Saturday December 12, 2020

Milliblog Annual Music round-up 2020

Posted by Karthik

This is the 13th year of my annual music round-ups.
Here are the previous editions: 
2019 | 2018 |2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014  
2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

I have been writing annual music round-ups since 2008 and I have got to say this: 2020 is the oddest year for music in India. For the first time in many, many years, film music was forced out of circulation – not by the people, but by an act of God… the pandemic! Film producers simply refused to release their already-recorded songs for multiple reasons – no visibility of theatrical release leading to uncertainty of music release, no video shots to accompany the music release (on YouTube) and this leading to many songs using animated videos as a stop-gap arrangement (the corniest was Cobra’s Thumbi Thullal, with terrible Kochadaiiyaan-style animation), and not having enough recorded songs because every kind of film-related work came to a stand-still!

That lacuna was filled up by non-film, independent music that rose to the occasion wonderfully, and also brought along a lot of composers (like Amit Trivedi, Ghibran, Sean Roldan, Justin Prabhakaran) who would have otherwise showered their attention only on film music. Also, music produced for TV shows was an early trend last year, and became totally mainstream with a stellar soundtrack for Bandish Bandits, possibly India’s first musical TV series. Not to be outdone, the Bangla TV series, Tansener Tanpura produced a whopper musical soundtrack!

I still think that 2020 was stunted musically given that a lot of film music did not release, but we have to do with what we have, right?

Also, unlike previous years’ multi-platform playlists (with which I have had a lot of grief, particularly with Apple Music, and spotty music availability on YouTube and so on), just one platform this year – Spotify! Thankfully, every song barring one in the Tamil list is available on Spotify. The overall experience of making playlists was also the best that I have seen so far among all streaming platforms. I intend to move my Weeklies too to Spotify from now onwards, besides sticking to YouTube.


My Top 10 this year is peppered with Shankar Ehsaan Loy, Pritam and A R Rahman… and one song by Sachet-Parampara (who were at No. 10 last year too!). The musical trio had a fantastic year with Bandish Bandits ruling the output. Their work in Panga and Chhapaak kept up their high-quality output. A very close second was Pritam who had a brilliant Love Aaj Kal (again!) and closed the year with a solid Ludo. A R Rahman too had a great year with Dil Bechara, and 99 Songs (that is yet to release).

There was a lot of good music from the many lesser-known composers like Anshuman Mukherjee, Anuj Garg and Siddharth Pandit, besides previously promising, but lesser-heard composers like Sandesh Shandilya, Amartya Bobo Rahut, Sneha Khanwalkar and Drums Sivamani. Govind Vasantha’s Hindi debut was noteworthy too.

Composer(s) of the year: Shankar Ehsaan Loy

Sajan Bin – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Dil Bechara – Dil Bechara (A.R.Rahman)
Shayad – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Dil Ne Kaha – Panga (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)
Khulne Do – Chhapaak (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)

Aabaad Barbaad – Ludo (Pritam)
O Ashiqa – 99 Songs (A.R.Rahman)
Garaj Garaj – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Haan Main Galat – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Ghamand Kar – Tanhaji The Unsung Warrior (Sachet-Parampara)

Mar Jaayein Hum – Shikara (Sandesh Shandilya)
Re Bawree – Taish (Govind Vasantha)
Daata Shakti De – Atkan Chatkan (Drums Sivamani)
Khushmizaaj – Darbaan (Amartya Bobo Rahut)
Chanda – The Forgotten Army (Pritam)

Mehrama – Love Aaj Kal (Pritam)
Tehas Nehas – Khaali Peeli (Vishal-Shekhar)
Care Ni Karda – Chhalaang (Yo Yo Honey Singh)
Dhara Hogi – Bandish Bandits (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Do Ka Chaar – Chaman Bahaar (Anshuman Mukherjee)

Pass Nahi Toh Fail Nahi – Shakuntala Devi (Sachin-Jigar)
Madari Ka Bandar – Gulabo Sitabo (Anuj Garg)
Koi Nahi – Chaman Bahaar (Anshuman Mukherjee and Kalyanji-Anandji)
Main Tumhara – Dil Bechara (A.R.Rahman)
Hardum Humdum – Ludo (Pritam)

Mann Ki Dori – Gunjan Saxena (Amit Trivedi)
Panga (title song) – Panga (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
Khudkhushi – Yaara (Siddharth Pandit)
BamBholle – Laxmii (Ullumanati)
Aadhe Aadhe Se – Raat Akeli Hai (Sneha Khanwalkar)



Some of the great/good/largely-good soundtracks that got my attention include Nivas K Prasanna’s Takkar, Girishh Gopalakrishnan’s Mookuthi Amman, Leon James’ Oh My Kadavule and G.V.Prakash Kumar’s Soorarai Potru. But it was a tepid year with music releases getting postponed, pushed or singles releasing to make up for lower promotional avenues. There were perhaps more singles that sprouted here and there with no sight of the actual film or soundtrack releasing… which may release next year directly on an OTT platform.

Composer of the year: None!

Nira – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna)
Bujji – Jagame Thandhiram (Santhosh Narayanan)
Paarthene (Amman Song) – Mookuthi Amman (Girishh Gopalakrishnan)
Ennada Life Idhu – Oh My Kadavule (Leon James)
Kanna Thoodhu Po Da – Putham Pudhu Kaalai (Govind Vasantha)

Aagasam – Soorarai Pottru (Thaikkudam Bridge & G.V.Prakash Kumar)
Paaren Paaren – Dagaalty (Vijaynarain)
Pesatha Mozhiye – Kombu Vatcha Singamda (Dhibhu Ninan Thomas)
Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee – Mudhal Nee Mudivum Nee (Darbuka Siva)
Andha Kanna Paathaakaa – Master (Anirudh)

Kadai Kannaaley – Bhoomi (D.Imman)
Sirikkalam Parakkalam – Kannum Kannum Kollaiyadithaal (Masala Coffee)
Mayangi Poguthey – 2 Stories (Jeffin Joe Jacob)
Rani Theni – Kavalthurai Ungal Nanban (Adithyha – Soorya)
Azhagiya Sirukki – Ka Pae Ranasingam (Ghibran)

Vazhve Neelade – Paris Paris (Amit Trivedi)
Thumbi Thullal – Cobra (A.R.Rahman)
Paakkurappo Paakkurappo – Thamezharasan (Ilayaraja)
Neenga Mudiyuma – Psycho (Ilayaraja)
Ini Oru Thollayum Illai – Oh Andha Naatkal (James Vasanthan) [This song is not available on Spotify, or any other platform barring YouTube]

Maragadha Maalai – Takkar (Nivas K Prasanna)
Kaattu Payale – Soorarai Pottru (G.V.Prakash Kumar)
Kaadhal Theevey – Dharala Prabhu (Sean Roldan)
Nagarathey – Ivan Than Uthaman (Thaman S)
Engenge Theduven – Manja Satta Pacha Satta (Ganesh Raghavendra)

Adiye – Vairii (Anthony Daasan)
Kutti Story – Master (Anirudh)
Thinam Thinam – Vaanam Kottattum (Sid Sriram)
Edho Solla – Murungakkai Chips (Dharan Kumar)
Yedho Yedho Aasai – Naan Thaan Siva (D.Imman)



Considering Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’s Samajavaragamana released in September 2019, I had added it to my 2019 list. But the same film’s Butta Bomma released during Christmas 2019, after I had shared my 2019 list 🙂 So, it’s only fair that I consider it for the 2020 list. It’s quite pointless to wait for a film’s release to consider it for an annual year-end summary given how unpredictable actual film releases are these days and the fact that there’s no correlation anymore between soundtracks and films since they are used more from a promotional perspective than anything to do with the narrative.

The big gainer this year is Mani Sharma’s son, Mahati Swara Sagar who has a whopper of a song in Whattey Beauty! The song is an unabashed celebration of why we love Telugu cinema and its cheerful over-the-top’ness. While Thaman continues his rule with great music in films like Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, Disco Raja and Solo Brathuke So Better, Devi Sri Prasad is silently scoring aces in films like Uppena and Rang De even as he sheds his conventional style for more nuanced and melodic music. Chaitan Bharadwaj, who was very good in last year’s 7 and Manmadhudu 2, continues his form in SR Kalyanamandapam. I had noticed a spark in Madhu Ponnas with 2017’s O Pilla Nee Valla, and continues to showcase promise in this year’s Kanabadutaledu. My long-term bet on Shravan Bharadwaj’s capabilities proved right yet again with Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna, though big-ticket work continues to elude him. Gopi Sundar too continued his good run amongst the Bachelors (Most Eligible) and Lovers (World Famous), though his considerably smaller film, Choosi Choodangaane, had better music than those two.

Composer of the year: Thaman S

Buttabomma – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S)
Whattey Beauty – Bheeshma (Mahati Swara Sagar)
Chukkala Chunni – SR Kalyanamandapam (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
Rum Pum bum – Disco Raja (Thaman S)
Ranguladdhukunna – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad)

Amrutha – Solo Brathuke So Better (Thaman S)
Emito Idhi – Rang De (Devi Sri Prasad)
Alavaate Ledhemo – Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna (Shravan Bharadwaj)
Nee Parichayamutho – Choosi Choodangaane (Gopi Sundar)
My Love – World Famous Lover (Gopi Sundar)

Choosale Kallaraa – SR Kalyanamandapam (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
The Life of Ram – Jaanu (Govind Vasantha)
Vasthunnaa Vachestunna – V (Amit Trivedi)
Yedakemai Untunde – Kanabadutaledu (Madhu Ponnas)
Ay Pilla – Love Story (Pawan Ch)

Nee Roopam Edurugaa – Johaar (Priyadarshan Balasubramanian)
Emo Emo Emo – Raahu (Praveen Lakkaraju)
Hatheri Sehari – Asalu Em Jarigindhante (Charan Arjun)
Neeli Neeli Aakasam – 30 Rojullo Preminchadam Ela (Anup Rubens)
Ningi Chutte – Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya (Bijibal)

Praanam – Jaanu (Govind Vasantha)
Venakane Unna – Choosi Choodangaane (Gopi Sundar)
Manasa Manasa – Most Eligible Bachelor (Gopi Sundar)
Dhak Dhak Dhak – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad)
Jaana – Maa Vintha Gaadha Vinuma (Ravi Sharma)

Freak Out – Disco Raja (Thaman S)
Tharagathi Gadhi – Colour Photo (Kaala Bhairava)
Mama Mama – Kanabadutaledu (Madhu Ponnas)
Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (Thaman S)
Swami Natha – Bombhaat (Josh B)



Malayalam film music continues to be in great form, producing wonderful variety. While there’s a lot to like, I was most impressed with Sreehari K Nair’s debut work in Maniyarayile Ashokan. Sooraj S Kurup’s Kilometers & Kilometers, Prashant Pillai’s Saajan Bakery Since 1962, Alphons Joseph’s Varane Avashyamund and Jackson Vijayan’s Trance follow closely with extremely competent and listenable music overall.

Some of the singles from considerably lesser-heard/known films offer good music too, like Nithin Peetambaran’s Ithal, Ranjin Raj’s Kathorthu Kathorthu, Sumesh Somasundar’s Thenezhuthave, Prakash Alex’s Eadanin Madhu, Anandhkumar G’s Poganathilere and Hesham Abdul Wahab’s Chollamo.

Composer of the year: Sreehari K Nair

Olu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Kamini – Anugraheethan Antony (Arun Muraleedharan)
Thelinje Vaanaake – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Thora Mazhayilum – Saajan Bakery Since 1962 (Prashant Pillai)
Kannil – Kappela (Sushin Shyam)

Ithal – Koora (Nithin Peetambaran)
Mullapoove – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Uyire – Gauthamante Radham (Ankit Menon)
Raat – Trance (Jackson Vijayan)
Kalakkatha – Ayyappanum Koshiyum (Attapadi Musicians/Jakes Bejoy)

Once Upon A Time In Ranni – Saajan Bakery Since 1962 (Prashant Pillai)
Kathorthu Kathorthu – Karnan Napoleon Bhagat Singh (Ranjin Raj)
Thaane Mounam – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Unnikrishnan – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Thornidathe – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)

Chemmaname – Yuvam (Gopi Sundar)
Thenezhuthave – Varky (Sumesh Somasundar)
Vidacholi – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Paaraake – Kilometers & Kilometers (Sooraj S Kurup)
Eadanin Madhu – Varayan (Prakash Alex)

Rumaal Ambili – Lalbagh (Rahul Raj)
Neeyum Njanum – Sumesh & Ramesh (Yakzan Gary Periera & Neha Nair)
Vathikkalu Vellaripravu – Sufiyum Sujatayum (M Jayachandran)
Peyyum Nilaavu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)
Poganathilere – Grahanam (Anandhkumar G)

Mathayichan – Trance (Jackson Vijayan)
Muthunne Kannukalil – Varane Avashyamund (Alphons Joseph)
Theera Kadha – Gauthamante Radham (Ankit Menon)
Chollamo – Ole Kanda Naal (Hesham Abdul Wahab)
Engo Ninnu – Maniyarayile Ashokan (Sreehari K Nair)



Kannada film music is already my Achilles heel with me finding it difficult to even get the best 30 songs. 2020 made things even worse – the overall state of film music in Kannada continues to be dismal, with composers like B.Ajaneesh Loknath and Charan Raj continuing to offer hope, just like last year!

Composer of the year: None!

Marali Manasaagide – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Suri Anna – Salaga (Charan Raj)
Soul of Dia (Theme Song) – Dia (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Joru Joraagi – Thurthu Nirgamana (Dossmode)
Ati Chendada – Window Seat (Arjun Janya)

Dheera Sammohagaara – Bicchugatthi Chapter 1 (Nakul Abhyankar)
Maadeva – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj)
Arare Shuruvayitu Hege – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
The Bengaluru Song – French Biriyani (Vasuki Vaibhav)
Aparichita – Shivaji Surathkal: The Case Of Ranagiri Rahasya (Judah Sandhy)

Taragele Samsara – Kaalachakra (Gurukiran)
Maleye Maleye – Salaga (Charan Raj)
Ista Patta Devthe – Bhakshi Garden (Leander Lee Marty)
Love You Chinna – Love Mocktail (Raghu Dixit)
Happy Song – Law (Vasuki Vaibhav)

Maley Maley – Ninna Sanihake (Raghu Dixit)
Yeddelo Bharathiya – Gentleman (B.Ajaneesh Loknath)
Psychedelic Maaye – Popcorn Monkey Tiger (Charan Raj)
Kannada Kali – India Vs England (Arjun Janya)
Yen Madodu Swamy – French Biriyani (Vasuki Vaibhav)



The Indipop scene was the biggest gainer of the pandemic-infused 2020. It was so busy that I’m forced to split the single top-30 list into multiple lists, with 2 separate top-30 lists for Hindi and Tamil alone that saw a profusion of single releases. In the Tamil Indipop list, the 2nd song is from 2014, not 2020. But given how wonderful the song is, and the fact that I happened to discover it only this year, I have decided to add it to this year’s list.

Besides that, there’s also a separate list for what I found as a decent enough trend – recreating classical compositions. In some of the other languages (besides Hindi and Tamil), while there was great music, for the sake of an annual list, I have clubbed them together in the playlist, though the listing here is mentioned individually.

Indipop – Hindi:

Liggi – Ritviz
Baatein Karo – Vayu
Tum Na Ho – M Ajay Vaas, Ft. Arjun Kanungo and Prakriti Kakar
Khayaal – Abhijeet Srivastava & Prateeksha Srivastava
Haari – In Other Words (Anhad+Tanner)

Kahaani – When Chai Met Toast
Rihaa – Arijit Singh
Manjha – Vishal Mishra
Mummy – Vayu
Namee – Shivam Srivastava

Tu Mujh Mein – Iraada EP (Vinayak Shukla)
Move – Raftaar
Genda Phool – Badshah & Payal Dev
Kya Karoon? – Zaeden
Beech Raaste – Salim Sulaiman (ft. Armaan Malik & Nikhita Gandhi)

Kehndi Haan Kehndi Naa (Composed by Sukriti Kakar, Prakriti Kakar, music by Rishabh Kant)
Baithi Hai – Songs of Trance (Amit Trivedi)
Ganpati – Amit Trivedi, ft. Adarsh Shinde
Jhalle Kalle – Denny & Nikhita Gandhi
Sang Rahiyo – Jasleen Royal

Iraada – Iraada EP (Vinayak Shukla)
Shiv – Amit Trivedi
Relentless – Passages (Pineapple Express)
Siyaahi – Papon & Shashaa Tirupati
Dooriyan – Zaeden

Chandni – Vibha Saraj & Raajeev V Bhalla
Aana Mere Pyar Ko – Aki Kumar (Jatin Lalit/Aki Kumar)
Yeh Saari Baat – Rochak Kohli
Yaad – Aayam (Shrinidhi Ghatate)
Fursat Hai Aaj Bhi – Arjun Kanungo


Indipop – Tamil:

Yaarum Illai – Shadow and Light
Entha Neramum – Kadhalan Bharathi, 2014 (Girishh Gopalakrishnan)
Oru Chance Kudu – Karthik & Gaana Guna
Kanmaniye – Ganesan Sekar, ft. Arunraja Kamaraj
Thaththi Thaavum – Javed Riaz

Elay – Elay (Staccato)
Aaka Pirandhavale – Sean Roldan, ft. Vignesh Ishwar
Vazhkaiyin Payanam – Sunadhshankar
Aasai Thathumbucha – Justin Prabhakaran
Karmugile – Sathyaprakash

Aayizhai – Shabir
Manasara Sollu – Jones Rupert, ft. Tejenthan Arunasalam and Priyanka
Azhagu – Ghibran (All About Love Series)
Venmaniye Venmaniye – Aadil Anzar (4 Musics)
Gaandu Kannamma – Vivek-Mervin

Meendum Pirandheno – Sean Roldan, ft. Lalitha Sudha
Farishtha – A.R.Rahman, ft. Khatija Rahman
Vaan Thirakkindra Pozhudhil – Karthik KT, ft. Darshana KT
Va Kannamma – Anurag Saikia, Ft. Gowtham Bharadwaj
Vaaren Odi Vaaren – Sathyaprakash

Ezhara – Tea Kada Pasanga (TKP) ft. Kaizer Kaiz
Prabho Sri Gananatha – Singer Srinivas
Nenjil Oru Vannam – Srinivas
Neela Vaan (Lovers’ Lullaby) – Staccato
Suththam Seithe Yuttham Sei – Singer Srinivas, ft. Rahul Nambiar and Sharanya Srinivas

Kadhal Ecstasy – Sean Roldan, Ft. Susha
Chennai Paattu – Ramshanker
Cycle Gap – Shakthisree Gopalan
Marley – Tenma, Ft.Gana Muthu
Adiye Kutty Dhevadhe – Edwin Louis


Indipop – Classical Recreations

Entha Muddo – Oneness (Saint Thyagaraja, Revathy Kumar & Guruprasad Subramanian)
Nee Daya Radha – Elay (Staccato)
Dwaitamu – Equilibrium (IndoSoul)
The Guru – Is That So (John McLaughlin/Shankar Mahadevan/Zakir Hussain)
Nee Maatale – Elay (Staccato)
Mukthi (Eppo Varuvaaro) – Pragathi Band
Muthai Tharu – Ghibran
70 Rupak – Varijashree Venugopal & Aman Moroney
Ganesha Pancharatnam – Ghibran
Mathangi Marakathangi – Muthuswami Dikshitar, ft. Hamsika Iyer


Indipop – Others

Indipop – Telugu
Tholakari – Elay (Staccato)
Chusthundhi Pilla – Varun Sunil
Kotha Kotha Oohalenno – Pradeep Sagar
Chilipi Choopu – Amazon Prime Music Hyderabad Gig (Gopi Sundar)
Yetuvaipunna – Amazon Prime Music Hyderabad Gig (Justin Prabhakaran)

Indipop – Punjabi
Rab Raakha – The Yellow Diary
Nit Khair Manga – Sona Mohapatra and Ram Sampath
Morniye – Amit Trivedi
Kajla – Pav Dharia, ft. Tarsem Jassar
Pachtaoge – B Praak, ft. Asees Kaur

Indipop – English
Running Back To You – Anish Sood, ft. Lisa Mishra
Lead – Tejas
The Bombay Doors – Tejas
Write – Dhruv Visvanath
When We Feel Young – When Chai Met Toast

Indipop – Assorted
Aithalakadi – Pineapple Express (V.Harikrishna & Yogeendra Hariprasad)
Moti Veraana – Amit Trivedi
Sojatiya Sirdar – Divya Kumar, ft. Vidhya Gopal
Chapter Six – Yetto Velli Diaries (Sandeep Chowta)
Nund Banye – Uzer Khan, ft. Vibha Saraf


PS: Considering there are not enough songs from Marathi films or Bangla films to make a playlist, do remember to listen to AV Prafullachandra’s Dhurala in Marathi and the Bangla soundtrack of the TV series Tansener Tanpura.



Sponsored links

Like Milliblog? Help spread the word!