Category Archives: Music

When I yearned for lip-synching

I wonder why Rahman even bothered with an orchestra (if you can call it that) during the San Francisco concert on June 2. ‘One-eyed’ Sivamani, from the land of the blind, could’ve played the rhythm on any or all the percussion surrounding him, and the crowd would’ve still danced and cheered. Who cares if the mixing/audio was horrible, that the singers had no charisma, and sometimes sang flatter than some American idol rejects? It was probably the worst $45 I spent in my life. I attended the LA concert back in 2003, and came back not too disappointed, but this just plain sucked.

But I’m sure the 1500+ dancing & cheering buffoons in that stadium will disagree.

Sampling Raja, Malaysian Style

While Yuvan butchers Papa’s songs in the name of remix, a bunch of Malaysian rappers have paid tribute to a Raja classic in style. Yogi-B and Natchathra sample Madai Thirandhu on their album Vallavan. I had no clue who these guys were, so I checked out the album and some of the other tracks are solid. The rapping is impressive and from what little I could make out, the lyrics sounded better than anything from Kollywood. They even pay tribute to Lil Jon & his Crunk (crunk-u king-kku respectoo) in the well-produced Move Dat. Other fun tracks like Ellamaey Kaasu has more of Raaja with a hat-tip to Padikaathavan, while Kamasutra uses a Carnatic-styled hook.

Acquire this album people. Easily the most interesting album in recent times with Tamizh words in it.

The low-budget video for Madai Thirandhu feat. ‘Lock Up’ Guna :-D

Spike Lee talks about “Changa Changa”

From the DVD commentary for ‘Inside Man‘ – an approximate reproduction.

The song you’re hearing ‘Changa Changa’ [sic] is a song from a Bollywood musical ‘Dil Se’. I am a Professor at the NYU Grad Film School and one class we were talking about musicals and there was an Indian woman, who was a student of mine, and she said – Do you know anything about Bollywood films, and I said No. I said, suggest some.
So next class, she gave me the DVD of this film ‘Dil Se’. I liked the film very much, but I loved the song ‘Changa Changa’, and I made a mental note to myself that somehow I would try to put this song in the movie. So we had the original song, but Terrence Blanchard, long time collaborator and music composer, wrote an orchestral arrangement behind it. And for the end credits, we had the rap by MC Panjabi.

on SOK (work in progress)

I told myself yesterday, a (terribly) incomplete post is better than none at all. Plus, I’m touched when anonymous no one in particular asks me to update. :)

Yay, Rahman is back with another album. Let the superlative overload begin…

‘Rahman Broadway Hangover’ is what the title track would be called in English. What you heard in ‘Iruvar’ is nothing compared to this big-band extravaganza for which Vaali writes naughty opening lines – ‘Birds do it, Butterflies do it, Trees do it’. If you thought ‘copulate’, you ought to be ashamed. It’s love, you fool…a Cool kinda Love. The song is probably a tribute to the few years Rahman spent around the world of musicals. Heck! he even has a cat meow in a few notes now & then. Hat-tip to Webber. Check. The singers (it sounded like Tanvi had company) ,unfortunately, are no Ethel Mermans. Infact, at around 3:29 one of them sounds like she is improvising and being strangled at the same time. Tsk! Tsk! The song will probably sound fresh in tea stalls, but otherwise, it’s your basic big-band template customized to fit Tamizh lyrics.

I understand why ‘Kummi Adi’ would read better on the back of a CD, but if it were to me, I’d have stuck with Avalukkenna Ambasamudhira Iyer Hotelu Alwa Maadhiri, Thaazham Poovena Thala Thala Thalavenu Vandha Vandha Paaru. Thank God for Vaali! I know he kids a lot about doing it for the dough, but sometimes I think he does put a little heart into it. Snehan & co., take notes. This is how you write fun lyrics, not crap about what you do best in the kitchen! Maybe the opening lines helped, but this turned out to be my favorite in the album. Villupaatu-ish melody aided by a rollicking rhythm, better singing and a saranam that sounds prettier with Swarnalatha’s voice. Good stuff.

Machakaari is a catchy pop tune with a relentless rhythm, sung with gusto by Vasundara Das & Shouter Mahadevan. Will probably find extended playing time on every teenager’s iPOD. And some on mine. Flavor of the month.

Majaa Majaa brought back memories of Ah-Aah. And I really don’t need that right now. If you wanted SPB Charan to sing like SPB, why not use the original when he’s around? Tiresome.

Post Script:
When I wrote what I thought of RDB, a few Rahmaniacs came by, fangs exposed, and reminded me of what I already knew. That I know not much about music. And I’ll admit it…I cried a little, at first, and then looked to the skies and howled like Sean Penn in Mystic River (I’d like to see him in a remake of ‘Paasa Malar’). Which is why I need to explicitly ask the haters to stay away this time. And if you really need to vent, channel it all at the vagaries of the desi blog-ranking system. A worthy cause.

The Quintessential 80s (or 90s) ‘Western Music’ Compilation Tape: Chennai Style

Sometime during the early 90s, I was sitting on a wooden barricade at the YMCA grounds in Royapettah, dragging on what I thought was a Wills NavyCut (an hour later, some hazy faces told me it was “grass”). 13AD was playing the opening riff of an English song that obviously had an impact on Phillip Cherian who was getting ready to explode in drooling delight. “Wow…O…God…mmm….mochaan*…fuck” were his words, I think, though not in that order. Not too impressed with me being not too impressed, Cherian berated me in classic peter english – What? Fuck…mochaan, what? You don’t know “Sweet Child O’Mine”?. I think I might have nodded and then fallen off that barricade..
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Rahman’s Rang De Basanti

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.
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Rahman Fans Tribute

A group of Rahman fans (face T-shirts & all) got together someplace in Malaysia and played his songs…in a house. While the singing could best have been left to vocal tracks from the original audio, the musicians kick butt. Obviously a lot of programming went into the synthesizer, but still, considering there are only 3 instruments used, the reproduction is quite impressive.

Video Playlist 1
Video Playlist 2

PS: There’s also the usual Polar Bear-Eskimo humor associated with such gatherings. Good fun.

A Glimpse of Raja

If you’ve yearned for an Ilaiyaraja composition that even brought back memories of one of his 90s songs, then check out this Malayalam number called Oru Chiri Kandaal from the movie, Ponmudipuzhayorathu. Sung by Manjari & Vijay Yesudas (who is very close to sounding like his Dad here), the song is somewhat of a cross between MaharaajanOdu (Sati Leelavathy) and Kaadhal Kavidhaigal(Gopura Vaasalile). The bass work is sweet, the tune is soothing and Raja has steered clear of his recent obtrusive machinized drumming. Why not such songs in Tamizh, I wonder?!

Lyrics: Oru Chiri Kandaal.

PS1: Please let me know if you happen upon a mp3 of this song anywhere! Coolgoose!
PS2: Alternative video for the same song. That’s right. I was vain enough to look for “Manoj” videos on Google Video and happened upon this one. I’m a dork!

(The Band) Soft – New Single ‘Higher’

This is not in any way a mp3 blog, but if plugging the music of upcoming bands means I get emails from band-members who send me music samples, and good ones at that, then I’m all for it. :)

The band in question is Soft, who I previously mentioned once here. I’m no music guru, but I think I know an extremely catchy song when I hear one. Their latest single Higher is just that. Don’t go finding a genre to fit the song into, just play it loud enough for the guitars to resonate in your head and the tune to stick to your lips.

Soft – Higher

Vidyasagar’s Majaa

Ayaarettu Naathu – Shankar Mahadevan, Anuradha Sriram: Sing along with me. Vaadi-amma Jakkama. Hold. Now just when you get to the end of the pallavi, sing Chellame Chellame. There. Now you know what this song sounds like. Is it just me or does Anuradha Sriram deserve the Bharat Ratna already? I mean, that’s probably the only way she can be forced to retire. The song recovers in the saranam though. Which means it doesn’t remind you of any one song, but only of a dozen other songs. Is it loud & noisy enough to blare from the rooftops come Deepavali? Damn right…shoor hit-u saar.
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Tamizh Music – Cuss out time

Yuvan Shankar Raja probably wants us to think he is some kind of Desi Dre, except he is not. Another instance of his hip-hop affliction is discovered in his latest venture, Kanda Naal Mudhal with a song called Pushing it Hard, which also describes his attempts at making Tamizh sound hip-hop. Once you get past the inane intro where a voice demands that Yuvan “spin the shit up”, the rest of the cookie-cutter composition will set your head spinning until it explodes with the banality of the song’s bridge.
Hey Yuvan…yeah?…give it a rest. And go back to sampling vintage Tamizh LPs. That was actually good shit.
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Prefer Rahman Unfettered

Listening to Main Vari Vari from Mangal Pandey, I could not help but think how different the song would sound without that prominent bass (fretless I think) accompaniment, which incidentally is beautiful and employed as only Rahman can. Without the bass, it becomes a more ordinary, though still catchy tune. But then, a catchy tune doesn’t set you apart, does it? So Rahman stamps his authority and adds color to the song with the bass and all those lush string pads that remain the foundation for most of his songs.
But all this in a period film?
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Thotti Jaya observation

Anniyan did not find Harris Jayaraj at his creative best, as one would normally expect for a Shankar movie (maybe many don’t care anymore considering the actual movie challenged their sanity). One aspect missing from some of the songs, I thought, were solid intros, an art form that Rahman & Raja are masters of. And now we have another Harris Jayaraj album called Thotti Jaya, featuring Chimpu & his swooshing finger(s). My laziness quotient has exponentially increased over the past coupla months, so a detailed blade analysis (to use a Bosey term) of the album might not happen.
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Layering Esthero (updated)

I was trying to come up with a Tamizh song to use with an extended sample I created from an Esthero song called ‘Flipher Overture’. And like always I was lost for lyrics. I might have topped myself in inanity with this song called ‘Sakhiye’. The clincher could be the line nimidam nimidam nodigalai pala varudam aanadhu, which is also how 5th standard Maths classes begin every academic year in TamilNadu.

If anyone thinks the tune is worthy of better lyrics, then please give it a shot. If not, there is always the Delete key.

mp3 of Sakhiye Sakhiye

update: added some music at the end of the song.

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