Soundcheck: Third time’s a charm
Neray Aah by Overload and Rachel Viccaji: Rachel steps on to the stage as one of the lead vocalists for this song. As seen in the behind-the-scenes clip, adapting to Punjabi was challenging enough for the singer, but she seemed to do a fine job in the final version.
Neray Aah has been taken from the soundtrack of Syed Noor’s film, Choorian (1998). Overload’s cover of the song, which they first released in 2011, was a popular hit as well.
Farhad Humayun joins Rachel to sing a duet that is gritty and has raw angst in its undertone. Their collaboration lends certain darkness to the song and gives voice to the torment it is meant to communicate.
Replacing Farhad on drums is his long-time friend Sikandar Mufti. Another addition to the music is that there is a shaadi band featured in the song as well.
What was missing was the heavy percussion element in the song that is Overload’s signature. The dhol player, Nasir Saieen, stood in the corner and seemed to contribute minimally to the song. Having said that, although the song steps away from the sound we associate with Overload, it is fantastic nonetheless. Neray Aah is easily one of the defining songs of this episode.
Nindiya Ke Paar by Uzair Jaswal: It sees the young debutant singer, Uzair Jaswal, take centre stage to sing a song that appears to be well beyond his years; and he delivers it beautifully.
Talent seems to run in the family as Uzair Jaswal’s older brother, Umair Jaswal as the lead singer of Qayaas, was featured in the first episode of Coke Studio opposite Atif Aslam. Nindiya Ke Paar has been written by Uzair Jaswal’s other older brother, Yasir Jaswal. The essence of the song is about escaping from life’s troubles into a fantastical world of dreams. Uzair Jaswal has a beautiful, melodious voice that takes you on a journey to that very place of fantasy his song talks about.
The song picks up the tempo in the second half when Uzair fuses it with Terey Bin by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. In the behind-the-scenes clips, producer Rohail Hyatt says, “This is a song that has a very dark, broody tone that slowly lifts into a happy track.”
Nindiya Ke Paar not only sees a newcomer like Uzair Jaswal carve his own space and hold his own in comparison to the other artistes featured on the show, it also introduces a heart-rendering ballad that can be considered timeless.
Rung by Hadiqa Kiani: She is one of the defining figures of Pakistan’s music industry and this season of CS sees her bring out her Sufi side since so far, her focus has predominantly been on the kalam of various Sufi poets of the subcontinent.
In this episode, Hadiqa chose to sing the kalam of Hazrat Amir Khusrau, Rung — one of his earlier works. It is an ambitious proposition for anyone, especially considering that the structure given to it in this version is incredibly complex.
Where one doesn’t doubt Hadiqa Kiani’s vocal prowess or the emotion with which she renders Rung, the complex structure of the song is distracting at best and fails to give a sense of cohesion to the song.
School Di Kitaab by Bohemia: Easily one of the best songs of the season, School Di Kitaab is the track with which Bohemia really arrives on the studio. His music is inspired by personal experiences and School Di Kitab is Bohemia talking about being taken by fame and fortune, and coming across parents of his fans complaining that their children are not inclined towards education.
Although other than in the main chorus of the song where he croons: “Ve mundeya/kuriyan nu geet mere yaad jiven school di kitaab” (Boys/girls learn my songs as if they were school books), he doesn’t actually mention anything related to education outright, but the song is Bohemia’s message to his fans to finish their schooling.
A master storyteller, Bohemia seems to have put his heart and soul into the piece and he delivers a stellar performance. From the very start; the listeners’ focus remains on his rendition of the lyrical content and the flow and rhythm with which he delivers it.
Taarey by Bilal Khan: The past couple of years have seen Bilal Khan’s star steadily rise. What better way to describe that than by writing a song. Taarey is a happy number written at a good point in the singer’s life. It is an optimistic song that exhorts its followers to go out and follow their dreams — and nothing, even the stars, is out of reach.
This season of Coke Studio sees Bilal Khan explore different sides to his music. Gone are the broody ballads as with Taarey the crooner has introduces his fun-loving side. It is a simple, upbeat song with a catchy chorus and has all the necessary ingredients to become a popular ditty.