There is a faint echo of Anirudh’s Neeyum naanum in Nee tholaindhaayo, possibly owing to similar melancholy. The melody has an easy appeal thanks to Sid Sriram’s fantastic singing and Leon’s soulful backgrounds. Inno Genga is the star of En pulse yethitu, a funky and captivating melody with an instantly alluring musical mix, though Andrea’s fangled accent and singing hits a speed-breaker. Armaan Mallik is surprisingly adept with his Tamil in Un kadhal irundhal, a spritely melody with its soul flowing even better in the Reprise by Vandana Srinivasan. Leon is proving himself to be a consistent and nifty composer!

Keywords: Leon James, Kavalai Vendam

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Sreeraj seems to be exploring Saranga/Hamirkalyani raaga in Minni chinnum that he himself sings confidently. The orchestration has a strong Rahman-touch, particularly Love Birds’ Malargale malargale. Sreya Jayadeep’s sweet voice is barely able to rescue the corny package in Pammi pammi, but Puthiyoru sooryan, with its heady fusion chenda-sound fares considerably better. The soundtrack’s most interesting is Ororo kunjichodum with Sreeraj attempting a grand sound with very interesting shades and sounds, including a Western classical interlude, and sung competently by Vaisakh C. Madhav, Vaisakh PK and Sreeraj himself. Amrita TV Super Star 2014 winner Sreeraj Sahajan’s debut is definitely promising.

Keywords: Sreeraj K. Sahajan, Sreeraj Sahajan, Kolumittayi

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Anup makes a punchy use of Western (popularly known as cowboy music!) music in Kanulu navainaa, while also inserting classic Indian elements like that violin! Jubin Nautiyal and Mohana Bhagaraju are perfectly adept with the singing. Yey yey mixes Telugu folk with more elements to excellent, foot-tapping effect, topped by the catchy hook, while Podaade goes all the way into raucous Telugu kuthu, led by Spurthy’s full-throated vocals. The title song channelizes Puri Jagannadh brand of angst. Anup hands over the soundtrack’s best, Ela ela to Shakthisree Gopalan, and the lady is outstanding delivering the soulful melody. Anupism for Puri-Jagannadhism.

Keywords: Anup Rubens, ISM

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Saturday October 15, 2016

Hitman – October 15, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Chil chinchilamai – Thoppil Joppan (Malayalam – Vidyasagar)
It would be massively unfair to refer to Vidyasagar as someone who apes Ilayaraja really well, more because the man is so talented without that reference, and less so because there are others like Imman who have imbibed that quality so beautifully as well. But Vidyasagar, given his limited work these days, does manage to evoke the Raja-flavour really well in songs like rain-soaked sound of Chil chinchilamai – this could have easily been a Chithra and Arunmozhi-sung song from a Tamil Nadhiya starrer; Swetha Mohan and Madhu Balakrishnan handle the song mighty well, but.

Pesu pesu – Uchathula Shiva (Tamil – Vidyasagar)
This week, as the much-parodied TV announcement goes, “Vidyasagar vaaram!”. Pesu pesu is as good as it comes, from Vidyasagar. With a whiff of what sounds like Charukesi raaga, the melody gains immensely from Balram’s (another forgotten, seriously under-rated singer) fantastic vocals, and Indulekha Warrier. The veena backdrop, the ghazal-like anupallavi (albeit with Doordarshan level impoverished strings in the background) prop the song well, while the and the super smooth anupallavi-to-charanam bridge (“idhazh pesaa kalaigalai pesu rathiye, unai marandhu…”) is particularly inventive.
Listen to Pesu pesu on DooPaaDoo.

Udja re – Rock On 2 (Hindi – Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
While Farhan Akhtar’s vocal prowess (or the lack of it) continues to be a point of debate, his co-star from Rock On 2 seems far more adept at the acting-to-singing transition. That quality comes out incredibly well in Udja re, where Shraddha Kapoor puts her voice to fantastic use. The song’s U2-style rock melody makes it a great listen, with Shraddha admirably handling the rock shenanigans.
Listen to the song on Saavn.

Aayava kanom – Kadalai (Tamil – Sam C.S.)
If Kadalai had music by Imman, one can be reasonably sure that the phrase ‘Aayava kanom’ would have been introduced with some context and backgrounder, and a making-of the song would have preceded the actual song. But the music is by the relatively less known Sam C.S – so, no such promotional tactics. In what is bound to be a new ‘mass’ catchphrase in Tamil Nadu (dependent entirely on the film’s success, of course), the lilting kuthu Aayava kanom rocks the Koyambedu tar-road dance floor. Sam’s lyrics are total thara-local level and perfect for the danc’y tune rendered admirably (with a lot of digital correction) by the film’s hero, Ma Ka Pa Anandh.

Ala baali (Singers: Nirmal Roy and Jabar Abbas. Composed by Shiraz Uppal)
The mandatory Middle Eastern/Arabic addition to Coke Studio (Season 9, Pakistan) doesn’t disappoint at all. The ‘Ala baali’ hook—which, in Arabic, means, “You’re on my mind”—is delivered with incredible sweetness by Nirmal Roy. Nirmal lingers on the words, ‘ala baali anta habibi’ and ‘ala baali anta qalbi’ so beautifully, while Jabar Abbas swoops in, Sukhwinder Singh-style, and picks up the thread perfectly. The song traverses Punjabi, Urdu and Arabic effortlessly to deliver a foot-tapping global concoction!

Neee is a superb melody that builds on the EDM sound really well. Yuvan’s singing leaves a LOT to be desired, but he makes up for it in other departments. His abysmal singing almost mauls Naan ini! It’s orchestrated brilliantly and is a tune that deserved a better singer to accompany Chinmayi. Ennulae has that inventive orchestration too, for its hymn-like tune and vocal chorus, though Tanvi sounds awkward. Vignesh ShivN and Dhanush continue their pursuit of a Literature Nobel and Grammy respectively in Solli tholaiyen, while Yuvan produces a catchy, sing-along’ish song. Short, likable soundtrack by a resurgent Yuvan.

Keywords: Yaakkai, Yuvan Shankar Raja

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

News nodi offers a splashy opening to the soundtrack, with a fantastic jazz flavor and seamlessly changing pace mid-way. Vasuki Vaibhav carries the vocals wonderfully. He also competently handles the moody lullaby in Baduke baduka kalisu, with early-Rahman style minimal music, tastefully put-together. The title song, sung with total abandon by Sangeetha Katti, sees the Marathi tamasha-style punctuated by vibrant guitaring, to interesting effect. The short Namma kaayo devane (and the instrumental theme based on it) is poignant in its melody. Kelu krishna‘s playful, street theater-style music is a melange that appeals in parts. Striking composing debut by Vasuki Vaibhav.

Keywords: Rama Rama Re, Vasuki Vaibhav

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to the songs on YouTube:

Soppana Sundari spins around Goundamani’s iconic Karagattakaran dialog, but the enthusiasm seems rather forced. The remix is a decidedly better, with punchy electronic sounds. The Boys Are Back is all swagger and electronica, with an easily hummable hook. House Party is no different – ‘homely’ techno-TASMAC song, with addictive hooks and Senthil Dass’s enthu vocals. Barring Khareshma’s Yuvan-style Tamil (Sean Roldan makes amends!), Idhu kadhaiya is gorgeous and immersive! Yuvan reserves the soundtrack’s best, Nee kidaithai for Haricharan and Chinmayi – a foot-tapping melody with catchy folk percussion! Well-rounded, better put-together soundtrack in the 2nd innings, compared to the first.

Keywords: Chennai 600028 II: Second Innings, Yuvan Shankar Raja

Listen to the songs on DooPaaDoo:
Soppana sundari | Soppana sundari remix | The Boys Are Back
House Party | Idhu kadhaiya | Nee kidaithai

Vinu Thomas seems unduly inspired by A R Rahman in Innaleyum – the song could easily fit in En Swasa Katre’s soundtrack; and then there’s that humming evoking Roja’s Chinna chinna aasai! Jakes opens his account with the energetic Nerunde nerunde, with the chendai backdrop ruling the song. In Kuyilin paatinu, Jakes’s choice of veteran Jayachandran seems to have misfired, since he takes—and goes himself—down the reasonably engaging tune. The last song by Jakes, Paisa paisa, is a middling affair, using a staid-old and obvious rhythm, though he does sing it well. Kavi Uddheshichathu’s soundtrack is more derivative than anything.

Keywords: Kavi Uddheshichathu, Vinu Thomas, Jakes Bejoy

Listen to the songs:

Dooreyo has a spunky indi-pop vibe and the 4-men voice mix featuring Vishak Nair, Suchith Suresan, Ashwin Gopakumar and Sachin Warrier handles the on-the-road rock feel well. Sachin takes on Nilaavil‘s dreamy melody alone, and along with the gorgeous harmonica and strings, does very well for himself. The engineering college song, Oru naattil has a winsome calypso-style tune and Vineeth Srinivasan owns the singing. The soundtrack’s best are the delightfully breezy Payye veesum, featuring Sachin’s sister, Sneha and Ashwin Gopakumar; and the surprising ghazal, Khule raston pe, featuring a pitch-perfect Raghu Dixit. Sachin Warrier’s composing debut is nuanced and accomplished.

Keywords: Aanandam, Sachin Warrier

Listen to the songs:

Sunday October 9, 2016

Hitman – October 8, 2016

Originally published in The Hindu.

Bholay bhalay – Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 9 (Singer: Meesha Shafi. Composed by Shani Arshad)
Shani Arshad’s vocoder sampled voice opens the song and that prelude is hardly representative of what follows! What does follow can only be described as OP Nayyar-meets-reggae, with sitar (Shehroze Hussain) thrown in for good measure! It’s a delightful mix, and Meesha Shafi renders with the right amount of nakhra in her voice, even as the track enters a lovely blues’y phase mid-way!

Mugilu belmugilu – Pushpaka Vimana (Kannada, Charan Raj)
Imagine the Celtic band Clannad singing for a Kannada song! That’s precisely how the uncredited lady voice opens (and ends) the lovely Mugilu belmugilu! Now, composer Charan Raj has already proven himself with a stellar soundtrack for Godhi Banna Sadharna Mykattu earlier this year and Pushpaka Vimana is a fitting follow-up. In Mugilu, there’s a lot to notice and enjoy – the Celtic touch picks itself up mid-way again, even as the anupallavi moves to Reetigowlai raga! Haricharan’s vocals add a special dimension to the already fantastic song with Kalyan’s gorgeous lines espousing a father’s love for his daughter.
Listen to Mugilu belmugilu on Saavn:

Imsai rani – Aandavan Kattalai (Tamil, K)
Composer K, by now, has a trademark sound that he uses to splendid effect – it usually consists of gorgeous piano struts and strings, and it is showcased oh-so-well in Imsai rani, with the violins almost singing alongside Karthik’s already fantastic vocals. The melody is thoroughly likeable, and lyricist Vivek adds some nifty touches, like the ‘Ba ba ba’ line after ‘Oomayaagi ponen’!

Evare – Premam (Telugu, Rajesh Murugesan)
The makers of the original Malayalam version of Premam released the soundtrack’s best song—Malare—after the film’s release. It went on to become a monster hit. For the film’s Telugu remake, the producers cleverly release it with the actual soundtrack, and Rajesh Murugesan’s scintillating melody sounds equally good in sundara Telugu. Vijay Yesudas does the honors again, in Telugu too, and that helps in evoking wonderful nostalgia.

Doli re doli – Mirzya (Hindi, Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
How would an Indian-origin, Hindi speaking father from New Orleans sing during his daughter’s bidaai? If that sounds like a very specific and mighty odd question, just listen to the heady concoction that is Doli re doli, from Mirzya! The song is a delightful surprise, mixing stately jazz sound to the searing pathos in a bidaai, rendered superlatively by Shankar Mahadevan. Victor Garcia’s trumpet stands out in the jazz ensemble with its beautifully indulgent sound.

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