha Shafi for the first time in her music career, is about how the spirit of a woman is unbreakable. On the song, Shafi said, “Gender equality is a very big topic of discussion throughout the world today and this song talks about equality from the woman’s perspective.” In addition to this, CS debutant, Mehdi Maloof performed Dil Khirki, a song with its typical college sing-along feel is about opening your heart to the world regardless of life’s circumstances. Jaag Rahi, which is a contemporary take on the classical thumri, was the third song, sung by Fariha Pervez and Ali Noor, featured in the first episode.

The second episode featured the legendary Rahat Fateh Ali Khan singing a Tarana with classical singer Zara Madani, Wajiha Naqvi performing her solo debut with an original and Ali Pervez Mehdi coming together with Meesha Shafi for a catchy Punjabi folk song. Talking about the song, Zara Madani said, “This song is about longing with a very special spiritual connotation; a conversation taking place between a person and their inner self where one pleads for help from the Almighty.” The second song for the episode was Wajiha Naqvi’s solo debut on Coke Studio performing Yaqeen, a song written and composed by the artist herself. Carrying a modern pop-rock style, the song has pronounced elements of Indian classical instruments, thus classifying as ‘raga rock’, a popular musical genre from the ’60s. With its powerful lyrics, Yaqeen tells the story of a woman showing resilience and self-reliance in the journey of life. Gal Sunn, a catchy, upbeat folk song with a contemporary funk element was the last song for episode 2. Performed by Ali Pervez Mehdi and Meesha Shafi, the song represents the longing between lovers along with a groovy bass line.

The third episode featured an exciting mix of budding artists and industry veterans including Umair Jaswal and Sanam Marvi singing a duet, Sehar Gul Khan making her solo debut on the platform and Zara Madani performing an original from her debut album.

The first song of this episode was a powerful solo performance by Sehar Gul Khan, written and composed by lyricist Asim Raza. Ishq da Kukkar has a spiritual message with a prayer of love towards God. Pardesiya, the second song of this episode was an eastern classical inspired raga rock track performed by classically trained singer Zara Madani. The song is about one’s search for God, and the longing for peace which one prays to the Almighty for in times of distress.

The third song for the episode, Har Funn Maula, performed by contemporary rock-star Umair Jaswal and Sufi stalwart Sanam Marvi was a Sufi dhamaal power track with Western drums giving it a rock element. Written by Shuja Haider, despite the upbeat music, this song curiously touches upon the chords of one’s soul with its spiritual message.

VELO Sound Station 2020

Veteran musician and Strings band-member Bilal Maqsood curated and directed a new digital music series titled ‘VELO Sound Station 2020’. The five-episode series featured a number of renowned and pop artists.

The first episode included Atif Aslam, Umair Jaswal and Natasha Noorani. Atif Aslam sang Kadi to Hans Bol. Atif's powerhouse vocals paired with Naseebo Lal’s captivating lyrics gave this number a new life. Alamgir sahib’s song got a modern twist in Umair Jaswal’s version of the classic Gagar. Natasha Noorani’s sweet and soft vocals transported you to the days of Disco with her original number, Baby Baby.

Episode two featured three original songs performed by Strings, Aima Baig and Shamoon Ismail.

Strings (Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia) performed the original Piyaar Ka Rog, written by Anwar Maqsood and composed by Bilal Maqsood. “Piyar Ka Rog is one of the songs that I made for my lockdown sessions on Instagram. It began as just a piano version. But now with Faisal Kapadia’s vocals and a full production it sounds amazing,” expressed Bilal. Aima Baig presented an original song entitled Te Quiero Mucho (I Love You So Much) which is a nod towards the popular contemporary music trend and global phenomenon of Latin-American hits such as Despacito by Luis Fonsi. Shamoon Ismaill performed a song called Confetti written, composed and produced by the artist himself. Shamoon rendered Confetti in his own quirky and individualistic style.

Episode three featured Meesha Shafi who performed a dance club cover of Nazia Hassan’s 1982 pop hit Boom Boom. “Recreating an iconic and evergreen hit song is a big responsibility. Nazia Hassan is such a timeless icon. It wouldn’t be fair to try and emulate her. I did sit and watched all her videos to study the music and performances. The entire effort is really a nod to her and her epic contribution to putting Pakistan on the map in the disco era,” illuminated Meesha.

Episode four continued to consolidate Pakistani Music by offering modernised versions of hits from the past. Music maestro Sajjad Ali reprised his own 1986 hit song Dhuan. Episode four also included Sun Zara, sung by Rock band Aag, which was formed in 2006 by brothers Haroon and Usmaan Sheikh. Versatile singer Aima Baig performed Bijli - an upbeat and electrifying Techno-thumping version of Bijli Bhari Hai Mere Ang Ang Mein by music legend Naheed Akhtar.

Episode five was an audio-visual treat with two spellbinding performances – pairing the Djent Metal band Takatak performing their single Phantom accompanied by Kathak dancing legend Nighat Chaudhry and her quartet of dancers. “This was an experimental pairing. But it was very important to resurrect Kathak dance which over the years has been fading and losing relevance. We wanted to make it relevant and cool again,” explained Bilal. The other featured performance was showcased by powerhouse singer and style icon Meesha Shafi of an original song Amrit written by Meesha and co-composed with Farhan Ali and Sherry Khattak.

One of the aims of Velo Sound Station, apart from producing fresh, original and contemporary music was to also offer both established artists and emerging talent an avenue to express them with edgy Fashion. During each performance the fashion-forward clothes became a visual extension of the artist and closely synergising with the mood of the song, created striking and appealing audio visual stage productions enjoyed by contemporary audiences. Fashion designer Ebtisam Ahmed aka EB, the Head of Wardrobe and the Fashion Director for Season One was responsible for finalising and fine-tuning all the performers’ looks. In all its five episodes VSS successfully merged fresh, original Pop music with impactful; out-of-the-box and fashion-forward style for electrifying, clutter-free audio-visual stage performances.

Photography by Ali Shah (Coke Studio)