Coke Studio’s Indian mystery

Above, from Coke Studio Pakistan Episode 5. Click here to see more Episode 5 videos.

Aakar Patel in The Express Tribune:

Why did Pakistan produce the lovely “Coke Studio” music series and not India? Why is Pakistan’s “Coke Studio” more popular with many Indians than the new Indian version? Is it because Pakistan’s musicians are better or more creative than India’s musicians? Let’s explore the question.

My introduction to this sort of music came before “Coke Studio” began. It happened many years ago when I was staying in Lahore with my friend Iftikhar, a retired colonel from General Pervez Musharraf’s batch in the Pakistan Military Academy.

One evening Iftikhar took me to the Waris Road residence of Masood Hasan, later to become a fellow columnist of mine at The News. We had a few glasses of the good stuff with some other guests (friend Ejaz Haider was also present) and then Hasan took us to a part of the property where his son Mekaal had built a studio and was playing with his band. This was when I first heard the music that is now so distinctively the sound of “Coke Studio”. I would define it as a folk song or raag-based melody, layered with western orchestration. This included a synthesiser’s wash, guitars, a drummer, a bass punctuating the chord changes and backing vocals and harmony. Essentially, it was traditional Hindustani music made palatable for ears accustomed to listening to more popular music. More:

And in Mint Lounge, Supriya Nair reviews Coke Studio Season 5:

It’s impossible to predict the afterlife of a piece of blockbuster pop culture, but here is an early radical proposition: The recently concluded season 5 of Coke Studio Pakistan has been its best yet.

There are excellent reasons to disagree. Coke Studio 5 doesn’t quite set new standards for fusion music in the manner of, say, season 2. Its outstanding reconstructed qawwalis are a follow-up of the form perfected in season 4. What we get in the 25 sets over these five episodes is a sort of remastered anthology of the different sounds Coke Studio has introduced to us over the years: high-octane indie, powerhouse folk, remixed pop staples, lo-fi classical. More:

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