It seems that Decemberistan [a local phenomenon in which overseas Paki-stanis return home for a short break, making it the most socially busy month in Pakistan] is revealing the cost that this shaadi season coupled with seasonal celebrations [I’m looking at you: New Years’ Eve revellers] is having on the collective health of the country. We’re at the start of a new wave of Covid-19: the omicron wave.

It’s time to become very careful, absolutely follow SOPs, stay at home and… listen to new music. Like this single from one of Pakistan’s budding artists, who’s trying to create a name for himself, away and from under the shadow of his extremely famous brother.

Recently a video went viral-ish of Danyal Zafar performing his latest single, Chad Gayi, on his birthday. He’s moving to the music, dancing as he’s singing, his guests swaying to his music. Danyal’s letting go and just having fun. Nothing more serious. In these difficult times, we could use some of that lightness.

Let me start off by saying that Chad Gayi is annoyingly catchy. It’s a very Bieber-esque, North American sounding, Electronic Dance Music (EDM) number, with the Punjabi phrase “Chad Gayi, O’ Meno Chad Gayiaan” as the main chorus.

Danyal Zafar’s latest song, Chad Gayi, is all about letting loose and having fun

The song also features the vocal rapping talents of Alistair Alvin. Alvin has previously worked with Danyal Zafar’s older brother, Ali Zafar, on his K-pop inspired song, Game Bun Gayi.

Pakistan-based and armed with long, long dreadlocks, swishing and sashaying all over the music video for Chad Gayi, Alistair Alvin raps most of the English sections of this cute little romantic number. Danyal sings in both English and Punjabi in Chad Gayi.

For the Punjabi sections, especially, he uses that technique where the vocals are double-recorded, or layered over each other, to make his voice sound bigger and give a more echo-ey far-reaching effect.

In the past few years we’ve seen Daniyal Zafar experiment with music as if trying to figure out his sound. So far, the direction his music is going in sounds very inspired by contemporary, American electro-pop music, with a bit of desi vocals infused. It seems to be working for him and, most importantly, he looks like he’s really enjoying producing this kind of light, preppy, fun music.

There’s a youthful energy to it that’s focused singularly on living in this moment and not taking anything too seriously. In these dismal times, we could use some of that to lift us up.

If you’re looking for music that’s going to reach deep into your soul and prove to be meaningful or revealing in any way, Chad Gayi is not the song for you. If you just want something fun to listen and dance to in self-imposed isolation, Chad Gayi is exactly the song for you.

Published in Dawn, ICON, January 9th, 2022

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