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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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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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Sunday February 5, 2017

Hitman – February 5, 2017

Originally published in The Hindu.

Idho thaanaagave – Adhe Kangal (Tamil – Ghibran)
Take Jeff Beck. Yeah, the guitarist from Bon Jovi. Take his guitar away from him and give him a sitar. Yes, a sitar. Now, ask him to play snatches from Bon Jovi’s song ‘Blaze of Glory’. Ghibran pulls off something akin to the result of that bizarre experiment in ‘Idho Thaanaagave’ and it works wonderfully. The bigger surprise from Ghibran is how he recreates the same tune in English too, as ‘I Have Nothing’, with a fantastic, incredibly catchy R&B package and stellar vocals by Addie Nicole. They don’t sound similar on a casual listen, but listen carefully, it’s the same.

Arere yekkade – Nenu Local (Telugu – Devi Sr Prasad)
Despite being offered prime projects like Khaidi No.150 , Devi Sri Prasad has, lately, been in a rut. His music has become repetitive and derivative, and his stock of hooks and instrumental regurgitations have reached a peak. Given this background, it is pleasantly surprising to find a song like ‘Arere Yekkada’. The melody, most possibly set to Abheri raaga, is highly engaging. Devi adds a neat rhythm with beautiful snatches of violin and flute—that are accentuated in the interludes—sung fabulously by Naresh Iyer andManisha Eerabathini.

Thili prema – Urvi (Kannada – Manoj George)
The Kannada film music scene is going through a long overdue transformation of sorts. Ajaneesh Loknath, Raghu Dixit, Judah Sandhy, Charan Raj, Vasuki Vaibhav, Dheerendra Doss… the list of promising new composers goes on. Violinist Manoj George made his film debut back in 2008, with Athmiya… and the time is right for him to make a comeback. Urvi’ s breeziest and most melodious is ‘Thili Prema’, set to what sounds like raaga Kalyani. It’s a wonderfully warm melody, beautifully sung by composer Charan Raj and Madhushree. Manoj offers another, guitar-based version of the song that sees Madhushree going even more evocative with the tune.

Udi udi jaye – Raees (Hindi – Ram Sampath)
Back in 2013, Ram produced an excellent set for Coke Studio India (MTV, Season 3, Episode 2). The mix of folk musical idioms fused with a decidedly more modern sound was particularly alluring in that set. Ram produces something similar in ‘Udi Udi Jaye’, with a lively, lilting folkish rhythm (Nitish Ranadive’s live percussions) as the base. Tapas Roy’s mandolin and charango make their presence felt too, while Sukhwinder Singh and Bhoomi Trivedi are at their usual, ebullient best.

Penne penne – Basheerinte Premalekhanam (Malayalam – Vishnu Mohan Sithara)
Well-known Malayalam composer Mohan Sithara’s son, Vishnu, has had a tentative start with composing in Malayalam. His last was Kumbasaram , back in 2015. The young composer seems to be getting his mojo back, with Basheerinte Premalekhanam . He sings ‘Penne Penne’ himself very confidently, and does even better with the gorgeous quasi-sufi tune and the ghatam-guitar mix. The orchestration is rich and evocative, while the high-pitched ‘Kanne’ hook is addictive.

Single Saavn playlist for 44 of the songs below (except the 2 Indipop songs that aren’t available on Saavn):
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Hindi

Mannerless Majnu, Kuch to hai and Main faraar sa – Running Shaadi.Com (Abhishek-Akshay, Anupam Roy, Anjana Ankur Singh and Sandeep Madhavan)
Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 5.01.36 PM

Laila, Enu naam che Raees, Udi udi jaye, Ghammar and Zaalima – Raees (Ram Sampath and JAM8)

Bloody hell, Mere miyan gaye England, Tippa and Yeh ishq hai – Rangoon (Vishal Bhardwaj)

Saajan aayo re and Sunn bhavara – OK Jaanu (A R Rahman)

Tamil

Idho thaanaagave, I Have Nothing, Ponapokkil and Thandiraa – Adhe Kangal (Ghibran)

Engeyo pogum and Kanna katti – Kaalakoothu (Justin Prabhakaran)

Yaaro ucchikilai meley – Taramani (Yuvan Shankar Raja)

Kannadi poovukku – Enakku Vaaitha Adimaigal (Santhosh Dayanidhi)

Telugu

Padhe Padhe and Netthimedha Pettukunta – Gunturodu (DJ Vasanth)
DJ Vasanth made some interesting music in last year’s Speedunnodu. For another ‘odu—Gunturodu—he follows up with equally listenable music. The picks of the album are courtesy Yazin Nizar – Padhe padhe is a breezy number that sounds like hundreds of other Telugu songs, but still has that X factor. Vasanth adds more personality in Netthimedha Pettukunta, with a punchy hook.

What da F and Ravera – Luckunnodu (Praveen Lakkaraju and Achu Rajamani)
Adnan Sami rocks What da F ra! The tune is regular Telugu masala, but Adnan’s twang makes all the difference. Achu owns the other song, Ravera, along with Lipsika’s vocals. The groovy song sees Achu layer it with a dash of Indian percussion in what it otherwise desi-fied EDM.

Disturb chestha ninnu and Arere yekkade – Nenu Local (Devi Sri Prasad)

Ekimeeda – Gautamiputra Satakarni (Chirantan Bhatt)

Malayalam

Penne penne – Basheerinte Premalekhanam (Vishnu Mohan Sithara)

Kannada

Muddu hudugi and Baa neene nodu – Naanu Nammudgi Kharchgond Mafia (Vikram Varman)
Muddu hudugi can easily be mistaken as a Harris Jayaraj song… in a good way, that is! Composer Vikram Varman pulled off something very similar sounding in his Tamil debut Ariyaan, back in 2009, though his next, in 2014 (Manam Konda Kaadhal) was a non-starter. Looks like he’s back, but in Kannada. In Baa neene nodu, Vikram Varman is even more impressive – he concocts a wonderfully interesting rock melody, punctuated with splendid strings for the interlude. The song’s highlight is, of course, Ananya Bhat’s singing!

Jigidante jeeva – Naane Next CM (Arjun Janya)
This is Arjun channeling his inner Mani Sharma! So very Telugu and very listenable too!

Ondu malebillu and Matthe maleyagide – Chakravarthy (Arjun Janya)

Devare and Yennenu soda – Hebbuli (Arjun Janya)

Thaliru thoranadi – Lee (Anand Rajavikraman)

Saddillade – Kaal Kg Preethi (Chetan Sosca)

Adhara madhura, Thili prema and Kanna hani – Urvi (Manoj George)

Ondondsari and Kannane kannane – Srikanta (Ajaneesh Loknath)

Indipop

Panchiyaa – Dewarists Season 5 (Amit Trivedi & V Selvaganesh)

Mhaari Re Mangetar – Maati Baani Ft. Alaa Wardi

Sooda oru sooriyan has a heady percussion to go for it and the hook is catchy too, but it doesn’t press further. Paarai mele is that kind of song which deserved a better singer, one who can differentiate between ‘l’ and ‘L’ in Tamil, and can sing in tune, unlike Yuvan. His tune is fantastic, however, with phenomenal strings usage and a dash of his earlier obsession – Celtic sounds. Maina rendu‘s charukesi raaga ambition keeps it engaging beyond the background’ish feel, while the Theme is a fantastic, grand listen. Yuvan’s obsession with bad singing is reaching Himesh Reshammiya’ish proportions.

Keywords: Sathriyan, Yuvan Shankar Raja

Listen to the songs on Saavn:
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Listen to the songs on YouTube:

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