Coke Studio, one of Pakistan’s most renowned musical platforms drew to a close in possibly the most dramatic way. Its final episode which featured Ahad Raza Mir and Momina Mustehsan’s ‘Ko Ko Korina’, had the entire country including the Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazaari engage in Twitter warfare as everyone unabashedly “massacred” (pun intended) the singers and the studio.
Compared to the 90s, Pakistani music industry appears to be on a standstill as the spotlight shifts to the booming drama and film industry. Nonetheless, platforms such as Coke Studio give established and budding singers a chance to present their work. In recent years, Coke Studio’s production has moved in multiple hands: from Rohail Hyatt, to a brief stint by Strings, to Ali Hamza and Zohaib Kazi this year. This meant that they definitely had big shoes and high expectations to fulfil. Season 11 was Hamza and Kazi’s debut as producers and while the two managed to win hearts with the Coke Studio Explorer launched earlier in the year, the season itself received mixed responses from the audiences. Their launch song, Hum Dekhain Gay also garnered praise, raising expectations for the upcoming season.
To sum it up in one word, the season was mediocre. One social media user noted that this season featured more peppy and upbeat songs as compared to the previous ones, which is why listeners were unhappy with it. While, many agreed with this observation, they also lauded the producers for stepping away from the norm and introducing a variety of tunes to the show. It is important to mention here that a number of songs from this season will definitely be making it to our wedding playlists.
Another observation was that the music was dull, flat, and emotionless and almost felt forced. The music and lyrics did not sync with each other.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, earlier at the launch of the season in Lahore, one of the producers of the season, Ali Hamza had said the entire nation has a deep emotional attachment to the platform. He said that as a producer he felt a sense of responsibility and was honoured to be associated with it.
He added that the country is full of talent and only a fraction of it was showcased in Coke Studio Explorer. Hamza said that he hoped that the audiences will appreciate the season as much as they appreciated the Explorer.
Hamza concluded, “This season is all about diversity and breaking stereotypes, you are going to love it.”
We put together a list of this season’s highlight after speaking to some die-hard Coke Studio fans and listeners in general. Highs were unfortunately on the lower side and a couple of prominent singers including Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam, Strings, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Farhan Saeed, Sanam Marvi and Quratulain Baloch were missing from this season; their absence did not go unnoticed.
Iqbal’s beautiful kalam has been given life to by Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal and Brothers along with Natasha Baig in possibly the most powerful and hypnotic manner. Many listeners commented that “the song gave them goosebumps” and was the best this season had to offer.
The mix of qawwali and rock was euphonic and Baig’s vocals are the definite highlight of this song.
‘Baalkada’ crooned by transgender persons Naghma and Lucky along with Jimmy Khan is more than just a song. It breaks stereotypes and brings transgender persons, who have been the custodian of different art forms for centuries, on a bigger platform and given them to chance to express themselves and showcase their talent; a thing that should essentially not be limited to gender.
According to Coke Studio, this tappa is centuries old and transgender persons used to sing it when babies were born. As far as the song itself is concerned, it is a wonderful combination of powerful lyrics and lively tune.
Luddi Hay Jamalo
Humaira Arshad and Ali Sethi did complete justice to this iconic Punjabi folk song. The funky melody, presented with a twist of disco, is an absolute joy to listen to and one cannot help but groove along to the song. This one is definitely going to be a wedding favourite.
Sahir Ali Bagga is without a doubt one of the most talented musicians in this country. His voice is potent yet soothing which is why he was the perfect fit for this emotional and dramatic song. While, Momina was able to match Bagga’s vocals, one cannot help but feel that Aima Baig might have been a better fit.
Shuja Haider is definitely one of the most underrated musicians in our industry. His solo performance, a vibrant fusion of bold lyrics and Arabic music was refreshing.
Abrarul Haq and Aima Baig’s mashup of Punjabi desi wedding songs grows on you. The song screams nostalgia and is proof that Abrar’s Punjabi dialect is like none other. The music is foot-tapping and energetic. One can safely say that this song will be played on repeat on the winter weddings.
This was one rendition which was done well. Coke Studio’s version of ‘Hawa Hawa’, an iconic tune from the 80’, was catchy and Gul Panrra’s pushto accent gave the song a different flavour.
Momina Mustehsan and Asim Azhar take you on a romantic journey with this soft, dulcet melody, which has strong Disney vibes. In all honesty, this song transports you to another zone. From their very first duet ‘Tera Woh Pyar’ to ‘Mahi Aaja’, this dynamic duo has yet again given us another memorable track.
Ko Ko Korina
Need I say more?