LSA 2021: High Fidelity

September 5, 2021

Instep dissects music nominations for the upcoming 20th edition of the Lux Style Awards.

Ali Noor’s entire debut EP has been snubbed even though it contains several LSA-nomination-worthy songs.
Ali Noor’s entire debut EP has been snubbed even though it contains several LSA-nomination-worthy songs.

The Lux Style Awards, celebrating their 20th edition in 2021, are both a blessing and a curse. From early years to the present day, LSAs - as they are known colloquially - have always been marred with some criticism or the other. A controversial win or a nominee or a snub gives the industry, fans and critics a lot to talk about.

In between this and the rise of TV and Cinema, what was once a major category in the awards, Music, now seems like an afterthought with the music categories fixed to four (excluding TV OST which falls under the purview of the TV jury). How can then the burgeoning music industry – that has pulled out quite a few exceptional numbers (whether it meant collaborating with a brand or not) be relegated to just four categories. It seems unfair. To incorporate the entire industry is of course not plausible but with addition of more categories, artists stand a chance. For now though, here’s looking at present-day categories including who got snubbed and the surprising nods.

Video of the Year

It is perhaps the strongest and most out-of-the-box nomination list as it recognizes directors who push the envelope. Today’s music video directors are tomorrow’s filmmakers as we’ve seen with the likes of Jami, Asim Raza and others. The nominated names include Abdullah Kasumbi for ‘Joona’ by Hasan Raheem; Hamza Bin Tahir for ‘Teri Tasveer’ by Bayaan’; Mahera Omar for ‘Dilri Lutti Taen Yaar Sajan’ by Ustad Ameer Ali Khan; Umar Anwar for ‘Dhoop’ by Kashmir and Umar Riaz for ‘Sakal Ban’ by Mughal-e-Funk ft. Meesha Shafi.

Snubbed names include a wide array of artists such as ‘Nazar’ by Faris Shafi, ‘Khabar-e-Tahayyur-e-Ishq’ by Ali Sethi and Noah Georgeson, ‘Magenta Cyan’ by Abdullah Siddiqui, Meesha Shafi, ‘Trace’ by Natasha Noorani ft. Shorabanoor, ‘Aisay Kaisay’ ft. Abdullah Kasumbi by Hasan Raheem, ‘Nasha’ and ‘Banjo’ by Ali Noor, ‘Maare Kakkya’ by Ali Hamza and ‘Hasratain‘ by Sunny Khan Durrani.

Meesha Shafi is nominated for Singer of the Year for ‘Sakal Ban’, a song that should’ve been nominated in Song of the Year category instead so that it included Mughal-e-Funk.
Meesha Shafi is nominated for Singer of the Year for ‘Sakal Ban’, a song that should’ve been nominated in Song of the Year category instead so that it included Mughal-e-Funk.

Footnote: With so many corporate players in the music scene, to not nominate any artist for working with them is also a kind of injustice. Things are changing and often tying up with a brand means that the artist is free to make music and all other issues (such as marketing) is on them. ‘Amrit’ by Meesha Shafi in the debut season of Velo Sound Station (2020) was the most provocative image to emerge; it tackled breaking shackles thrust upon women by society. The most empowering audio-visual tracks are not nominated in various categories because they are corporate. That is why four nominations are not enough. It could be divided as (a) corporate and (b) non-corporate when nominating, giving the jury a real chance to look at music as a whole. Giving Yasir Jaswal and Bilal Maqsood a nod for directing VSS would certainly not have been out of line. Alas! It was not to be.

Best Emerging Talent in Music

It’s a competitive category. It always has been. 2021’s LSA contenders are some very deserving names such as Aziz Kazi for ‘Shantaram’, Mohammad Aizaz Sohail for ‘Todi’ and Zahra Paracha for ‘Tum Kaafi Ho’. However, I would’ve preferred a shift in the game and made room for the multilingual Sunny Khan Durrani who released two albums last year as well as Eva B, a female rapper creating some fantastic music. This would also create gender parity had Ahsan Ali and Turab Ali Hashmi been kept out of the list. Body of work, a level of self-expression should also reflect in the artists being nominated for they will be the future.

Singer of the Year

Baluch Twins for ‘Tazhn Teehaar’, Mohammad Aizaz for ‘Todi’ and Zeeshan Ali for ‘Sanval’ by Surkhwaab do make sense in some ways in this particular category but the rest of the nominees seem to be all over the place. Ali Noor is not nominated for ANY of his songs from his solo EP, Pagal, released in 2020. Ali Hamza, the sonorous voice in the two brothers, was also banished. Meesha Shafi for ‘Amrit‘ and Natasha Noorani for ‘Baby Baby’ or Meesha Shafi for that rap effort alone in ‘Na Tutteya Ve’ or Ali Sethi for his series of singles were kept out. Abbas Ali Khan is all well and good but some things are nearly inexplicable. ‘Sakal Ban’ is a kalaam by Amir Khasrau that has been done by others including at least one effort by Coke Studio during the Strings era. However, it’s the musicianship of Mughal-e-Funk (MEF) that elevated the song with Meesha Shafi lending it further power. Meesha is nominated as singer but MEF aren’t? Abbas Ali Khan for ‘Mein Yeh Janoun Na’, Khurram Iqbal for ‘Dil Behelta Hai Kahan’ and Meesha Shafi for ‘Sakal Ban’ makes it look a little like incomplete homework. Ali Sethi, Young Stunners, Abdullah Siddiqui, Mehdi Maloof, Maanu, Ali Hamza (‘Rabba Meray Haal Da Mehram Tuu’n’) presented vocal accomplishments and they have either been snubbed or nominated in the wrong category. It is, however, time to celebrate the obtuse and the popular with the right foot forward.

Song of the Year

‘Ayi Re’ by Haniya Aslam, and ‘Lighten Up’ by Sajid and Zeeshan are both welcome nominees. ‘Ayi Re’ is a sign of great things we expect from Haniya. It would’ve made more sense if ‘Sakal Ban’ had been nominated in this category so the musicians also earned recognition instead of the singer. ‘Haiderum’ by Gul Mohammad and Khurram Iqbal can also reside on this station. But the rest of the nominees are essentially going out of the way to depict that corporate-backed music has no place. The absence of independent efforts like ‘Pagal’ or ‘Nasha’ by Ali Noor, ‘Rung‘ by Shamoon Ismail, ‘Pindi Aye’ by Hashim Nawaz, Khawar Malik, Fadi, Osama Com Laude, now known as OCL, Hamzee, Shuja & Zeeru or ‘Khabar-e-Tahayyur-e-Ishq’ by Ali Sethi and Noah Georgeson is also peculiar. Had they made the cut, we’d have a thrilling contest on our hands with some of the brightest, curious and best artists competing with a sense of respect for the craft with fellow nominees. Alas! It was meant to be.

LSA 2021: High Fidelity