It’s true; Coke Studio has been the beacon that burns brightest on the music calendar every year since 2008. But that’s not why it’s on this list. CS Season 5 was really a pleasure to listen to. That sentence probably got the wolves howling, but before you join the bandwagon, do actually listen to the entire season, and not just a few songs as we all tend to do. This season, the show made its 100th song, just so you know.
This season the show experimented differently, curbing the folk which dragged on the fun, to let the artists find themselves on stage. Bohemia didn’t need to cut back on lyrics that might have been explosive and Farhad Humayun got to bring his drums on stage. Even the equipment was revamped; the drums were electric and there was a particular creamy wood coloured guitar that kept showing up in Asad Ahmed’s arms. You have to watch the videos and listen to the songs to know what I mean.
If even that is asking too much, I’ll narrow it down for you. Listen to all of Symt’s songs. And don’t miss Farhad Humayun’s Mahi (although you can move past the unfortunate Neray Aah). Except for School di Kitaab, Bohemia owned the stage each time he stepped onto it. And Uzair Jaswal’s Nindiya ke Paar isn’t a bad song if you’re down in the dumps. Hadiqa Kiyani’s Kamli too might appeal to some ears. But the highlight of the season, and arguably the most bad a** song CS has produced in its history is Charkha Naulakha by Atif Aslam and Umair Jaswal. Thoroughly an adrenalin rush, the song starts humbly before it unleashes a storm of vocals on you, to the barrage of chords playing Kashmir — perfect stuff to imagine yourself hurtling down a highway with all the world’s tanks, hummers and helicopters on your tail trying to stop you. If you can master the scream in the song, you’ll find yourself a step closer to nirvana.
Zoe Viccaji: “I think the music keeps getting more interesting and intricate, and it’s a pity that some read this season as being ‘the same old thing’, because the ‘novelty factor’ has decreased. It was great having new artists like Qayaas and Symt come in, and get the attention that they deserved.”
Farhan (Symt): “CS5 was a life-changing experience for us. This is the actual starting point for Symt.”
Meesha Shafi: “CS was phenomenal two years ago and again this year. Amazing experience. It’s the perfect combination of creativity and professionalism.”
Uzair Jaswal: “The CS experience was a childhood dream realised for me. Rohail was intimidating at first due to the fact that he is such a hard person to get in contact with. However once we had a rapport going, he was a very positive influence. He was understanding and reassuring and a great musical guide.”