Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 175: On Spotify | On YouTube
10 songs, this week! All the songs are available on both YouTube, while Spotify is missing the Coke Studio Bangla song!

Siragai, Viduthalai, Yaarisaikka & Title Song – Hey Sinamika (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: If I had not known the name of this film’s composer, I’d have guessed Siragai to be Rahman’s – the rhythm is so reminiscent of a set of Rahman’s songs from the yore! The tune is very Govind Vasantha, though, with a very sweet opening and a somber turn in the anupallavi that gets Rahman’ish with the ‘KaariruL neekkum theeyaai’ line again 🙂 Keethana Vaidyanathan and Sai Prabha handle the tune’s many twists very well even as the song ends on a high with a lively rhythm-led closure that’s very Bollywood-style.

Viduthalai too carries a strong whiff of Rahman – the Alaipayuthey phase! But Govinda throws a lovely surprise in the ‘ViNNile Naan Mattume’ line that seems like a delicate strand of 96’s music dropped into this soundtrack set to a more bouncy background music! The chorus in this portion is very well handled, and Prarthana Indrajith’s main portion too is excellent. Bombay Jayashri is stellar, as always, in the soundtrack’s only pathos song, Yaarisaikka. The title song has an unenviable task of playing on a phrase (the film’s title) made incredibly popular by Rahman, but instead of going headlong, with lyrics and all, it cleverly aims at being a catchy piece of instrumental music. Within those confines, it does a superb job!

Considering I have already written about the 3 songs released earlier, and the fact that the soundtrack has 7 songs, this is a terrific album overall!

Thaaruzhiyum – Aaraattu (Rahul Raj) – Malayalam: The wonderfully melodious melody took me straight to Ilayaraja’s Pudhumai PeN classic, ‘Kaadhal… Mayakkam’. Is there a Sudha Saveri raaga connection, I wonder! Harishankar K.S and Poornasree Haridas are outstanding in the song rendition even as it traverses multiple phases.

Ondu Oorali, Yennegu Hennigu & Meet Madana – Ek Love Ya (Arjun Janya) – Kannada: I recall writing about Yaare Yaare, the first song released in February 2021. Post that I had missed the other songs that were released earlier. Now that the film has been released, it may be a good time to list the other 3 hugely listenable songs from the soundtrack. Shankar Mahadevan seemed like an unusual choice for Ondu Oorali – I would have expected Arjun to pick Vijay Prakash without a thought for this song. It’s very rhythmic and catchy, but the base melody is highly tuneful with a mildly sad edge to it! In hindsight, Shankar’s choice is quite a smart idea!

Yennegu Hennigu and Meet Madana too are incredibly foot-tapping, but the true stars of the songs are singers, Mangli (with support from Kailash Kher) and Aiswarya Rangarajan, respectively. The former’s folk-style melody is perfect for Mangli’s familiar singing template, while Aishwarya rules over the latter that has extended musical phrases that almost sound like sung lines!

Tu Na Aaya – Rahi Sayed, Nikhita Gandhi (Indipop): Kashmir-based singer and songwriter Rahi Sayed composes the song and sings it as a duet with Nikhita. It’s a simple, charming tune that gains tremendously from the two excellent singers. I’m assuming the ‘Rinda Rinda’ part is in Kashmiri – it’s a lovely hook in the song!

Nasek Nasek – Coke Studio Bangla: On the heels of Coke Studio Pakistan’s 14th season, here’s the first season of Coke Studio Bangladesh! The season started with a rousing recreation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Ekla Chôlo Re, and with the first song—Nasek Nasek—the season makes a brilliant start! In true Coke Studio style, the song mixes a Hajong dialect verse by Animes Roy and the Bangla folk song Dol Dol Doloni. The confluence is heady, with stupendous background music!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 174: On Spotify | On YouTube
11 songs, this week! All the songs are available on both YouTube and Spotify!

Aaya Ye Jhund Hai, Lafda Zhala, Laat Maar & Baadal Se Dosti – Jhund (Ajay-Atul) – Hindi: Aaya Re is one heck of a catchy song, like a Mumbaiya ‘kuthu’ song and who better to compose it than the Gogavale brothers! The steadily pulsating rhythm paves the way to a stupendously raucous towards the end! I thought Atul’s singing was a bit too soft for the tone the song was aiming for. Lafda Zhala too is insanely catchy and rhythmic, with a captivating synth-pop sound to start with, and even sounded a bit Middle-eastern when the first interlude started playing. Ajay’s singing fits perfectly here.

Sid Sriram’s Hindi debut happens in superb style with the remaining 2 songs in Jhund! In Laat Maar, while he is supported by a terrific chorus, and rap (Sourabh Abhyankar), the man himself is spectacular on his home turf, a sweeping soul-style melody. Ajay-Atul mount a mindboggling frame for Sid’s towering singing to work and it all works so well! Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics too stand out with searing lines like,
“Tu gareeb hai toh log sochte hai teri kya aukaat hai,
Woh jaante nahi naseeb ne tujhe bhi de rakki saugaat hai”
In contrast, Baadal Se Dosti is Sid’s solo, largely… since there’s a fantastic chorus that joins him in the latter portion of the song. But the duo’s melody aids Sid alternating between extremely mellow phrases (a note in which the song ends too) and a pulsating ‘Jeena’ that breaks from the soft flow in magnificent style. Overall, Ajay and Atul have a very familiar motivational/inspirational theme in their hands, but they craft hugely listenable and inventive soundscapes even within this template all over Jhund!

Shikayat – Gangubai Kathiawadi (Sanjay Leela Bhansali) – Hindi: Considering it’s been quite some time we heard a full-fledged qawali in Hindi films, it is good to hear a well-written one (lyrics by A.M.Turaz) in Shikayat. The qawali, sung by Archana Gore, with an excellent backing chorus by Tarannum Malik Jain, Aditi Paul, Kalpana, Dipti, Ruchna, Pragti, and Archana, is a great listen given the melody that Sanjay lavishes on the effort.

Halamithi Habibo – Beast (Anirudh) – Tamil: This is Anirudh having unabashed fun given his comfort level with director Nelson (as evidenced in the previous 2 films – Kolamaavu Kokila and Doctor). The result is a riot of a fun song that makes mincemeat of faux-Arabic written by actor Sivakarthikeyan (and has the potential to incite a diplomatic fracas between the Middle East and Tamil Nadu/India) 🙂

Kalaavathi – Sarkaru Vaari Paata (Thaman S) – Telugu: Kalaavathi is clearly Thaman reusing this Samajavaragama template, but he makes it work somehow. The core tune is charming enough, but the ‘Maangalyam thandhunaane’ phrase seems forced, though I’m sure we may come to imbibe it eventually. Sid Sriram, if you have not seen him overacting in the video released (for now), is fantastic with this singing, as always.

That ‘Maangalyam thandhunaane’ musical expression also took me on a different thought: how many other songs, in any Indian language, have a tuned/musical (properly musical; and not just recited as-is) version of those famous Hindu wedding-centric verses? I clearly recall Rahman’s tune for the lines as part of the Endrendrum Punnagai prelude in Alaipayuthey. Any other songs that you can recall?

I started a running thread to crowdsource and track this:

Heli – SebastianPC524 (Ghibran) – Telugu: Ghibran’s last Telugu outing (Hero) was largely disappointing, but he shows promise in the next… this one! Kapil Kapilan’s singing holds the melody together wonderfully, and the backgrounds, particularly the prelude, showcase a lot of Ghibran’s early form.

Sinnavaada – Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam (Jay Krish) – Telugu: I used my familiarity with Jay Krish’s music from 2019’s Raja Vaaru Rani Gaaru to assess the first song from the film. But despite the plethora of interesting sounds, it didn’t work for me in unison. But Jay does far better in this faux-folk melody! The song mainly rests on Ananya Bhat’s fantastic command over the melody (with a smaller part sung by Gowtham Bharadwaj).

Chillumani Kayalinte – Upacharapoorvam Gunda Jayan (Bijibal) – Malayalam: I have been missing Bijibal’s music of late and this one comes as a pleasant whiff of fresh air! His daughter Daya sings it with the charm of a child, as expected (though I don’t see a context in the music video for a child singing the song). The melody reminded me of yesteryear’s Ilayaraja – very beautiful and simple, with an innate sweetness coming out of the simplicity.

Aakasham – Bheeshma Parvam (Sushin Shyam) – Malayalam: This is the soundscape that I associate most with Sushin’s music and it continues to deliver so well! The singing, by Hamsika Iyer and Kapil Kapilan (Kapil’s 2nd song this week!), accentuates the haunting nature of the melody incredibly well. Sushin’s choice of backgrounds keeps that in sync too, particularly Nathan’s Clarinet that so wonderfully stands out. I loved the tabla-based anupallavi too that crescendoes towards the pallavi brilliantly!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 173: On Spotify | On YouTube
11 songs, this week! All the songs are available on both YouTube and Spotify!

Beqaaboo – Gehraiyaan (OAFF and Savera) – Hindi: After Doobey, the title song did not work for me. But Beqaaboo does, courtesy of the laidback sound and the electronic elements. And trust Shalmali Kholgade to deliver a melody like this -she’s fantastic, as usual. Savera Mehta’s singing, on the other hand, was the odd one out, with the falsetto notes often hitting awkwardly instead of the intended effect.

Megham – Hey Sinamika (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: Govind reuses Thaikkudam Bridge’s famous Fish Rock to produce a riveting recreation that continues to work wonders much like the original it is based upon. Madhan Karky’s Tamil lines flow perfectly in sync with the frenetic pacing of the interesting constructed melody. The musical additions, towards the end of the Tamil version, with the folk drums joining the rock rhythm, makes for a thoroughly enjoyable song. At a music video level too, the song is really interesting, with the leads dancing all the way through (given the film’s director’s choreographer profession) song for the various stages of their courtship makes for a fantastic watch!

Theera Nadhi – Nadhi (Dhibu Ninan Thomas) – Tamil: I was honestly starting to lose interest as the song’s first 4 lines played out. But then Dhibu introduces the ‘Jal Jal Golusoli’ line with the sparkling keys to back it up and that turns the song’s tone beautifully! Then Ballesh’s Shehnai adds more beauty to the first interlude! Excellent singing by Kapil Kapilan and Srinisha Jayaseelan.

Romeo Juliet – Ghani (Thaman S) – Telugu: The song’s video released for now (not the actual music video from the film) makes it seem like the singer is the film’s lead star! That’s understandable because the singer is director Shankar’s daughter, Aditi (who is making her acting debut in Tamil soon). Thankfully, Thaman gives Aditi (making her singing debut) a simple and catchy tune with a neat reggae-style sound that doesn’t tax her much. Aditi does pretty well overall!

Paathashalaloo – Ori Devuda (Leon James) – Telugu: Leon, after showing reasonable promise in Tamil, was a disappointment in Telugu (Next Enti?). But this song gives me some hope. It has his trademark ebullient sound and flows mighty well. Armaan Malik and Sameera Bharadwaj handle the singing well. Leon’s smaller nuances, like the layering of the flute for ‘Paatabadadu gaa’ towards the end, make it enjoyable.

Kottha Kottha Gaa – Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: What a gorgeous melody! Like the film’s title, the first line, by Chaitra Ambadipudi, seems unusually long. When Abhay Jodhpurkar interjects with his part and then leads to Chaitra’s ‘Kottha Kottha Gaa’ hook, the interplay is beautifully played out. I was mildly disappointed with some of Vivek’s recent work, but he is fantastic here!

Rode Rodaale Saam, Aaji, Roi Jaa Aakaax & Ghuri Suasunn – Jajabori (Papon) – Indipop/Axomiya: Papon’s new 4-song album is sheer delight! I believe the album’s name, ‘Jajabori’ means traveler/traveling (pardon my ignorance – Googled to understand whatever I could find). The song that best accentuates that feel is Rode Rodaale Saa which gains tremendously from his dreamy singing and a sweepingly calm melody! Aaji too has fantastic singing by Papon, and the tune remains soft and moody though the backgrounds offer a mildly more rhythmic sound that is however still downtempo without hitting any highs. Roi Jaa Aakaax goes a step ahead in terms of the rock sound it underlines particularly with the brilliant guitar that’s layered in. Ghuri Suasunn is the catchiest song of the album, with a lilting melody that is impossible not to sing along with!

Pasoori – Ali Sethi x Shae Gill (Coke Studio 14): Pasoori is perhaps the best of Coke Studio 14 so far! Not only do the vocals of Ali Sethi and Shae Gill merge so harmoniously as the song progresses, but the kind of musical influences (composed by Ali Sethi and Xulfi) that lift the song are phenomenal – that reggaeton-style beat and an incredibly soulful tune on top of it! The singing and the production are great examples of why Coke Studio Pakistan remains such a fantastic musical platform!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 172: On Spotify | On YouTube
11+ (+, because of versions of the same song, from Badhaai Do) songs! All the songs are available on both YouTube and Spotify!

Atak Gaya, Hum Thay Seedhe Saadhe & Bandi Tot – Badhaai Do (Amit Trivedi & Ankit Tiwari) – Hindi: While it is surprising to see Amit Trivedi in a multi-composer album (along with Tanishk Bagchi, Khamosh Shah, and Ankit Tiwari), he easily gets the cream of the soundtrack with 2 of his songs getting 3 versions each! Atak Gaya is effortlessly Amit Trivedi! The Arijit version is very easy to like, but Amit’s own acoustic version is no pushover with its own sedate flavor that comes from the composer’s own sober style of singing. The 3rd version featuring Abhijeet Srivastava is a surprisingly good listen too, with a kind of innocence that the other 2 versions lack. Hum Thay Seedhe Saadhe is lovely, with its gorgeous melody laid on top of a beautifully meditative rhythm. Of the 3 versions, Shashaa Tirupati’s version is my favorite. While the title song (Tanishk Bagchi) or Gol Gappa (Amit Trivedi) didn’t work for me, Ankit’s Bandi Tot did! Simple and catchy, with excellent singing by Nikhita Gandhi.

Bae – Don (Anirudh) – Tamil: A strictly by-the-numbers melody from Anirudh that gets elevated by the background sounding better than the melody. Aditya R K’s singing sounds wonderfully fresh, while Vignesh Sivan’s lyrics offer a clever play over the word ‘Bae’ being used in Tamil with so many words that end with ‘be’ so naturally.

Telusa – Ranga Ranga Vaibhavanga (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: Amidst the steady supply of conventional songs DSP produces, he manages to occasionally (a bit too consistently these days) produce the surprising zinger. This is one such song. His trademark bouncy rhythm is missing but he layers the song with a lovely strings backdrop that helps him mount Shankar Mahadevan’s stellar singing really well. It’s only in the 2nd interlude that the DSP template manages to seep in!

Bytwo Bytwo – Bytwo Love (B. Ajaneesh Loknath) – Kannada: I started playing the song without knowing the composer and as soon as the catchy background music started, and that guitar… I knew this was someone I like. And of course, it was Ajaneesh. But to be sure, this is far less interesting compared to his considerably better songs. I didn’t like the first song from the film (I Hate Love) and I see a pattern that is most probably the director’s music sense. But Bytwo also has Mano’s voice to draw me in (nostalgic and good), and the anupallavi actually gets better.

Yaava Swargadinda – One Cut Two Cut (Nakul Abhyankar) – Kannada: Nakul’s tune is bouncy and almost like an extended advertising jingle. Benny Dayal is perfect for the rock sound, and it was hilarious to hear the iconic ‘If you come today, it’s too early… If you come tomorrow, it’s too late’ being sung to a different tune 🙂

Raahein – Shadow and Light (Indipop/Hindi): I have been previously effusive in praise for Shadow and Light’s (Pavithra Chari and Anindo Bose) music (besides their Hindi albums, and that delightful Tamil single, Yaarum Illai). Raahein does not disappoint at all! Pavithra’s singing is, as usual, terrific! The melody builds beautifully towards the vocal humming hook that marks the end of the mukhda.

Neray Neray Vas – Soch The Band x Butt Brothers (Coke Studio Season 14): Soch The Band’s (Adnan Dhool and Rabi Ahmed) 2014 hit gets a zingy recreation in the hands of Butt Brothers (Shamroz and Umair). The original’s relatively slower tempo has been amped up into a lively Punjabi sound and this adds more life to the song.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 171: On Spotify | On YouTube
Another short playlist – just 9 songs! All the songs are available on both YouTube and Spotify, thankfully!

Doobey – Gehraiyaan (OAFF, Savera) – Hindi: Oh wow, what a song! Lothika Jha’s dreamy vocals, the mesmerizing melody, and backgrounds by the composers, Kabeer Kathpalia aka OAFF, and Savera Mehta… and that absolutely addictive ‘Ha Doobey’ (with backing humming by Savera) hook that leads so seductively towards ‘Oof yeh Gehraiyaan’. Brilliant music, and it is so good to see new composers (in the highly cluttered, hierarchical cinema industry) acing it in their (film) debut.

Thozhi – Hey Sinamika (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: If you have been waiting for the ’96’ Govind Vasantha (the template that he used for a few songs immediately after 96), here it is, finally! The backgrounds are delightful and captivating and as the music soars, Pradeep’s stupendously good singing in pure Tamil (much of that credit should also go to lyricist Madan Karky) accentuates the song’s experience significantly!

Polladha Ulagam – Maaran (G.V. Prakash Kumar) – Tamil: The first thought that came to me while listening to this song was the famous ‘Kappa Kappa’ song from the 2012 Malayalam film Bachelor Party! It’s probably the steadily thrumming background rhythm. But GVP has a very different tune to go on top of it and Dhanush’s singing elevates it to whatever extent possible. And there are small touches like the change in the rhythm (a kuthu rhythm when you least expect it!) that makes the song consistently interesting.

Ik Mili Mainu Apsraa – B Praak (Indipop/Punjabi): This is a unique attempt! The original song ‘Apsraa’ was spoken poetry by the lyricist Jaani and was a massive hit in October last year. Now, B Praak turns those lines into a catchy retro-pop song! From that poetry to this song, this is a lovely idea and one that works so well! Praak’s voice brings gravitas to the melody and Asees Kaur, who was also featured in the original song, makes her presence felt here too albeit for a very brief note.

Tu Ani Mi & Vinchu Chaavla – Zombivli (AV Prafullachandra) – Marathi: I heard the most famous song from Zombibli last year when it released (Angaat Aalaya, composed by Rohan Rohan), but beyond the incredibly catchy Maharashtrian rhythm, the song didn’t work for me. So, it comes across as a pleasant surprise that the other 2 songs in the film are by composer AV Prafullachandra who I rate very, very highly. And he doesn’t disappoint at all! Tu Ani Mi is a spritely melody with a lovely spring in the step and superb singing by Nakul Abhyankar and Kasturi Wavare. That ‘Tu Maazaa Maanjha’ hook is a particularly lovely touch. In Vinchu Chaavla, the composer lobs a fantastic spinner! The song’s rhythm keeps changing and that adds to the insane charm! That shift in the first interlude, in particular, is brilliant. The singers, AV Prafullachandra, Manish Rajgire, Thomson Andrews, Pravin Kuwar, Vivek Naik, and Santosh Bote, all seem to be having a ball singing this massively fun song!

Sajni – The Yellow Diary (Indipop): NGL, I’m in love with The Yellow Diary lead singer Rajan Batra’s voice and singing style 🙂 I find it as unique as Sid Sriram or Sanjith Hegde. Even though the music video’s narrative device is the most interesting aspect of this song, the song itself is a lovely listen with Govind Vasantha-style backgrounds!

Suffocation – Dhruv Visvanath (Indipop): Dhruv delivers yet again, and how! His guitar riffs are, as usual, wonderful, but the way he lets the music meander softly at the 1:30 mark for about 20 seconds is mesmerizing!

Sajan Das Na – Coke Studio, Season 14: Kana Yaari used a folk base in true Coke Studio style and excelled. But this one is ultramod, throwing at us the best production values of Coke Studio in an enchanting melody that is brilliantly rendered by Momina Mustehsan and Atif Aslam, given how accomplished both singers are. I could have easily assumed the tune’s opening (and the entire melody) to be composed by our own Mithoon – his signature seemed written all over!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 170: On Spotify | On YouTube
A rather short playlist this week – just 8 songs! The YouTube playlist has all 8, while the Spotify playlist is missing just one – Hamsika Iyer’s Muruga.

Pottu Thotta Pournami, Nagumo, Nagumo Revival & Puthiyoru Lokam – Hridhayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: As soon as I heard Pottu Thotta Pournami, my mind reached out to Raja’s ‘Koyil Mani Osai’ from Kizhakke Pogum Rayil – the Suddha Saveri raaga connection, I presume. Sachin Balu and Megha Josekutty’s vocals are outstanding—particularly how their vocals are woven alternatively in the anupallavi—as also a wonderful layer of sax by Nikhil Ram. Nagumo seems like a specially planned recreation of Thyagaraja’s classic considering Mohanlal, Priyadarshan and Sreenivasan are famously known for the song’s use in 1988 classic Chithram, and now their children, Pranav, Kalyani, and Vineeth are making this film! Punya Srinivas’ Veena is a superb addition to this new version while Arvind Venugopal’s vocals seem effortless but soulful. The song’s other variant, Nagumo Revival, is a wonderful listen too, given the many new musical shades added to it. Puthiyoru Lokam sounded very Shaan Rahman’ish to me. But the mix – of Vimal Roy’s Western-style vocals and Bhadra Rajin’s Indian-style vocals – is fantastic, and stamps Hesham’s unique signature.

Parudeesa – Bheeshma Parvam (Sushin Shyam) – Malayalam: Sushin is truly in a zone these days! After Kurup, he strikes again in Amal Neerad’s new film, with Sreenath Bassi delivering the song in style amidst a flourish of Maxwell’s Trumpet.

Ae Deewane Dil – Deepak Jeswal (Indipop): This is an unabashed tribute to R D Burman and it did take me back in time instantly! But, however much I loved that nostalgic feel, it came across more as a tribute to Jatin-Lalit given how the duo had internalized Pancham’s sound and produced their own original sound on top so wonderfully. This is not a complaint, however – I love the duo’s work as an extension of Pancham’s. Deepak’s music also seemed to carefully and clinically deconstruct many of Pancham’s familiar phrases by changing the pitch – this is too is not a complaint 🙂

Muruga – Ku.Sa.Krishnamurthy, Ft. Hamsika Iyer (Indipop): Set in the incredibly haunting raaga Madhuvanti, the melody is nothing short of mesmerizing! Hamsika’s vocal prowess is also on full display and she handles the already heady melody brilliantly, with Rajhesh Vaidhya’s impeccable Veena backing.

Kana Yaari – Kaifi Khalil (Coke Studio Season 14): The second song in the new season of Coke Studio hits jackpot! The Balochi track, composed by Kaifi Khalil, also features folk singer Abdul Wahab Bugti and the hijabi rapper Eva B. Eva B’s rap is a special highlight of the song even as Abdul’s Balochi flavor is the song’s solid base. Kaifi’s tune is incredibly lilting, bringing it all together beautifully.

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 169: On Spotify | On YouTube
15 songs this week. The Spotify playlist has all the songs, while YouTube is missing 3 songs because they are inside YouTube jukeboxes (have embedded the full jukebox below).

Yelamma Yela – Yaanai (GV Prakash Kumar) – Tamil: The song’s pallavi is really sweet, layering Arya Dhayal’s wonderful lines with the ‘Yelamma Yela’ chorus. But I thought the song overdid the call-and-response phrase of Arya’s lines and Yelamma Yela, or at least used it to relatively less impactful effect in the anupallavi/charanam. A special mention for Arya’s Tamil diction – her stress in the sounds is so very well done.

Thitthikiradhe – Veerame Vaagai Soodum (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: The song joins my long list of songs composed by Yuvan that deserved a singer other than Yuvan. The tune is vintage Yuvan, however… that vintage that still remains easily likeable with a catchy hook.

Achamillai – Hey Sinamika (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: As long as the song stays in and around the Achamillai hook, it works for me. The parts of the song that stray away from the hook and its horns-laced sound, into the freeform singing with generous English words, the song seems disjoint and forced.

Arkali – Kombu Vatcha Singamda (Dhibu Ninan Thomas) – Tamil: Dhibu chooses to open the song with a very soft melody ending with the ‘Poongaatrae Poongaatrae’ refrain. When he adds the background rhythm, it comes across as a mild jolt but it adds to the song’s charm. Sathya Prakash and Ala B Bala are very good choices as singers.

Vaane Vaane – Carbon (Sam CS) – Tamil: Sam has been out of sorts in the last few years after the Vikram Vedha high. This song harks back to his earlier melody-making style and perhaps a better pitch among his newer songs. Much of that credit should also go to Haricharan for holding the song together brilliantly.

Vesaane O Nichhena – Rowdy Boys (Devi Sri Prasad) – Telugu: The Tamil prelude (used as interlude too) is a pleasant surprise! But DSP has more in store – that unusual rhythm is a big pillar for the song, besides the singing by Kapil Kapilan and Sameera Bharadwaj. The way the rhythm plays with the melody is lovely! It’s a pity that this is such a short song.

Thana Chinni Navve – Super Machi (Thaman S) – Telugu: The song has that instantly identifiable and catchy rhythm that I had recently written about in Shekar Chandra’s Ninnu Chudagane (Atithi Devo Bhava). The other strength of the song is the singer – Kalyani Malik (aka Kalyan Koduri, M M Keeravani’s brother). I’m adequately surprised he doesn’t sing more often!

Gaaname, Rum Pum Pum, Aadam Paadam & Parimitha Neram – Madhuram (Hesham Abdul Wahab, Govind Vasantha) – Malayalam: Hesham seems to be in a great zone these days, with Hridhayam and now, this! He composes 4 of the 5 songs in Madhuram and at least 3 of those were very, very good! In Gaaname, he has the predictably excellent singing by Sooraj Santhosh and Nithya Mammen, accentuating his already beautiful melody that shines also because of the sweeping strings in the background. The 2nd interlude is also a lovely, lilting surprise, pleasantly out of sync with the overall song’s feel. Rum Pum Pum is a fantastic contrast to Gaaname! Arya Dhayal’s confident singing traverses the modern (in the beginning) and the classical (as the song progresses) all the while as Hesham keeps the song’s sound and rhythm so lively. Aadam Paadam seemed a bit predictable and in Shaan Rahman zone (probably because of Vineeth’s singing, I presume), but it is a lovely listen as well. The only song by Govind Vasantha, Parimitha Neram, is sung by Pradeep Kumar and Aavani Malhar, with a fantastic flute layer by Nikhil Ram, is a typical Govind melody with the ‘Parimitha Neram’ screaming his body of work instantly.

Manasse Manasse & Minnalkkodi – Hridhayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: I have already written about quite a few songs from the soundtrack and now the A-side of the soundtrack has just been released! This ‘A-side’ is such a charmingly, old-world phrase that only the cassette-era music lovers would understand. And it points to the fact that there is a B-side with 8 more songs!

Manasse is Vineeth’s show (he’s also the film’s writer and director) given how wonderfully he handles Hesham’s beautifully sweeping melody. Minnalkodi’s superbly thumping rhythm sets it apart as soon as it starts. And while Mohammad Maqbool Mansoor’s lead singing is mighty impactful, when K.S. Chithra enters with her tiny portion in the middle with just humming part, the song gets a wonderful jolt that is reminiscent of Rahman’s 90s style (probably because it reminds me of song other older Rahman song where Chitra sounded very similar).

Naan Olleyavne – Gajanana And Gang (Praddyottan) – Kannada: It really, really hurts to hear Puneeth’s familiar voice and to think he is no more 🙁 He doesn’t have the conventional singer’s voice, but it was a unique texture and he brought more from his singing style than singing prowess. This is that kind of song that gains immensely from his singing style and the composer Praddyottan keeps the song’s mood consistently fluffy and fun!

Je Suis la Pomme Rouge – Parekh & Singh (English): Oddly, the song’s first 4 lines took me back to Sting’s iconic Englishman In New York. But it also takes off in almost a surreal way immediately thereafter with the French hook. The already dreamy tune gets another stunning turn at 3:25!

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 168: On Spotify | On YouTube
18 songs this week. YouTube playlist has all the songs, while Spotify is missing just one – Vivek Sagar’s Madhuramey, from the Telugu film Neetho.

Baliye Re – Jersey (Sachet-Parampara) – Hindi: Jersey’s Telugu original had outstanding music by Anirudh. I’d rate the Hindi remake’s music considerably lesser. The song that stood out for me was Baliye Re. It tries its best to transcend the conventional package the composing duo lavish on it, thanks mainly to the singers – Sachet Tandon, Stebin Ben and Parampara Tandon. I’m assuming this song is the Hindi version of Adhento Gaani Vunnapaatuga from Telugu.

Yennadi Seidhaai – 1945 (Yuvan Shankar Raja) – Tamil: This film, and song, was a pleasant surprise since I had no idea Yuvan was working on a period project like this. The melody, led by Haricharan and Priya Mali, is gorgeous, with a soft ghazal-like outlook that gets accentuated by excellent singing.

Kaanal Neeraai & Kaattuppalli – Writer (Govind Vasantha) – Tamil: Govind Vasantha had a tepid 2021 in my view (yes, Writer released in 2021 too, but towards the fag end of December 2021). Writer’s soundtrack too is less interesting compared to the stupendous work he has produced in the past. But 2 songs stood out for me immediately. Kaanal Neeraai is so very Govind, with a serene and immersive melody that gains so much from Pradeep Kumar’s singing and the incredibly affecting backgrounds. In Kaattuppalli, Govind fuses folk sounds (led by the thavil) very well with his haunting arrangements as the undercurrent. The chorus is fantastic too, consisting of Pravin, Arvind, Velu, Sushmita, Bhuvana and Vaish.

Naan Pizhai – Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal (Anirudh) – Tamil: Anirudh’s new song from Don, released mid-December, didn’t work for me, but here’s the composer again producing pure magic! This is Rahman’s territory all the way, with a sweeping melody that is rendered magnificently by Ravi G and Shashaa Tirupati!

Kitta Varudhu, Whistler & Title Song – Putham Pudhu Kaalai Vidiyaadhaa (Sean Roldan, Karthikeya Murthy & G V Prakash Kumar) – Tamil: Putham Pudhu Kaalai, from early 2020, had a knock-out song by Govind Vasantha (Kanna Thoodhu Po Da). This anthology that builds on that film has at least 3 interesting songs. Sean Roldan’s Kitta Varudhu is a hilarious song about the virus and turns the covid-appropriate-behavior into a catchy jingle-style melody! The title song is a lovely, upbeat song led by GV Prakash Kumar himself confidently singing it along with Yamini Ghantasala. But the surprise of the soundtrack is Karthikeya Murthy’s Whistler, with a vibrantly unique tune and a chorus in Malayalam!

Tara – Shyam Singha Roy (Mickey J Meyer) – Telugu: This is vintage Mickey! He had a spate of songs like this, if I recall right, in the earlier part of his career and I used to love this sound, with an echoing/ethereal ambience to the sound/production. With Karthik’s pitch-perfect singing, this uptempo song is a great listen!

Madhuramey – Neetho (Vivek Sagar) – Telugu: If I had not known that Vivek is the composer I’d have guessed either Mickey J Meyer or Sandeep Chowta (particularly since the tune veers closer ‘Short and Sweet’ from Kedi!). But that’s not a complaint at all since the song works very well for me 🙂

Tillu Anna DJ Pedithe – DJ Tillu (Ram Miriyala) – Telugu: The song sounds like something that was composed in Punjabi originally and Telugu lyrics added to it! Ram does a great job of singing the incredibly lively and catchy song with the necessary high-pitched verve!

Raa Thaarame – Bhoothakaalam (Shane Nigam) – Malayalam: Whoa! I had no idea actor Shane Nigam was interested in music, but here he is, writing, singing, and composing a song! And it is a very competent effort in every way! His singing seems digitally managed, to be sure, but he has the basics right even as the listenable tune itself is the real surprise along with the tasteful arrangements by Prakash Alex.

Aaromal – Minnal Murali (Shaan Rahman) – Malayalam: There’s so much of Santhosh Narayanan in the constantly accompanying strings in the background that I had to look up the composer’s name again to confirm 🙂 The melody is all Shaan Rahman, though, and the line, ‘Ponnurukki Minnorukki Ninne Naale Njan Thaalamelamode Naadarinju Swanthamaakkidum… Athuvare’ is testimony to that! The singing too is excellent, by Nithya Mammen and Sooraj Santhosh.

Aanandakolayil – Kolambi (Ramesh Narayan) – Malayalam: 3 songs from Kolambi were released way back in 2019, though the film was released only in the last week of December 2021! In sync with the film’s release, there’s a new 5-song soundtrack now and that includes a lovely, ebullient riff on an earlier song I had written about in 2019 – Aarodum Parayuka Vaiyya. The new song, Aanandakolayil, sung beautifully by Shweta Mohan, offers a wonderful contrast to the contemplative tone of the earlier song but uses similar cues from the tune!

Shaaru Shaaru – Super Sharanya (Justin Varghese) – Malayalam: Justin pulls off something akin to an Amit Trivedi style song but it is so beautifully soaked in Malayalam/Kerala twang. The lyrics mix Hindi and Malayalam in a hilariously quirky way and the singing by Meera Johny, Justin Varghese, and Hafsath Abdussalam K P gets the tone of the song brilliantly!

Annapoorne – Meow (Justin Varghese) – Malayalam: Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Saama-raaga composition, Annapoorne, is a personal favorite of mine. One of my favorite renditions of the song is on Mandolin, by U.Rajesh, from his 2005 album Into The Light.

So, to see this composition being attempted again by Justin Varghese seems like a wonderful idea of India in its true sense! Justin doesn’t tamper with the melody at all, but helps the singer, Shivahari Varma, present it in all its authentic beauty!

Thathaka Theithare – Hridayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: Hesham ropes in actor Prithviraj to sing a college anthem and the result, with a scintillating horns section, is absolutely superb, with a really addictive ‘Thathaka Theithare’ hook!

O’Ga – 777 Charlie (Nobin Paul) – Konkani: A Konkani song from a Kannada film! The predominant sound of the song is very Latino-style and that itself makes it a fantastic, breezy listen. But add to that Dhiti S Lotlikar’s singing and the way the language sounds so fresh and different from what is commercially mainstream… very good listen!

Tuesday December 21, 2021

Milliblog Annual Music round-up 2021

This is the 14th year of my annual music round-ups.
Here are the previous editions: 
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014  
2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

The makers and the audio label of the upcoming Malayalam film Hridayam recently announced that they would also be releasing the film’s music via audio cassette and CDs (music to be released in January 2022), besides the usual methods – online streaming. As someone who doesn’t even have a CD drive in any of the laptops at home, and obviously does not have a cassette player anymore, this news sounded at once quaint and nostalgic.

I read this news with amusement as I signed up for YouTube Music paid version for the first time after using the platform for free for many years. The one feature that clinched the deal for me? The ability to lock my phone while I stream music from YouTube 🙂

Unlike books where printed books still outsell ebooks or audiobooks by a huge mile, the way we think of music has completely changed.

The American Enterprise Institute has a brilliant animated chart that traces the sales of recorded music from 1973 to 2021 (this should be US data, obviously; but this should also be representative of music sales around the world too, largely). The fascinating chart starts with vinyl dominating the format, cassettes ruling the roost in the 80s, CDs completely ruling in the 2000s, digital download and streaming gradually starting in the mid-2000s, digital download dominating in the late-2000s and early-2010s, and streaming totally taking over the way we think of music by late-2010s. The resurgence of vinyl is also an interesting story in the chart, of course.

Barring the vinyl story, music is largely free of physical artefacts now. Both the way we play music and the music itself is literally in the air now.

Access to music is mostly free now, thanks to YouTube and most of the ad-supported streaming plans. And that explains why success in music is now judged mainly by ‘plays’ (on streaming platforms) and ‘views’ (on YouTube). It’s very easy to stumble on music that is doing the rounds (aka popular) these days unlike the days of CDs and cassettes where the entry price meant that we depended on sources like radio play and media write-ups to know what was buzzing in music. Now, we could land on songs with ‘1 million views’ as something that is buzzing, though that could well be a factor of the song’s picturization too given that YouTube is a visual platform.

But a legitimate mode in which songs are now also released on YouTube is ‘Lyrical’ videos. And these lyrical videos hitting million+ ‘views’ says more about the pure musical pull than music videos hitting similar numbers.

However, given so many songs hitting the basic threshold of 1000000 views or more, it is easy to be swayed by the sentiment of numbers and assume that these are the best songs around because so many people have bestowed their views upon them. What that misses is the simple fact that there is no cost to access these ‘music’ titles anymore (including rock-bottom mobile data prices)!

So, there is a screaming need for many, many trusted/trustable and independent voices that curate music to make sense of what is worth listening to beyond the many ‘millions’ being the deciding factor. I started Milliblog back in 2005, much before the streaming era, precisely for this reason – to be one of the many voices curating the profusion of music around us, particularly film music that usually gets the short end of the stick when it comes to ‘quality’, an unfair tag attached to it because it is more popular.

But as I explain more in the Tamil round-up, even Tamil cinema seems to be gradually tiring of the songs-in-movies shtick. I won’t be surprised if most of the popular film industries in India (across languages) go completely song-free in-film in the next 10-15 years and use ‘songs’ exclusively to promote the films.

I do not generally care for how many people read Milliblog or gain from the weekly playlists I share. I continue doing it only because I want a curated list for myself among the many, many new releases week after week. I’m Milliblog’s first consumer. Even if I’m the only one, I’d still be making these lists week after week as long as I can because I keep asking the question, ‘What should I listen to now?’ every week.

For someone like me who has no formal training in any form of music, to be at this unpaid task for 15+ years seems like a hobby taken too far 🙂

PS 1: Unlike last year where I found YouTube missing a lot of songs in my annual lists and simply gave up and resorted only to Spotify playlists, this year has been very good – all the songs are available completely on both YouTube and Spotify.

PS 2: The lists below are based on the individual songs’ release year (2021), and not the films’ release date/year, with the second week of December 2020 as the starting point and late-December 2021 as a cut-off period (since I posted the 2020 annual round-up in the second week of December last year). I hate treating songs as mere appendages of movies and removing any value they have on their own given the tremendous effort behind each song. Of course, they were paid for and driven entirely by the existence of the films they are present in, but they are our Indian equivalent of Western pop songs and to treat them as mere extensions of our films seems wrong to me. So I give them independent legitimacy and treat their release date to decide which annual list they should belong to. So, if you don’t see a Vaathi Coming in the 2021 Tamil list, you know why.


Hindi

2021 Hindi film music truly belonged to debutant composers! Though ‘debutants’ would be an odd fit to both those debutants – I’m referring to Arijit Singh and Justin Prabhakaran. Arijit, already in the middle of a stellar singing career, produced a knockout film composing debut with Pagglait. His music was nuanced, hugely enjoyable, and demonstrated the proficiency of much more experienced composers, probably owing to the kind of influence he has picked up from composers like Pritam and A R Rahman.

As for Justin, he’s hardly a debutant, but in Hindi, he is. His Hindi debut, in Meenakshi Sundareshwar, walked the tightrope of managing pan-Indian/Hindi sensibilities without making it too Tamil (the film’s setting) or reducing the importance of Tamil sounds.

Ironically, or characteristically for 2021, both these films were released directly on OTT – on Netflix.

Beyond these 2 composers and their 2 soundtracks, the rest of the film music in Hindi was largely very lackluster in 2021. Last year’s composer(s) of the year, Shankar Ehsaan Loy had a tepid year with passable music in Toofan, but were less interesting in Bunty Aur Babli 2. Pritam showcased minimal spark towards the end of the year with Tadap. A R Rahman was in considerably better form, with both Mimi and Atrangi Re offering consistently good overall soundtracks. Sachin and Jigar were probably the busiest composers of the year but had only occasional song-specific goodness.

Composer of the year: Justin Prabhakaran and Arijit Singh

  1. Mann Kesar Kesar – Meenakshi Sundareshwar (Justin Prabhakaran)
  2. Param Sundari – Mimi (A R Rahman)
  3. Rait Zara Si – Atrangi Re (A R Rahman)
  4. Pagglait – Pagglait (Arijit Singh)
  5. Barbaadiyan – Shiddat (Sachin-Jigar)
  6. Purvaiya – Toofaan (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)
  7. Tere Siva Jag Mein – Tadap (Pritam)
  8. Ishq Fitoori – Bhavai (Shabbir Ahmed)
  9. Ranjha – Shershaah (Jasleen Royal)
  10. Vaada Machaney – Meenakshi Sundareshwar (Justin Prabhakaran)
  11. Tere Rang – Atrangi Re (A R Rahman)
  12. Thode Kam Ajnabi – Pagglait (Arijit Singh)
  13. Tu Yahin Hai – Meenakshi Sundareshwar (Justin Prabhakaran)
  14. Chori Chori – Grahan (Amit Trivedi)
  15. Phuljhadiyon – Mimi (A R Rahman)
  16. Tum Pe Hum Toh – Bole Chudiyan (Raghav Sachar)
  17. Marjaawaan – BellBottom (Composed by Gurnazar Singh, Music by Gaurav Dev & Kartik Dev)
  18. Chaka Chak – Atrangi Re (A R Rahman)
  19. Ishq Namazaa – The Big Bull (Gourov Dasgupta)
  20. Kiston – Roohi (Sachin-Jigar)
  21. Hum Dono Yun Mile – 14 Phere (Raajeev V Bhalla)
  22. Kahe Muskaye Re – Bhavai (Shabbir Ahmed)
  23. Kheench Te Nach – Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui (Sachin-Jigar)
  24. Ananya – Toofaan (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy)
  25. Luv Ju – Bunty Aur Babli 2 (Shankar Ehsaan Loy)
  26. Rammo Rammo – Bhuj: The Pride Of India (Tanishk Bagchi)
  27. Bansuri – Bhavai (Shabbir Ahmed)
  28. Tumse Bhi Zyada – Tadap (Pritam)
  29. O Jogiya – Grahan (Amit Trivedi)
  30. Milaa Yun – Haseen Dilruba (Amit Trivedi)
Milliblog Hindi Top 30 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Tamil

Kaithi was one of the most successful films of 2019. Directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, it had one of the leading stars of Tamil cinema (Karthi) and yet had no songs. Lokesh’s 2021 release, Master, had the mandatory 6 songs, though. One of 2021’s successful films, Maanaadu, had one song (for context, no other film starring Silambarasan in the lead had only one song)! Another successful film, Doctor, had just 3 songs – the least number of songs among all movies that starred Sivakarthikeyan in the lead; and he produced this movie too, incidentally! That both these films had popular heroes who are known for their songs did not stop the directors from not having the standard quota of 4-6 songs.

We may be witnessing a very early trend in Tamil cinema where songs aren’t entirely necessary in the larger scheme of things. There used to be a template for Tamil films earlier – ‘4 fights and 6 songs’, but songs may join other potentially defunct features like fights, foreign locations, duets where the leads lip-sync, and so on.

That doesn’t sound promising for an annual music round-up, of course, but Tamil cinema may simply be seeking inspiration from Malayalam cinema that is ahead of the curve in terms of treating songs as a distraction in story-telling. We should have realized it when Mani Ratnam, a director known for his hugely imaginative song picturizations, chose to use the many songs of the soundtrack largely as background sounds in his last film, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. Even the busy Santhanam who had 3 releases in 2021, seemed to have lost interest in songs by his 3rd film in 2021 (Sabapathy, which had just 2 songs, compared to Parris Jeyaraj, with 5 songs, and Dikkiloona with 4 songs).

The rise of OTT viewing may possibly accelerate this trend given that viewers could do better than to head out of the theater for a quick smoke/samosa during a song – they could simply fast-forward the song! Ironically though, anthologies like Paava Kadhaigal and Navarasa had proper soundtracks with quite a few songs!


2021 was also unusual in the sense that many films that were half in the grave, came back from the dead and got minor replays for the music that was released long ago! This list included films like Nenjam Marappathillai, Pon Manickavel, and even top-grossers like Doctor and Master that were meant for early 2020 release but got pushed around due to elections and the pandemic. The result was that songs like Chellamma (Doctor) and Vaathi Coming and Kutty Story (Master) that had been released in 2020 and had already featured in most 2020 annual music round-ups had a fresh lease of success in 2021 too.

In terms of sheer consistency and success, Anirudh easily tops 2021 (rather, 2020/2021 for the reason outlined in the previous paragraph). Master and Doctor (with just 3 songs) were easily the best soundtracks of the year. He added to that with good songs from the upcoming Kaathuvaakula Rendu Kaadhal. Anirudh remains one of those few composers who produce soundtracks/albums where every song is listenable.

D.Imman, despite being busy (Annaatthe, Laabam, Bhoomi, Teddy, Udanpirappe, Pon Manickavel) had a middling year. Santhosh Narayanan had a considerably better year, delivering excellent music in Karnan, Jagame Thandhiram, and Sarpatta Parambarai, and forgettable music in Parris Jeyaraj and Vellai Yaanai. Yuvan had a similar record – impressive in Maanaadu and Nenjam Marappathillai, but functional in Kalathil Santhippom, Chakra, and Dikkiloona.

Other composers with more than one notable song included Sean Roldan (Jai Bhim), Singer Karthik (Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru, Kutty Story), Vivek-Mervin (Enna Solla Pogirai), Ajesh (Sarbath), Pradeep Kumar (Vaazhl), Ghibran (Maara), Girishh Gopalakrishnan (Netrikann), Vishal Chandrashekhar (Oh Manapenne!), and the lone woman composer of the year in Tamil cinema – Revaa (Mugizh).

As for lesser-heard, but very-listenable songs that deserve more, here goes: Pattu Rosa (Theethum Nandrum, C.Sathya), Usuraiye Ulukkuthey (Thaen, Sanath Bharadwaj), Kaalam Azhagai (Ward 126, Varun Sunil), Kaalai Adhikaalai (Naduvan, Dharan Kumar), Enil Paaindhidum (Sinam, Shabir), Seevanuke (Aelay, Kaber Vasuki), Sokkuren Sokkuren (Chidambaram Railwaygate, Karthik Raja), Murukku Meesakaran (Vettai Naai, Ganesh Chandrasekaran), Muruga (Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelir, Nivas K Prasanna), Thattiputta and Ye Rasa (MaaManithan, Ilaiyaraja and Yuvan Shankar Raja), Kaami Kaami (Tughlaq Durbar, Govind Vasantha), Jeeraga Biriyani (Yennanga Sir Unga Sattam, Guna Balasubramanian), Enakkenna Aachu (Kasada Tabara, Yuvan Shankar Raja), Adiye (Bachelor, Dhibu Ninan Thomas), Uchanthala Regaiyile (Pisasu 2, Karthik Raja), Yarathu – (Maddy Engira Madhavan, Hesham Abdul Wahab) and Knockout Song (Arasiyalla Idhellam Saadharnamappa, Madley Blues).

Composer of the year: Anirudh

  1. So Baby – Doctor (Anirudh)
  2. Tum Tum – Enemy (Thaman S)
  3. Thooriga – Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru/Navarasa (Karthik)
  4. Theeranadi – Maara (Ghibran)
  5. Nagarodi – Jail (G.V. Prakash Kumar)
  6. Polladha Ulagathiley – Jai Bhim (Sean Roldan)
  7. Aasai – Enna Solla Pogirai (Vivek – Mervin)
  8. Kandaa Vara Sollunga – Karnan (Santhosh Narayanan)
  9. Thangamey – Paava Kadhaigal (Justin Prabhakaran)
  10. Oh Manapenne – Oh Manapenne (Vishal Chandrashekhar)
  11. Meherezylaa – Maanaadu (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
  12. Kaathirundhen – Maara (Ghibran)
  13. Slum Anthem – Kodiyil Oruvan (Nivas.K.Prasanna)
  14. Pattu Rosa – Theethum Nandrum (C.Sathya)
  15. Idhuvum Kadandhu Pogum – Netrikann (Girishh Gopalakrishnan)
  16. Naanum – Guitar Kambi Mele Nindru (Karthik)
  17. Unnale Unarndhene – Sarbath (Ajesh)
  18. Maayakkara – Mughizh (Revaa)
  19. Nethu – Jagame Thandhiram (Santhosh Narayanan)
  20. Maayangal – Kutty Story (Karthik)
  21. Kavi Solla – Sarbath (Ajesh)
  22. Harla Farla – Chakra (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
  23. Thattiputta – Maamanithan (Ilaiyaraja and Yuvan Shankar Raja)
  24. Usuraiye Ulukkuthey – Thaen (Sanath Bharadwaj)
  25. Yaazha Yaazha – Laabam (D.Imman)
  26. Kalyanam Senju – Madurai Manikkuravan (Ilayaraja)
  27. Bodhai Kaname – Oh Manapenne (Vishal Chandrashekhar)
  28. Anale Anale – Jango (Ghibran)
  29. Jeeraga Biriyani – Yennanga Sir Unga Sattam (Guna Balasubramanian)
  30. Enakkenna Aachu – Kasada Tabara (Yuvan Shankar Raja)
Milliblog Tamil Top 30 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Telugu

Among all the leading film producing languages, I believe that only the Telugu film industry still revels in the song-dance tradition in films. The overall output of songs for Telugu still continues to be better both in terms of quantity and quality, even though the quality factor is slightly questionable given the musical world Telugu creates in itself.

The best part is that there’s a wide variety of composers who compete mighty well, even beyond A-listers like Devi Sri Prasad and Thaman who are clearly, and consistently, the picks for A-list stars. A Pawan Ch could come from nowhere and blow our mind with Lovestory, while veterans like Keeravani demonstrate superb form with films like Pelli SandaD and Kondapolam.

The odd situation that I had mentioned in my Tamil round-up—of the pandemic-infused delay in the release of the film after the release of the music in 2020—is applicable to Telugu too. Case in point: much of the songs of Rang De, Uppena, and Lovestory were out in 2020, and I had featured some of them in my 2020 annual round-up too! These films were released only in 2021.

As for the other composers, I was glad to see Shravan Bharadwaj get much better visibility with the one film he did this year – Natyam. The film though, bombed, but I do hope he gets more work to prove his mettle given his hugely impressive but largely-unheard body of work so far. Chaitan Bharadwaj too continues to impress and his Maha Samudram had great music. Mickey J Meyer had a good run in Sreekaram and a bit less impressive, though listenable run in Shyam Singha Roy.

Song-level highlights—if we look past soundtrack-level—included Chitti (Jathi Ratnalu, Radhan), Kolu Kolu (Virata Parvam, Suresh Bobbili), Ayyayyayyo (Aakasa Veedhullo, Judah Sandhy), Devi Kalyana Vaibogame (Vivaha Bhojanambu, AniVee), Entha Baavundo (Gunde Katha Vintara, Masala Coffee), Kannaye Kallu (Ee Kathalo Paathralu Kalpitam, Karthik Kodakandla), Ala Ila (Stand Up Rahul, Sweekar Agasthi), Bandeena Bandeena (Raja Raja Chora, Vivek Sagar), So So Ga (Manchi Rojulochaie, Anup Rubens), Idhi Nijamaa (Bathuku Busstand, Mahavir) and Ra Ra Linga (Skylab, Prashanth R Vihari).

Composer of the year: Devi Sri Prasad

  1. Leharaayi – Most Eligible Bachelor (Gopi Sundar)
  2. Evo Evo Kalale – Lovestory (Pawan Ch)
  3. Rangule – Rang De (Devi Sri Prasad)
  4. La La Bheemla – Bheemla Nayak (Thaman S)
  5. Ekkesinde – Manchi Rojulochaie (Anup Rubens)
  6. Hey Rambha Rambha – Maha Samudram (Chaitan Bharadwaj)
  7. Madhura Nagarilo – Pelli SandaD (M.M.Keeravani)
  8. Chettekki – Kondapolam (M.M.Keeravani)
  9. Hey Abbayi – Sreekaram (Mickey J Meyer)
  10. MBA MCA – Chalo Premiddam (Bheems Ceciroleo)
  11. Hey Manasendukila​ – Ichata Vahanamulu Niluparadu (Pravin Lakkaraju)
  12. Jala Jala Jalapaatham – Uppena (Devi Sri Prasad)
  13. Entha Entha Choosinaa – Gamanam (Ilayaraja)
  14. Thoorpu Padamara – Natyam (Shravan Bharadwaj)
  15. Ninnu Chudagane – Atithi Devo Bhava (Shekar Chandra)
  16. Korameesam Polisoda – Krack (Thaman S)
  17. Ishtam – Khiladi​ (Devi Sri Prasad)
  18. Nailu Nadi – WWW (Simon K King)
  19. Srivalli – Pushpa (Devi Sri Prasad)
  20. Manasulone Nilichipoke – Varudu Kaavalenu (Vishal Chandrashekhar)
  21. Venuvulo – Natyam (Shravan Bharadwaj)
  22. Digu Digu Digu Naaga – Varudu Kaavalenu (Thaman S)
  23. Premante Enti – Pelli SandaD (M. M. Keeravani)
  24. Okey Oka Lokam – Sashi (Arun Chiluveru)
  25. Title song – Bheemla Nayak (Thaman S)
  26. Sandalle Sandalle – Sreekaram (Mickey J Meyer)
  27. Ningina Jarina – Swa (Karanam Sri Raghavendra)
  28. Idhi Chala Baagundhile – Sehari (Prashanth R Vihari)
  29. Rendu Kannultho – Dil Se (Srikar Velamuri)
  30. Neevevvaro – Boyfriend For Hire (Gopi Sundar)
Milliblog Telugu Top 30 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Malayalam

Probably owing to the pandemic-related constraints and delays, I’d put the Malayalam film music output in 2021 as largely middling. There were good songs all through the year, but compared to the previous years or looking at the quality of music overall, I found it lacking in both range and quality. I missed the kind of outstanding soundtracks from composers like Shaan Rahman or a Prashant Pillai that they are known for. Perhaps next year when the effects of the pandemic are on the wane… hopefully.

In terms of highlights that could have more impact next year, I look forward to what more Pradeep Kumar does in Veyil (his Malayalam debut), and Prashant does in Moonwalk, considering we have just one song so far from both films. So far, given the few songs released, it looks like Hesham Abdul Wahab has a very well-put-together album in Hridayam and I look forward to the other songs in the soundtrack, beyond the 2 in this list below.

Composer of the year: None.

  1. Darshana – Hridayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab)
  2. Innale Mellane – Nizhal (Sooraj S Kurup)
  3. The Hey Song – Veyil (Pradeep Kumar)
  4. Madhuradhari – Karlmarx Bakthanayirunnu (Manikandan Ayyappa)
  5. Paathira Kaalam – Kurup (Sushin Shyam)
  6. Kanvaathil – Roy (Munna PM)
  7. Ollulleru – Ajagajantharam (Justin Varghese)
  8. Kantharipenne – Marathon (Bibin Ashok)
  9. Thee Minnal – Minnal Murali (Sushin Shyam)
  10. Varavayi Nee – Sara’s (Shaan Rahman)
  11. Theerame – Malik (Sushin Shyam)
  12. Maaran – Kudukku 2025 (Bhoomee)
  13. Oh Kinakaalam – Moonwalk (Prashant Pillai)
  14. Hijabi – Meow (Justin Varghese)
  15. Enthinanente Chenthamare – Karnan Napoleon Bhagat Singh (Ranjin Raj)
  16. Kannil Minnum – Meppadiyan (Rahul Subrahmanian)
  17. Munthiripoovo – Bhramam (Jakes Bejoy)
  18. Pakaliravukal – Kurup (Sushin Shyam)
  19. Pinnenthe – Ellam Sheriyakum (Ouseppachan)
  20. Eeran Nila – Meri Awas Suno (M.Jayachandran)
  21. Vetta Mrigam – Kuruthi (Jakes Bejoy)
  22. Ilaveyil – Marakkar (Ronnie Raphael)
  23. Kinavil – Sumesh & Ramesh (Yakzan Gary Pereira & Neha S Nair)
  24. Ozhukidum Nithaantha – Black Coffee (Bijibal)
  25. Mele Vinpadavukal – Sara’s (Shaan Rahman)
  26. Alare – Member Rameshan 9aam Ward (Kailas Menon)
  27. Kanakam Kalaham – Kanakam Kamini Kalaham (Yakzan Gary Pereira & Neha S Nair)
  28. Mathilkakathu – Karlmarx Bakthanayirunnu (Manikandan Ayyappa)
  29. Uyire – Minnal Murali (Shaan Rahman)
  30. Arike Ninna – Hridayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab)
Milliblog Malayalam Top 30 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Kannada

As always, I find the overall quality of Kannada film music to be abysmal. Even the so-called masala/commercial music lacks the finesse and imagination of Telugu commercial film music that seem to be mounted far, far better.

That said, I do expect a lot from talented composers like Ajaneesh Loknath, Charan Raj, and Judah Sandhy who have been largely consistent in delivering good music that aims to truly compete with the rest of the country’s best. I was a big fan of Arjun Janya’s music when he was a fresh talent, but he seems to have settled into a mind-numbing sameness of late. Hope he finds adequate inspiration and better scripts to get his creative mojo back.

Composer of the year: B Ajaneesh Loknath

  1. Nenapina Hudugiye – Hero (B Ajaneesh Loknath)
  2. Tininga Miniga Tishaa – Salaga (Charan Raj)
  3. Nee Parichaya – Ninna Sanihake (Raghu Dixit)
  4. Premakke Kannilla – Sakath (Judah Sandhy)
  5. Gicchi Gili Gili – Rathnan Prapancha (B Ajaneesh Loknath)
  6. Khali Khali – Puksatte Lifu (Vasu Dixit)
  7. Bareve Bareve – H34 Pallavi Talkies (B Ajaneesh Loknath)
  8. Endo Bareda – Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana (Midhun Mukundan)
  9. Yaare Yaare – Ek Love Ya (Arjun Janya)
  10. Shuruvaagide – Sakath (Judah Sandhy)
Milliblog Kannada Top 10 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Non-film music:

Non-film music – Hindi

  1. Roz Roz – The Yellow Diary ft. Shilpa Rao
  2. Charkhe – Nyasa
  3. Tohfa – Vayu
  4. Churaya – Amit Trivedi
  5. Baaton Baaton Mein – Ishq-Songs of Love (Hariharan, Bickram Ghosh)
  6. Piya More Piya – Santanu Ghatak feat. Sharmistha Chatterjee
  7. Rusvaaiyaan – Amit Trivedi
  8. Angana Morey – Soumyadeep Ghoshal Ft. Shreya Ghoshal
  9. Dhoom – Maati Baani
  10. KTMBK – Genesis 1:1 (Zaeden)
Milliblog Hindi – Non-film Top 10 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Non-film music – Tamil

  1. Enjoy Enjaami – Dhee ft. Arivu (Santhosh Narayanan)
  2. Idhu Varai – Staccato
  3. Maya – Three Songs For The Night (Sean Roldan)
  4. Thunai – Keerthana Vaidyanathan & Prashanth Techno
  5. Yaathi Yaathi – Abhishek CS
  6. So Soku – V2 Vijay Vicky
  7. Mannavanaanalum – Ghibran
  8. Kanaa – Nucleya, 2jaym & Sublahshini
  9. Kooda Vaa – Ghibran
  10. Kan Munnale – Varun Sunil (Ft. Shweta Mohan)
Milliblog Tamil – Non-film Top 10 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Non-film music – Malayalam

  1. Chiri Paatu – Varkey
  2. Pilleranu – Rithu (Sithara’s Project Malabaricus)
  3. Malhaar – Arun Kamath
  4. Pularikal – Pina Colada Blues
  5. Mukile Mukile (Kanmoodi Parthaal) – Sam Simon George, ft. KS Harisankar
  6. Kanmani Kanmani – Shaan Rahman
  7. Naale – Everafter
  8. Arutharuthu – Sithara’s Project Malabaricus
  9. Thonnal – Govind Vasantha
  10. Oblivion – Ashwin Renju
Milliblog Malayalam – Non-film Top 10 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Non-film music – Instrumental

  1. So… Now Hear This – Abhay Nayampally (Abhay Nayampally)
  2. The Khamaj Connection – Mahesh Raghvan and Nandini Shankar
  3. The Road Not Taken – The Immersive Experience (Sandeep Chowta, feat. Abhay Nayampally & Seb Read)
  4. Hues – Abhay Nayampally (Abhay Nayampally)
  5. Ballad of Krishna – Abhay Nayampally (Abhay Nayampally)
  6. Shanmukhapriya – – Unbounded (Abaad) – Purbayan Chatterjee
  7. Kaleidoscope – Fusion Fission (Sandeep Chowta)
  8. Ex-Animo – Abhay Nayampally (Abhay Nayampally)
  9. The Dune Tune – Fusion Fission (Sandeep Chowta)
  10. Ragamaya – Intuition (Apoorva Krishna)
Milliblog Instrumental – Non-film Top 10 2021 playlist on Spotify | YouTube

Happy listening 🙂

Milliblog Weeklies – India’s only multilingual, weekly new music playlist.
Week 167: On Spotify | On YouTube
12 songs this week. Both Spotify and YouTube playlists have all the songs.

Garda, Chaka Chak, Tere Rang & Little Little, Rait Zara Si – Atrangi Re (A R Rahman) – Hindi: Garda, with its celebratory sound, is a wonderfully joyous song. The ‘Dale dora re, Baaga gora gora re’ hook stays, along with the very-Bihari expression, ‘Sala garda uda diye’, uttered by none other than the film’s writer and co-producer, Himanshu Sharma! Chaka Chak took me back to Rahman’s late-90s output given how ebullient and lively the whole package was. Shreya Ghoshal is, as always, phenomenally good. Tere Rang is an absolute beauty that screams Rahman’s style in every single way! This is the kind of song that would be sung by choice in singing competition shows on TV! Even within the semi-classical melody of the tune, the interludes offer a grand orchestral flourish. The song is a superb showcase of Shreya and Haricharan’s singing, and Rahman juxtaposes their voices so beautifully.

Little Little has an easy-going tune to suit Dhanush’s singing range and the lyrics too support it with simple, rhyming words like Dear, Near, Fear, Cheer 🙂 The backgrounds are a lovely hat-doff to Indira’s Odakkaara Maarimuthu! Rait Zara Si, though, is the soundtrack’s best! This is the kind of melody where the mukhda and antara extend vibrantly and merge into pure music. And then that Tamil phrase in between (Vaasam Veesuthadi), besides the thavil-based rhythm! Arijit Singh and Shashaa Tirupati are superb here!

Uruttu, It’s Raining Love & Aasai Reprise – Enna Solla Pogirai (Vivek-Mervin) – Tamil: Uruttu is good fun, using famous/familiar phrases (like Sweet Edu Kondaadu) and a catchy Middle eastern vibe. It’s Raining Love is perfectly in Vivek-Mervin zone – uptempo and very catchy, almost like an early-Harris Jayaraj melody. Aasai is already a mesmerizing melody, but Vivek-Mervin up the ante by getting Bombay Jayashri for a Reprise! And she does a smashingly good job in offering her own perspective on the tune’s beauty.

Arike Ninna – Hridayam (Hesham Abdul Wahab) – Malayalam: Hesham builds the tempo of the melody slowly and it gets accentuated beautifully because of the choice of the singer – Job Kurian!

Kugramame – Minnal Murali (Sushin Shyam) – Malayalam: Sushin extends his incredibly cool 80s synth sound—that he so wonderfully delivered in Thee Minnal—in a shorter song, here.

Malebille – Drishya 2 (Ajaneesh B Loknath) – Kannada: A pleasant surprise from Ajaneesh for a film that’s not particularly known for its music (in any language) as much as it’s lauded for its script! I thought the raaga was Pilu and that probably explains why the tune worked for me almost immediately.

Rang – Shekhar Ravjiani (Indipop): Vishal-Shekhar’s Shekhar has been less proficient recently on his own, and given his fantastic singing, it’s great to see him try his solo act again with Rang. It’s a simple, but very engaging tune. With that accordion in the backdrop, the song has a beautiful European vibe even as the lyrics make it seem so very Indian at heart.

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