Saturday, January 03, 2009

Two Thousand and Nine

Helping you plan your year in advance

We’ve said goodbye to 2008, and now we welcome the New Year by taking a look at what’s scheduled for 2009. (All the events and releases are, of course, subject to change depending on circumstances/ laziness of the people involved).

2009 is:

- The International Year of Astronomy: 2009 has been declared as the International Year of Astronomy by the UN in an effort to “help the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day- and night-time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery”. Joy. (Visit if you’re not easily bored.)

- Not just that, 2009 is also the International Year of Natural Fibres: Seeing how much we’ve learned about potatoes and their importance in 2008, we can hardly wait for the UN to raise our awareness of natural fibres while boosting the performance of the natural fibres industries. (To find out what the heck they mean by “natural fibres” anyway, go to

Political landscape and the economy

Last year the world overdosed on democracy, thanks to America and their seemingly never-ending electoral process. This year (a quick search on Google has revealed that) elections of one variety or the other are expected in various countries including Iran, Germany, Indonesia, Panama, Macedonia, Republic of Congo, Algeria, Malawi, Portugal, Norway, as well as many others. Even India has its parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2009. Therefore it is safe to assume that CNN will not be going out of business anytime soon. The focus of the year, however, will continue to be on Barack Obama as he takes office in January.

As for the economy…well, we’ve come to the point where whenever someone mentions the word “economy” to us, all we get is this mental picture of some unfortunate company executive jumping off the 98th floor of a skyscraper, and every time someone starts talking about it, we get a terrible headache, so we’ll keep it short and simple: it doesn’t look good. But not to worry: if it doesn’t start to improve in the first quarter or two, we can always start up that Large Hadron Collider thing again.


Yes, books still exist. No, just because the Harry Potter series is over doesn’t give you an excuse to give up reading. Many works - both fiction and non-fiction - are slated to be released in 2009. The world’s favourite legal-fiction writer John Grisham returns with his new novel The Associate. Stephen King’s latest horror thriller Under The Dome is expected to hit the bookshelves this fall, while Stephenie Meyer is set to release The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide which will give further information on the world of the Twilight series. 2009 also sees the release of Lee Child’s Gone Tomorrow; and Lord Sunday the seventh book in Garth Nix's series The Keys to the Kingdom. Heck, even Sarah Palin is expected to “write” a book, having secured a book deal (reportedly worth $7m!!); we can only hope it’ll be as amusing as her interviews!


It was franchise films like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Quantum of Solace, and even Twilight that ruled the box office in 2008. And 2009 is likely to go down the same path, with a number of prequels and sequels among the most highly anticipated films of the year. These include X-Men Origins: Wolverine (May), Terminator Salvation (May), Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen (June), Night At The Museum 2: Battle Of The Smithsonian (May), Angels & Demons (May), Star Trek (May), and the one that everyone who is me is particularly looking forward to: the animated hilarity of Ice Age; Dawn of the Dinosaurs (July).

But the one that almost everyone who is reading these words must surely be waiting for is the sixth instalment in the Harry Potter series, with Potter mania expected to grip the world in July with the release of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. Meanwhile, Disney fans will be flocking to the cinemas when Hannah Montana: The Movie comes out in April, while star power is likely to draw attention towards the ensemble powered New York, I Love You (February), which features appearances by Orlando Bloom, Hayden Christensen, Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Christina Ricci, Ethan Hawke, and Kevin Bacon. Other notable releases include the chick-flick Bride Wars (January), the romantic comedy He’s Just Not That Into You (February), the spy-thriller Duplicity (March), the animated Monsters vs. Aliens (March), crime drama Public Enemies (July), action driven The Taking Of Pelham 123 (July), and the dark comedy The Informant (September).


Music fans are expecting a lot from 2009: albums are expected from bands and artists including Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, U2, Franz Ferdinand, the Goo Goo Dolls, Aerosmith, Muse, Tori Amos, Hoobastank, Michelle Branch, Eminem, 50 Cent and even Michael Jackson. We hope that at least some of these albums will be as good as we expect them to be, and make 2009 way more interesting than the year that preceded it. But if we’re really unlucky, then Paris Hilton will actually release that second album she’s been threatening the world with for the last few months; even the thought of that makes us shudder. There are even rumours that Guns N’ Roses could release another new album in ‘09, but we all know that that is SO not happening. Also, American Idol returns for its eighth season, while previous winners Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Hicks are expected to issue their new albums this year.

On the local front, Pakistani music will try to recover from the slump that was last year, with a lot of hope resting on the new album by the Meekal Hasan Band, which is slated for a 2009 release. Also scheduled for ’09 are albums by Inteha, Call, and Raeth. Oh and the Kaavish debut album is expected to come out any decade now (barring any unforeseen delays).


Pakistan has been struggling in the sporting arena in the last few years, and our inability to win medals and tournaments has only been made worse by the cancellation of the sporting events that were supposed to be held in Pakistan. Last year the ICC Champions Trophy was postponed due to security concerns, and the cricket teams of India and Australia also pulled out of their tour to Pakistan. But here’s the good news: the Champions trophy is expected to come back to Pakistan this year, and we can only hope that it won’t be cancelled this time. In addition, Sri Lanka have stepped in to tour PK in place of India, Australia could complete their cancelled tour, and New Zealand might also visit us for a tour.

Apart from cricket, the year will, of course, also see the annual football leagues and championships. Rafael Nadal will try to cement his No. 1 ranking in tennis when the year kicks off with the Australian Open, baseball has its 105th World Series, WWE holds its 25th Annual WrestleMania in April, while the fifth edition of the Rugby Sevens World Cup will be held in Dubai.

So there you have it – the events that are scheduled for 2009. But how will the year actually turn out? Will this be the only time you’ll read the words “natural fibres” in 2009? Will Obama be able to bring peace to the world? Can Pakistan manage to host any cricket tournaments this year? Can any Pakistani band manage to actually release an album on schedule? And - most importantly - will Us Magazine return to its 24-paged glory? We can’t really say (on account of not being fortune tellers), but we assure you 2009 will reveal all the answers!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 2nd January, 2009


Pakistani musicians comment on the state of the music industry in 2008.

Umar Mansoor (Kain)
Well, in my opinion 2008 was a dull year for music in Pakistan apart from the debut video of Azal, Aisee Tesi, which was based on the corrupt atmosphere of our society, the debut solo album of Shafqat Amanat Ali with the hit track Kheriyan, and the epic songs by Rahat Ali Khan in his album Charkha. The highly expected albums of 2008 were Meekal Hassan’s and Call’s upcoming albums, but I think due to the unstable conditions of the country, they have not been released yet. Apart from all that, there was the same old commercialised stuff; same old Jal, same old Atif Aslam wearing "shocking colours", and same old Ali Zafar with some new models in his videos. Mizmaar and Ali Azmat were two of the few rock releases this year. Ali Azmat – my all time favourite – came out with Kalashinfolk with a different sound, that is reggae rock, this time; the songs Leh Sambhal was my favourite – kudos to Ali Azmat, the only man who supports and understands rock in Pakistan. Other than that, no good rock music made its way to my ears. I expect a lot of good music in 2009 from Call and the Meekal Hassan Band, and I hope the music scene will be a bit more impressive and less commercialised in 2009. As far as I am concerned, I will most probably release some more videos of both of my projects (Kain and The Max Project) and maybe an album in late 2009.

Atif Aslam
Pakistani music industry is improving day-by-day. A lot of good people are coming and performing really well. I like the songs by Azal. All we need is that people should consider it seriously – some are coming only to get fame and money, losing focus on their passion for music; if that’s not there, it won’t work!

Sami Khan (Lagan)
A lot happened in Pakistani Pop in 2008: good videos, many new albums, but I totally failed to understand why there was no impact of most of the releases, be it a new artist or senior. It’s sad that now our people only appreciate or listen to the stuff released in across-the-border movies. It’s about time we start taking our local talent seriously and appreciate them and give them the respect and return they deserve. On the whole, I think 2008 was quite productive, as a lot of talented artists were added to the industry, like Falak, Zeb and Haniya, and many more. Many senior artists released their new albums with new flavours, like Shehzad Roy, Ahmed Jahanzeb, and the Strings. I am hoping that 2009 is even better for all artists, including Lagan.

We’ve been increasingly dependent on Bollywood to give us some sort of endorsement so that we can bask in the glory of the most popular source of entertainment in the subcontinent – Indian cinema! The sad thing is that they are not using Pakistani music; they are simply using Pakistani voices to sing on the tunes composed by Indian musicians. Other than that, the ongoing financial crunch, worldwide failure in combating music piracy in all its forms and manifestations, and then the law and order situation in our country resulted in the reversal of all the good work done by us in the last few years. So, overall, the year has not been a good one for music in Pakistan, but some really good music albums have been released during 2008. And I see a great 2009, because the resilience and never say die attitude of our highly talented and passionate musicians has done it before and we’ll do it again!
On a personal front, I’d taken time off work since my father was diagnosed with a major ailment in 2006. He passed away in November 2008. Therefore, I did not come up with anything new this year. But I am due for an album next year. However, this year, one of my songs, Marjawan, from my first album Aatish, was picked up to be featured in a Hollywood thriller called Stiletto as part of its background score. Marjawan’s inclusion in an English film proves that we can also successfully sell our music directly to Hollywood and other international clients instead of routing our work through India.

Sam (Akash)
Overall this year was a bit cold because of the security issues. Most of the shows got cancelled just because of the threats and bomb blasts. Business in the industry was quite cold, as I’ve mentioned before, but still a few artists managed to release their albums, although most of them couldn’t sell. Also, most of the artist made highly expensive videos, but the standard of the audios was not up to the mark. As far as Akash is concerned, 2008 was a bit good for us. Our biggest achievement was the Indian tour where we performed four shows in Punjab and Delhi, although we had to cancel two of our shows because of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Still we manage to perform and we also released our album this year in USA.

Nausher Javed (Inteha)
Year 2008 has not been a very good year for the music industry as very few albums got hype and approval from the audience. Indeed some excellent videos came out, like Laga Reh by Shehzad Roy, but again they hardly stabilized the music scene. The main reason has no doubt been the politically unstable situation of Pakistan. The recent Mumbai crisis and the situation in Karachi acted as fuel to the fire. This is one of the reasons why we had to delay the release of our debut album Kehna Chahta Hoon, which was due to be released in December. We hope Pakistan’s situation soothes in the forthcoming year and we get the chance to hear some good music.

- By S.A.

Us Magazine, The News - 2nd January, 2009