As usual, let me reiterate that the lists here are in order of preference – they are not random lists. That cleared, I noticed a trend in the 5 languages I track – Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam film music was largely dominated by fresh talent, while Telugu and Kannada saw recently established names solidifying their standing. Here’s is a more detailed personal observation of each of the 5 language film music I track regularly and of course, the top songs, in my view.
But for Rahman coming in towards the end of the year with a rocker of a soundtrack, I’d have gladly chosen Krsna as the composer of the year. Krsna, along with Sachin-Jigar, Hitesh Sonik, Raghu Dixit and Prashant Pillai made mighty interesting music and relegated last year’s leaders (the likes of Amit Trivedi, Vishal Shekhar, Shankar Ehsaan Loy and company) behind.
Krsna’s Tanu Weds Manu was the stand out debut of the year – no questions about it! Veterans Rahman and Vishal Bharadwaj asserted why they are still relevant with punchy soundtracks like Rockstar and 7 Khoon Maaf, while others like Vishal Shekhar (Ra.One), Shankar Ehsaan Loy (Zindagi Na Milegi Doabara) and Pritam (Dum Maaro Dum) managed to scrape through good work amidst tough competition.
The shocking decline of Amit Trivedi, after stellar work in 2010, is, well…shocking! Here’s hoping the man gains his form back in 2012. Perhaps the most anticipated composers in 2012 are Ajay-Atul, after many, small attempts in Hindi, they have finally a big film in Agneepath, while one of this year’s better composers – Ram Sampath too has a lot to look forward to, 2012.
Composer of the year: A R Rahman
Top 3 Hindi OSTs of 2011
01. Rockstar (A R Rahman)
02. Tanu Weds Manu (Krsna)
03. 7 Khoon Maaf (Vishal Bharadwaj)
Top 10 Hindi songs of 2011
01. Jo bhi main – Rockstar (A R Rahman)
02. Piya – Tanu Weds Manu (Krsna)
03. Saibo – Shor In The City (Sachin Jigar)
04. Bekaran – 7 Khoon Maaf (Vishal Bharadwaj)
05. Kun faaya kun – Rockstar (A R Rahman)
06. Jiyein kyun – Dum Maaro Dum (Pritam)
07. Khaabon ke parindey – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
08. Bhare naina – Ra.One (Vishal Shekhar)
09. Rangrez – Tanu Weds Manu (Krsna)
10. Nanhi si jaan – Stanley Ka Dabba (Hitesh Sonik)
The 10 that did not make it!
11. Tere liye – 7 Khoon Maaf (Vishal Bharadwaj)
12. Baatein shuru – Mujhse Fraandship Karoge (Raghu Dixit)
13. Ek manzil – Soundtrack (Vishal Vaid and Karsh Kale)
14. Angel (Title song) – Angel (Amjad Nadeem)
15. Chammak challo – Ra.One (Vishal Shekhar)
16. Nasha – Shaitan (Prashant Pillai)
17. Yun hi – Tanu Weds Manu (Krsna)
18. Abhi kuch dinon se – Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji (Pritam)
19. Musik bandh na karo – Hum Tum Shabana (Sachin Jigar)
20. Tumba tumba – Patiala House (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Tere andar – Stanley Ka Dabba (Hitesh Sonik)
22. Bhoot aaya – F.A.L.T.U (Sachin Jigar)
23. Tere siva – Delhi Belly (Ram Sampath)
24. Saathiya (Badmaash dil)
25. Mallo malli – Mausam (Pritam)
26. Achha lagta hai – Aarakshan (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
27. Sarphira sa – Luv U…Mr.Kalakaar (Sandesh Shandilya)
28. Bhojhal se – I Am (Rajiv Bhalla)
29. Kaun hai ajnabi – Game (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
30. Umrao jaan – Damadamm! (Himesh Reshammiya)
Tamil film music was dominated completely by fresh talent and established names like Harris Jeyaraj were seen only regurgitating their past material. Sharreth Vasudevan may be a regular in TV shows and may even have acquired himself an image of an arrogant musician, but the man delivered a whammy with his lone soundtrack, 180. It was a dream debut in terms of music and even picturization! Ghibran is the year’s second wonderful find, followed closely by K, of Yudham Sei fame.
Ghibran’s Vaagai Sooda Vaa was a delightfully engaging soundtrack with enough nuances thrown in to differentiate his music from the current crop of Tamil composers. K gets the privilege of being in this list exclusively for his background score in Yudham Sei, one of the most enthralling in recent times, in my opinion – if we remember vividly Ilayaraja’s background scores in films like Mouna Raagam, Nayakan and Idhayam, Yudham Sei was no different; a memorable score that stayed long after the film watching experience. Here’s looking forward to his work on Mysskin’s next, Mugammoodi.
Last year’s composer of the year, Thaman did have an eventful year, but his first big film in Tamil (Vandhaan Vendraan) was a disappointment, while his other, Oshte was great masala cocktail, in his Telugu style. Some of the other newcomers who left a good first impression include Anirudh (yet to prove himself, since the complete album of 3 is yet to release – could release before the end of this year, but let me consider it – rightly so – for the 2012 lists), Abhishek-Lawrence (Doo) and to some extent, Prakash Nikki (Rowthiram). Old hands Vijay Antony, D Imman, Sundar C Babu, Yuvan Shankar Raja, GV Prakash Kumar and of course, the Master, Ilayaraja, had sporadically interesting soundtracks. GV Prakash Kumar, in particular, seems to have an amazing year ahead of him, what with directors like Bala and Bharathiraja choosing him over regulars like Yuvan Shankar Raja and Rahman!
Composer of the year: Sharreth Vasudevan
Top 3 Tamil OSTs of 2011
01. 180 (Sharreth Vasudevan)
02. Vaagai Sooda Vaa (Ghibran)
03. Yudham Sei (K)
Top 10 Tamil songs of 2011
01. Nee korinaal – 180 (Sharreth Vasudevan)
02. Yennamo yedho – Ko (Harris Jeyaraj)
03. Sara sara – Vaagai Sooda Vaa (Ghibran)
04. Sandhikkaadha kangalil – 180 (Sharreth Vasudevan)
05. Background score – Yudham Sei (K)
06. Kalasala – Osthe (Thaman S)
07. Malayooru naattama – Mambattiyan (Thaman S)
08. Mankatha (Title song) – Mankatha (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
09. Pirai thedum – Mayakkam Enna (GV Prakash Kumar)
10. Why this kolaveri di? – 3 (Anirudh)
The 10 that did not make it!
11. Kuthikkira kuthikkira – Azhagarsaamiyin Kudhirai (Ilayaraja)
12. Unna kolla poren – Aravaan (Karthik)
13. Rasathi – Avan Ivan (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
14. Poraney – Vaagai Sooda Vaa (Ghibran)
15. Maalai mangun neram – Rowthiram (Prakash Nikki)
16. 24 mani neram – Yuvan Yuvathy (Vijay Antony)
17. Vizhigalile – Kullanari Koottam (Selvaganesh)
18. Natpin kadhaigalai – Kadhal 2 Kalyanam (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
19. Kaiya thoda venaam – Doo (Abhishek-Lawrence)
20. Poovin manam – Narthaki (GV Prakash Kumar)
And the 10 that are relegated to the 20s but are still worth a mention!
21. Kondaattam – Thoongaanagaram (Sundar C Babu)
22. Kolaikaaraa – Thambi Vettothi Sundaram (Vidyasagar)
23. Thindaduren – Muthal Idam (D.Imman)
24. Molachu moonu – Velayudham (Vijay Antony)
25. Aathaadi manasudhaan – Kazhugu (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
26. Anjana anjana – Vandhaan Vendraan (Thaman S)
27. Aariro – Dheiva Thirumagal (GV Prakash Kumar)
28. Enna aachu – Vedi (Vijay Antony)
29. Ikkudhae – Vithagan (Joshua Sridhar)
30. Evan di unna pethaan – Vaanam (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
2011 was Ilayaraja’s year, in Telugu film music. With Sri Rama Rajyam, the veteran left an indelible mark on the music scene. Other veterans like Keeravani and Manisharma had a relatively quiter year in comparison. Thaman’s excessive Telugu output seemed to be impacting the quality of his output, but he nevertheless had an eventful year with Dookudu topping the list!
Devi Sri Prasad made sure he is counted among the best with a wonderful soundtrack for Naga Chaitanya’s 100% Love, while other largely sidelined composers like Anoop Rubens and Yogeshwara Sharma produced occasional gems. Much like Amit Trivedi in Hindi, after a good last year (and a superb 2009), Mickey J Meyer was missing in action in 2011!
Composer of the year: Ilayaraja
Top 3 Telugu OSTs of 2011
01. Sri Rama Rajyam (Ilayaraja)
02. 100% Love (Devi Sri Prasad)
03. Dookudu (Thaman S)
Top 10 Telugu songs of 2011
01. Jagadananda karaka – Sri Rama Rajyam (Ilayaraja)
02. Poovai poovai – Dookudu (Thaman S)
03. Champakamala – Kandireega (Thaman S)
04. Ela ela – Panjaa (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
05. Tolakari chinukai – Prema Kavali (Anoop Rubens)
06. Yevvaro – Bodyguard (Thaman S)
07. Vasudhara – Badrinath (MM Keeravani)
08. Dhooram – 100% Love (Devi Sri Prasad)
09. Premalekha raasene – Anaganaga Oka Dheerudu (Salim Sulaiman)
10. Choostunna – Mogudu (Babu Shankar)
The 5 that did not make it!
11. Deewali deepanni – Dhada (Devi Sri Prasad)
12. Ammamammo – Solo (Manisharma)
13. Andaralaga – Kudirithey Kappu Coffee (Yogeshwara Sharma)
14. Gijigadu – Rajanna (MM Keeravani)
15. Sri Ganga – Teenmaar (Manisharma)
While Harikrishna became the Kannada equivalent of Pritam in 2011, it was the meteoric rise of Arjun Janya that I’m eagerly looking forward to. I’d personally rate Arjun higher than Harikrishna and his name change (from AP Arjun, at the insistence of a numerologist, it seems!) seems to have worked wonders for him. But Harikrishna’s Paramathma stole the soundtrack of the year billing right under Arjun’s nose, partly because it also involved the effort of someone like Yogaraj Bhat! Arjun does have 5 of the top 10 tracks and each for a different film, however – that says a lot!
After getting the top billing in 2009…and being completely out of Kannada music scene in 2010, Raghu Dixit made amends with his lone soundtrack, Kote. The most noticeable absence is that of last year’s composer of the year, Joshua Sridhar, since he seems to have busied himself in Tamil. The other missing-in-action composer is Mano Murthy, who only turned up average and repetitive soundtracks in 2011.
Composer of the year: Arjun Janya
Top 3 Kannada OSTs of 2011
01. Paramathma (Harikrishna)
02. Kempe Gowda (Arjun Janya)
03. Kote (Raghu Dixit)
Top 10 Kannada songs of 2011
01. Yavaniggothu – Paramathma (Harikrishna)
02. Thara thara – Kempe Gowda (Arjun Janya)
03. Nooru nooru koti – Kote (Raghu Dixit)
04. Paravasanadenu – Paramathma (Harikrishna)
05. Midiva ninna – Rajadhani (Arjun Janya)
06. Gaganave baagi – Sanju Weds Geetha (Jassie Gift)
07. Neen ira bekkittli – Tuglak (Arjun Janya)
08. Geleyane – Kempe Gowda (Arjun Janya)
09. Shyloo (Title song) – Shyloo (Jassie Gift)
10. Avarivara jothe – Jarasandha (Arjun Janya)
I made a vow to myself that I will listen to lot more of Malayalam in 2011…and I did. But, unlike last year’s big hitters (Makaramanju, Malarvadi Arts Club or Anwar), 2011 was a relatively muted year in terms of quality of music. Prashant Pillai’s City of God is an exception, though. And, despite the plagiarism allegation in Urumi (Aaro nee), Deepak did provide a highly listenable soundtrack, overall. Singer Sreenivas’ The Train contained the exceptional ‘Chirakengu’ and for that alone, the soundtrack deserves top billing among the 3.
I’m also looking forward to more music from Gowri Lakshmi, a standard 12 student who swooped the best song right under other composers like Gopi Sundar and Alphons in Mohanlal’s Casanovva.
Composer of the year: Deepak Dev
Top 3 Malayalam OSTs in 2011
01. City of God (Prashant Pillai)
02. Urumi (Deepak Dev)
03. The Train (Sreenivas)
Top 10 Malayalam songs of 2011
01. Chirakengu – The Train (Sreenivas)
02. Chembaavu – Salt ‘n Pepper (Bijibal)
03. Nee akaleyaano – City of God (Prashant Pillai)
04. Chinni chinni – Urumi (Deepak Dev)
05. Nila nila – Tournament (Deepak Dev)
06. Thennal chirakundo – Payyans (Alphons)
07. Chakkara maavin – Bombay March 12 (Afzal Yusuf)
08. Malar Manjariyil – Karmayogi (Ousepachan)
09. Sagiye – Casanovva (Gowri)
10. Chembaka vallikalil – Arabeem Ottakom P. Madhavan Nayarum (M G Sreekumar)
Band Called Nine’s Rewind was one of the most engrossing non-film works in recent times and kudos to Saregama for backing this effort! Joi Barua’s debut album perhaps did not get the kind of commercial push it should have, but it was still a superb debut, while I expect a lot from Gulraj Singh after what he has achieved with a devotional album like Ganaraj Adhiraj. With Gulzar and Vishal Bharadwaj around, Barse Barse was expected to be good anyway, but the only reason why I’ve included a cover album like The Bartender is because how composer Mikey McCleary clearly pushed the envelope in cover versions with a thematic and mesmerizing take on familiar oldies.
01. Rewind: Nine Lost Memories (Band Called Nine)
02. Looking Out Of The Window (Joi Barua)
03. Ganaraj Adhiraj – Gulraj Singh
04. Barse Barse (Vishal Bharadwaj)
05. The Bartender – Classic Bollywood: Shaken Not Stirred (Mike McCleary)
This is contentious, since I don’t listen to a lot of western albums, but from what I did hear, Adele’s 21 is a clear winner. Florence + The Machine’s latest album is a close second, while Coldplay’s new album, while not in the same league as their earlier one, is still worthy of taking the 3rd spot. Other notable albums that I loved this year include Lady Antebellum’s Own The Night, Nickelback’s Here And Now, Simple Plan’s Get Your Heart On and Sachal Studios Orchestra’s Jazz Interpretations of Jazz Standards & Bossa Nova.
01. 21 – Adele
02. Ceremonials – Florence + The Machine
03. Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
Note 1: If you’re wondering why the heck songs like Dinka chika and Chammak challo that were playing in every nook and corner and topped all possible ‘lists’ in 2011 are not featured above…that is the precise point of this list(s). This is not based on popular perception or majority voting – the lists and selection above is just my individual point of view. So, feel free to dispute it, agree to it, add to it or comment on it.
Note 2: If you find yourself wondering why some films are missing in the above list as you compare this list with other lists elsewhere on the net (like No One Killed Jessica), it is simply because I consider all films with a soundtrack release on or before the date of posting this – mid-December, in essence; not the year of film’s release. So, No One Killed Jessica, for example, was in my last year’s list.