8 of the best songs in Coke Studio history

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After making a list for 8 of the worst songs in Coke Studio history it was only fair to make one for 8 of the best. Coke Studio has been responsible for some of the best music to come out of Pakistan since the series started back in 2008. Eight seasons later many of the songs have gone on to become iconic classics. Here is our list of 8 of the best coke studio songs, a song from each complete season with a list of honorable mentions at the end for each season, except for season 6 of course.

Disclaimer: It is all subjective.

Season 1: Ali Azmat and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan – Garaj Baras

Ali Azmat’s post Junoon single, ‘Garaj Baras’ for the Indian movie ‘Paap’ in 2003 was a decent track on its own. Five years later it featured in Coke Studio’s first season and the song became even better with the addition of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The vocal solo at 3:00 minutes by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan is truly extraordinary. The chorus at the end with Rahat’s fillers is equally amazing.

Season 2: Aik Alif – Noori Featuring Saieen Zahoor

Although Saieen Zahoor had been doing folk music since time, it was not until he won a BBC music award in 2006 that he really got noticed. In 2009 Aik Alif came out which resulted in him becoming a regular on Coke Studio and also got him international acclaim. Similarly, Aik Alif was the comeback song for Noori who also became a regular feature on Coke Studio post Season 2. The song is arranged very well with all three artists playing to their strengths. Both the banjo (played by Ali Hamza) and the ektara (played by Saieen Zahoor) are welcome inclusions. It really is a complete song with all involved beautifully complimenting each other.

Season 3: Mori Araj Suno – Tina Sani & Arieb Azhar

Tina Sani singing Faiz is nothing new. She has been doing it for thirty odd years. But add Coke Studio to the mix and you have an entirely fresh way of doing it. Tina Sani’s powerful vocals with acoustic guitars, violin and light percussion in the background already make this a great easy listening piece but it is Arieb Azhar’s recitation of Fiaz’s poem at the end that really seals the deal.

Season 4: Mundari – Ustaad Naseer-ud-din Saami

Ustaad level par jab baat jaati hai tau..kheilein gai woh..barra maza aayega” (when the song is being done by someone with this level of talent then he is bound to experiment, it will be fun). These were Rohail Hayat’s words during the making of Mundari. The was the first time Coke Studio did eastern classical music. The house band is not  allowed to follow Ustaad Saami in this song because let’s face it, they simply can’t. Instead they do their own thing and he does his. Still it all comes together exceptionally well and even if you’re not that into classical music, just listen to the vocal solo starting at 6:43. Too good!

Season 5: Pere Pavandi Saan – Tahir Mithu

The best part about this song is Tahir Mithu himself, a naturally talented singer with little or no training. The song is Sindhi folk but has been given a funk overhaul by the house band with some great guitar fills and even better percussion. It’s a fun and different song which was a welcome change in an otherwise dreary season that featured ‘rap music’ and failed covers of classics like Iqbal Bano’s ‘Dasht-e-Tanhai’.

Season 6: Laila-o-Laila – Rostam Mirlashari

A Baluch-Irani living in Sweden who idolizes Nusrat Fateh Ai Khan is what it took to salvage this train wreck of a season. In season 6 the idea to fuse Pakistani music with different styles, instruments and artists from a variety of countries did not have the desired result. Laila-o-laila is the only exception. The Baluchi vocals and rhythm that are complimented by a Norwegian instrument called a ‘hardingfele, (a violin with six nylon strings), kind of like a sarangi, makes for a delightful listen. This song, like most other songs in this season, was recorded and mastered at multiple locations via Skype; hence the outcome is even more impressive.

Season 7: Dost – Abida Parveen

This list would be incomplete without a song by Abida Parveen. Although she had already done multiple numbers in previous seasons, ‘Dost’ is probably the best out of the lot. The reason is the simplicity that the new producers, Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia (Strings) brought to the song. Previous Abida Parveen Songs had too much going on. This one is simple, Shallum with an acoustic guitar, flute in the background, Tabla with light drums and of course the magical voice of Abida Parveen that undeniably carries the entire song.

Season 8: Tajdar-e-Haram – Atif Aslam

This is the best season Coke Studio has ever produced. Almost every episode has a song you just can’t stop listening to. But it was Atif Aslam’s successful attempt at the Sabri Brother’s classic ‘Tajdar-e-Haram’ that really took the cake. Compressing a 23 minute qawali into a 10 minute cover was half the battle. Singing it like a pro while keeping the essence of this particular qawali was even more difficult and Atif Aslam delivers just that. The arrangement, the backing vocals and the house band are all brilliant but Atif is exceptional and I doubt anyone has or can do a cover of this classic any better.

Honourable mentions:

Season 1:

My Happiness – Sajid & Zeeshan

Season 2:

Jo Meray – Noori

Season 3:

Hor Vi Neevan Ho – Noori featuring Noor Zehra

Naina De Akhay – Rizwan & Muazzam

Season 4:

Ni Oothan Wali – Ataullah Esakhelvi

Mandh Waai – The Sketches

Season 5:

Seher (Instrumental) – Farhan Rais Khan

Khabaram Raseeda – Fareed Ayaz & Abu Muhammad

Season 7:

Tum Naraz Ho: Sajjad Ali

Sab Akho Ali – Asrar

Season 8: 

Bewajah – Nabeel Shaukat Ali

Neun La Leya – Kaavish

Rangeela – Ali Azmat

Hare Hare Bans – Rizwan-Muazzam & Shazia Manzoor

Kadi Ao Ni – Atif Aslam & Mai Dhai

Aaj Jane Ki Zid Na Karo – Farida Khanum

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Really? Whose list is this? Jugni Ji by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi didn't make the cut? What a joke the list is.

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