The season promo “Hum Dekhenge” skyrocketed the expectations of the almost cult like following of Coke Studio. It promised, as always, amazing vocals with the addition of infinitely more diversity and representation. After the first episode was aired, it was clear that Ali Hamza and Zaib Kazi had succeeded in delivering on this promise. The episode was received with appreciation through its countless views and shares on social media platforms.
The four songs had unique themes and ushered in an era of using music as a social tool to fight injustice and push Pakistan towards a hopefully “Naya Pakistan”. One cannot help but be cautiously optimistic about the state of social affairs if artists continue to use their trade to project the various voices of our nation. This is exceptionally relevant with Independence day around the corner.
Shikwa/ Jawab-e-Shikwa: A fusion of Iqbal’s deep poetry with rock and qawwali
The first track revisits our roots with the lyrical genius of Allama Iqbal, Pakistan’s poet-philosopher. Characteristic of Coke Studio, the producers mix two seemingly polar genres of music -Qawwali and rock- till they seem harmoniously married to each other. This is almost a reflection of Pakistan’s multi-faceted nature which is caught between tradition and the march towards modernity. Natasha Baig and the Qawwals both deliver an intense melody through their powerful voices and ensure a track that will be hard to replicate.
Baalkada: Taking a stand to exist and soar!
This collaboration between transgender singers, Lucky and Naghma, and Jimmy Khan marks a revolution in Coke Studio. This is the first time transgenders have been invited to the Coke Studio stage and boy, were we missing out! This track cheekily thumbs the patriarchy with its comparison of the treatment of the “baby boy, pride of the tribe, my darling baby boy” and the poetic voice who is shunned and “kicked out of the house”. The energy of the singers adds to the liberating lyrics which allow the song to truly “soar high”!
Rap hai Saara: Something for the millenials
This track showcases another dimension of diversity with younger artists celebrating their ethnic roots with the rap in four languages. The artists bring contemporary hip hop and rap music to the studio with almost Cardi B-esque sound effects in the background of the lyrics. It also breaks the restrictive setting of the studio by taking control of the stage and even walking in through a long alleyway that signifies another change in the sometime repetitive Coke Studio. The track is exciting, addictive and most importantly dripping with swag!
Main Iraada: The new Pakistani Feminist anthem?
The last track for its full 6 minutes 43 seconds raises goosebumps! Featuring powerful women singing this powerful song, it is a perfect way of showing society that power and femininity do not have to be mutually exclusive. Main Iraada features not only metropolitan vocal powerhouses Haniya and Rachel but also Shamu Bai who is from a village in rural Sindh. Kudos to Coke Studio for joining the third wave of feminism which recognizes the cultural dimensions of gender issues by showcasing women from less privileged areas of Pakistan.
These four tracks mark a great beginning to Season 11 of Coke Studio and hopefully the start of socio-politically aware art. We look forward to seeing what else this season holds for us. Keep checking this space for more updates on the music scene in Pakistan.