Saturday December 13, 2014

Milliblog Annual Music round-up 2014

Posted by Karthik

Another year ends. Another annual music round-up! Milliblog’s 7th annual music round-up, to be precise.

A couple of broad changes. I’m not going to make the lists really long (with long lists to please multiple composer fanbases), and restrict myself to top 30 in each of the 5 languages I track music regularly. Except Kannada, where the 2014 output was largely dismal and even getting 20 was a chore (last year was relatively better).

I was speaking to a friend who works in an online entertainment website in the South. I was checking with her about who exactly in their team works on lists like the one I make. She said, with some derision, that it is a collective effort, spearheaded by the music editor. And that they start the list based on 2 parameters – films that did well and its music and music that ‘supposedly’ sold well or was popular in ‘charts’. It seems they pick their shortlist from these sources and then work towards a top 10 list!

I’m not going to blame this trend, though. It is a perfectly valid route to arrive at a list. However, I personally would like to know about opinions of people who track music… and track it consistently. Like following the views of a film critic who reviews films consistently. As against aggregating what the ‘alleged’ popular taste is, basis assorted sources, and then regurgitate that itself back to us! I believe this lacks a personal signature, a perspective… that brings individuality to the list. It’s by no means the only or right way to do lists, but a way that I prefer my interest in lists to be.

As I have mentioned many times, I started Milliblog because I love listening to new music and did not find a consistent and multi-lingual source to sample and know what’s new and worth listening to. From that logic, to be honest, I make these lists for myself. My reviews and monthly lists too are first for my own consumption – I need to make them anyway, for my listening. Extending that reasoning, if others – possibly – benefit from it… why not share it?

So, please do not expect the so-called ‘popular’, ‘chart-buster’ and ‘most-requested’ songs in these lists. They may or may not appear in the following lists. You have tons of other websites for those lists.

As always, the lists here are in order of my preference. I take a lot of time in listening to them and putting my mind in ordering them the way I personally like them – no random lists with no order or alphabetical order. And, the lists are based on music I have reviewed on Milliblog (either as reviews or as part of monthly lists) from December 2013 to early December 2014.

Hindi

In my view, Amit Trivedi, with just one soundtrack (Queen) makes it to the top of the year. It was a well-rounded soundtrack with tremendous variety and the usual Amit style that we have come to love.

While we continue to devalue soundtracks based on how the films perform, this year’s worst casuality of this trend is A R Rahman’s Lekar Hum Deewana Dil, that I completely loved as a full soundtrack, and is something I find even so-called A R Rahman fans diss! Last year’s top composer(s), Sachin-Jigar continued their dream run this year too with excellent music in films like Happy Ending, one song each in Finding Fanny and It’s Entertainment. Vishal-Shekhar made up for the monotony in Happy New Year with 2 sparkling scores in Bang Bang and Hasee Toh Phasee, while Shankar Ehsaan Loy continued their solid form in films like 2 States, Kill Dill and the highly under-rated One By Two that got derailed because of the controversy around music rights and the film’s failure.

I do expect a lot from Pritam in 2015 given his self-imposed break in 2014, and his recent return to composing. He did have a smashing soundtrack in Shaadi Ke Side Effects, though.

The year’s big deliveries, with at least one great song, were by: Ankit Tiwari, Mikey McCleary, Manj Musik, Raghu Dixit, Ram Sampath, Sneha Khanwalkar, Gulraj Singh, Yuvan Shankar Raja, Saurabh Kalsi, Sanjeev Srivastava, Kailash Kher and Raj-Prakash! Barring Ankit, who had music in a hit film, I’d assume the others won’t find much mention in popular lists, but sure deserve to, in my view.

Composer of the year: Amit Trivedi

Top 3 soundtracks
01. Queen (Amit Trivedi)
02. Haider (Vishal Bhardwaj)
03. Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (A R Rahman)

Top 10 Hindi songs of 2014
01. Badra bahaar – Queen (Amit Trivedi)
02. Galliyan – Ek Villain (Ankit Tiwari)
03. Aao na – Haider (Vishal Bhardwaj)
04. Khamma ghani – Happy Ending (Sachin-Jigar)
05. Zehnaseeb – Hasee Toh Phasee (Vishal-Shekhar)
06. Gannu rocks – Sonali Cable (Mikey McCleary)
07. Title song – Bang Bang (Vishal-Shekhar)
08. Maaloom – Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (A R Rahman)
09. Phatakha guddi – Highway (A R Rahman)
10. Shake your bootiya – Finding Fanny (Sachin-Jigar)

The 10 that did not make it!
11. Yahaan wahaan (Reprise) – Shaadi Ke Side Effects (Pritam)
12. Mast magan – 2 States (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
13. Title song – Kill Dil (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
14. Khuda na khasta – One By Two (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
15. Whistle baja – Heropanti (Manj Musik)
16. Taake jhanke – Queen (Amit Trivedi)
17. Johnny Johnny – Entertainment (Sachin-Jigar)
18. Khaamakaan – Bewakoofiyan (Raghu Dixit)
19. Dil aaj kal – Purani Jeans (Ram Sampath)
20. Muskurane – Citylights (Jeet Ganguli)

And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Preet – Khoobsurat (Sneha Khanwalkar)
22. Pakeezah – Ungli (Gulraj Singh)
23. Khalifa – Lekar Hum Deewana Dil (A R Rahman)
24. Tere hoke – Raja Natwarlal (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
25. Tum chal diye – Pizza 3D (Saurabh Kalsi)
26. Khul kabhi – Haider (Hindi – Vishal Bhardwaj)
27. Sulgi hui – Revolver Rani (Sanjeev Srivastava)
28. Arziyaan – Jigariyaa (Raj-Prakash)
29. Albeliya – Desi Kattey (Kailash Kher)
30. Darbadar – Citylights (Jeet Ganguli)

Tamil

2014’s surprise biggie was, easily, Ramesh Vinayagam! He is that kind of Karthik Raja’ish composer who almost everybody, unanimously agrees that he has talent, but is someone who continues to struggle without the right films or prospects. 2014 saw him deliver a whopper in Ramanujan, a soundtrack that nailed both the film’s period and modern sensibility of listeners to make a fantastic blend. In comparison, Rahman’s Kaaviyathalaivan got the latter perfectly right, but completely looked beyond the former, the film’s period.

A very, very close second to Ramesh was Santhosh Narayanan, who was super prolific all through the year with 4 fantastic soundtracks. Given the sheer numbers from him, he totally deserves to the composer of the year, over a 2 film Ramesh Vinayagam, if you add the much ignored Mosakutty that had very good music too.

The year also belonged to Sean Roldan, who delivered consistely across multiple soundtracks, before halting a bit with Aadaama Jeichomada. If I were to identify the best debutant composers of 2014 in Tamil, I’d list Sean Roldan, Vivek-Mervin and Nivas K Prasanna.

Last year’s stars, Ghibran and Imman were in fairly good form this year too, though the latter, despite his prolific output, is showing some signs of fatigue. Ghibran seems to be in his form intact and even delivered a knock-out in Telugu, in Run Raja Run! Other composers who made their mark include: K, Yuvan, Anirudh, Rahul Raj, Madley Blues (Harish Harz and Prashanth Techno), Singer Srinivas and Simon.

Note: If you are wondering why the lists below are missing Ilayaraja and Un Samayal Arayil, that only because I personally prefer the film’s Kannada version songs – for some reason I felt Kannada fits better with the music, compared to Tamil and Telugu and took the liberty of clubbing it in the Kannada list.

Composer of the year: Santhosh Narayanan

Top 3 soundtracks
01. Ramanujan (Ramesh Vinayagam)
02. Cuckoo (Santhosh Narayanan)
03. Thirumanam Enum Nikkah (Ghibran)

Top 10 Tamil songs of 2014
01. Thulithuliyaai – Ramanujan (Ramesh Vinayagam)
02. Manasula soora kaathey – Cuckoo (Santhosh Narayanan)
03. Kannukkul pothivaippen – Thirumanam Enum Nikkah (Ghibran)
04. Naan nee – Madras (Santhosh Narayanan)
05. Endi ippadi – Enakkul Oruvan (Santhosh Narayanan)
06. Kaadhal kanave – Mundasupatti (Sean Roldan)
07. Vinmeen vidhayil – Thegidi (Nivas K Prasanna)
08. Pesadhe – Thirudan Police (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
09. Udhungada sangu – Velaiyilla Pattadhaari (Anirudh)
10. Ovvondrai thirudugirai – Jeeva (D.Imman)

The 10 that did not make it!
11. Enathu ulagil – Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi (Rahul Raj)
12. Nenjukkulla nee – Vadacurry (Vivek-Mervin)
13. Aye Mr.Minor – Kaaviyathalaivan (A R Rahman)
14. Poo avizhum – Enakkul Oruvan (Santhosh Narayanan)
15. Ding Dong – Jigarthanda (Santhosh Narayanan)
16. Yaar ezhudhiayadho – Thegidi (Nivas K Prasanna)
17. Yaarum paarkama – Nerungi Vaa Muthamidathe (Madley Blues)
18. Vinkadantha – Ramanujan (Ramesh Vinayagam)
19. Aagaasatha – Cuckoo (Santhosh Narayanan)
20. Aathadi yenna solla – Mahabalipuram (K)

And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Nenjukkuzhi – Kangaroo (Srinivas)
22. Saridhaana – Amara Kaaviyam (Ghibran)
23. Raasa magaraasa – Mundasupatti (Sean Roldan)
24. Kalla payale – Mosakutty (Ramesh Vinayagam)
25. Enthaara enthaara – Thirumanam Enum Nikkah (Ghibran)
26. Narayana – Ramanujan (Ramesh Vinayagam)
27. Neeyenna periya appatakkara – Yennamo Yedho (D.Imman)
28. Onnuna rendu varun – Aindhaam Thalaimurai Sidha Vaidhiya Sigamani (Simon)
29. Low aana life – Vadacurry (Vivek-Mervin)
30. Tholaivil irukkum – Ennathan Pesuvatho (D.Imman)

Telugu

I do not watch Telugu films and that may show very obviously in the lists below. They are solely based on the music alone and has nothing to do with the actual films. So, it may seem ironic that the top 2 soundtracks in Telugu, in 2014 are by Tamil composers, one making his debut in composing, while the other is making his Telugu debut.

The old world order in Telugu – comprising Keeravani, Devi Sri Prasad and Manisharma – seems to have surely paved way for the new order that has Thaman on the top, followed by Anup Rubens, Achu and Mickey J Meyer. The newbies, spearheaded by Sunny M.R and recent additions like Bheems are surely making great inroads too. Keeravani seems to be only one in the old brigade who still delivers knockouts, but having announced his retirement date (December 8, 2016) in advance, he may not be active for long.

Mickey’s career is seeing a resurgance after the break he took for personal reasons, while I’m also placing my bet on Sunny M.R and Bheems as a duo that cover the spectrum between classy, great music and commercial, masala music. That leaves us with Thaman who is no doubt ruling the roost as far as prestigious, big-budget productions are concerned, but is also showing an oddly Devi Sri Prasad’ish decline in variety. And I’m glad Achu is coming out of his Mohan Babu family stronghold in 2014. He’s the dark horse in Telugu film music in my view and has a lineage to be proud of, being the grandson of Malayalam industry music pioneer B.A.Chidambaranath. That also highlights the interesting point about non-Telugu folks doing so well in Andhra Pradesh and how welcoming the people are there!

Composer of the year: V.Pradeep Kumar

Top 3 soundtracks
01. Maine Pyar Kiya (V.Pradeep Kumar)
02. Run Raja Run (Ghibran)
03. Manam (Anup Rubens)

Top 10 Telugu songs of 2014
01. Shwaase nuvve – Maine Pyar Kiya (V.Pradeep Kumar)
02. Vadhantune – Run Raja Run (Ghibran)
03. Bharatham pattina natyam – Emo Gurram Egaravachu (M.M Keeravani)
04. Kanulanu thake – Manam (Anup Rubens)
05. Yedo – Rowdy Fellow (Sunny M.R and Anil R)
06. Rakaasi – Rabhasa (Thaman)
07. Telipotunna – Dikkulu Choodaku Ramayya (M.M.Keeravani)
08. My dear sweety – Gaddam Gang (Achu)
09. Emiti hadavadi – Oohalu Gusagusalaade (Kalyani Koduri)
10. Sweety – Race Gurram (Thaman)

The 10 that did not make it!
11. Title song – Chakkiligintha (Mickey J Meyer)
12. Nijamga idi nenenaa – Uyyala Jampala (Sunny MR)
13. Kadalakunda – Maine Pyar Kiya (V.Pradeep Kumar)
14. Shanti Om Shanti – Run Raja Run (Ghibran)
15. Aa seetadevi – Rowdy Fellow (Sunny M.R)
16. Padahaarellainaa – Current Theega (Achu)
17. Edhi prema – Manam (Anup Rubens)
18. Rajadhi rajanappa – Run Raja Run (Ghibran)
19. Title song – Ra Ra Krishnayya (Achu)
20. Dhanak dhanak – Ala Ela (Bheems)

And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Uyyalaina jampalaina – Uyyala Jampala (Sunny MR)
22. Adiginde – Maine Pyar Kiya (V.Pradeep Kumar)
23. Chesededo – Mukunda (Mickey J Meyer)
24. Ra ra rowdy – Rowdy Fellow (Sunny M.R)
25. Anthe premanthe – Dikkulu Choodaku Ramayya (M.M.Keeravani)
26. Boochade – Race Gurram (Thaman)
27. Merise merise – Paathshala (Rahul Raj)
28. Kshanam kshanam – Anaamika (M.M.Keeravani)
29. Gulabi – Govindudu Andarivadele (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
30. Nuvvante naaku – Heart Attack (Anup Rubens)

Malayalam

If I were to pick the one language that produced the most consistently best music in 2014, it would easily be Malayalam. The sheer range and inventiveness of Malayalam film music this year was staggeringly good!

Gopi Sundar is just ruling all over Malayalam film music by being in every other film, and, output-wise he does manage to deliver at least a couple of great songs per album. But he has firm competition from many other darn good composers who just are not so prolific to be in so many films.

I have always placed my bet on Job Kurien (back when I heard his debut album with Thaalam) and I’m happy to see he and his former bandmate (Yakzan) producing great soundtracks in Malayalam, as independent composers. I have no idea if Mohanlal’s Rasam released or not and I do not care either. What matters to me is that Job made his debut in this film and produced a fantastic soundtrack. Yakzan debuted too this year, along with Neha S Nair, as a duo, though he had composed earlier for 5 Sundarikal. His album too is (Iyobinte Pusthakam) assured and solid!

And then there are so many other really promising and talented composers in the state – Rahul Raj, Bijibal, Rex Vijayan, Shaan Rahman, Deepak Dev and Mejo Joseph!

Malayalam also has been consistently bucking the trend of full-fledged soundtracks, and looking at 2-3 songs on average as against 5-6 or more. That makes it both difficult and unfair to rank or list soundtracks given that other language industries are still sticking to full-fledged soundtrack sizes. But I’m increasingly leaning towards the reduction in the size of soundtracks being one possible reason for the relativelt better quality music in Malayalam films.

Composer of the year: Gopi Sundar

Top 3 soundtracks
01. Bangalore Days (Gopi Sundar)
02. Iyobinte Pusthakam (Neha S Nair & Yakzan Gary Pereira)
03. Rasam (Job Kurien)

Top 10 Malayalam songs of 2014
01. Kannadi vaathil – London Bridge (Rahul Raj)
02. Pakalinu veyil – One By Two (Gopi Sundar)
03. Maayamo – Rasam (Job Kurien)
04. Mazhanila – Vikramadithyan (Bijibal)
05. Aethu kari raavilum – Bangalore Days (Gopi Sundar)
06. Raave – Iyobinte Pusthakam (Neha S Nair & Yakzan Gary Pereira)
07. Omana komala – Oru Indian Pranayakatha (Vidyasagar)
08. Thaane pookkum – Sapthamashree Thaskaraha (Rex Vijayan)
09. Kattu mooliyo – Ohm Shanti Oshaana (Shaan Rahman)
10. Ee pooveyilil – Pakida (Bijibal)

[Maayamo from Rasam is not available on YouTube. I have added a snapshot of the song Job sung for MusicMojo]

The 10 that did not make it!
11. Maane – Iyobinte Pusthakam (Neha S Nair & Yakzan Gary Pereira)
12. Thalavettam – 1983 (Gopi Sundar)
13. Aaro aaro – Ring Master (Gopi Sundar)
14. Enthu cheiyyan – Peruchazhi (Arrora)
15. Maangalyam – Bangalore Days (Gopi Sundar)
16. Sadapalaya – Mr.Fraud (Gopi Sundar)
17. Ee mizhikalin – Ormayundo Ee Mukham (Shaan Rahman)
18. Megham – Vikramadithyan (Bijibal)
19. Sarasa sarasaro – Rasam (Job Kurien)
20. Oru mozhi – Law Point (Mejo Joseph)

[There are only 9 songs in this playlist since Rasam is not available on YouTube. Please listen to Rasam’s songs from Saavn]

And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Konji konji – Avatharam (Deepak Dev)
22. Daffodil poove – Manglish (Gopi Sundar)
23. Manassin thinkale – Vikramadithyan (Bijibal)
24. Po mone dinesha – Peruchazhi (Arrora)
25. Veyilpoyal – Bhaiyya Bhaiyya (Vidyasagar)
26. Mutholam azhakilu – Namaste Bali Island (Gopi Sundar)
27. Olakkam – 1983 (Gopi Sundar)
28. Nee thanna – Happy Journey (Gopi Sundar)
29. Ulla ulla – Manglish (Gopi Sundar)
30. Nenjilaara – Bhaiyya Bhaiyya (Vidyasagar)

Kannada

Much like Gopi Sundar’s rule in Malayalam, Arjun Janya rules in Kannada film music. He seems to be composer of every other film and like Thaman’s rule in Telugu, the numbers game seems to be catching up with him.

Ajaneesh Loknath produced the best soundtrack in Kannada this year, though. His music in Ulidhavaru Kandante was brilliant, with a vibrant range! Ilayaraja’s Oggranne is something I’m adding under Kannada since I liked the trilingual’s Kannada version of songs the most.

Manikanth Kadri seems on and off in Kannada but did manage to impress with Savaari 2 this year, while V.Harikrishna seems to be the only composer offering some resistance to Arjun’s well-deserved domination. He had a good run with Fair & Lovely and Bahaddur.

But the overall quality of music in Kannada considerably lags behind the other 4 languages I track. I guess that may also be a function of the kind of directors playing in the field – if all they want to do is commercial masala flicks with the blessings of one or more souls from Rajkumar family, chances are nothing will progress. I do hope a younger brigade comes out in Kannada filmdom with fresher ideas and smaller films that make a difference. This trend did show some start in 2014, but needs a bigger wave to be identified properly.

Composer of the year: Arjun Janya

Top 3 soundtracks
01. Ulidhavaru Kandante (Ajaneesh Loknath)
02. —
03. —

Top 10 Kannada songs of 2014
01. Gaatiya ilidu – Ulidhavaru Kandante (Ajaneesh Loknath)
02. Ninna danigaagi – Savaari 2 (Manikanth Kadri)
03. Manadi belagaayite – Oggranne (Ilayaraja)
04. Haage ondhu – Fair & Lovely (V.Harikrishna)
05. Dance Raja dance – Super Ranga (Arjun Janya)
06. Aaramagiri – Bahaddur (V.Harikrishna)
07. Ello nan dove – Dove (Arjun Janya)
08. Phonu illa – Adhyaksha (Arjun Janya)
09. Maamu maamu – Maanikya (Arjun Janya)
10. Naanu righta – Tirupathi Express (Arjun Janya)

The 10 that did not make it!
11. Kaichachu – Darling (Arjun Janya)
12. Kaakig banna – Ulidhavaru Kandante (Ajaneesh Loknath)
13. Gaaliya maatali – Oggranne (Ilayaraja)
14. Simple aagidde – Savaari 2 (Manikanth Kadri)
15. Anirikshita – Fair & Lovely (V.Harikrishna)
16. Open hariu – Adhyaksha (Arjun Janya)
17. Heegu irabahude – Dove (Arjun Janya)
18. Nee jothe iru – Endendu Ninagagi (V.Harikrishna)
19. Usire usire – Tirupathi Express (Arjun Janya)
20. Chombu chombu – Super Ranga (Arjun Janya)

Indipop

A fairly muted year in Indipop, unlike last year where Raghu Dixit’s Jag Changa and Sandeep Chowta’s Matters of the Heart hit it big time. Mikey McCleary was the winner, though, with not one, but 2 great albums!

Mekaal Hasan Band’s long-awaited return, with a new vocalist no less, delivered what one expected from them. Rahman had a pretty good Raunaq too, but given that I’m limiting the list to 3 albums alone, I’m dropping that one.

01. The Bartender – Classic Bollywood With A Twist (Mikey McCleary)
02. TV Dinners (Mikey McCleary)
03. Andholan (Mekaal Hasan Band)

International/English

The three albums that I listened to a lot in this year! This is clearly not my forte and I’m super choosy, given my wildly inconsistent taste in genres.

01. GIRL (Pharrell Williams)
02. The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale (Eric Clapton & Friends)
03. Faya (Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate)

Others

Other Indian language soundtracks and songs that I cannot place under any other list, but think they deserve a listen!

Tere layi – Mr and Mrs 420 (Punjabi – Jassi Katyal)
Aisi mori – Postcard (Marathi – Gandhaar Sangoram)
Jis tan nu lagdi aye – Jatt James Bond (Punjabi – Mukhtar Sahota)
Lattoo – Disco Singh (Punjabi – Jatinder Shah)
Jeev bhulala, Nava tarana & Mauli mauli – Lai Bhaari (Marathi, Ajay-Atul)
Hariye thikana & Anka banka – Buno Haansh (Bengali, Shantanu Moitra)
Channo, Soudha laun nu & Rangrut – Punjab 1984 (Punjabi, Nick Dhammu, Jatinder Shah and Gurmeet Singh)
Rakkhad – Bey Yaar (Gujarati – Sachin-Jigar)

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