Ek Onkar Satnaam:
What can you say about sweet female vocal harmony that half-sing, half-chant a Guru Nanak prayer for about 90 odd seconds? Nothing much really, so fast forward.
Rang De Basanti:
A Bhangra 101 intro greets you at the outset – the impatient picking of a tumbi (which seems to go a little awry, but that’s Rahman for you), the background male voices with their already appreciative oh-oh-ah-ah and the dhol beat. But that’s only until 00:18, after which the Rahman sound begins layering niceties on the song. The staple Rahman bass sound that’s always a delight, followed by the strings, and finally the twist in the anupallavi(!) that makes even Daler Mahendi’s voice go mellow and you go “Nice”. Rahman even reprises the staccato synth ala ‘Noor Un Ala’ to increase the flavor. A pause and then…like a whiff of stale breath at 1:04, Daler goes off on a 30 second boring Bhangra binge that just plain sucks. Thankfully you don’t hear it again for a long time until 04:50. In between there are short interludes and charanams that are lifted beyond the ordinary by carefully placed trademark Rahman chords and the bass. But the absolute piece of sweetness in the song is the contrapuntal female voice that leads you out of the saranam. Chitra’s thin playful voice in the next charanam is in stark contrast to Daler’s, but it works. If not for the standard Bhangra-isms that the song descends to in the beginning and towards the end, it works as the foot-tapping number it’s meant to be. I’m not a big fan of the genre, except when it helps feed my drunken dancing frenzy at times. But just like with other Rahmanized Bhangra numbers, I’ll make an exception and listen to it more than once.
Lose Control – I’m a Rebel insists a chorus of voices amidst resounding bass beats. I half-expected a gravelly male voice add to that – “The Honda 350cc Rebel. Lose Control.” But no, it’s not an ad-jingle, but rather a big shout-out to well, maybe people younger than me. Hinglish takes a bow in this song, as Paathshaalas are taken a dig at. Geeky digs at that – Equations, Multiplication, Gravity, H2So4, the works. All with a tinge of the Dating song from ‘Boys’. Personally, I didn’t get into this song too much. It got tiring after the second listening, plus at my age, those loud beats can only be bad for my eardrums. All you young things out there, lose control though. I mean, Loose, Loose – this song is for you.
Tu Bin Bataaye:
I tried. I really did. But this song was just too *yawn* for my liking. It brought back memories of that other Rahman sloth-fest, Naalai Ulagam from ‘Love Birds’, a song which forced me to take a cigarette/coffee break even while listening to the CD. Don’t get me wrong, everything else in place. Lilting strings. Well actually, that’s about it. The interludes were too familiar (read high-pitched Duet-y). Full props to Naresh Iyer & Madhushree though. They did their best, even with vague lalalala-ing at the end, but sadly enough, the tempo let the song down.
Did Yuvan Shankar Raja hum this tune into Rahman’s ear when they met for an Ilaiyaraja family event? Even the interludes at 3:37 sound very YSR-ish. Alright, a much better YSR. In fact, the one minute following that interlude is the best segment in the song. For everything else, I’m going to withold an opinion, cos’ of my fierce bias against anything Arabic sounding. For what it’s worth, this would have been a MUCH better title song for a former Radhika mega-serial. There, I said one more nice thing about the song.
Finally, a song that grabs your attention after the lull caused by Siththy yells & Naresh Iyer lullabies. Mohit Chauhan sings this rather refreshing little ditty that clears the palate somewhat. Agreed, it’s a slow number too, but the first few lines are too good to write this one off. The easy piano accompaniment compliments the beautiful melody and the background humming. The beauty of the opening lines is exemplified when Mohit returns from a string-accompanied transition at 01:38. Most importantly, the song does not drag on, and just when it might have gotten too tiring, it ends with a decent musical flourish. Nice.
Paathshaala – Be a Rebel
To the Kumari of Kanya? Really Blaaze? That’s how you be a rebel? Singing retarded rap? Blaaze goes on, “They all have something to say”. That’s right, and I say this to Indian Immigration, “Terminate his Indian Visa already.”
As for the song, no more words will be wasted over it.
I loved ‘Vellai Pookal’, so I’m not going to complain about the familiarity of the intro. In fact, as much as I dislike Lata Mangeshkar’s geriatric voice, even she cannot mess this one up. Beautiful melody. Vocal processors are Rahman’s best friend, and they do him yet another favor when he takes over from her. The chords at 02:07 are *smack* delicious. The bass work is terrific too. Rahman shows off some of his Hindustani Classical scatting in the end. Not too bad. Play it on Mother’s Day and you’ll probably get a few extra laddus from Mommy dear.
Aamir Khan groans into a microphone. The low frequencies are turned way up. Not as hilarious as Arvind Swamy’s efforts in Iruvar, but needless nevertheless. Impress with a good film, not ‘deep’ crap meted out with voices howling in the background. Next.
The guitar opens up with the fast-paced strumming of dual chords, and Naresh Iyer calls out ‘Aye Saala’. And it only gets better from that point forward with Rahman’s singing of the chorus which instantly hooks you on and never lets go. With the help of a panning flanger effect and a subtle rhythm, the song remains charming at every turn, including the bridge/interlude – Dhuaan Chattaan Khula Gagan Mera. On the return to the pallavi, Rahman even shows off with a funky drum-roll that almost seems to miss a beat somewhere. And as in a good Rahman composition, many more sounds show up for fleeting instants as the song draws to a close with more calls of ‘Aye Saala’. Nice.
Considering the avalanche of crap that’s been flooding Bollywood in the name of music (‘My Dil Goes Hmmm’ is a hit, I’ve heard), their listeners have no excuse for not buying this album. For hardcore Rahmaniacs, this is of course another gem in His crown. For me, it’ll help complete a compilation CD of ‘Recent ARR Hindi songs’, while I wait for the next ‘Meenaxi’ to hit the shelves.
Never mind my blah-blah analysis, for an actually well-written review of the album, go here.