Pudikkum, Angry Bird and Sayang Ku offer progressively degrading lyrics – it’s only Thaman’s backgrounds that hold the songs together. Mohit Chauhan sings Angry Bird with terrible diction, while in Pudikkum, Thaman keeps it interesting with a veena and nadaswaram layer. Desi girl is typical Thaman kuthu. Oh Madhu would have Crazy Mohan in tears of joy, given the song goes ‘Oh Maadhu’. It’s a lovely tune, though – a digitized Anirudh (Vijay Prakash’s reprise is better) delivers the melody well, propped by vocalized nadaswaram, a reggae-ish backdrop and a peekaboo thavil! Standard Thaman soundtrack, with the occasionally enjoyable sound.

Keywords: Saahasam, Thaman S

Listen to the songs:

Shelle’s Punjabi word-play, and choice of words in particular, stand out in Inayat, a haunting, almost prayer-like tune. The vocals start with Clinton and Vijay taking turns, till Bianca swooshes in for a lovely phrase after the 3-minute mark. Haal-e-dil comes alive with Clinton and Pozy’s guitar work and Gino’s drums, as much as it does with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics, with the trio using the title hook in a thoroughly endearing way. Vijay’s classical interludes, possibly touching Reetigowlai raaga, are fantastic. Vijay rules over Thukraaye too, with his dependably excellent singing, lending support to the somber tune headined by Bianca. Dhruv Ghanekar’s guitar solo adds significant value to the song that also sees a Tamil version, Manasellaam. Louiz Banks ends Kaare badra with a spell-binding keyboard solo even as Vijay Prakash’s semi-classical phrases stand out. Aage too is Vijay’s show, with him effortlessly gliding over the soulful tune, along with Bianca. Embar Kannan’s violin plays a lovely part in the song too. The album’s best, Paabandiyan has an Amit Trivedi’s swagger to its tune, while also making stupendous use of Clinton’s guitar and classical alaaps in its fold. Spirited, classy debut album by Ananthaal, demonstrating what Indipop could really be.

Keywords: Clinton Cerejo, Bianca Gomes, Vijay Prakash, Ananthaal, 200, #200

Listen/buy the songs on OKlisten | Times Music | Saavn

Sunday October 4, 2015

Hitman – October 3, 2015

Originally published in The Hindu.

Mukkathe penne – Ennu Ninte Moideen (Malayalam – Gopi Sundar)
It’s baffling that the makers of Ennu Ninte Moideen did not include this single by Gopi Sundar (who scored the film’s background music) in the main soundtrack that has songs by M.Jayachandran and Ramesh Narayan! To be fair, it does sound like something that’s meant for a background, with a short lyrical base sung amazingly by Mohammad Maqbool Mansoor (responsible for the lyrics too). The tune has a deep, prayer-like sound that is instantly captivating.

Panjumittai – Eetti (Tamil – G V Prakash Kumar)
G V Prakash Kumar makes fantastic use of ghatam in Panjumittai, a gorgeous tune, sung brilliantly by Hariharasudhan. The uncredited chorus too makes an impact, almost like having a conversation with the lead voice (belonging to the hero), in the grand tradition of Varusham 16’s Hey Ayyasaami. The second interlude, in particular, taking the style of Rakkamma’s Kunitha puruvamum, follows up with a lovely thavil and nadaswaram phrase.

Nijamenani nammani – Kanche (Telugu – Chirantan Bhatt)
After a series of spooky and not-so-spooky Hindi films, Chirantan Bhatt makes his Telugu debut with Krish’s World War 2 drama. He in fact does better than his Hindi output here! The soundtrack’s best, Nijamenani nammani sounds like a Charukesi mix (Chirantan brings the Charukesi flavor beautifully in the first interlude.) and Shreya Ghoshal seems to be thoroughly relishing the haunting melody. Nandini Srikar’s additional vocals, particularly in the opening alaap, is unmistakable, though she’s not credited adequately (only in the YouTube jukebox).

Endho kaanadha – Mast Mohabbat (Kannada – Mano Murthy)
After the superhit Kannada soundtrack of Mungaru Male, Mano Murthy’s career has been on a steady decline, leaving newer composers like Arjun Janya and Harikrishna to take over. Mano makes a decent enough pitch again in Mast Mohabbat, with his regular fixture Sonu Nigam singing the soundtrack’s best, Endho kaanadha. It’s a simple and familiar tune that at times sounds like it’s from the Laxmikant Pyarerlal School of 80s Dholak music.

Raita phailgaya – Shaandaar (Hindi – Amit Trivedi)
Songs about drinking have become really common-place in Bollywood with ‘spirited’ musicians like Yo Yo Honey Singh. So it takes a composer of Amit Trivedi’s caliber to reinvent the sub-genre, along with lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya. Amitabh comes up with lines that even invoke Yo Yo Honey Singh (“Gulzar ke geeton mein jab Yo Yo Honey Singh ghus gaya… toh raitaa phail gaya”) and Divya Kumar brings super energy to Amit’s spunky tune that has all the elements to become a standard fixture in Punjabi weddings for the next 12 months.

Kohila‘s tune is instantly likeable and pleasant; Leon’s music sounds like an significantly spruced-up version of early-Rahman, particualrly the veena usage and the Kohila call-out reminding one of Jeans’ Columbus! Leon, despite the quivering voice, sings it largely well too, along with a superbly in-form Neeti Mohan. Kannamma starts off like a soft melody, but the frenetic breakbeats that kick-in eventually add a fantastic layer to the song, aptly expressed by UK-based Sri Lankan singer Inno Genga, and Chinmayi. The song’s other, mellow version gets a beautiful new dimension with Salim Merchant’s solo renditon, and the way Leon articulates the backgrounds, to appeal to the new variant, is wonderfully nuanced. Vishal Dadlani’s raspy voice is perfect for the angry and violent Vidaadha, with the hip-hop and folk mix music too adding to the feel. Agam’s Harish Sivaramakrishnan leads the goosebumps-inducing anthemic tune of Unnai maatrinaal, with phenomenal support from Sargam Choir, even as Leon does a great job in the backgrounds, lending the song an inspirational feel. Na.Muthukumar’s lyrics, in particular stand out too. The Ko 2 theme is a pulsating, Anirudh’ish mish-mash. Composer Leon James proves that Kanchana 2 wasn’t a flash in the pan, in his second outing!

Keywords: Leon James, KO 2, Ko 2, 200, #200

Listen to the songs on Saavn.

Nennekkadunte‘s is high-energy and stadium-rock style sound makes the cut, though, at points, Anoop seems to be overdoing the choice of his sounds just as a show-off. The grand, anthemic sound continues in Hey Akhil and Zara zara navvaradhe too, and given their likeable core melody and captivating chorus hooks, they work even better. Akkineni akkineni (first ever ‘family surname’ song?) gets its chorus right, but the rest is passable faux-folk. Padessavae rounds-off the soundtrack in style, courtesy Karthik’s energetic singing and Thaman (guest composition) handling the techno-pop melody well. Anup Rubens offers an impressive sound all through the album!

Keywords: Akhil, The Power Of Jua, Anup Rubens, Thaman S

Listen to the songs:

Itu itu ani chitikelu evvarivo, beyond the symphonic touches mid-way and the Panthuvarali raaga tweak later, is essentially a typical Laxmikant-Pyarelal style 80s Hindi track. Ooru erayyindi eru horettindi‘s thumping sound is an easy winner, along with Shankar Mahadevan’s punchy vocals and excellent chorus. Nijamenani nammani sounds like Charukesi and Shreya seems to be thoroughly relishing the haunting melody. Bhaga bhagamani and Raa mundadugeddam are ideally background’ish, even with Vijay Prakash’s impactful vocals. Love is war and Kanche themes offer Chirantan good scope to showcase his sound, with impressive strings. Chirantan’s Telugu debut is significantly better than his Hindi output!

Keywords: Kanche, Chirantan Bhatt

Listen to the songs:

Kuiyyo muiyyo has a lively, rhythmic tune, accentuated by the hook and Ranjith & Vandana’s singing, besides Na.Muthukumar’s lines (Pakistan army pol border’a minjariye!). Naan pudicha is standard-issue thavil & nadaswaram faux-folk, but GVP and Shaktishree’s singing makes a big difference. GVP makes fantastic use of ghatam (and nadaswaram) in Panjumittai, a gorgeous tune, sung brilliantly by Hariharasudhan and the uncredited chorus. Siddharth Mahadevan breathes life into the templatized motivational track Oru thuli, while in Un swaasam, GVP mounts the likeable ballad on a captivating strings backdrop. Kaakka Muttai, Trisha Illana Nayanthara, and now Eetti… GVP in great form lately.

Keywords: Eetti, GV Prakash Kumar, G.V.Prakash Kumar

Listen to the songs on Gaana.

Sunday September 27, 2015

Hitman – September 26, 2015

Originally published in The Hindu.

Padiyirangunnu – Pathemari (Malayalam – Bijibal)
Along with Gopi Sundar, Bijibal has been alarmingly consistent with his output in Malayalam this year. In Padiyirangunnu, Bijibal makes the phenomenally appropriate decision to rope in Hariharan to sing the incredibly soulful melody. It seems—in all probabilities, given it evokes strong memories of Karnan’s Ullathil nalla ullam—to be set to Chakravakam raaga. The result is sheer magic, since the mellow tune goes really well with Hariharan’s deep, sonorous voice!

Andamaina lokam – Shivam (Telugu – Devi Sri Prasad)
By now, it is clear that there’s no point expecting anything different or new from Devi Sri Prasad. He has a set of sounds – tunes, hooks and rhythm combinations that he very cleverly recycles endlessly and producing interesting music even within that. Shivam is no different, with Andamaina lokam’s jazz’y melody coming out beautifully along with the horns Devi assembles in the background.

Insaaf – Talvar (Hindi – Vishal Bhardwaj)
Pakistani singer Arooj Aftab is the soul of Insaaf. She brings her best known trait—breathy vocals that rocked her cover versions of Pakistan’s and the sub-continent’s iconic classics—to add stupendous value to Vishal’s ominous tune. Gulzar’s word play is, as always, stellar, even as Vishal concocts a haunting backdrop primarily consisting of piano and strings, along with the occasional sarangi!

Oh Madhu – Saahasam (Tamil – Thaman S)
Oh Madhu would perhaps have Crazy Mohan in tears of joy, given that the song calls out Oh Madhu as Oh Maadhu, as a possible homage to Crazy Mohan’s Maadhu, of Maadhu-Cheenu series. It’s a lovely tune, though – Anirudh gets his voice adequately digitized to sound good enough to deliver the soft, melody well, propped by Thaman really well with a cornucopia of likeable sounds ranging from a vocalized nadaswaram, a reggae-ish backdrop, sax, strings and a peekaboo thavil too!

Kannondu chollannu – Ennu Ninte Moideen (Malayalam – M.Jayachandran)
Kannondu chollannu’s tune has an obviously-sweet sound, and what elevates it to a new height is Shreya Ghoshal’s absolutely mesmerizing singing. Vijay Yesudas gives her excellent support, no doubt, but this is Shreya’s show all the way. Jayachandran’s sound is instantly likeable, echoing cues from A R Rahman’s Karuthamma number, Thenmerku Paruvakaatru, right up to better use of the sound of water in multiple ways.

Javed-Mohsin’s DJ bajega is an obvious ‘item’ number pandering to post-drunk state of listeners, lyrics and rhythm-wise. With Amjad-Nadeem’s Jugni peeke tight hai and Dr.Zeus’s Bam bam, it’s only lyrics-wise. Tanishk Bagchi’s Samadar has its middle-eastern sound to keep it at good stead despite droning lyrics. Dr.Zeus closes the album with Billi kat gayee that holds a repetitive catchiness and the short Hum to yaaro, conveying unfunnily the perils of being with three women. The remixes are unnecessarily mixed. Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon lacks Abbas-Mustan’s musical style and is straight out of Comedy Nights with Kapil ethos, at least music-wise.

Keywords: Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, Amjad-Nadeem, Javed-Mohsin, Dr.Zeus, Tanishk Bagchi

Listen to the music:

In Gulaabo, Vishal Dadlani’s swagger rocks the song, but the horn section is no less impressive given how it holds the song. Anusha Mani comes out with guns blazing in ‘zara gandh pehlado’, as does Amit, on the keyboard, producing some zingy retro-pop. The abrupt title callout in Shaam Shaandaar is as pleasant as expecting a long commute in Bangalore that gets cut down by surprisingly benevolent traffic. The dhol and horns led backgrounds and interspersing them with the racy techno music works mighty well. For Nazdeekiyaan, Amit creates a beautifully dreamy soundscape that scales new, orchestral heights towards the end. While Neeti Mohan is pitch-perfect, Nikhil Paul George’s singing is oddly annoying. The marathon-length (9+ minutes!) Senti wali mental, at its heart, evokes memories of Pancham’s Nauker number, Pallu latke, but with a qawali’ish twist. It does get into a mish-mash mode, owing to the song’s duration and narrative style, and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s colloquial man vs. woman banter lyrics keeps the proceedings lively. Amitabh’s lyrics win again in Raitaa phailgaya, an instantly catchy, funky techno-Punjabi ditty powered effortlessly by Divya Kumar. Heady, fun soundtrack by Amit, almost like a, ‘Here, take this!’ to those who didn’t like Bombay Velvet.

Keywords: Shaandaar, Amit Trivedi, #200, 200

Listen to the songs:

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