Friday, August 15, 2008


album review

Album: Breakout
Artist: Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus has a lot going for her. The Disney starlet and daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus is the star of the immensely popular TV show Hannah Montana, has reportedly sold over 7 million records, and earned around 3.5 million dollar in a year. And yes, she’s just 15! But with great fame comes great pressure. Heck, just being a teenager is hard enough, let alone having the entire world scrutinize every word you say and every picture you take, and criticize every note you (try to) hit. So, while Miley seems to be handling the pressure fairly well, it would seem only natural that after two Hannah Montana albums (one of which was a split/double disc, half of which ‘introduced’ Miley Cyrus), she would want to “breakout” and establish herself as a legit artist in her own right. That appears to be the point behind ‘Breakout’ – a twelve track record that probably aimed to define Miley’s sound and showcase her songwriting ability. And as far as a pop record goes, ‘Breakout’ is just what Miley fans would’ve wanted. However, as far as breaking out goes, Miley still has a long way to go.

‘Breakout’ doesn’t deviate from the records that preceded it, relying on the same flavour of pop-punk that has not only worked for Miley in the past but has also catapulted other teenage acts to success. There’s a tinge of Avril Lavigne’s style on Full Circle and the (very over-played) single 7 Things, the songs See You Again and The Driveway display a hint of Hilary Duff, whereas Fly On The Wall seems somewhat reminiscent of Britney Spears by way of Ashlee Simpson. And as predictable as the cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun may be, it’ll still work, as Miley fans aren’t likely to remember the original version of the Cyndi Lauper hit anyway. As for the songwriting part, with lyrics like “I've been in a rut/back and forth enough/heart like a wheel/without you around/so uncomfortable is how it feels”, it isn’t hard to believe that Miley co-wrote most of the songs on the album.

So while this record probably won’t be able to help her break away from her Hannah Montana demographics or her mass-marketed pop commodity image, the album continues to deliver what her fans have come to expect of her. And hey, the girl is just 15 and has an entire career ahead of her with plenty of time left to “breakout”. This album, in the meantime, will sell millions, the singles will be hits, and the tween/teen set that worship all-things-Miley will definitely love it. Everyone else, however, is likely to just roll their eyes and reminisce about how much more meaningful music used to be in the ‘good old days’.

– By S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 15th August, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

With a little help from my friends

cover story

Friendship has been the theme behind countless movies, songs, sitcoms, poems, and books, and it’s something that plays a very important role in all our lives. So to commemorate Friendship Day, we decided to ask celebrities about their friends. To discover their take on friendship, we asked celebrities about their friends, the qualities they like and dislike, the arguments they usually have, and messages they’d like to send out to their friends. Here's what they had to say:

Kaavish guitarist Maaz Maudood values his friendship with bandmate and best friend Jaffer.
  • Best Friends: The answer to this question, without a doubt in my mind, is Jaffer Zaidi. A true friend, a brother, and quite honestly, a father figure for me at times…and I say this because it has been over a decade since we've known each other. We became friends back in the 9th grade when our classes merged and both of us were put in the same section. I can safely say that that’s when Kaavish came into being. And I felt the need to mention this because Kaavish is more than just a band for us. It's a bag filled with hard work, effort and dedication, love, honesty, heart and soul. It is who we are.
  • Qualities: Friend has to be good at heart. If his/her heart is tainted, then I don’t think I can ever be comfortable around that person. As for the latter part of the question, I believe that every person has a mix of good and bad qualities. That's what makes them human. It would be unfair to judge a person only cause of the negatives he/she holds. There may be some things which you don’t like about your friends, and there may be some things they don’t like about you. The key is never to let the negative side overshadow the positive side.
  • Fights and Arguments: There was a time when Jaffer and I used to get into fights almost every week. Heck, I even remember a time when he came over to my place to beat me up. Haha, priceless moment. But now we’ve reached this level of understanding where we don’t let minor issues take the shape of a fight. Thank God for that. You can’t let little things take over your ego and do something you might regret later. As Rumi would say, “The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore”.
  • Memorable Incident: Too many to pen down.
  • Message: My message to Mr. Jaffer Zaidi: hey man…here’s a toast to what’s in store for us in the years to come...*cheers* p.s. we'll take over the world one day!

Pop singer Faakhir thinks his friends are his most valuable assets, and (perhaps the lyricist in him?) can’t help but compare them to beautiful flowers:
  • Best Friends: Several friends! I am very rich when it comes to friends. However, some of my really great friends are Faisal, Imran, Junaid, Mohiuddin…though I have many other friends, too, but of course it would need a lot of space if I mention all of them. ;) Most of them are my childhood friends. I have been friends with Faisal since we were in grade 5, Mohiuddin and I became friends when we were in 10th grade. Junaid and I are together since we were in 11th.
  • Qualities: Your friends are like a bouquet of beautiful flowers. And like every flower is different from the other one, your friends are different from each other. You should enjoy being with them and they should enjoy your company. The essence of friendship, however, in my opinion, is not to expect anything. The lesser you expect, the happier you are.
  • Fights and Arguments: Yes I do fight with my friends and most of times the fights are due to very trivial issues. However, they don’t last long and we reconcile very soon.
  • Memorable Incident: There are so many incidents. Can’t recall a single one…
  • Message: My friends are a treasure. They are my most valuable asset. Dear friends, I am thankful to you all for being there for me. Stay in touch!

Tennis players Aqeel Khan, one of Pakistan’s finest, is (not surprisingly) friends with people who also play tennis!
  • Best Friends: I have three best friends. Their names are Shehzad, Ali Bhagat and the third one is an Indian, Arindan Datta. I have been friends with Shehzad and Ali for almost 15, 16 years now while Arindan and I became friends in 2004. Shehzad and Ali are my childhood friends. We used to play together and our mutual interest in tennis helped us in coming closer. I met Arindan, who is also a professional tennis player, while I was in India for a tour. We got along well and keep in touch after that.
  • Qualities: Friends should be sincere! That’s all. And that’s the most important quality that I look for in my friends. Also, they should be there for you when you need them and should be able to give you good advice.
  • Fights and Arguments: Fights are a natural phenomenon. And coincidentally, the memorable incidents involving my friends that I am going to narrate here is about a fight. Well, other than tennis, my friends and I also take interest in cricket. And when we play it, we play it very seriously. Once while playing a match, Ali was in the opposite team and we had a fight due to some issue and that was a fight to remember! If someone had seen us fighting, he wouldn’t have believed we were the best of friends. We patched up later but I still remember how seriously we took everything.
  • Message: Be my friends, forever!

Mustafa Zahid a.k.a. Musti, the vocalist of pop band Roxen, likes making frieNds with people who are hoNest and have a good seNse of humour:
  • Best Friends: Interestingly, I have few very good friends and all of them have the initial N in their names. Even my mum’s name is with an N, and she is one of my best friends. So all the people with names with an N are my best buddies so far. Most of them are my childhood friends so we have been friends since God-knows-when.
  • Qualities: Good sense of humor and honesty, I think, are something I believe my friends have, and that’s what I seek in people.
  • Fights and Arguments: We fight everyday and it’s usually while we are playing games or discussing music. They have their choices and I have mine so we contradict sometimes and it leads to tiny fights.
  • Memorable Incident: I fell from a bike once at around 200km/hr with a dear friend, both of us almost died then. It’s more of a memorable accident.
  • Message: Let’s take out our bikes and meet at Gloria Jeans! Ciao.

Singer Ali Azmat says he doesn’t have any friends…or perhaps he does and just doesn’t like to talk about them. Oh well.

Aaroh’s Khalid Khan, however, has many friends…
  • Best Friends: Many, many friends and if I name some, the others might mind it. But my band members, Farooq, Haider and Jason are some of my really nice friends. We have been friends for a long time now. I met Farooq at a studio where I was recording with some band and he was there, too. With Jason I played in a session and that’s how we became friend. Same was with Haider.
  • Qualities: The qualities I look for in a friend is that he/she should be understanding; should think in the same way as I do. And that’s the quality I like the most about my friends. They understand me and they are always there when I need them.
  • Fights and Arguments: I have fights with my friends when I say something that I think is right and they don’t agree with me. That infuriates me very much.
  • Message: Be happy, always!

…as does Call guitarist Xulfi:
  • Best Friends: Sajjad, Sami, Kenny, Sultan, Junaid, Farhan, Daud, Ahmad, Omeir, Ali, Hasib. A few are friends from my university, a few of them are fellow musicians, and a few of them are people who met me as fans and then developed into great friends. Above all, I believe my best friend is my ammi. There is nothing I cannot talk to her about, and there is nothing that she doesn’t understand. It’s surprising how she already knows what I’m thinking. It’s impossible to hide anything from her, hehe. She is always the first person I go to whenever I make a new song, or just even write a few lines. She is not just my best critic, but my super motivator too. Thanks ammi, I love you!
  • Qualities: Honesty, straightforwardness, not just being there when it matters, also being there when it doesn’t matter. I like the fact that all my friends share a pretty simple and clean sense of humour so it’s never difficult to lighten up when I am with them.
  • Fights and Arguments: Not quite often, but whenever we do, there is always a way back cuz friendship demands compromise sometimes, and you can’t ruin an amazing friendship cuz of one bad moment.
  • Memorable Incident: There are so many that mentioning one would be rather unfair to all of them.
  • Message: It’s always easy finding people to hang out with, to talk to. But finding a friend amongst all the people one knows is rather difficult. Only time and moments can help us realize a friend out of an acquaintance.

Model Sunita Hasan is lucky enough to be married to her best friend:
  • Best Friends: I have many friends, but my best friend is my husband, Hasan. How did we become friends? Well, that’s an interesting story. We met some four years back, no, it wasn’t even a meeting, as Hasan saw me at some airport and I guess he liked me. He got my cell number from someone and started texting me. I replied to his messages and this whole text message exchange thing went on for two months. Then we decided to meet and started seeing each other. And now we are happily married. :)
  • Qualities: I want my friends to have a good sense of humour. I also look for similarity in nature and thinking. That really helps. The thing I like most about my best friend, that is Hasan, is that he understands me more than anyone. Many times I don’t have to explain things to him. He just understands them without my saying anything. What I dislike about him is that I am somewhat a cleanliness freak while he is a bit careless when it comes to cleanliness. But I must say that he is catching on fast. :)
  • Fights and Arguments: If you don’t fight with your friends, sorry, you are not entitled to be called friends. Fights are very natural and we also fight. The reason for most of our fights is some little difference in our opinions while discussing something. But we fight very rarely.
  • Message: My message for Hasan is that please be the way you are. Always. I really, really love you and you are my best friend and the best hubby. :)

Call vocalist Junaid Khan has some friends in his neighbourhood:
  • Best Friends: Two guys who have been my neighbours for more than 7 years. We used to play together, go out for dinners and share our daily experiences.
  • Qualities: A friend is a person that you can rely on, and you can trust that if you tell something to them, it won’t pass on like fire. And most importantly, they are not fake and are modest.
  • Fights and Arguments: No serious fights. We take everything lightly and have the patience to understand each other and sort out if anything goes wrong, and mostly importantly give each other their space.
  • Memorable Incident: Well we used to go out on bikes and throw match bombs on streets which we soon realized was not a good thing to do and we still regret it.
  • Message: Well I would only say love the people around you cuz they are you assets and will always be there for you and encourage you to be the best of your capabilities.

Akash vocalist Sam says he hasn’t been very lucky as far as friendship is concerned, but his new friends are making him change his views:
  • Best Friends: Well, my band members are my best friends and I really love them, but I would like to mention two people who are really close to me: Mudasir and Auranzaib – they are my real close friends. I’ve known them from the last four months but indeed they are the best. They both have a band Alaao and they came for their recordings in my studio and after that we became friends. I’ve been unlucky in the case of friendships but now I have changed my views, thanks to my friends.
  • Qualities: Caring and sincerity. I hate opportunist people and in my life most of the people I met were opportunists; because of them I stopped making friends but now I have two good friends.
  • Fights and Arguments: No we don’t have fights. My friends are really nice but they also are too naughty and difficult to handle.
  • Memorable Incident: We just had a trip of northern areas and we all enjoyed it and have a lot of memories…can’t forget it.
  • Message: Enjoy every moment with your friends and I would like to dedicate KK song ‘Pal’ on this day to my friends and every one.
- By Sam and Jay

Us Magazine, The News - 1st August, 2008