The profusion of atmospheric sounds in Ayalathe is both disconcertingly alluring! Shreekumar Vakkiyil’s involved vocals sit on top of Prashant’s lively, impromptu’ish backdrop! The three traditional songs, sung by Angamaly Pranchi, are incredibly natural, more so because of the brass-band orchestration – the approach being similar to composer Balabarathy’s string of gaana songs used to great effect in Thalaivaasal (1992). The soundtrack’s stunning highlight is, of course, the 5-version’ed Do naina (La vettam)! It’s a tantalizingly short, dreamy melody that sounds like something plucked out of Shankar-Jaikishan’s Pyaar hua iqraar hua (Shree 420)! Prashant’s music continues to be delightfully unslottable!

Keywords: Angamaly Diaries, Prashant Pillai

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Gapu gapalli‘s light, frothy sound makes it a breezy listen. In Bettadmele Srinivasu, Midhun starts with faint strains of Sivaji’s Ballelakka and layers a punchy brass-based kuthu, led confidently by Sooraj Santhosh. Ringa ringa‘s cool reggae base is intriguingly paused in that tantalizing interlude, while Vijayprakash is absolutely brilliant in the faux-qawali Weldingu! Midhun closes his innings in the captivating fusion of the Theme. Of Raghavendra Thane’s 3 songs, Kanasina is a gorgeous ballad, with an unnecessary remix, while Full busy is very Arjun Janya’ish, handled brilliantly by Vijay Prakash. Kahi composer Midhun Mukundan shows tremendous promise in Srinivasa Kalyana!

Keywords: Srinivasa Kalyana, Midhun Mukundan, Raghavendra Thane

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Raghu sings the breathless Adda bidde madesaa with a quirky twang amidst racy country music. Nakul Abhyankar lifts the already bouncy, exuberant Sa re ga ma to a new high. Baduke neenentha‘s innate appeal includes Charukesi raaga, Raghu’s deeply resonant orchestration and Kapil Nair’s fantastic singing. Preetiya hesare neenu is an intimate ballad that the composer/singer aces with his voice and guitar! Kaurava theme is high-energy kuthu with Master Vishwas going ballistic! The soundtrack’s weakest—the much hyped title song—is passably and generically catchy. After Kote (2010), Raghu Dixit’s return is in sync with the positive changes sweeping Kannada film music!

Keywords: Raghu Dixit, Happy New Year

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Aashiq surrender hua is a dedicated Bollywoodisation of an infectious, foot-tapping South-Indian kuthu song! Amaal’s second, Roke na ruke, is the complete opposite! The song transcends conventional Dharma pathos templates riding on Arijit’s affecting singing. Akhil Sachdeva’s—Nasha Band’s vocalist making his Bollywood debut—Humsafar is a passable Pakistani-pop knockoff. Tanishk Bagchi closes the soundtrack with 2 appropriations. Uncredited: The title song, from Shankar Jaikishan’s iconic Teesri Kasam number Chalat musafir*! Adequately lively! Credited: Bappi Lahiri’s Mory Kante lift, Tamma tamma! Superbly kitschy, pulsating and inventive remix that retains the original voices for fantastic effect, barring Badshah’s annoying rap! Jolly good Badri!

Keywords: Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya, Amaal Mallik, Tanishk Bagchi, Akhil Sachdeva, Bappi Lahiri

* …which was based on a folk number too, incidentally. That, however, shouldn’t stop any composer from calling the source as ‘Folk’ and call the composition as a recreation.

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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The pulse-pounding Happy New Year sounds like something composed after a night of drunk revelry. Oxygen harks back to Harris-Anand combo! Excellent melody, with intriguing instrumental choices. Mathurangalaam‘s jazz base is interesting, but the mocking-twang makes it odd, sans visuals.
Theeraadha vilayaattu pillai!
Option A, for Bharathiyaar: “I prefer Parthasarathy Temple’s elephant to this!”
Option B: “I’ve always been progressive! This pulsating, genre-bending approach—ending on a lovely folk lilt—is a massively interesting experience!”
Boomerang is typical of the composers, riding on one hook and a repetitive instrumental phrase. K.V.Anand maintains his Harris Jayaraj’esque ratio of good songs with Hiphop Tamizha.

Keywords: Kavan, Hiphop Tamizha

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There’s a whiff of early Rahman in Engapora Dora, particularly in the semi-classical twist with the uncredited female humming and the veena-based, most-probably Senchurutti raaga interlude. Vaazhavudu‘s energetic rhythm keeps it spritely! Plus the keys-led interlude and Sanjana Kalmanje’s vocals… lively stuff! Ra ra ra has that energetic sound too, and here it’s literally breathless, in Anirudh’s vocals and glitzy electronic music pointing to a rather generic Vakulabharanam raaga tune. The 5 themes too are diverse and interesting, and make for great listen! Vadacurry, Pugazh and now Dora – Vivek-Mervin’s are definitely onto something, with a consistency that is noticeable.

Keywords: Dora, Vivek-Mervin

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Yem mela kai vachaa gaali is a menacing kuthu that makes the intent very clear, loaded with cringe-inducing rhyming words. Damelo dumelo is lyricist Vetriselvan spectacular show of assembling the most absurd set of gibberish in one song, in a punchy dance package. Yazin Nizar and Janaki Iyer’s sub-standard vocals compete with Vijay’s grating background music in Kadavul ezhuthum – both win, leaving the listeners to lose. Jagadeesh sounds equally bad in Neeye thaniyaai and Vijay’s pounding, background’ish music doesn’t help either. Sigaram chella is aptly background’ish too. Looks like Vijay Antony’s multi-tasking has taken a toll on his composing.

Keywords: Vijay Antony, Yaman

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Armaan Mallik leads Heegethake confidently, a generic, pleasant faux-sufi melody. The title song treads similar ground – painfully templatized, evoking a classic Laxmikant-Pyarerlal melody. Kolike ranga is Tipu’s show! He holds the calypso-from-Mandya package with his enthusiastic vocals. Ravichandran’s 1985 Naanu Nanna Hendthi number, Yaare neenu gets a remix, featuring Ranjith – lacks the kitschy spunk of the original by Shankar Ganesh, though. The soundtrack’s best is Thera haadu, a wonderfully folk’ish melody that Karthik completely aces! Harikrishna keeps the backgrounds simple, to let the tune work effortlessly. Surprisingly understated and short soundtrack for the introduction of a star son!

Keywords: V.Harikrishna, Saheba, Shankar Ganesh

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Sunday February 12, 2017

Hitman – February 12, 2017

Originally published in The Hindu.

Paarai mele – Sathriyan (Tamil – Yuvan Shankar Raja)
This composer is obsessed with singing his songs himself. He sings terribly too. You thought this is about Himesh Reshammiya? No, this is about Yuvan Shankar Raja. How else does one rationalize Yuvan singing ‘Paarai meLe thooraL poLe…’ or ‘ennai udaithavale’ (instead of ‘udaithavaLe’)? Or him going off key all across the song as if that is by design and done intentionally? The irony of this is the fact that his tunes remain compelling and his orchestration stellar! Paarai mele, for instance, is a great tune, with brilliant strings all over and a dash of his earlier obsession – Celtic sounds!

Mannerless Majnu – Running Shaadi.Com (Hindi – Abhishek-Akshay)
Shruti. Bittu. Band Baaja Baaraat. (Forget the Tamil remake, Aaha Kalyanam, starring Vaani Kapoor and Nani). Imagine Shruti singing about Bittu, momentarily forgetting “Business ka first rule… jiske saath vyapaar karo, usse kabhi na pyar karo”… no, not that mushy Aadhaa ishq, but a more pragmatic song! That song would be Mannerless Majnu! Abhishek-Akshay’s tune is playfully cute, but what truly sets it apart is Sukanya Purkayastha’s zingy vocals. You can’t help but smile when she goes, ‘Pakka namoona hai piya’ and you can’t help shake a leg for the ‘Mil gaya mannerless Majnu’ hook!

Ondu malebillu – Chakravarthy (Kannada – Arjun Janya)
Armaan Mallik seems to be having a Sonu Nigam’ish time in Kannada… he’s getting some amazing songs to croon recently. Arjun Janya handed him the delightful Devare in Hebbuli and in Chakravarthy, Armaan gets Ondu malebillu! The song’s backdrop is very quaint and vaudevillian, the kind Pritam made popular all over again in Barfi. Arjun adds a guitar-led lilt to the already lovely melody, besides accordion all through and particularly fantastic strings in the second interlude! This Arjun-Armaan combination is starting to seem as winsome as the Mano Murthy-Sonu Nigam combination!

Mhaari re mangetar – Maati Baani Ft. Alaa Wardi (Indipop)
Maati Baani is known for funky interpretations of folk tunes. And Alaa Wardi, the Saudi Arabian a cappella artist is known for his catchy a capella YouTube videos. They join forces in Mhaari Re Mangetar, a zany Rajasthani folk’ish song with a lively and quirky video that is Alaa Wardi’s hallmark. The song is infectiously catchy, with a cornucopia of curious instruments like Glove Bagpipe, Carrot Clarinet, Mr Curly Morsing and Bucket played by Linsey Pollak and Thongophone by Zaia Kendall! Alaa Wardi, along with Nirali and Karthik, leads the singing part with panache.

Ravera – Luckunnodu (Telugu – Achu Rajamani)
Achu Rajamani has just one song in Luckunnodu, but he makes that one song count, and how! The song’s base is EDM, but, for obvious reasons, like Indian Chinese food, this is desi-fied EDM. Achu makes some interesting modifications, like adding that Indian percussion as a layer and that makes a big difference. The song’s clear highlight is Lipsika’s singing… she aces the vocals like a diva, alternating between English and Telugu, and relegates Revanth to the prelude and the ending!

Onnurangi‘s frothy melody is Bijibal’s trademark, particularly that complex anupallavi, and of course, the interludes and backgrounds. Lovely listen, thanks also to Vineeth Srinivasan’s fantastic singing. The sweeping melody extends to Paripparakkum kili too, with a thoroughly enjoyable waltz’y backdrop and especially fantastic interludes, besides brilliant vocals by Sangeetha Sreekanth. Bijibal produces a funky kuthu in Leysa aleysa backed by Niranj Suresh’s cool singing, while Puthen sooryan‘s grand symphonic sound and tune—sung by Arun Elat—is mighty impressive. Jaison J. Nair’s lone composition, the deeply melodic and Christian Parudeesayile is singer Soumya’s show! Bijibal starts the year on a great note!

Keywords: Aby, Bijibal, Jaison J. Nair

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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February 2017
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