Sunday, June 26, 2005

In need of some Band Aid


Someone needs to tell Hadiqa Kiyani that she isn't Mariah Carey. Aamir Zaki needs to be reminded of the great things he's capable of. And can someone please tell Dino that being a great VJ does not mean he's a great singer?

We've hardly ever seen any artist-collaborations in our music scene, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the concept of collaborations isn't a new one. And between some of the finest charity singles ever and those absolutely awful group performances they have during the Idol result shows, the 'various artists' label has produced some very interesting, albeit not always good, results.

So it was inevitable the trend would eventually make its way to Pakistan. But even though having a dozen or so vocalists and musicians do a new version of Najam Sheraz's 'In Say Nain' sounds like a good idea theoretically, reality has shown us that the goodness of this idea is purely theoretical. Yes, some of the best artists from our music industry, and Dino, did get together to do a new version of the song. And yes, it's almost as bad as the Idol collaborations. Oh, who am I kidding? It's much worse.

Marking Najam's ten years in the music industry, the song is perhaps a tribute of sorts to the singer. 'In Say Nain' originally found home on Najam's 1996 release 'Khazana', and now, almost a decade later, the song sees a revival through his new album 'Menu Tere Naal', and because the original was so well liked, the nostalgic value is perhaps the biggest asset of the new version, as it has little else to offer. There are too many vocalists and hardly enough lines to sing. The underlying music is too weak and at times it seems like everything has been patched together in an attempt to make a lot of incoherent noises pass off as a song. But it's not just the song that's a complete mess. The video falls in the same category too.

Still, seeing all the controversies that are plaguing our music industry, it's a bit of a wonder how they got so many artists to work on the same song. But there's something even more peculiar than this about the track: it doesn't appear to be sponsored - not even by a certain brand of tea - though considering subliminal messages, one can never say for sure. Yeah, no more 'Josie and the Pussycats' for me.

As for the artists, one can roughly divide their performances into three groups: the good, the bad, and the inexplicably weird.

The Good:

It comes as no surprise that Najam's vocals are among the better ones on the track. After all, 'In Say Nain' was his song to begin with. And I'm anything but an Ali Haider fan, but keeping the rest of the song in mind, I think his vocals were pretty good. Gosh, I never thought I'd be using 'Ali Haider' and 'good' in the same sentence, but I never thought I'd see so many of our artists working together either. It's hard to believe they don't have even a single court case between them. At least not so far.

Fuzon's Shafqat Amanat Ali was good as always, as was Aaroh vocalist Farooq. And both Shallum and Asad's guitar solos weren't bad either. As for the Strings, well, they weren't a part of the project. Good for them.

The Bad:

True they were given little to work with, but still, some of these people have been in our music industry since, like, forever, and you'd expect them to make something of it. Take Hadiqa for example. She's one of the very few female vocalists of Pakistan who can actually sing, but it looks like she's paying more attention to her appearance than to her music, and, frankly, isn't doing too well in both departments. And in the song under discussion, she comes off as nothing but a Mariah Carey wannabe. For someone with her talent, her vocals on this song are appallingly bad.

The same goes for Zoheb Hassan. Nazia and Zoheb's contribution to our music industry stands unparalleled. And it's no secret that Zoheb is immensely talented. But listening to the lines he sang on this song, it doesn't even sound like the same guy. And someone seriously needs to take that outfit and those dance moves back to the '80s and leave them there.

Danyal and Saleem Javed? Well, the less said the better. But coming to Tanseer, even though he is brilliant with Karavan, this song just didn't suit his vocals. The guy does rock vocals quite well, but Najam's brand of pop just doesn't sit well with him.

And Aamir Zaki...he's an excellent guitarist, but what on earth was that?? To begin with, his solo seemed like it had been forced into the song. And besides not fitting into the song, the guitaring hardly went with the beat of the track. Which brings us to another issue: drums. They have half the music industry on there but couldn't find a drummer?

The Weird:

There is a reason why Ali Azmat, and not Salman Ahmad, has been the vocalist of Junoon for more than a decade. If only someone would tell Salman Ahmad what this reason is and put him out of his misery. Or put us out of our misery rather - the misery that comes with listening to him trying to sing.

And Dino. Dudo, you can't sing. Period. Do yourself a favour and stick to VJ-ing. If 'Pari' wasn't enough torture, Dino returned to the studio to record various out-of-tune phrases so that they could put them all over the song in order to make it even more unbearable than it already was. Brilliant.

So, to sum it all up, the new version of 'In Say Nain' comes off as an audio/visual example of the phrase 'too many cooks spoil the broth'. But now, enough about the song. Tea anyone?

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 26th June, 2005