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Sunday October 28, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – OCT28.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 45:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
26 songs this week. Apple Music and Saavn have 24, and are missing Panimathiye from Vallikudilile Vellakkaran and Kala Shah Kala from Jindari, both of which, the music labels have made available only on YouTube. YouTube is missing the full version of Thugs of Hindostan’s Suraiyya, Manwa and Jangama from Swarathma’s Raah E Fakira and Fopchu’s Chapel O Fopalop.

A note on the songs in the playlist.

Suraiyya (Thugs Of Hindostan, Hindi): The song’s obvious appeal is the fact that Katrina Kaif’s hips get out of her body, heads to the neighboring city for a vacation and sends her a postcard from there, all courtesy Prabhudeva. But Ajay-Atul do a phenomenal job too, offering a flamboyant tune and sound package, aced by Vishal Dadlani and Shreya Ghoshal. This is a much better song than the first, Vashmalle, that was rather generic.

Yaaradiyo (Gorilla, Tamil): That’s quite an unusual name for a Tamil film! The song is great, though. Sam hands over a tune to Sid Sriram that make him sound a bit different than his usual range. And that Sam writes many of his songs himself (package deal?) continues to be an interesting trend.

Maate Vinadhuga (Taxiwaala, Telugu): Jakes Bejoy makes his Telugu debut rather soon after starting out in Malayalam and moving to Tamil. Impressive melody featuring the current blue-eyed singer of Telugu film industry after the massive success of Inkem Inkem. Really catchy ‘Maate Vinadhuga’ hook, though Sid sounds his usual self, lending the tune a generous familiarity. Comforting familiarity, though.

Karavali Song (Sarkari Hi. Pra. Shaale, Kasaragodu, Kannada): This is one of the 4 extra songs released from the film. The prominent celtic-sounding phrase, the inclusion of Chemmeen’s Kadalinakkare Ponore and the excellent kids chorus keep this song on a spritely note.

The entire album (Folk Fusion, Kannada): This is a fantastic effort by Lahari Music. They get DJ Yash Gowda to create ambient, brilliantly recreated versions of familiar Kannada folk songs and the result is absolutely delightful. The modern orchestration and catchy sound accentuate the simpler, earthy sound of the folk melodies manifold and present it in a brilliant new avatar. Excellent line-up of singers as well, from Ananya Bhat, Vijay Prakash, Raghu Dixit, among others.

Ente Maathram (Johny Johny Yes Appa, Malayalam): The kind of melody that one has to come predictably expect from Shaan Rahman. Sachin Warrier’s fantastic solo vocals lift it further. Sumesh Parameshwar’s guitars stand out, as always!

Panimathiye (Vallikudilile Vellakkaran, Malayalam): Deepak Dev, who has been missing in action since last year’s Masterpiece (was hardly one), strikes back with a confident 4-song soundtrack here. The one I liked the most is Panimathiye, that singer Meenakshi aces! Deepak’s gentle and likeable melody gets a lovely pop ballad sound.

Jau De Na Va (Naal, Marathi): Composer AV Prafullachandra’s music demonstrates an almost Ajay-Atul style nuance and complexity in the arrangements. Sung by Jayas Kumar of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Li’l Champs fame (supported by Rugved Kulkarni & Rucha Kulkarni), this is a thoroughly joyous song to listen to!

Kala Shah Kala (Jindari, Punjabi): While Gurmeet Singh’s tune is a pleasant throwback to a different era of simpler, earthy music, the song’s clear highlight is Mannat Noor’s vocals. How is she not in Bollywood yet, I wonder!

Manwa and Jangama (Raah E Fakira, Indipop): A surprisingly tepid affair from Swarathma. The tunes are consistently ennui-inducing and very similar to each other. However, besides the title song, Manwa works, with its excellent guitar and violin mix on top of the Euphoria’ish tune. It’s also a bit disappointing that the band doesn’t have more Kannada songs given how good the sole Kannada song, Jangama, is!

Pachondhi (Ranjit Govind, Indipop): A delightful heart-break & letting-go song from the point of view of the woman! Very catchy (music by Ranjit Govind) and aptly colloquial lyrics (uncredited). The lead in the video, Nisha, is very good too!

Waste It On Me (Steve Aoki featuring BTS): The Korean boy-band’s first English track (entirely in English)! Catchy EDM with that horn-like sound making an easy earworm!

Rhythm in My Blood (Icona Pop): Good old Swedish dance-pop! Simple, smooth and very catchy. The ‘Feel the rhythm in my blood’ stays long after the song is over.

Easy, Only Ticket Home, Start Again, Glow, Faces & Hearts On Fire (Only Ticket Home, Gavin James): I haven’t heard Gavin’s debut album, Bitter Pill. Many songs in his second album, Only Ticket Home reminded me of both Robbie Williams’s (ex-Take That) and Rob Thomas’s music (Matchbox Twenty). But the tunes are also like a mix of Coldplay, with consistently anthemic hooks (in songs like Always)!

Chapel O Fopalop (Fopchu, feat. Father G-Cuz): This is one heck of a genre shifter! Delhi-based Fopchu produces a bizarre, jazzy and funky mix that is hard to appreciate immediately, but also hard to ignore 🙂

Season 11 of Coke Studio Pakistan was rather middling and disappointing. It was telling that the 5-episode music travelogue, Coke Studio Explorer, that acted as a prelude to the new season was actually more consistent in quality than the actual season itself. So, I’ve added songs from Coke Studio Explorer too to arrive at my favorite 10 from this year’s season.

It was particularly annoying that the music from Coke Studio Pakistan season 11 was not available on the popular streaming platforms like Apple Music or Saavn. They were exclusively available on YouTube and Vimeo, besides SoundCloud and Patari Music. My top is available as playlists on YouTube and SoundCloud (at the end of this post).

Also, minor quibble – I *really* hated the prelude tune that starts each song on YouTube. Considerably more annoying than any other season’s prelude (which used to be a simple voice-over announcing the season number).

01. Malang: An incredibly ebullient re-imagination of a classic folk song! The singing, by Sahir Ali Bagga and Aima Baig, really lifts the song, as also the splendid music by the house band. The rousing hook, ‘Mahi mera sona sona’ (which used to be ‘Tauba tauba’ in the original folk variants), stays long after the song is over. Here are some of the other, older versions: Sindhi | Pashto

02. Pareek (Coke Studio Explorer): This is from the prelude to the new season of Coke Studio Pakistan, called Coke Studio Explorer! It’s a 5-episode music travelogue where producers Zohaib Kazi and Noori’s Ali Hamza travel to different parts of Pakistan and discover folk music and singers. Pareek, the first song (meaning Let’s Go), is a folk love song that gets a superb electronic backing, in line with Zohaib’s musical sensibilities.

03. Aatish: The banter between Shuja and Aima is the song’s easy highlight. Shuja’s tune places his own part as the softer one in the equation, musically, handing over the more flamboyant and higher notes to Aima… who does a fantastic job!

04. Faqeera (Coke Studio Explorer): Faqeera, featuring the voices of brother-sister duo of Shamu Bai and Vishnu is almost Rajasthani in sound and feel, given its Sindhi folk origin. Absolutely mesmerizing tune, and equally fantastic orchestration that accentuates the folk tune with its electronic sounds, benjo chords and dholak rhythm.

05. Naseebaya (Coke Studio Explorer): Naseebaya, is of Baloch traditional folk origin. The dambora, played by Darehan and Shayan, layered over Mangal’s almost prayer-like tune, creates a hypnotic effect. Add to it the show producers’ electronic sounds – a fantastic fusion!

06. Rasha Mama (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11 Episode 2): The best of the 4-song set from episode 2. The song starts with Zarsanga’s, The Queen Of Pashtun Folklore, wonderfully earthy solo. Working on a traditional composition by Ustad Gul Zaman, Khumariyaan, the Pashto music band builds a fantastic new-age sound led by superb synth riff along with Gul Panra’s delightful rendition.

07. Hum Dekhenge (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11): After the Explorer series, this is a goosebumps-inducing introduction to the new season! Hum Dekhenge is a protest song, composed by Professor Asrar and made popular by Iqbal Bano’s rendition against General Zia ul-Haq’s military regime and its Islamicisation, in 1985. The song was written by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a poet who was banned under the Zia ul-Haq regime. Using this song to launch the new season, amidst the general elections in Pakistan, is an intriguingly topical decision! The song, produced by this season’s leads, Zohaib Kazi and Ali Hamza, has a sprawling 70 singers, including the transgender duo Lucky and Naghma, who add to the inclusivity-mantra with ‘Joh mein bhi hoon, woh tum bhi ho’.

08. Jind Mahiya (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11, Episode 7): Shuja Haider’s Habibi-spouting Middle Eastern melody has a lovely groove that is very appealing. His singing adds to that effortlessly.

09. Ko Ko Korina (Coke Studio Season 11, Episode 9): Ahad Raza Mir and Momina Mustehsan offer a swinging throwback to the past with Ko Ko Korina. In my view, this is a fantastic cover of the original, beloved Pakistani film song from Armaan (1966), composed by Sohail Rana.

10. Apna Gham (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11, Episode 8): A frothy pop melody that, for some reason, sounded more like a Tamil film song to me, in its structure! Bilal’s composition is easy on the ear, and the singing, by Bilal and Mishal Khawaja, props the song very well.

Playlists on YouTube | SoundCloud

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Saturday October 20, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – OCT21.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 44:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
19 songs, this week, after a break! The good news is that YouTube has all 19 songs! Saavn and Apple Music have 12 each – they are missing the 4 songs from Coke Studio Pakistan, the 2 from Baazaar (Times Music needs to up its game) and the one song from the Malayalam film Drama (Satyam Audios was anyway always terrible with streaming platforms).

A note on the songs in the playlist.

Polaroid (Jonas Blue, Liam Payne, Lennon Stella): Guy James Robin, better known by his stage name Jonas Blue, has been scoring a lot of good collaborations recently – I See Love, from Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation featuring Joe Jonas and Rise, featuring Jack & Jack, to name just two. This new song, featuring Liam Payne and Lennon Stella, is instantly catchy and upbeat!

Saayaali (Adanga Maru, Tamil): Sam’s energetic melody and the singers (Sathya Prakash and Chinmayi) help this song immensely. Interesting to see Sam writing a lot of his songs himself, offering a package deal of music and lyrics! The ‘Kan ketkum kanaa
Nenjukul vinaa’ lines that end suddenly with a short word match nicely with its anupallavi equivalents, ‘Thevaigal ver illai, Naangalum vazhnthida’; ‘Anbinil vazhgirom…’.

Kodi Mangani (Party, Tamil): The song is an oh-so-obvious attempt to recreate the Ilayaraja of the 80s and Premgi Amaren succeeds largely in that attempt. The lyrics (by Gangai Amaren) hint at the 80s style nudge-wink sexuality with the ‘kani’ rhyme. The music, background and interludes, offer a spectacular recreation of what we now know as Raja-style! While S.P.Balasubrahmanyam sounds his usual fantastic self, oddly Chithra sounds a bit out of place.

Ayya (Seethakaathi, Tamil): Govind Vasantha suddenly seems unstoppable! After 96, here’s an incredibly promising song from Seethakaathi! The lyrics by Thiagarajan Kumararaja, in pure Tamil, are goose-bumps inducing, while Vijay Prakash’s vocals are, as usual, fantastic! The overlaying of ‘Aadhavanai Kaiyaal Maraippaan Evan’ chorus with the ‘Ayya’ call-out, in particular, is phenomenal.

En Mizhi Poovil (Dakini, Malayalam): Rahul Raj, who produced some good tunes for B.Tech and Hey Jude earlier this year, is back. En Mizhi is early-Rahman style, with an expansive musical backdrop and riding on the singers (Harishankar K.S. and Amrita Jayakumar) talent. Harishankar, in particular, is very good!

Mulla (Job Kurian, Malayalam): An ode to the good old jasmine! Job’s new song from his Hope Project is a pleasant and highly tuneful song that is right up his alley, and that includes his fantastic singing.

Pandaarand (Drama, Malayalam): Mohanlal puts his limited singing skills to fairly good use in Pandaarand, backed by Vinu Thomas’ simple, hummable tune. The singing skids off at places, but the music, along with Vivekanandan’s violin in the first interlude, keeps things likeable.

Peddha Peddha Kallathoti (Hello Guru Prema Kosame, Telugu): The one song that worked for me in Devi’s new soundtrack. Yazin Nizar’s charming vocals and Devi’s breezy tune work in perfect unison.

Undiporaadhey (Hushaaru, Telugu): Radhan’s tune is getting as predictable as Sid Sriram’s singing, but the song has charm, undoubtedly.

Title song (Savyasachi, Telugu): MM Keeravaani’s tune and background are straight out of his Baahubali repertoire, though it seems awkward that all that power and force in the music (and in the chorus featuring 15 singers) no less will be used on a mortal hero playing superhero, unlike the mythical valour of Baahubali that somehow made it fitting.

Mirza Ve (Marudhar Express, Hindi): Jeet Gannguli’s melody shines with the jaunty rhythm and the nice tune handled very well by Sonu Nigam. Asees Kaur’s other version is a nice contrast, with its understated rhythms and tone.

Kem Cho & Adhura Lafz (Baazaar, Hindi): Gujarati is the flavor of the season, with so many songs coming in recent times in Hindi films (Love Yatri, Mitron etc.). Kem Cho, sung by Ikka and Jyotica Tangri and composed by Tanishk Bagchi, is right up Tanishk’s alley. It’s catchy, with a funky and corny hook. Adhura Lafz, composed by Sohail Sen, is straight out of the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy playbook! It’s sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan (along with Pratibha Singh Baghel), to add to that effect.

Nirmohiya (Nihira ft. Rhythm Shaw, Indipop): The composition, a beautifully flowing melody by Nihira Joshi-Deshpande seems perfect for her wonderful singing, getting all the nuances right. Rhythm Shaw’s acoustic guitar, being the core background instrument, works like a parallel voice, enhancing the song.

Jind Mahiya (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11, Episode 7): Shuja Haider’s Habibi-spouting Middle Eastern melody has a lovely groove that is very appealing. His singing adds to that effortlessly.

Apna Gham (Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 11, Episode 8): A frothy pop melody that, for some reason, sounded more like a Tamil film song to me, in its structure! Bilal’s composition is easy on the ear, and the singing, by Bilal and Mishal Khawaja, props the song very well.

Ko Ko Korina & Dildar Sadqay (Coke Studio Season 11, Episode 9): Ahad Raza Mir and Momina Mustehsan offer a swinging throwback to the past with Ko Ko Korina. It’s quite unlike any other song in Coke Studio Pakistan this year and more like a classic 60s Indian film song where this genre was used quite often. In Dildar Sadqay, composed by Jawad Ahmad, and sung by himself and debutant Elizabeth Rai, I was particularly impressed with the backing vocals/chorus, featuring Mehr Qadir, Shahab Hussain, Wajiha Naqvi. The song is catchy Punjabi pop, but the backing vocals, with its lively support, made the song all the more enjoyable!

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Remixes in Hindi film music rake up mega numbers online. They are also much derided and have people wondering which favorite of theirs will be remixed next, with fear. So do remixes have a point? Read the post on Filmcompanion.

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Friday October 5, 2018

Milliblog Weeklies – OCT07.2018

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist. Week 43:
On Apple Music | On Saavn | On YouTube
47 songs this week. And Saavn has 44 of them and is missing the Coke Studio song, Mandharam’s Pulari Mazhakal in Malayalam and Villain’s Shundori Komola in Bengali! Apple Music is missing the Coke Studio song as well, besides all the 3 songs in Kannada and Swarathma’s new song.

A note on the songs in the playlist.

Kya Kahoon Jaaneman (Namaste England): The 2nd song from Mannan Shah in this soundtrack that worked for me! Much credit to Shashaa Tirupati for that, though Mannan’s showy and seductive melody works its charm too!

Yaadon Ki Almari, Khoya Ujaala & Dooba Dooba (Helicopter Eela, Hindi): See the full review here:

Kaarkuzhal Kadavaiye, Ennadi Maayaavi Nee, Maadila Nikkura Maankutty & Goindhammavaala (VadaChennai, Tamil): See the full review here:

Top Tucker, CEO In The House & Oru Viral Puratchi (Sarkar, Tamil): See the full review here:

Hey Piriyame Piriyame (Ratsasan, Tamil): Ghibran’s multi-layered orchestration is intact, but it is the tune that really sounds interesting in Hey Piriyame. It goes in unusual directions with the ‘Perai Cholli’ hook! The anupallavi is particularly tuneful, though Anupdeep Dev’s Tamil seems odd at places.

Swapnam Sargam (Padayottam, Malayalam): A delightfully harmonious and captivating Muslim wedding song from Prashant Pillai. Hesham Abdul Wahab’s lead vocals goes perfectly with the tune, with great support from Shabeer Ali & Preeti Pillai. The single-take video (something Prashant Pillai & director Lijo seem to be associated with fairly often; remember Pampara Pa Pa from Amen?) is worth a watch too!

Pulari Mazhakal (Mandharam, Malayalam): See the full review here:

Yeththara Yeththara & Raja Raja Kula (NOTA, Telugu): See the full review here:

Na Na Na (Hushaaru, Telugu): Radhan’s tune is simple, with a reggae-ish rhythm, but Bobo Shashi’s energetic singing makes it work! And that catchy hook! Bobo Shashi seems to be in news these days, with this song and his own soundtrack for Jarugandi in Tamil.

Suriyo Kaneera (The Terrorist, Kannada): A fantastic companion piece to Swapnam Swargam, but in Kannada! Composer Pradeep Varma’s tune seems to allude to Prashanth’s tune in terms of the song’s genre, and Ananya Bhat’s singing is very good!

Siri Siri Minuguva (Puta 109, Kannada): There is an old-world’ish charm in R.S.Ganesh Narayanan’s tune. The melody takes on Raja’ish and also Vidyasagar-style turns in the anupallavi! Very listenable melody!

Kuttu Kuttu (Viictory 2, Kannada): The Sharan-Arjun Janya combo strikes yet again! The tune is language-agnostic kuthu with a racy rhythm that could soon be heard in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam too, if not Hindi 🙂

Shundori Komola (Villain, Bengali): Subhadeep Mitra For JAM8 recreates a familiar and well-known traditional song (that got national fame with Ram Sampath’s version in Coke Studio India 2013) into a winsome festive melody. Antara Mitra and Armaan Malik are particularly good handling the ebullient song.

Mayitta Mayile (Ashwin Vinayagamoorthy, ft. Kausthub Ravi): Composer Ashwin Vinayagamoorthy, who was impressive in Yaadhumaagi Nindraai, offers a delectable melody here! Basanth Muralikrishnan sax is as significant as Kausthub Ravi’s vocals in the captivating song.

Raah E Fakira (Swarathma, Indipop): The new single from Swarathma! The guitar is, as always, fantastic, though I’d have loved for the lead vocals to be a bit better than what it is (particularly as it progresses). Very good song, though.

Ilallah (Sounds of Kolachi, Coke Studio Season 11, Episode 6): Sounds of Kolachi makes the Coke Studio debut finally! The tune is almost like a hymn, while Gul Muhammad’s sarangi and Waqas Hussain’s sarangi easily stand out alongside Ahsan Bari’s lead vocals. The percussion was reminiscent of Rahman’s Dil Se number, Ai Ajnabi!

Ludo (Tony Kakkar ft. Young Desi): Why should J.Balvin and Lois Fonsi exploit Latino sounds to get worldwide success? Here’s our own Tony Kakkar making a successful mishmash of Latino and Punjabi! It works effortlessly 🙂

Maayera (Raghav, Hindi): Raghav (Mathur, not Sachar) has been a fairly consistent face in Indian pop music. His new single is a great showcase of his tune making skills and singing! The melody is superb, seeped in a raaga, gets brilliant support in terms of the breezy orchestration.

Bigger, Gun & Last Dance (Hyperion, St.Lucia): St.Lucia’s 3rd album is a great listen overall and producer Rob Kirwan who has worked with U2 and Depeche Mode, and St.Lucia’s own earlier album (Matter) manages to infuse a diverse range of influences all through. The result is great dance-pop… very listenable.

Moves (Olly Murs featuring Snoop Dogg): Easy-on-the-ear and very catchy, though it reminded me of Calvin Harris’ Feels, for some reason. That’s not a bad thing, though, given how insanely good that song is.

Está Rico (Marc Anthony, Bad Bunny, Will Smith): The three men whip up a heady bilingual song where Bad Bunny’s trap is as punchy as Marc’s salsa-infused parts even as Will sounds a bit out-of-place with his rap!

The entire album! (Brighter Days, Sigala): Bruce Fielder aka Sigala, the English DJ, has a stupendously cool winner in his hands. His debut album is star-studded (Ella Eyre, Sean Paul, Meghan Trainor, The Vamps, Flo Rida, Craig David, Kylie Minogue and more!) and every song is dripping with a feel-good, foot-tapping sound (almost a bit too predictable as the album progresses) that it’s great as one non-stop listen!

Mummy Ki Parchai is way too familiar Amit. That and the forced lyrics pull it down. However, Yaadon Ki Almari sells nostalgia beautifully, including that cute diversion into O.P.Nayyar’s Lakhon Hain and Palomi’s expressive singing. Her Ruk Ruk remix (by Raghav) is cringe-inducing, though. But Palomi’s Khoya Ujaala (by Daniel B.George) is a great listen, with a mellow hook layered on electronic phrases. In Dooba Dooba, Amit’s lilting rhythm and strings offer expansive sound, while Sunidhi and Arijit lift the melody impressively. Daniel’s Chand Lamhe, in comparison, is less interesting, but for Shilpa Rao’s singing. Three good songs overall, in Helicopter Eela.

Keywords: Helicopter Eela, Amit Trivedi, Daniel B.George, Raghav Sachar

Listen to the songs on Saavn:

Listen to Ruk Ruk Remix here:

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