Let me begin this listicle with a very cliched phrase “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That is exactly what I did while lying on a hospital bed – listened again and again to all the lovely tracks from Coke Studio Pakistan Season 8. It was also the first time that I followed an entire season of coke studio. Unlike, Coke Studio India, the Pakistan version is much more mature and tasteful in terms of music production. The reason being that entire season is produced by one artist, thus maintaining sanctity across all the episodes of the season. Season 8 was produced by a band called Strings, who also produced season 7. They have a done a marvelous job of bringing together fresh talent and experienced artistes together on one platform. With calculated risks of recreating the classics and also creating new music, they have given us 28 songs in all. Here are my top picks from the season which I am sure to listen over and over again until next season.
1. Aaj jaane ki zid na karo – Farida Khanum
We all have heard this song. We have even heard so many covers and versions by various artists. But master is master. Mallika-e-Ghazal mahotarama Farida Khanum is able to create the same magic even at this age. This one is sure to give you Goosebumps and moist eyes.
Also listen AR Rahman’s Aaj Jaane ki zid na karo
2. Umraan Langiyaan – Ali Sethi & Nabeel Shaukat
Beauty of Coke Studio Pakistan lies in its ability to bring together two unlikeliest of artists and make them sing oft-forgotten classics and create something so magical that you’ll have to play it on loop. In this one, they have brought together two classic Pakistani songs (which we would have never got to listen otherwise) sung & written from female perspective and made two young boys sing them. Melody is a term which we generally associate with sweet female voices like Shreya Ghoshal, but these two lads here have been so melodious in this song that their voices just flow in your ears. Joy is the feeling that is left long after you hear this one.
3. Tajdar-e-Haram – Atif Aslam
Now, if you are like me and share the contempt for Atif Aslam then you must have sneered at this particular entry. But hold it right there. With this song I discovered that Atif too can sing well. Apart from his singing, there’s a treat for Urdu lovers in this one. If you are used to listen to either AR Rahman or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s brand of Sufi songs (which are on two totally different planes) you will find some unique yet lovable sound in this.
4. Sakal Ban – Rizwan & Muazzam Ali Khan
A rendition of Amir Khusrow’s poetry in a perfect rock style. Add to it flawless singing from the heirs of Nusrat Sa’aab. This is what we love Coke Studio Pakistan for. When Rizwan sings, “khwaja nizamuddin ke darbaran me aavat kahe gaye” the helplessness in his voices pierces right through you.
5. Ve Baneya – Fizza Jawed & Mulazim Hussain
Beauty of a perfect duet lies in the fact that both the male and female voices are able to retain their individual tonal qualities and yet blend together smoothly. That is exactly what has happened in Ve Baneya! Again Coke studio have brought out two classics and given them their unique touch to give us a beautiful song. Mulazim’s part leaves us all happy whereas Fizza’s part leaves you with a tinge of pain.
6. Rockstar – Ali Zafar
Again, like Atif Aslam, you might not be particularly a fan of Ali Zafar. But in this original composition he totally owns it. Whattay fun track this is with the lyrics taking a jibe at Ali Zafar himself. Full marks for the totally quirky and sinister lyrics. Not a song that I shall be playing on loop but a great song for the occasional listens.
7. Chiryan Da Chamba – Suraiya Khanum & Anwar Maqsood
Listen to this song exactly ONE time. Unless, you are fond of crying. Heavy singing of Suraiya Khanum combined with dramatic poetry recitation by Anwar Maqsood is sure to make you cry again and again.
8. Khari Neem – Siege
If you want to define power-packed performance, there is no better example then this song. A complete rock treatment given to a folk song and it doesn’t sound forced or contrived. This is how Pakistani folk songs and classics are getting passed on to younger generation.
9. Kinaray – Mekaal Hassan Band
I do not know what form of music is this. But I absolutely love the voice of this singer. Combined with the music it creates a very soothing feel. Also, there is something about songs that have river and maajhi in the lyrics that strike a chord with me.
10. Hare Hare Baans – Shazia Manzoor, Rizwan & Muazzam
Another one from Rizwan-Muazzam brothers. This one doesn’t have overwhelming gaayaki, alaap and murkiyaan. They have kept it quite subtle in this one which is what makes this song so adorable.
BONUS – Sohni Dharti
This was the track that Coke Studio released before the season began to highlight the artiste lineup. It’s lovely how the song only applies to Pakistan but to any person who loves his/her country.