“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”
Music is one of the foremost sources of global recognition and pride for Pakistan. Legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, evergreen Noor Jehan, soulful Pathanay Khan, melodious Mehdi Hassan, beautiful Nazia Hassan, jaunty Alamgir, soothing Ghulam Ali Khan, rock star Ali Azmat, fervent Alan Faqir, quirky Hadiqa Kiyani, spiritual Sayeen Zahoor and star band of Fuzon – are the music ambassadors and source of dignity for Pakistan. The latest addition to the list is Coke Studio Pakistan which took music to an altogether different level.
Coke studio is Pakistani TV Series where talented Pakistani musicians come to jam with an in-house band. The show is produced by the Coca-Cola Company. Starting in 2008, Coke Studio has been popular throughout the country, receiving critical acclaim and frequently being rebroadcast on numerous television and radio stations. It is one of the most popular music programmes in Asia.
The program focuses on a fusion of the diverse musical influences in Pakistan, including eastern classical, folk, qawwali, bhangra, Sufi and contemporary hip hop, rock and pop music. Sometimes they bring together musicians from diverse influences and pick -up a popular track from any one of them to give it a completely different feel. Since 2008, the show got better and better every year, and so much that Coca-Cola launched it in India and the Middle East also.
The best thing about Coke Studio is their passion for music and not hesitating from experimentation. The way each and every minute detail is handled is simply outstanding. Behind the scenes rehearsals, camera work, video shooting, sound effects – their is sheer quality in each and every aspect of music production.
Although standard of the show for past two to three seasons has somewhat declined a little bit, still the genius of Rohail Hayat, the producer, comes up with three or four brilliant music tracks each year. I am a huge fan of the show and have never missed any episode. Although Rohail left the show after last season under some controversial circumstances, I hope his legacy of quality music production remains alive in future.
Six seasons have been aired so far since 2008 and each season include some outstanding tracks. I am picking my favourite five tracks across all the seasons of the show.
5. Rabba Ho
A song from season 6, in which we witnessed a beautiful fusion of Eastern, Western and regionally-inspired music for which the platform has come to be renowned. In season 6, Coke Studio’s cross-genre Pakistani musical talent was joined by international musicians trained in both contemporary and traditional instrumentation. For me this duet of Sayeen Zahoor and Sanam Marvi was best of season 6.
4. Saari Raat
An outstanding song from season 2, a season which I consider to be best of all seasons. It is song that flows naturally – sung by Noorie, a rock band known for his raw energy. This song has some brilliant Sitar and Keyboard pieces. the tempo of the song picks up gradually. It moves from classical to soft rock to love ballad to something slightly heavy, meandering along the way like a river in a farmland.
About artist: Noori
3. Ishq Aap Bhi Awalla
A masterpiece from season 5. The song ‘Ishq Aap Bhe Awalla’ revolves around the life of a woman in love filling water from a well. The woman in the song is filling water but her focus is somewhere else and the words of the song are all the things she wants to say to her beloved. Traditionally this song is performed at weddings. Coke Studio’s treatment made it one of the greatest hit. It was sung by a group of folk singers, ‘Chakwal Party’, and Meesha Shafi.
2. Garaj Baras
Ali Azmat, rock artist, struck pure genius with Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, classical singer. It’s the best song from season 1 of the show. It remains one of the biggest hits to-date. The part of the song where Rahet Fateh Ali Khan unveils himself as a classical maestro still gives me goosebumps. The guitar and drum work in this song is simply brilliant.
1. Alif Allah, Jugni
This song from season 3 is number 1 on my music playlist. Not only my playlist, it is rated as number 1 song of all the coke studio seasons. The idea of combining one musical powerhouse – Arif Lohar and the edgy, young Meesha Shafi, was bound to be either very good or very bad. But it turned out to one great musical collaboration. The music, beat, tempo, vocals – everything is best about this song. This is my favourite song from Coke Studio.