Much has been
said about Coke Studio. Perhaps too much. Then again, it remains
the most talked about and influential musical entity to have sustained
itself through trying and testing times, evolving each year.
In a month flooded with reports of airplane crash and crippling
and devastating floods, Coke Studio breathes new life into live,
connecting people, bringing joy in seemingly dense surroundings.
As the third season comes to a close, Instep takes a look at the
five most groundbreaking, innovative, important, influential and
gobsmacking tunes to have come out of the Coke Studio Sessions...
Ali Zafar and Saeen Tufail Ahmed
The haunting undertones of ‘Dastaan-e-Ishq’, the delight
of the celebratory ‘Yaar Dhadee’, or the heartwrenching
ballad-esque charm of ‘Nahin Ray Nahin’ can’t
be ignored. Nor can the beats and rhythm of ‘Channo’
In 2008, before Tere Bin Laden elevated Ali Zafar to movie star
and material and amidst the playfulness of Ali Zafar’s blend
of pop ditties and an image that comes with its set of limitations,
plastic pop and what not, Coke Studio came calling.
By now, the songs are irreverent to music junkies. But the moment
that changed it for Ali, his fans and the media happened with
Saeen Tufail. It was a groundbreaking moment for Ali Zafar, whose
raw talent hit like a lightning rod. It paved for his stint on
season two and the beautiful melodies that followed. But most
importantly, it broke Ali Zafar away from just pop-rock and helped
in creating a balance between contemporary and the earthy folk.
Noori and Saeen Zahoor
Saeen Zahoor, a man of the shrines, came into our consciousness
in 2006 with Khuda Kay Liye’s ‘Allah Hoo’. In
2009, Saaen Zahoor joined hands with Noori, who were opening a
new chapter for themselves. The timing couldn’t have been
One had never seen Noori in such a light before. It was Noori-Saaen
working together alongside Rohail Hyatt and the house band which
led to ‘Aik Alif’, the song that went onto become
the anthem of 2009.
The response was overwhelming. Noori couldn’t be written
off just yet. It was a new beginning of sorts for the band that
is nowhere near slowing down with news of a new record in the
Saeen Zahoor isn’t just a voice of the masses. He has penetrated
through the masses and the classes with poise, charm and purity.
Ultimately, one cannot deny the soothing strains of Saeen Zahoor
‘Toomba’ or Noori’s genius on ‘Saari Raat
Jaga’, the instrument of Saagar Veena and Noori’s
heartwarming, sonorous rendition of Hamid Ali Bela’s ‘Hor
Vi Neevan Ho’ but ‘Aik Alif’ led to the evolution.
As fans overlap and audiences merge, the power of ‘Aik Alif’
weaves its magic around even today. It’s success is a sign
of encouragement, one that Noori followed without missing a beat.
Zeb and Haniya featuring
one-video old Zeb and Haniya arrived as the only female act on
the second season of Coke Studio. To say that this show has helped
this act attract a more mainstream audience wouldn’t be
Zeb and Haniya’s talent, their bluesy, earthy acoustic pop
numbers, had shortly turned them into an intriguing act for a
long time but for a niche market. Coke Studio helped elevating
them on a national level.
The girls went to New York this year to perform at the first New
York Sufi Music Festival. Before this they performed at Kuala
Lumpur and Paris.
On Coke Studio II and III, Zeb and Haniya have upped their game
and they are impressive each year. Whether it’s the beautiful
‘Bibi Sanam Janam’ or the arresting ‘Chal Diye’,
Zeb and Haniya continued to charm their way into our consciousness.
But it was ‘Paimona’ that turned hearts and minds.
With Sadiq Sameer on rubab, the girls performed a rendition of
‘Paimona’, a track that has its roots in the verses
of Omar Khayyam, the language of Kabul and the scent of Peshawar.
4. ‘Alif Allah’
Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi
is the most unlikely collaboration if there ever was. Arif Lohar,
a Lollywood star, a singer of the masses, colourful, vibrant and
mighty even as he travels around the world taking his father Alam
Lohar’s name forward as the son of the soil.
Meesha, on the other hand, a fashion model and a singer whose
full potential was previoulsy not exposed. With Overload’s
lead singer, Pichal Pairee, Meesha’s talent became obvious.
But it wasn’t fully explored on the record, even as Meesha
dazzled on certain numbers.
Together, the two stars, from two different worlds, catering to
different audiences, joined hands, bridging the divide between
each other’s audience.
Listening to Arif Lohar became cool. Meesha Shafi, the haunting
singer, had arrived.
The platform was Coke Studio and the song, the inimitable and
groovy, ‘Alif Allah Chambay Di Booti’. For Meesha,
the success was unprecedented. Her follow-up ‘Chori Chori’
(an old number by Reshma) hasn’t gone unnoticed. And neither
can one take away from the pure metallic folk frenzy of Arif Lohar’s
‘Mirza Sahibaan’ but it is ‘Alif Allah’
that has paved path. The intrigue in both stars has risen dramatically.
And it will continue to rise because what they showcased was,
in its entity, raw talent and vigour and its magic continues to
‘Mori Araj Suno’
Tina Sani and Arieb Azhar
Tina Sani returned to a recording studio after sixteen years and
it was well worth the wait. As she brings ancient (and pertinent)
poetry back to us with her classical singing, it is blissful.
Tina Sani is a giant, one whose shows pack halls even today. And
the inclusion of Arieb Azhar was a stroke of genius. Arieb remains
one of the most underrated musicians in Pakistan. His stint on
Coke Studio last year was absolutely brilliant. And he has left
an imprint with his single, ‘Na Raindee Hai’ which
debuted earlier on the show. But it’s the combination of
his reading and Tina’s soaring vocals that make ‘Mori
Araj Suno’ such a delight.