Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 102: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
13 songs, this week. 12 on JioSaavn – is missing only the song from Dagaalty. It looks like Star Music sends their tracks very late to JioSaavn/streaming sites. YouTube has all, though I have added the full jukebox of Elay since individually, the 4 tracks I have selected aren’t available.

Dil Ne Kaha – Panga (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) – Hindi: This is the trio’s way of saying, ‘Move along kids… make way for the adults’! The song’s flow has a lovely, unusual pattern that has Shahid Mallya and Asees Kaur (and Jassie Gill himself in the reprise) taking turns singing a r-e-a-l-l-y long mukhda each! It’s also unusual that they chose ‘Dil ne kaha’ as the songs title – a phrase that doesn’t open the song (Pehle Pehal) or is not the song’s hook (Dekho dheere dheere baaton baaton mein). This is the kind of song that perk up your ears and makes you concentrate… and once you do, you get addicted!

Khulne Do – Chhapaak (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) – Hindi: The trio hand Arijit Singh a whopper of a melody that he handles with phenomenal ease and makes it his own. There is an interesting contrast between the tune and the lyrics – the former seems relatively sadder (soaring towards positivity only towards the end), while the lyrics are full of hope!

Gallan Kardi – Jawaani Jaaneman (Sukshinder Shinda/Prem & Hardeep) – Hindi/Punjabi: Sukshinder Shinda’s original (Dil Luteya) gets a spiffy new version as producer Jackky Bhagnani seems to be proving that he is better off in music curation than acting.

Kotha Kothudhu Bodhai – Dagaalty (Vijaynarain) – Tamil: Vijaynarain proves that Paaren Paaren was no flash in the pan with this follow-up in his debut as composer. The first unusual angle is that this is a duet, featuring 2 other composers – Santhosh Narayanan, Govind Vasantha! The tune itself, starting at an interesting higher pitch, remains consistently enjoyable, even as it moves into Santhosh-Narayanan style gaana midway.

Rum Pum bum – Disco Raja (Thaman S) – Telugu: What Thaman started with Nuvvu Naatho Emannavo in this soundtrack, and ignored for the next single Dilli Waala, he continues with Rum Pum bum! That’s the Raja-style sound, with a new-age twist. The opening music takes you instantly to ‘To to-do to-do to-do something…’ from Anjali, though Thaman turns things almost as soon as he indulges in that sound. That sound is only an undercurrent upon which he builds his catchy new song that brims with the Ilayaraja-swag and a smattering of R.D.Burman too.

Maadeva – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj) – Kannada: Even by Charan Raj’s eclectic standards, this song defies categories! Sung by Sanjith Hegde, HanuMankind and Charan Raj, the short song traverses multiple genres and sounds, and still manages to be alluring!

Arare Shuruvayitu Hege – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: The first single from the film, Nadugutide, was middling, to put it mildly. But Ajaneesh picks up his impressive form with this song! Backed by the always dependably Vijay Prakash, the song is a very, very Ajaneesh as the first interlude starts, and even plays peekaboo with A R Rahman’s Vennilave Vennilave from Minsara Kanavu in more ways than one!

Love You Chinna – Love Mocktail (Raghu Dixit) – Kannada: An oddly tepid soundtrack from the otherwise-dependable Raghu Dixit! (On that note, this seems to be the season of tepid work from otherwise-dependable composers – another example: Manikanth Kadri and his entire soundtrack for Srii Bharatha Baahubali, and the single from Sagutha Doora Doora). Love You Chinna is the only song that passes some muster, with a vaudevillian sound and melody.

Kaun Hain Hum – Prawaas (Salim-Sulaiman) – Marathi/Hindi: Well, that’s a surprise – Salim-Sulaiman, the Hindi film music duo resurface away from their singles journey into a Marathi film soundtrack! While the 3-song (with a reprise of the title song) is very listenable in the duo’s familiar style, the one song that stood out for me is this ghazal sung by Hariharan. Barring that mildly annoying piano track in the background, that seems well-intended, but is honestly incongruent, this is a lush melody with the singer is his usually fantastic form.

Elay, Nee Maatale, Tholakari & Nee Daya Radha – Elay (Staccato) – Indipop: The whole album (Elay) is a very pleasant surprise. There is classical music with a twist, there is early-Rahman-style music, there is multi-lingual music, there is phenomenal singing (by both Gowtham Bharadwaj and Niranjana Ramanan)… and there’s so much to like! My favorites start with the title song, Elay, that comes alive with Manoj Kumar’s thoughtful and poignant lyrics. The music, particularly the keyboard, harks back to early days of Rahman! Tholakari is a catchy Telugu folk-style song that has an addictive ‘Thaananna’ hook. The album’s easy highlights are the 2 classical songs that are presented with a superb modern twist. The first is Nee Daya Radha, the Vasantha Bhairavi-raaga based Thyagaraja composition. The melody is, in itself, hauntingly beautiful, but the band’s splendid music accentuates that feel significantly, along with Niranjana Ramanan’s confident singing. My favorite is the Poorvi Kalyani-raaga based javali by Pattabhiramayya, Nee Matale Maayanura. The band’s interpretation keeps the sanctity of the original intact, but layer their imagination beautifully on top, adding a wonderfully quirky edge to the already delightful melody.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 101: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
16 songs this week. Back on JioSaavn since they helped sort the problem, unlike Apple Music who didn’t even bother to respond when I did have a huge problem of vanishing playlists. Saavn has all 16 songs, while YouTube is missing only the title song of Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo.

Panga (title song) – Panga (Shankar Ehsaan Loy) – Hindi: If the trio reinterpret Pritam’s reinterpretation of South Indian kuthu music, this is what you may get! (Phew!) That ‘Le le Panga’ call out is such a heady South kuthu touch, but with a uniqueness that the trio always bring to their music. The lyrics too, by Javed Akhtar, are blisteringly good, as is the singing, featuring Harshdeep Kaur, Divya Kumar & Siddharth Mahadevan.

Dua Karo – Street Dancer 3D (Sachin-Jigar) – Hindi: The composing duo use a familiar Pakistani-pop template and amp it up significantly with Kalyan Baruah’s superb guitar work. Lead singer Arijit Singh and the rap by Bohemia work perfectly in tandem. The ‘dua karo’ hook stands out as an addictive phrase.

Kehndi Haan Kehndi Naa (Composed by Sukriti Kakar, Prakriti Kakar, music by Rishabh Kant) – Indipop: Rishab’s music (arranged by him, I presume) and the sisters’ composition are enticingly good. The singing by the sisters too is equally good. Catchy, bubblegum Punjabi pop!

Neenga Mudiyuma – Psycho (Ilayaraja) – Tamil: Oh boy! The Maestro in full flow, unleashing his music in all its glory! That this is already his 3rd song with Sid Sriram says a lot about how much Raja has taken to the singer’s voice! But more than Sid’s splendid singing, its those sprawling violins in the background that take you to a completely different plane! This is goosebumps-inducingly beautiful!

Samajavaragamana – Female, Buttabomma & Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S) – Telugu: The male version of Samajavaragamana, sung by Sid Sriram, was already the No.2 best Telugu film song of 2019, in my list. Here comes a beautiful female version and who better than Shreya Ghoshal to give it a shot! Shreya brings a scintillating feminine touch to the already fantastic tune, even as Thaman’s backgrounds offer a new flavor that enhances this new version significantly. Buttabomma is standard-issue Telugu masala, but there’s no doubt about how catchy and foot-tapping the whole package is. The choice of Armaan Malik works wonders too. The title song is a stunning surprise! I had first noticed the title call-out in the trailer/teaser and thought it sounded fantastic. Thaman goes several steps beyond that call-out and carves a brilliant track that starts with Priya Sisters’ prayer-like prelude. And then he drops Sri Krishna’s part amidst blazing guitar, topped by the superb title call-out!

Veezhumee – Chethi Mandharam Thulasi (Govind Vasantha) – Malayalam: Whoa, Govind, who released Thaikkudam Bridge’s album Namah in December has already released a new pop song after that (that I wrote about in last week’s Weeklies). And here’s his new film song! There’s a nice, energetic sound that kicks in after a full minute of Vipin’s wonderful singing. It’s an interesting song, and even more interestingly, the song running almost 3 minutes is called a ‘teaser’! I wonder who releases that long a teaser in these days when even a full song is that length!

Suri Anna – Salaga (Charan Raj) – Kannada: Charan Raj’s handling of the adequately ‘spirited’ song is on the lines of Sam CS’s Tasakku from Vikram Vedha. Not tune-wise, but in terms of the overall style of using the chorus. Anthony Daasan is perfect for delivering this kind of a song and the older song reference at 2:27 that made me burst out laughing, since that song also has a drunk man dancing atop a well 🙂

Radha & Mon Janona – Asur (Bickram Ghosh) – Bangla: Tabla player/percussionist Bickram Ghosh has been associated with solid music in the recent past. His collaboration with Sonu Nigam for The Music Room is my favorite. The sound in the 2 songs in this new Bangla film is, expectedly, very creative and vibrant. The tunes are less interesting, in comparison, but are not bad either. They are just a bit familiar/predictable, though the singers, Iman Chakraborty and Shovan Ganguly in Radha, and Ujjaini Mukherjee and Shovan Ganguly in Mon Janona, elevate the song confidently.

Rare, Dance Again, Let Me Get Me, Ring, A Sweeter Place – Rare (Selena Gomez): Selena Gomez’s brand new album is a surprisingly enjoyable affair. The whole album is very well produced and there is enough range of tunes to enjoy!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 100: On Apple Music | On YouTube
100 weeks of Weeklies!! Wow!
15 songs this week. YouTube has all the songs (with an extra song from the Marathi soundtrack of Dhurala since it is a full album jukebox)! JioSaavn is been giving me a lot of trouble – despite having a pro account, the login doesn’t hold and keeps logging me off. So, I’m giving Apple Music another chance. It has 14 songs and is missing only Dagaalty’s Paaren Paaren. Star Music, that owns the rights seems to have shared the song only on YouTube and not Apple Music or JioSaavn!

Muqabla – Street Dancer 3D (A.R.Rahman and Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi: I loved this new-age recreation of an iconic song that I hold very close. What Tanishk has done is akin to what happens to a full-page article on Twitter: he picks up a line from the antara to open the song, and then the 3rd line from the mukhda… and then the memorable opening line. It’s a wonderful mish-mash of the original, almost as if Tanishk visualized each part of the original in Lego blocks, scattered them throughout his studio and picked piece by piece to reconstruct a new variant that at once sounds like the original and doesn’t too. It’s a pulsating recreation, no doubt!

Here’s the original, for nostalgia’s sake 🙂

Ghamand Kar – Tanhaji The Unsung Warrior (Sachet-Parampara) – Hindi: Ajay-Atul’s output so far in the film seemed very templatized and in their usual style. Surprisingly, the composing duo of Sachet and Parampara not only use that very template, but go one up on the Marathi-music duo in their home territory! That ‘tara rara’ chorus around which the song is built, is incredibly haunting and addictive.

Nok Jhok – Chhapaak (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy) – Hindi: The ‘Nok jhok’ hook reminded me of some other song by the trio (that I’m not able to place immediately), but the generally amiable and warm tune makes is a lovely listen. Siddharth Mahadevan is superb, as usual… truly a chip off the old block.

Kadhaippoma – Oh My Kadavule (Leon James) – Tamil: I have been mildly disappointed with the music of this film so far, and Leon’s middling form in recent times (including a terrible Telugu debut in Next Enti. Thankfully, comes this song! Much of the charm lies in Ko Shesha’s lovely lyrics that I first thought was by Madhan Karky, given the penchant for purer/bygone Tamil! And then there’s Sid Sriram, who carries the melody so beautifully.

Azhagu – All About Love Series (Ghibran) – Tamil/Indipop: Ghibran, who debuted with a bang in Vaagai Sooda Vaa and went on to produce some phenomenal music has lately been stuck in the same trend as Rahman. Both started with incredibly layered music, but lately, their music seems much simpler, removed of all the layers and complexity that defined the earlier style of music. This new song, a non-film song at that, fits the newer pattern, no doubt, but is also charmingly pleasant. It’s the song’s and the background music’s simplicity that carries it through, ironically.

Paaren Paaren – Dagaalty (Vijaynarain) – Tamil: Singer Vijaynarain makes his debut as a composer and his first song seems to doff a hat at the composer he has sung for often, Santhosh Narayanan. Subu’s lyrics make you sit up, particularly that ‘Parakka thaan’ chorus line that Vijay employs to great repetitive effect. The overall orchestration (led by the guitar) demonstrates excellent music sense and I really look forward to Vijay’s other songs in the film. Also, this is perhaps the most un-Santhanam song that you may expect for a film featuring him! And that is a compliment.

Yaavum Yaavumey & Paakkurappo Paakkurappo – Thamezharasan (Ilayaraja) – Tamil: First off, it is a surprise that Vijay Antony stars in a film that doesn’t have music by him! I thought he was like a package deal, acts and composes music, like GV Prakash Kumar. Recently, he has been letting others compose too, like Simon K King for Kolaigaran.

Musically, Thamizhanoda Veeramellaam made my jaw drop and I couldn’t catch it for a long time. It has Raja regurgitating his 90s template ‘folk’ song and Sid Sriram sounds so incredibly awkward singing it! It reminded me of Riya Sen playing ‘Machakanni’ from Sengulam village in Bharathiraja’s Taj Mahal. The whole soundtrack feels like a time warp, with K.J.Yesudas and S.P.Balasubrahmanyam singing tunes that befit some other era. Yaavum Yaavumey is one of the better tunes, vintage Raja style that Raja modernizes aptly without dropping it as-is. It does suffer from relatively poorer singing by Vibhavari Apte-Joshi. That singer choice harms the otherwise enchanting tune of Paakkurappo Paakkurappo too. Raja chooses to sing what was essentially called as ‘matter song’ in the 80s and 90s, a genre the composer absolutely excelled in, with class. Still, the song’s innate melody carries it despite the man’s weathered singing.

Kamini – Anugraheethan Antony (Arun Muraleedharan) – Malayalam: Composer Arun Muraleedharan was impressive in earlier works like Adventures of Omanakuttan and Kakshi: Amminippilla. His sweeping melody with a smattering of classical music gets a massive fillip from singer Harisankar KS, who completely owns the delivery. Rithu Vysakh’s violin solo and the addictive ‘Mulle mulle’ hook are fantastic.

Tehqeek – Govind Vasantha (Indipop) – Malayalam: Honestly, this is not up to Govind’s current lofty standards. But given his standards are quite high, this is not bad either. Sreeranjini Kodampally’s powerful singing keeps the song together. An interesting irony in the video is the casting of Neeraj Madhav as the male lead… someone the Police is looking for, because of his alleged terrorist activities. If someone had seen the Prime Video series, The Family Man, Neeraj played a deadly and ruthless terrorist, Moosa, in that show 🙂

Rada Dhurala, Jalmachi Vaari, Baari Baari & Kaakana Kinkin – Dhurala (AV Prafullachandra) – Marathi: After last year’s outstanding work in Kaagar, AV Prafullachandra strikes rich again! The film has 5 songs of which only one is composed by Utkarsh Anand Shinde (Naad Kara), and that is also the soundtrack’s weakest. Rada Dhurala, Jalmachi Vaari and Baari Baari, all three songs feature fantastic vocal layering for their highly rhythmic structures. That alone makes these songs so listenable. Kaakana Kinkin is the soundtrack’s sole softer melody, sung beautifully by Aanandi Joshi and Abhay Jodhpurkar, that soars impressively as Prafullachandra mounts the ending on a grand scale!

Liggi – Ritviz (Indipop): A curiously catchy song 🙂 Ritviz’s singing style weirdly zoned out, but with this tune and the dropping beat, even that Badshah-style monotony in singing sounds good! But this is a song that must be seen with the video given the smashing performance by Vedika Pinto with her uninhibited shenanigans! Also worth noting: Ritvik’s song from last year, Sage, too had the same grandpa who dances drunk 🙂

Saturday December 21, 2019

Milliblog Annual Music round-up 2019

This is the 12th year of my annual music round-ups. In case you are curious, here are the previous editions: 
2018 |2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

2019, being the last in the 2010s decade, has had a lasting impact on how we think of film music. This was the decade when multi-composers became a norm and the notions of a ‘soundtrack’ died, was buried and grass has started growing on top of it now.

We have seen these trends in the past too. At some point, someone decided that having the same male and female singer sing all the songs in a film’s soundtrack didn’t make sense from a variety point of view. So, they brought in more singers, even as people were initially wondering if the same hero can sound differently for 2 different songs. This was a common early-days concern when Rajinikanth sang a sad song in K.J.Yesudas’ voice and a happy song in S.P.Balasubramanyam’s voice! When he also started singing a frisky song in Udit Narayan’s voice, all those concerns jumped out of the window and committed suicide.

Similarly, I think one decade was enough to complain about the evolution of multi-composer albums. They are here to stay, for the same reason why multi-singer soundtracks came into existence: variety. Film music is a marketable commodity. Soundtracks have lost their collective utility value and have been unbundled, thanks largely to streaming music that has become the norm now. A single is the new unit of music. And a YouTube video (mostly a lyric video) is the visual equivalent of it since most filmmakers don’t even bother to shoot those songs fully in their films. This is the new normal when it comes to film music. I fully expect the last few holdouts like Pritam and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy to join the multi-composer trend and actually produce very good music within that structure too (since they need to produce less, per film.

T-series has already sealed this trend by calling it ‘Songs’ in the film poster… what was earlier called ‘Music’, for the film Jai Mummy Di.

There is an overdose of remixes in the Hindi film music market right now and this is perhaps largely being driven by YouTube views. I don’t expect it to change in the next few years since these songs end up being extremely popular. Ironically, if you look at the Indipop scene (or at least my list of top 30 Indipop/non-film songs), they are filled with recreations too, not very different from what Tanishk Bagchi does regularly all through the year! So, blaming only film music composers of pandering to the remix/recreation trend and not producing ‘original’ music is unfair.

2019 was largely average, film-music-wise. In fact, I’d say the quality and variety of songs in the non-film music category was a lot more interesting than in the film music category, across the 5 languages I track music (Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada).

If you wonder how I/we create our own lists and end up liking specific songs among so many, read Milliblog’s Three Laws of Music Appreciation Multiverse.

As always, these lists are in my order of preference, not any random order. And yes, I make these lists primarily for my own listening. They are not meant to pander to some market forces or some star/composer’s whims or fancies – that would be a massive waste of my time. So, these lists are to answer my own question, “There are SO MANY songs to listen to. What should I listen to?“. I’m solving my own music discoverability problem given a profusion of songs throughout the year. The only reason I also share them online is to help others with the same discoverability problem and possibly help some of the lesser-known/heard songs that deserve a listen.

Happy listening!

Hindi

Pritam, who was non-existent last year, made a triumphant comeback this year with films like The Sky is Pink, Kalank and Chhichhore. Shankar Ehsaan Loy had a good soundtrack in Mere Pyare Prime Minister, but in The Zoya Factor, they failed! Amit Trivedi was largely muted, after a stupendous 2018! While Tanishk Bagchi was everywhere, remixing this and that, I have my hopes pinned on 3 composers, based on their 2019 output.

The first is Amartya Bobo Rahut. I had found him promising in 2017’s Tu Hai Mera Sunday, but in 2019, he made a super confident leap in Drive. The second is Karan Kulkarni. His Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota is one heck of an inspired, zany soundtrack. I really hope he gets more interesting projects. The third is a duo – Sachet (Tandon) – Parampara (Thakur). Even as their music for Kabir Singh was extremely popular, I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of their music in Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas.

Hindi Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Composer of the year: Pritam

  1. Dil Hi Toh Hai – The Sky is Pink (Pritam)
  2. Apna Time Aayega – Gully Boy (Dub Sharma & DIVINE)
  3. Jugraafiya – Super 30 (Ajay-Atul)
  4. Kalank Title Song – Kalank (Pritam)
  5. Nakhrewaali – Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (Karan Kulkarni)
  6. Rezgaariyan – Mere Pyare Prime Minister (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
  7. Naina Yeh – Article 15 (Piyush Shankar)
  8. Jako Rakhe Saiyan – Batla House (Rochak Kohli)
  9. Slow Motion – Bharat (Vishal-Shekhar)
  10. Bekhayali – Kabir Singh (Sachet-Parampara)
  11. Sanu Kehndi – Kesari (Tanishk Bagchi)
  12. Shaitan Ka Saala – Housefull 4 (Sohail Sen)
  13. Ghungroo – War (Vishal-Shekhar)
  14. Choti Choti Gal – Motichoor Chaknachoor (Arjuna Harjai)
  15. Hai Re Farebi – 706 (Anikhet Khandekar)
  16. Ishaq Chaliya – Pal Pal Dil Ke Paas (Sachet-Parampara)
  17. Karma – Drive (Amartya Bobo Rahut)
  18. Kyun Dil Mera – Paharganj (Ajay Singha)
  19. Naah Goriye – Bala (Jaani/B Praak)
  20. Bad Boy – Saaho (Baadshah)
  21. Nadaaniyaan – The Sky Is Pink (Pritam)
  22. Tere Liye – Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (Karan Kulkarni)
  23. Makhna – Drive (Tanishk Bagchi)
  24. Zara Suno – Malaal (Shail Hada)
  25. Ruan Ruan – Sonchiriya (Vishal Bhardwaj)
  26. Nadh Khula – Malaal (Shreyas Puranik)
  27. Chale Aana – De De Pyaar De (Amaal Mallik)
  28. Channa – Gun Pe Done (Rimi Dhar)
  29. Madaari – The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir (Amit Trivedi)
  30. Kaash – The Zoya Factor (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Hindi Top 30 playlist on YouTube | JioSaavn

Tamil

It was a mixed bag in Tamil as far as composers go. Almost all composers had their share of good songs with no one person sweeping the year. If Santhosh Narayanan had Ottha Seruppu and Gypsy, Sean Roldan had Mehndi Circus. Sam and Ghibran were all through the year, but their body of work is starting to sound a bit jaded now. Joshua Sridhar made a surprise entry with July Kaatril, but both the soundtrack and film sank without a trace, in true Joshua style, sadly.

Justin Prabhakaran pitched the maximum – he had a multilingual in Dear Comrade, produced some great music in Monster and some middling music in Naadodigal 2. I also quite like Vivek-Mervin’s style of racy music, in songs like Sangathamizhan’s Kamala and Jilebara from Thumbaa. The composer I’m looking forward to producing more, better music is Simon K King. His Kolaigaran theme completely surprised me, while he had good songs in Rajabheema and Marketraja MBBS, both of which went turkey, while starring the same hero (Arav). I don’t think Rajabheema has even released in 2019.

Tamil Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Composer of the year: Justin Prabhakaran

  1. Manamengum Maaya Oonjal – Gypsy (Santhosh Narayanan)
  2. Kodi Aruvi – Mehandi Circus (Sean Roldan)
  3. Merkilae Merkilae – July Kaatril (Joshua Sridhar)
  4. Neeyagave – House Owner (Ghibran)
  5. Pularaadha – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)
  6. Unna Nenachu – Psycho (Ilayaraja)
  7. Ganesha – Rajabheema (Simon.K.King)
  8. Vaa Vaa Penne – Uriyadi 2 (Govind Vasantha)
  9. Maruvaarthai – Enai Noki Paayum Thota (Darbuka Siva)
  10. Andavane Thunai – Kolaigaran (Simon K King)
  11. Kaatre Kaatre – July Kaatril (Joshua Sridhar)
  12. Naan Varuvean – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)
  13. Thandalkaaran – NGK (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
  14. Veyil Mazhayae – Mehandi Circus (Sean Roldan)
  15. Dingu Dongu – Sarvan Thaala Mayam (A.R.Rahman)
  16. Maavuliyo Maavuli – Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu (Tenma)
  17. Kannamma – Ispade Rajavum Idhaya Raniyum (Sam C.S.)
  18. Desaandhiri – Gypsy (Santhosh Narayanan)
  19. Takkaru – Ayngaran (G.V.Prakash Kumar)
  20. Kamala – Sangathamizhan (Vivek-Mervin)
  21. Naan Pizhaippeno – Enai Noki Paayum Thota (Darbuka Siva)
  22. Malto Kithapuleh – Hero (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
  23. Kulirudha Pulla – Oththa Seruppu (Santhosh Narayanan)
  24. Anthimaalai Neram – Monster (Justin Prabhakaran)
  25. Pasappukkalli – Devarattam (Nivas K Prasanna)
  26. Kannale – Market Raja MBBS (Simon K King)
  27. Yaarovai – Angelina (D.Imman)
  28. Karadu Moradu Poove (Joyful Version) – Bakrid (D.Imman)
  29. Uthira Uthira – Pon Manickavel (D.Imman)
  30. Adhuva Adhuva – Naadodigal 2 (Justin Prabhakaran)
Tamil Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

PS: I have updated the list and playlists given that I had assumed that I had previously added songs from Darbuka Siva’s Enai Nokki Paayum Thotta in the 2017 list! But, I had not! This is one big problem with delayed or staggered song releases. Using film release dates doesn’t seem fair or right either since this film’s songs should have been part of earlier year lists, but this one had other problems as well – that of no knowing who the composer was, for a very long time! So, I have substituted the 2 songs from this film in the older list, with the 2 from earlier years, as they rightly deserve.

Telugu

2019 was Anirudh’s year in Telugu. His Gang Leader and Jersey make me wonder why he isn’t producing such music in Tamil! My favorite underdog, Shravan Bharadwaj had a tepid Manchukurisevelalo, but produced a cracker in Vinara Sodara Veera Kumara! Did the film release? Has anybody heard the songs? Shravan’s luck continues to be terrible! Last year’s star Gopi Sundar had one great outing in Majili, while Justin Prabhakaran pitched his best in Dear Comrade, though my favorites in Telugu and Tamil are very different! Vivek Sagar is really pushing his luck within this zone.

I see promise in 3 composers. One is Chaitan Bharadwaj. He had a great debut in 2018’s RX 100, and followed up with good music this year in 7 and got a big film in Manmadhudu 2 (though Guna 369 was average). The second is Suresh Bobbili, whom I had noticed first in 2017’s Maa Abbayi. In 2019, he had a good run in Thipparaa Meesam, George Reddy and Tholu Bommalata. The third is my favorite so far: Mark K Robin! He didn’t have a full-fledged soundtrack in 2018’s Awe (outstanding movie, by the way!), but he scored darn well in Suryakantam and Mallesham.

Telugu Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Composer of the year: Anirudh

  1. Gangu Leader – Gang Leader (Anirudh)
  2. Samajavaragamana – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S)
  3. Inthena Inthena – Suryakantam (Mark K Robin)
  4. Gira Gira – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)
  5. Nuvvu Naatho Emannavo – Disco Raja (Thaman S)
  6. Kanne Kanne – Arjun Suravaram (Sam C.S.)
  7. Priyathama Priyathama – Majili (Gopi Sundar)
  8. Spirit Of Jersey – Jersey (Anirudh)
  9. Yemainado – Mr.Majnu (Thaman S)
  10. Vagalaadi – Brochevarevaru Ra (Vivek Sagar)
  11. Prema Vennela – Chitralahari (Devi Sri Prasad)
  12. Varshinchana – 7 (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
  13. Mella Mellagaa – ABCD (Judah Sandhy)
  14. Thirugude – Vinara Sodara Veera Kumara (Shravan Bharadwaj)
  15. Choti Choti Baatein – Maharshi (Devi Sri Prasad)
  16. Hoyna Hoyna – Gang Leader (Anirudh)
  17. Padhe Padhe – Jersey (Anirudh)
  18. Sampaddhoy Nanne – 7 (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
  19. Naaku Nuvvani – Mallesham (Mark K Robin)
  20. Ninnu Chuse Anandamlo – Gang Leader (Anirudh)
  21. Hey Menina – Manmadhudu 2 (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
  22. Ra Ra: Roar of the Revengers – Gang Leader (Anirudh)
  23. Pilla Picture Perfect – Ranarangam (Sunny M.R)
  24. Yegire Yegire – Madhanam (Ron Ethan Yohann)
  25. Andanike – Burra Katha (Sai Karthik)
  26. Kummeyra – Ranarangam (Karthik Rodriguez)
  27. Canteen – Dear Comrade (Justin Prabhakaran)
  28. Mouna Hrudaya Ragame – Thipparaa Meesam (Suresh Bobbili)
  29. Anandam – Manchukurisevelalo (Shravan Bharadwaj)
  30. Yentha Kottagundi Premalona – Mouname Ishtam (Vivek Maha Deva)
Telugu Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Malayalam

Gopi Sundar was his prolific self in 2019 too, and had good music all through. Besides him, and the other regular Shaan Rahman, there are so many composers in Malayalam! 10 songs and 10 composers in the Top 10! 12 more composers in the next 20 songs! I continue to hold a lot of hope on Sooraj S Kurup who had a great soundtrack in LUCA, and Sanjeev Thomas, who was damn good in Manoharam.

Malayalam Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Composer of the year: Sooraj S Kurup and Sanjeev Thomas

  1. Parayuvan – Ishq (Jakes Bejoy)
  2. Ponveyilin – Puzhikkadakan (Ranjith Meleppatt)
  3. Uyiril Thodum – Kumbalangi Nights (Sushin Shyam)
  4. Athippoovin – Oronnonnara Pranayakadha (Leela L Girish Kuttan)
  5. Ore Kannal – LUCA (Sooraj S Kurup)
  6. Jaathikkathottam – Thanneer Mathan Dinangal (Justin Varghese)
  7. Aaraadhike – Ambili (Vishnu Vijay)
  8. Munnotithaa – Manoharam (Sanjeev Thomas)
  9. Njaanakum Poovil – Happy Sardar (Gopi Sundar)
  10. Vennilavin Thaliralle – Neermathalam Poothakalam (Sheron Roy Gomez)
  11. Akale – 9 (Shaan Rahman)
  12. Kungumanira Sooryan – Neeyum Njanum (Vinu Thomas)
  13. Neer Kanikayil – Ente Ummante Peru (Gopi Sundar)
  14. Hey Madhuchandrike – Argentina Fans Kaattoorkadavu (Gopi Sundar)
  15. Nee Mukilo – Uyare (Gopi Sundar)
  16. Vanil Chandrika – Luca (Sooraj S Kurup)
  17. Jeevante Jeevanay – Sameer (Sudeep Palanad)
  18. Aganaga – 18am Padi (A.H.Kaashif)
  19. Ennuyire Penkiliye – Margamkali (Gopi Sundar)
  20. Kinavo – Manoharam (Sanjeev Thomas)
  21. Raathein – Love Action Drama (Shaan Rahman)
  22. Shilayude – Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (Bijibal)
  23. Arike Naam – Underworld (Neha S. Nair & Yakzan Gary Pereira)
  24. Hey Song – Valiyaperunnal (Saju Sreenivas)
  25. Kavarathi – Pranaya Meenukalude Kadal (Shaan Rahman)
  26. Kaattil Veezha – Uyare (Gopi Sundar)
  27. Aarodum Parayuka – Kolambi (Ramesh Narayan)
  28. Pularum Vare – Shibu (Sachin Warrier)
  29. Chenthamara Poovin – Neermathalam Pootha Kaalam (Nahoom Abraham)
  30. Shalabamaayi – Praana (Arunvijay)
Malayalam Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Kannada

Ajaneesh Loknath and Charanraj continue to elevate the musical standards in Kannada cinema – thankfully! Ajaneesh’s Padde Huli deserved a lot more praise, incidentally. Judah Sandhy had a less prolific year, and even Arjun Janya, despite scoring a lot of music, is starting to seem tired. The one new composer I’m pinning my hope on is Adil Nadaf. He was terrific in Kapata Nataka Paatradhaari and even the single he scored for Mundina Nildana.

Kannada Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Composer of the year: Ajaneesh Loknath

  1. Kalabeda Kolabeda – Paddehuli (Ajaneesh Loknath)
  2. Oye Kamali – Kalbettada Darodekoraru (J. Anoop Seelin)
  3. Yaake Anta Gottilla Kanree – Kapata Nataka Paatradhaari (Adil Nadaf)
  4. Manase Maya – Mundina Nildana (Masala Coffee)
  5. Gamyave – 99 (Arjun Janya)
  6. Mamavathu Sri Saraswathi – Katha Sangama (Nobin Paul)
  7. Ide Dina – Kavaludaari (Charanraj MR)
  8. Baduku Jataka Bandi – Padde Huli (Ajaneesh Loknath)
  9. Neene Modalu Neene Kone – Kiss (Adi Hari)
  10. Bhaavaloka – Nathicharami (Bindhumalini)
  11. Onde Aetige – Amar (Arjun Janya)
  12. Yenda Yedathi – Padde Huli (Ajaneesh Loknath)
  13. Ondanondu Kaaladinda – I Love You (Aria Dakshin)
  14. Abbabba Ninna Kande – Preethi Irabaaradey (Sabu Varghese)
  15. Neenene Neenene – Kapata Nataka Paatradhaari (Adil Nadaf)
  16. Dorassani – Pailwaan (Arjun Janya)
  17. Devare Devare – Sarvajanikarige Suvarnavakaasha (Midhun Mukundan)
  18. Thakita Thakita – Aayushmanbhava (Gurukiran)
  19. Nigooda Nigooda – Kavaludaari (Charanraj M.R)
  20. Thangali Mellage – Bill Gates (Nobin Paul)
  21. Yaariva – Nathicharami (Bindhumalini)
  22. Heli Hogu Kaarana – Padde Huli (B. Ajaneesh Loknath)
  23. Joru Paattu – Amar (Arjun Janya)
  24. Banda Nodu Pailwaan – Pailwaan (Arjun Janya)
  25. Darlingu – Demo Piece (Arjun Ramu)
  26. Anisuthidhe – 99 (Arjun Janya)
  27. Sanchari Hrudaya – Chambal (Judah Sandhy)
  28. Khaali Khaali Aniso – Kavaludaari (Charanraj M.R)
  29. Life is Beautiful – Mundina Nildana (Kaushik Shukla)
  30. Chaaruthanthi – Munirathna Kurukshetra (V.Harikrishna)
Kannada Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Indipop

Non-film music was my favorite in 2019, more than film music. The variety, in terms of musical styles and languages, was stupendous. I do understand that mixing multiple language songs seems dizzying, but that’s the only fair thing to do, given that the one common element among all of them is that they were not composed for films, and are singles (not even part of albums)! I also noticed an unusually large number of non-film singles in Tamil – a good sign that the film music grip is mildly slipping.

Indipop Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

  1. Loka Samasta – Aruna Sairam and the Thayir Sadam Project
  2. Dilruba – Aki Kumar
  3. Kadhakal Neele (Paadhi Raavaagilum) – Kadhakal Neele (Mejjo Joseph)
  4. Azhaikka Vandhaayo – Sanjay
  5. Maravairi Ramani – GrooViDa (not on JioSaavn playlist)
  6. Jeele Jeebhar – Namah (Thaikkudam Bridge)
  7. Mon Ke Bojhai – Sona Mohapatra and Sahil Solanki (Oriplast Originals)
  8. Mullu – Vasu Dixit
  9. Poovey – Funktuation
  10. Dwijavanthi – Marghazhi Reloaded
  11. Bas Mein – Bhuvan Bam
  12. Superheroes Without Capes – Thayir Sadam Project
  13. Chango – Jatayu
  14. Charukesi – Marghazhi Reloaded
  15. Dil Ki Doya Hoyna – The Folk Diaryz ft EPR
  16. Odi Odi – Kimaya (Masala Coffee)
  17. Aajo Cholechi – Papon & Shalmali Kholgade (Oriplast Originals)
  18. Nee Aara – When Chai Met Toast
  19. Thozhane – Kaal Nootraandu Kaadhal (Ashwin Vinayagamoorthy)
  20. Vasantha – Marghazhi Reloaded
  21. Manmohiya – Maati Baani
  22. Vainko – Brodha V ft. Jordindian
  23. Maa Devi – Srikanth Koppula
  24. Karam – Rangle Sardar & When Chai Met Toast (Equals Sessions)
  25. Paayum Oli Kannamma – Ratchakan Sridhar
  26. Dil Mera Dolda – Jazbati (Nooran Sisters, Jaidev Kumar)
  27. Ajnabee – Bhuvan Bam
  28. Dil Aziz – Subhash Kumar, Dheeraj Kumar Gupta ft. The Mellow Turtle, Tre Ess
  29. Avizhaai – Madras Gig Season 2 (Darbuka Siva)
  30. Hey Zara – Ben Human
Indipop Top 30 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

Marathi

I continue to listen to Marathi film music on and off. Given that infrequent hearing, a much shorter list, as always. The trio, Hrishikesh-Saurabh-Jasraj, continue to be outstandingly interesting with their music and Anandi Gopal, was easily one of the best soundtracks of the year, not just in Marathi, but pan-India. The other soundtrack I’d rate very, very high is AV Prafullachandra’s Kaagar. I’d love to hear from him!

Marathi Top 10 playlist on YouTube | Saavn

  1. Lagliya Godi Tujhi – Kaagar (A.V.Prafullachandra)
  2. Ranga Maliyela – Anandi Gopal (Hrishikesh Saurabh Jasraj)
  3. Virala – Khichik (Abhishek-Datta)
  4. Khari – Khari Biscuit (Suraj-Dhiraj)
  5. Mogra Phulaalaa – Mogra Phulaalaa (Rohit Shyam Raut)
  6. Waata Waata – Anandi Gopal (Hrishikesh Saurabh Jasraj)
  7. Tu Ekda Ha Bolna – Aamhi Befikar (Pranay Adhangale)
  8. Hey Man Maze – College Diary (Revaa)
  9. Darval Mavhacha – Kaagar (A.V.Prafullachandra)
  10. Adugula Madgula – Baba (Rohan Rohan)

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 99: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
11 songs this week. Both YouTube and JioSaavn have all the songs!

Saalaikal, Kaadum Malayum, Nee and Jeele Jeebhar – Namah (Thaikkudam Bridge) – Indipop: Namah has been in the making for a long time and I had featured Saalaikal back in February 2018. While the album is a sprawling, ambitious effort with a lot of interesting collaborations, I found it less engaging than the band’s earlier work, Navarasam. The collaborations perhaps forced them to think in a different direction for the album’s overall sound. It is a highly listenable effort, no doubt about that, however. Even in the songs that didn’t entirely work me, there are stupendous highlights that are worth going back to! Like how Tamil envelopes the mid-section Hindi phrase in Saawariya that has Pandit Ram Narayan and his grandson Harsh Narayan on the sarangi, accentuating the song’s inherent melancholy. Avial’s lead singer Anandraj Benjamin Paul keeps Kanne consistently enjoyable, while in Inside My Head, featuring German drummer Marco Minnemann, the shift in the 5-minute mark is fascinating! Kalliyankatt Neeli, featuring Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatton Mohan Veena is the album’s most hypnotic, intense and affecting. The most ambitious song, though is Thekkini, a 9-minutes+ instrumental song featuring 2 renowned percussionists, metal drummer Chris Adler and mridangam virtuoso Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, using the background music (and song) composed for Manichitrathazhu as a base to showcase their incredible talent.

The four songs that worked for me include Saalaikal, the most accessible and catchy in the album, featuring Jordan Rudess on the keyboard, and a scintillating guitar solo. Rakesh Chaurasia on the bansuri owns Kaadum Malayum, and joins a lovely guitar-bansuri jugalbandi in the end. The most engaging melody in the album is in Nee, featuring Niladri Kumar’s sitar, while my favorite in the album is easily Jeele Jeebhar, featuring Hindustani vocalist Ustad Rashid Khan. The pulsating opening, led by Rashid Khan and a fantastic extended prelude with tremendously exciting percussion is worth multiple listens! And surprise – you also hear shades of 96’s Kaathale Kaathale in this song!

Over’a Feel Pannuren – Hero (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: Pa.Vijay’s lyrics try to best fit in the current college lingo in Chennai, but go significantly overboard too… annoyingly so. But Yuvan’s music hits all the right notes and his usual disinterested style of singing actually helps this catchy tune.

Theera Theera – Sarbath (Ajesh) – Tamil: Sarbath’s first single was released back in August (Karichaan Kuyile). In the 2nd single released now, Ajesh lives up to the promise he had showcased in that single, though not up to the magnificent promise he demonstrated in Paambu Sattai’s music. Good, listenable song, nonetheless, with excellent singing by Ajesh himself and the underrated Saindhavi.

Thazhvarangal – Valiyaperunnal (Rex Vijayan) – Malayalam: Two songs by Saju Sreenivas and two by Rex? While Labbaikkallah didn’t work for me, Rex is on more solid footing in Thazhvarangal, with its beat dropping to great effect.

Hands Up – Avane Sreemannarayana (Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: This is one film that has both Ajaneesh and Charanraj scoring the music! Ajaneesh opens his account with a superbly orchestrated, flamboyant number. The call-and-response phrases (the Hands Up and the response) hark back to his trademark homage to Hamsalekha’s music. Fantastic music that even sounds visual!

Neelaakasha Kelu – Sarvajanikarige Suvarnavakasha (Midhun Mukundan) – Kannada: Devare was a very good song, and composer Midhun turns this focus away from that tone and offers a very pleasant melody for balance. Haricharan’s singing is, as usual, ace, while Rakshitha Rao offers great support. Midhun’s building the backgrounds is what works perfectly in the song’s favor.

Manase Chooru – Ramarjuna (Anand Rajavikram) – Kannada: With Lee and Relax Satya, Anand has proven to be a capable-enough and interesting composer to watch out for. In Manase Chooru too, he uses Puneet Rajkumar, usually a special-item singer used for star-power, in a mellow turn. The tune and the musical package makes it better, with its mellow thavil and nadaswaram base.

Aa Jaana – Lijo George, Dj Chetas (Indipop): Jackky Bhagnani discovered that he perhaps has a better future being a music curator than trying his hand repeatedly in acting. And when he found pliant working partners in Lijo George and DJ Chetas in Mitron’s Kamariya, he got to work more in that direction. With Darshan Raval and Prakriti Kakar for vocals, the melody and rhythm are reminiscent of Kamariya’s style and are effortlessly catchy.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 98: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
Another week with a short playlist of just 9 songs! YouTube has all the 9 songs while JioSaavn is missing 2 songs – Pathivo Maarum from Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha and the song from Darbar (since it is a Gaana exclusive).

Thaalelo, Thalattu Naal & Thambi Theme – Thambi (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: Govind Vasantha scores pretty darn well in the rest of Thambi soundtrack too. Chinmayi’s Thaalelo is a lovely, lush melody that is slightly pulled down by the current-Rahman’ish familiar and regurgitated background rhythm. But Govind has enough surprises up his sleeve, when it comes to the interludes. Thalattu Naal is a joyous song where you can feel the celebratory mood in Crishna’s lively singing and the generous mix of nadaswaram and violin. The Thambi Theme sounds quite ominous, portending some great sorrow, but in Govind’s soaring violin, is a great listen too, as he builds the sound to a fantastic high.

Ponjaadhiye – Sathya Narayanan (Tamil/Indipop): The first question I had after listening to this song was, ‘Wow, who is this Sathya Narayanan?’. The musical phrases are unusually long – the pallavi lingers longer than usual and I wondered if there’d be a break at all. And then it arrives. Very nicely composed structure, and extremely well sung too! I’d definitely expect his guy to either compose or at least sing for movies soon, if he hasn’t already.

Sevvanthiye – Seeru (D.Imman) – Tamil: I believe this song is based on Simhendramadhyamam raaga, that Raja has employed to magnificent effect in songs like Gopura Vaasaliley’s Thaalattum Poongaatru and Panneer Pushpangal’s Aanandha Raagam. The raaga’s innate beauty (though supposed to a grim raaga) shines and helps this song too, easily.

Tharam Maara Single – Darbar (Anirudh) – Tamil: After Chumma Kizhi I had really hoped for a better soundtrack from Anirudh for Rajini, compared to Petta. But Darbar is largely similar, and equally disappointing. The one song that stood out for me was Tharam Maara Single, thanks mainly to Anirudh rehashing cleverly his own fantastic Telugu song Gaali Vaaluga from Agnyaathavaasi. Even though that song is far better, the Tamil song’s lyrics, by Vivek, stand out with its corny and interesting Tamil-English mix, set to a lively background by Anirudh.

Pathivo Maarum – Kettiyolaanu Ente Malakha (William Francis) – Malayalam: The first single (Enna Undra) from the film didn’t work for me. But composer William Francis is on more assured ground in the second song. Sandeep Mohan’s guitars work as a constant backdrop, to let Niranj Suresh own the sobering melody. Excellent hook/chorus too!

Vainko – Brodha V ft. Jordindian: I’m not a huge fan of rap music, but occasionally, I do find some both relatable and enjoyable. This is one such song! Bengaluru-based Brodha ‘Vighnesh Shivanand’ V cites A.R.Rahman’s Petta Rap (Kaadhalan) as the first ever rap he’d come across!! The diverse Indian influence shows in his rap’s musical backdrop, right from Gowndamani’s iconic ‘Start Meesik’ to the liberally peppered Tamil and Hindi in the rap. He even takes a dig at Gully Boy arguing that he was ‘Boht Hard’ long before catchphrase!

Church – Coldplay (Everyday Life): Coldplay’s new double-disc album is an experiment that barely worked for me. There’s a lot of political posturing that’s buried in the often cringe-worthy lyrics. The sound alternates between their trademark arena/stadium sound to a more newer, less engaging sound. The latter does make its mark in a song like Arabesque, but not elsewhere. As far as the trademark sound goes, besides Orphans, Church is the only other song that makes the cut.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 97: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
A short playlist, this week – just 9 songs! JioSaavn playlist has 7 and is missing Santiago from Kalidas and Njan Thedum Thaaram from Driving Licence. YouTube has 8 songs and is missing only Santiago from Kalidas only because it is inside a jukebox.

Hello Saare – Thambi (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: For a film that had the ‘audio launch’ on November 29th (the same day when Govind’s band, Thaikkudam Bridge launched their second album, Namah! I intend to write more about Namah once I get more information on the credits since there are so many collaborators involved), it is dismaying to see only one song being released the next day… instead of the full soundtrack. Songs are merely promotional ‘assets’ and they do not matter to the film any more than marketing, and this is apt proof. This is not good or bad, but just the evolution of the use of music in Indian films. The song itself is very catchy, and a superb comeback by Suresh Peters. Govind’s tune is adequately disco’ish and funky to help Peters shine!

Saayavana Kaatil – Ethirvinaiyaatru (Vedanth Bharadwaj) – Tamil: I had posed a query on Twitter and Facebook last week about woman-man combination composing duos in India, and a lot of names came to the fore. Neha S. Nair & Yakzaan Gary Pereira (Malayalam), Sachet (Tandon) – Parampara (Thakur) in Hindi, Madboy/Mink, Parasuram Radha, Bindumalini (Narayanswamy) and Vedanth (Bharadwaj) in Tamil among others. And here’s Vedanth doing solo! It’s a lovely song, however, like a new-age version of a Simon & Garfunkel song!

Neethan Venumadi – Dhanusu Raasi Neyargalae (Ghibran) – Tamil: I have already featured 2 songs from the film: I Want A Girl and Murada Murada. The 3rd song that worked for me is the neat EDM’ish Neethan Venumadi, sung by Sarath Santhosh and Rajan Chelliah. The hook is quite addictive.

Santiago – Kalidas (Vishal Chandrasekhar) – Tamil: Kalidas’ first single, Mazhai, sung by Sudha Raghunathan released in August 2018! I had even added it as one of the top 30 Tamil songs of 2018. Now, finally, here’s the full soundtrack. But while Vishal does have some interesting ideas, like the 2 Bharathiyar poems tuned into songs sung by Abhay Jodhpurkar, they don’t work as cohesively as intended, I thought. However, Santiago, by Andera holds a lot more chutzpah, with its expansive and ambitious electro-swing sound delivered so very well.

Vethiki Vethiki – Bhagyanagara Veedullo Gammathu (Saketh Komanduri) – Telugu: This song is, quite frankly, a shocker! It sounds so much like an Ilayaraja song that I had a hard time reconciling that it is not by Raja! There are shades of Raja’s iconic Vamsy song, Ekkada Ekkada from ladies Tailor, but the tune is different. But even the tune/melody is so much like a classic Raja song. The real shocker is the completely tasteless and tacky video playing in the background, for this lovely melody! I look forward to what more Saketh produces.

Chandamama – Madhanam (Ron Ethan Yohann) – Telugu: The first single from the film came out in August (Yegire Yegire)! I wasn’t that impressed with the 2nd song, Choosa, but Ron comes back strongly in Chandamama. It has a soulful melody, delivered very well by Karthik, and a lovely lilt to boot!

Njan Thedum Thaaram – Driving Licence (Neha S. Nair and Yakzaan Gary Pereira) – Malayalam: An utterly zany song by the duo that has been consistently producing some great music in limited quantities. Anthony Daasan seems like the perfect fit to pull off the song’s whimsical quality, even as the music video is equally bizarre in terms of the star it uses and the situations it puts him in!

Then There Were Two – Mark Ronson and Anderson .Paak: Mark Ronson is curating the soundtrack of the upcoming animated film Spies In Disguise, that stars Will Smith, Tom Holland and others. This song, that sees Ronson joining Anderson .Paak, is befitting the big screen film’s sounds… soul, with a flamboyant horns section! Fantastic listen!

Don’t Let It Break Your Heart – Louis Tomlinson: The former One Direction star’s 4th single from his upcoming solo album. The sound is stadium-style and large. The melody and chorus are wonderful, the hook is addictive too.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 96: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
20 songs this week. JioSaavn has 18, and is missing only the 2 Coke Studio Pakistan songs (that are missing even on YouTube – only on SoundCloud this week!). YouTube has 12 songs – many are hidden inside jukeboxes (that I have embedded below).

Choti Choti Gal – Motichoor Chaknachoor (Arjuna Harjai) – Punjabi/Hindi: Arjuna’s melody is very reminiscent of Krsna’s music in Tanu Weds Manu, but to give him credit, that’s merely a reference point. His melody stands on its own, with a beautifully lilting and serene feel, brilliantly sung by Arjuna Harjai himself, along with Yasser Desai.

Dhuaan Dhuaan – Ankur Tewari: Imagine Bobby’s Main Shaayar Toh Nahi being sung by (and in the style of) the inimitable Tamil actor-singer Chandrababu! Ankur’s new song about the pollution (starting with New Delhi) is precisely like that incredible combination! It’s a lovely listen musically, as it is thought-provoking.

Unna Nenachu – Psycho (Ilayaraja) – Tamil: Sid Sriram’s first song under Ilayaraja is every bit exquisite as one would have anticipated. Sid himself seems subdued and in a new zone, away from his now-templated singing style and credit to Raja for bringing out a different facet of Sid’s signature style. The opening ‘Unna nenachu’ appears thrice, and that repetition, though sounding odd at first, endears the tune easily as the song progresses. The interludes are usual Raja magic (particularly the 2nd interlude!) and the anupallavi too gets Sid to offer something completely different and refreshingly new! The base melody seemed like Keeravani raaga to me, something Raja has exploited incredibly across his career. But there seems to be a smattering of Kaapi raaga too, since I do hear, Kaadhal Rojave’s ‘Kannukkul nee dhaan, Kanneeril nee dhaan’.

Easy Come Easy Go – Vaanam Kottattum (Sid Sriram) – Tamil: While I continue to have the same problem as the first song, in terms of the lyrics being terribly mangled in the tune sung word by word, at least tune-wise, Sid scores well.

Vellai Poove – Hi Hello Kaadhal (Vishnu Shyam) – Tamil: I remember seeing this short film back in October and I wondered even back then if they’d release the song that persists all through the film, including the crucial climax. I missed it when they did release, and stumbled on it now. It is a lovely, soft melody, accentuated by Balram Iyer and Sruthy Sasidharan’s singing.

Murada Murada – Dhanusu Raasi Neyargalae (Ghibran) – Tamil: What starts off, and builds itself, so much like a Harris Jayaraj song (made more pronounced by Bombay Jayashri singing it!), gets the Ghibran touch when the anupallavi starts! That’s when Ghibran asserts this is his song. Lovely listen!

Apdi Paakadhadi – Jada (Sam CS) – Tamil: The phrase ‘apdi paakadhadi’ reminded me of Raja’s famous song ‘Apdi paakardhuna’ from Ivan. The tunes don’t have anything similar, of course, and Sam’s tune, for most parts works, with a simple, innate charm. Anirudh’s voice helps, especially, along with Swagatha S Krishnan’s.

Un Kadhal Paarvai – Mazaiyil Nanaigiren (Vishnu Prasad) – Tamil: This is the 3rd Harris-like song this week! Even as the man himself has moved to produce utterly predictable and unfortunately droning music, his style (at least from his earlier, spectacular days) continues to live and inspire composers! Vishnu Prasad has the tune right – it is lively and Haricharan’s lead vocals lifts it significantly. The sound is so very Harris!

Oo… Baava – Prati Roju Pandaage (Thaman S) – Telugu: While I didn’t really enjoy the title song, this song is a winner, by Thaman! His use of the mixed vocals (featuring Satya Yamini and Mohana Bhogaraju) works wonders for the catchy tune and hook.

Bullet – George Reddy (Suresh Bobbili) – Telugu: Though there was a really tacky Kannada version of Yuvan Shankar Raja’s blockbuster song from Maari 2 (Rowdy Baby), this one by Suresh fares far better. It merely borrows elements from the hit song and doesn’t make things that obvious either. It builds a new song from that sound and stands well on its own since the tune is completely new, with confident vocals by Mangli Satyavathi.

Manasina Olage, Mamavathu Sri Saraswathi & Naa Ninnaya – Katha Sangama (Agnata, Nobin Paul & Gagan Baderiya) – Kannada: Katha Sangama is billed as ‘7 Directors, 7 Stories, Musicians, 7 DOP, 1 Movie’. The most interesting of the 7 songs is by Nobin Paul. Nobin actually remixes Mysore Vasudevacharya famous Hindolam-raaga based devotional song and does a smashing job of it! Sruthy Sasidharan, as the lead singer, does a stupendous job in the new-fangled version of the tune, while Midhun Dev handles the backing vocals beautifully before having his part too, towards the end. Adithi Sagar and Madhuri Seshadri are the stars of the other 2 notable songs, composed by Agnata and Gagan Baderiya, respectively. The tunes in both songs let the singers soar and shine, with the music playing second fiddle, impressively. Manasina Olage’s backgrounds go psychedelic as the song progresses, while Naa Ninnaya reminded me of Rahman’s composing style, but with a saccharine-sweet edge.

Party Zamana – Mundina Nildana (Adil Nadaf) – Kannada: Adil, who very recently produced some great music in Kapata Nataka Paatradhaari, joins the many composers of Mundina Nildana! His song is a simple and straight-forward disco-laced dance song. It works easily, given the lively singing by Chetan Gandharva and Madhuri Seshadhri.

Yaare Neenu – Khakii (Ritvik Muralidhar) – Kannada: Ritvik borrows a leaf from Harri Jayaraj’s music, much like many other composers in Kannada, pioneered by Arjun Janya himself. The ‘O o o’ hook is straight out of Harris’ style! Nice song, though – catchy, with effortless singing by Sanjith Hegde and Eesha Suchi.

Haiyaa – Hellaro (Mehul Surti) – Gujarati: While Mehul’s 4-song soundtrack is worth a full-fledged listen by itself, with a wonderfully earthy and highly melodious sound, this song stood out for me. Before breaking into the ebullient folks sounds made popular nationally by Ismail Darbar in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mehul mounts a beautiful context with Shruti Pathak’s delightfully slow and pensive singing. The ending, where I thought I heard strains of Desh raag, is a lovely touch too!

Balma – Fariha Pervez (Coke Studio Season 12, Episode 5): Balma is a thumri, but has been orchestrated more like a pop-Thumri. The actual thumri verse starts only at 2:30, since Fariha establishes her magnificent hold over the format till then with a stupendously indulgent prelude. The backgrounds accentuate the hybrid nature of the package, with a spritely rhythm underlining the beautiful melody. This is the kind of music Coke Studio excels in bringing out. Listen to the song on SoundCloud (since Coke Studio hasn’t uploaded it on YouTube yet)

Heeray – Rahat Fateh Ali Khan & Aima Baig (Coke Studio Season 12, Episode 5): Rahat keeps things predictably moving till 3:20, for the pensive-sounding Heer-Ranjha ode. And then Aima Baig literally flows in at that point, amidst a lovely change of rhythm and changes the tone of the song! This is so, so good! Listen to the song on SoundCloud (since Coke Studio hasn’t uploaded it on YouTube yet)

Ahimsa – U2 and A.R.Rahman: The first BIG surprise, much like Rahman’s ‘Ella Pugazhum Iraivanukke’ utterance on stage while receiving his Grammy, is listening to Tamil verse in a song by U2! Never ever would I have imagined that I’d hear Tamil in a song by U2, so thank you Rahman, for making this happen. The 2nd surprise is the choice of Tamil verse – 2 couplets from ThirukkuraL. Both couplets offer variations of doing good and not doing evil/bad to even people who harm us. A more popular (in Tamil Nadu) kuraL on these lines is ‘InnA seitharai oRuththal avar naana nannayam seithu vidal’, so it is a surprise that Rahman chose a lesser-known kuraL on this theme. But, in terms of the meaning, they are perfect, for a song titled Ahimsa. The tune itself is pleasant and almost meditative, though Rahman’s twist at 2:50, however interesting, comes at a cost of his severely digitized voice.

Light Upon Light – A.R.Rahman and Sami Yusuf: This song is even more meditative than Ahimsa, with a serene—almost sedate and hypnotic—melody that works as much as a prayer as it does as a song. Rahman seems to have found the perfect collaborator in Sami Yusuf since their musical wavelength matches perfectly, even beyond music, into the kind of religion they practice and want to talk about.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 95: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
15 songs this week. Saavn has 13 of them and is missing Jyotsna Radhakrishnan’s Paranne and Shilayude from Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (since it is inside a YouTube playlist). YouTube playlist has only 8 songs out of the 15 🙁

Dheeme Dheeme – Pati Patni Aur Woh (Tony Kakkar and Tanishk Bagchi) – Hindi: This song may be a new record of sorts even by Tanishk Bagchi and T-series’ standards – this is a remix of a song from May 2019 that had already garnered over 300 million views on YouTube! A May 2019 song remixed in November 2019! Of course, Tanishk, in his inimitable style spikes up Tony’s sedate original into a pulsating dance song befitting Kartik Aryan’s confident footwork.

Kannu Thangom – Vaanam Kottattum (Sid Sriram) – Tamil: Possibly owing to his unique singing style (that has recently been exploited to the hilt), even the tune of his own song sounds a bit like Imman’s Kurumba from Tik Tik Tik. And because of the way Siva Ananth’s lyrics have been cut literally word-by-word for each line in the tune (almost like substituting Mani Ratnam’s one-word sentence dialogs in the form of lyrics), it also feels difficult to cohesively make sense of the meaning of the song. But, Sid’s debut as a composer is listenable, for sure. I do look forward to more from Sid, beyond this familiar template.

Paranne – Jyotsna & The J Note (Malayalam) – Indipop: 2 years after her debut single, Ini Varumo, Jyotsna Radhakrishnan returns with another. This one’s more accomplished and layered than the earlier one, and sounds like a great combo of Avial and Thaikkudam Bridge’s music. The thump in the hook and Jyotsana’s vocals keep it consistently likeable.

Vanavillen – Safe (Rahul Subrahmanian) – Malayalam: Harishanker’s singing takes off with Rahul’s lively musical lift-off in the ‘Neeyum’ line. It’s to Rahul’s credit that he doesn’t overdo that lift-off and keeps it short, and as something that you go back to at various points in the song. Nikhil Ram’s flute too deserves a special mention.

Atma – Malayalam/Indipop (Robert Keettikkal): Atma is a non-film musical album composed by Robert Keettikkal and released by Saregama back in 2014. I missed this album back then and it looks like Millennium Audios has got the rights to re-release this album recently. The singers list alone gets your interested immediately – Swetha Mohan, Vijay Yesudas, Shakthisree Gopalan, Unnikrishnan, Yazin Nizar, P Jayachandran, Gayathri Suresh and Sooraj Santhosh! But, beyond the singers, the biggest surprise is Robert Keettikkal’s compositions! The range and quality of songs is incredible! I’m totally mystified why Robert hasn’t composed more music, and particularly for Malayalam films – his range and sound is a perfect fit for Malayalam film music. My pick of the album includes Ethethu Janmam (Vijay Yesudas and Swetha Mohan), Mounam Melle (Swetha Mohan), Hridhayamurali (Shakthisree Gopalan), Nimisham (P.Unnikrishnan), Sakhi Nin Pranayam (Yazin Nizar) and Pokkali Padam (Sooraj Santhosh). For a 9-song album, 6 songs sounding so good is a great achievement!

Shilayude – Android Kunjappan Version 5.25 (Bijibal) – Malayalam: What a lovely melody! I went back to Ilayaraja’s Indraikku Yen Anandhame – is this based on Abhogi raaga too, I wonder. Vipinlal’s warm vocals and Biju Annamanada’s veena in the 2nd interlude add tremendous value.

This Is How (We Want You To Get High) – George Michael: This is the first posthumously released single from George Michael based on his recording from 2012. He doesn’t sound quite like the George we are very familiar with and it is clear that some ‘work’ has gone into the composition and vocal processing. But the tune and style is unmistakably George Michael. A somber reminder that he is no more!

Orphans & Arabesque – Coldplay: While Orphans is familiar Coldplay material (and perfectly enjoyable), it is Arabesque that really pushes the boundaries of what you expect from Coldplay with a mood-creating sound complete with a jazzy base full of French horns and sax! Incidentally, Coldplay’s new album, with 16 songs, was advertised in the classified section of a newspaper!

I Feel Love – Sam Smith: Donna Summer’s 1976 chartbuster, produced and co-written by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte makes a comeback in Sam Smith’s new song! The original’s zing keeps this recreation endearing too!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 94: On JioSaavn | On YouTube
23 songs, this week. All 23 in YouTube playlist, and 17 of them in JioSaavn.

PS: Weeklies returns after 2 weekends owing to my vacation and work-related travel last week. If, by any chance, you were curious about my vacation, here’s a travelogue, with a lot of photographs: 5 days in paradise.

Naah Goriye – Bala (Jaani/B Praak) – Punjabi: Not to be left behind T-series, Sony gets into the recreation game too, but at least they credit the original folks correctly and even rope them to join the recreation! Harry Sandhu’s chartbuster Latino-Punjabi mix Naah continues to sound incredibly catchy in the new version too.

Tere Sang – Satellite Shankar (Mithoon) – Hindi: Mithoon’s song is easy on the ear and Arijit handles it well. There’s a charming vocal chorus that accompanies the tune, adding to the feel. Aakanksha Sharma’s entry in the antara is a lovely touch, taking the melody to a nice new, energetic high.

Ajnabee – Bhuvan Bam (Indipop) – Hindi: Bhuvan continues his fantastic run! Ajnabee, and in particular the way he sings, took me back to Ali Haider’s style of music and singing (Sandesa came to my mind, though the tunes are totally different) that I used to be obsessed with in the 90s. Very warm and gentle tune, beautifully accompanied by guitars.

Kinna Sona – Marjaavaan (Meet Bros) – Hindi: T-series has credited Nikhil-Vinay for the original and that’s a HUGE facepalm moment! But Meet Bros’ new version of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s classic is not all that bad. Jubin Nautiyal’s singing sails along the original’s appeal effortlessly and the music is too nicely punchy too.

Maavuliyo Maavuli – Irandam Ulagaporin Kadaisi Gundu (Tenma) – Tamil: I wasn’t that impressed with the first song from the film, but the second song is completely a different case. Composer Tenma sings one part that is contrasting to the main tune sung by Shweta Mohan and that juxtaposition is fascinating! The hip-hop’ish backdrop adds to the song’s appeal.

I Want a Girl – Dhanusu Raasi Neyargalae (Ghibran) – Tamil: Anirudh Ravichander rules this one! Ghibran’s choice of singer wins easily. The energetic tune that Ghibran keeps consistently entertaining. Interestingly, the lyrics refer to, ‘PudikkaNUm oru Virgo dhaan’ despite the fact that Dhanusu (Sagittarius) and Virgo are hardly known to be compatible 🙂

Malto Kithapuleh – Hero (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: Yuvan shows why and how he has sustained in the Tamil music industry for so long in a song that I would have guessed as being from Anirudh! It’s incredibly catchy, involves a neat layer of kuthu and Rokesh’s gibberish lyrics are a hoot! This is a winner!

Single Superstar – Ben Human (Indipop) – Tamil: There’s so much of Michael Jackson in Ben’s song and even he sounds a bit like Suresh Peters, who used to sound like Jackson back when he was in the scene! Catchy song.

Vaadi En Vaayadi – Aayiram Jenmangal (C.Sathya) – Tamil: Sathya creates a rollicking electronic kuthu much like Anirudh’s Aalumaa Dolumaa from Vedhaalam. It works, given the frenetic sound and excellent singing by
G.V. Prakash Kumar, Solar Sai and Rokesh.

Ramuloo Ramulaa – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S) – Telugu: A wonderfully lilting, faux-folk melody that I’d have guessed as Devi Sri Prasad’s had I not known the composer’s name 🙂 Anurag Kulkarni is particularly fantastic with the singing.

Manasara Mansara – Tholu Bommalata (Suresh Bobbili) – Telugu: Composer Suresh Bobbili who recently scored a winner in Mouna Hrudaya Raagame from
Thipparaa Meesam performs an encore here! The song, in 2 versions – male version by Sid Sriram and female version by Chinmayi – is a whiff of fresh air, mildly harking back to early Rahman style. The background music, has a consistent, repetitive phrase that is very alluring!

La La La La – Iddari Lokam Okate (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: You Are My Heart Beat, the first song from the film, was less interesting and too templatized. But the second song is a lot better, thanks also to Sameera Bharadwaj, who sings the melody beautifully. The hook is really addictive.

Thakita Thakita & Sara Sara – Aayushmanbhava (Gurukiran) – Kannada: Veteran Kannada composer Gurukiran shows that he still has it in him. Thakita Thakita is a lovely melody that sounds a lot like some Adnan Sami song (owing to the rhythm), but is a fantastic listen. In Sara Sara, Vijay Prakash lifts the tune significantly with his singing even as Guru’s background music traverse a whole range of impressive sounds.

Life is Beautiful & Life of Partha – Mundina Nildana (Kaushik Shukla and Srinidhi Venkatesh) – Kannada: The film continues to be really interesting, musically, though with multiple composers! I wasn’t that taken to Vasuki Vaibhav’s 2nd single, but these 2 songs are fantastic! Life is Beautiful is Sanjith Hegde’s show and the breezy pop tune works perfectly for his signature style. Life of Partha is a pleasant surprise since it reuses Srinidhi Venkatesh’s (formerly A.R.Rahman’s sound engineer) debut single from 2015, Lonely Sound, in a newer, racier package! She sings it herself too. Both versions are incredibly ambient and alluring, with the music video of the former being a beautiful addition, directed by Shalini Shankar and animated spectacularly by Sandhya Prabhat.

Billo – Abrar Ul Haq (Coke Studio, Episode 2 – Season 12): Abrar’s mid-90s Billo was a subcontinental chartbuster, even copied in Bollywood as ‘Mera Dil Le Gayi Oye’ from Ziddi, in 1997. The latest Coke Studio revives the iconic song in a zingy new avatar and it continues to be incredible fun even beyond the nostalgia it evokes. Abrar’s many vocal nakhras keep it consistently endearing.

Saiyaan – Shuja Haider & Rachel Viccaji (Coke Studio, Episode 2 – Season 12): An incredibly engaging and lilting Punjabi duet! Even the expressions of Shuja and Rachel take on a performative tone as they so thoroughly enjoy singing their lines. The backgrounds are so lively and move in such interesting directions, but the somber nature of what they are singing keeps the song on its edge all the time!

Mubarik Mubarik – Atif Aslam & Banur’s Band (Coke Studio, Episode 3 – Season 12): A scintillating Baloch wedding song where Atif is almost an incidental player! Banur’s band, consisting of composer Usman Withd, benjo player Chakar Baloch and singer SM Baloch bring in such a wonderfully joyful feel to the song themselves that Atif’s otherwise less nasal and actually brilliant singing actually goes to the background (till he showboats, rightfully so, towards the end).

Pon Thaarame & Kaanaa Theeram – Helen (Shaan Rahman) – Malayalam: Pon Thaarame is a warm melody that Shaan is already known for. Vineeth’s handling of the tune is, as usual, exemplary, accentuating the warmth. Megha Josekutty is the star of Kaanaa Theeram, a really sweet melody! That ‘Sundaram ithu jeevitham’ phrase is such an addictive line!

Tula Japnar Aahe – Khari Biscuit (Amitraj) – Marathi: Khari Biscuit already had a fantastic title song (composed by Suraj-Dhiraj). The soundtrack returns with another winner here. Composer Amitraj’s choice of singers, Adarsh Shinde and Ronkini Gupta, scores darn well – the interplay between their voices in the alaap is brilliant, and so is the lush melody and the rhythm.

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