Ali Sethi is, without a doubt, among the most thrilling musicians of our times. He has scored a number of hits on Pakistan’s biggest music platform, Coke Studio, since making his debut in the latter seasons. ‘Pasoori’ has cemented his position as a multicultural global star.
Since releasing in February 2022, ‘Pasoori’ has broken all sorts of records, including reaching 100 million views faster than any song in Coke Studio’s illustrious history.
The song was written about in foreign publications including The New Yorker. A version featuring Ali Sethi landed on Coke Studio Africa with other artists lending their take to the song such as Marwan Moussa (Egyptian ‘trap’ artist) and Reekado Banks (Nigerian artist).
It was among songs that did make it to Ms. Marvel series that aired recently. Sung by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill, ‘Pasoori’ will be part of a Coke Studio Live event that will take place in Dubai later this month.
Somewhere in between, ‘Pasoori’ also found a place on Spotify’s Viral 50 – Global Charts. Between February and October, ‘Pasoori’ has achieved at least 400 million views.
The Harvard University alumnus, Ali Sethi, performed the song at his alma mater with reports suggesting it went extremely well.
While the song and its terrific video - directed by Kamal Khan - will continue to take its stars to further success (we assume), the latest achievement is Ali Sethi’s ascension to Time Magazine’s Time100 Next list. The list is divided into various categories from artists to phenoms, innovators, leaders and others.
Selected in the category of Innovators, author Amitav Ghosh wrote just why this song and Sethi are flying high in Time Magazine.
He notes, “Though written in Punjabi by a Pakistani artist, Ali Sethi’s song ‘Pasoori’ has become a global sensation with close to 400 million views on YouTube. Even more remarkable, the song has found a huge following in neighboring India despite the escalating tensions between the two countries.
Sethi’s great gift is that he is able to use an ancient form of music from the region, the classical raga, to challenge and expand notions of gender, sexuality, and belonging. ‘Pasoori’ is a virtuoso demonstration of how artists can, in subtle ways, subvert the restrictions that are being imposed upon them by new forms of authoritarianism and intolerance.
Through his music, as well as his writing, Sethi shows us that differences of culture, language, religion, and gender do not need to be antagonistic; they can, and always have, enriched us, and given us some of our greatest works of art.”
Given the spectacular songs Ali Sethi has either covered in the past or his original content, this song will, hopefully, invite ‘Pasoori’ fans to look into Ali Sethi’s music beyond the one song. And in that admiration of those other songs, the original aim of Coke Studio - when it began - will be fulfilled.
Ali Sethi conceived the idea behind the song and co-wrote the song with Fazal Abbas. Its composition was also a collaborative process between Ali Sethi and Coke Studio season 14 producer, Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan, better known as Xulfi.
The music has been produced by the prodigious Abdullah Siddiqui and Xulfi. In case you are that rare one in a million who hasn’t heard ‘Pasoori’, do yourself a favour and watch the music video and listen to the song. We bet you won’t find it appalling - if not completely appealing.
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