I won’t lie, Taha G is one of my favourite new Pakistani pop artists. Dou Pal (with Maanu), Mann Mein Tu and Dil Ke Isharay are songs that I can listen to any time of the day. So, every time a new Taha G track is released, I’m hoping for that same level of catchiness. And with last year’s Tu it was the only time I felt he had gotten close, but still not quite as good as I had hoped.

Now Taha has a track out with Aima Baig called Rent Free. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t quite make the mark, either, even though it has many of the elements from the tracks of his that I like a lot — which is really all you need in a pop song, a repetition of whatever worked before. Sadly, Rent Free is destined to reside in a space that I will almost certainly skip through whenever it comes on when I shuffle Pakistani Indie 101 on Spotify.

Taha G and Aima Baig almost have it going for them with Rent Free, but fall short

The song starts off promisingly, the verses are a bit stripped down musically, and one has to wait until the chorus for the beat to drop. The lack of drums in the verses is what takes away from the song, even though it makes the chorus sound really good. Next, Aima Baig comes on but doesn’t manage to take the song to the next level, again because there’s pretty much no beat to support her. The music on Taha G’s songs is invariably good, as it is here, with housey synths and rolling basslines, it’s just missing on the verses.

I’m not looking for any musical genius at work over here, mind you. I guess what one is looking for in a good pop song is whether it makes you want to listen to it on repeat, and dance to it, or not. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t.

The song starts off promisingly, the verses are a bit stripped down musically, and one has to wait until the chorus for the beat to drop. The lack of drums in the verses is what takes away from the song, even though it makes the chorus sound really good.

If you’ve heard Dou Pal, Mann Mein Tu and Dil Ke Isharay, and like them as much as I do, you’ll know what I’m talking about. There are a few factors that are essential for a good pop song today: brevity — don’t waffle on, trying to show off your musical skills in any way, just make a short, tight song that actually leaves your audience wanting more; catchiness — Taha G and Aima almost have it here, I don’t know if the vocal melody makes you want to sing along, though; danceable beat — the rhythm, in fact overall, the music could have been great.

This may have been a particularly daring decision as a producer on Taha G’s part, but maybe he needs to come out with a remix that has a beat running throughout the song. Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Nofil Naqvi is a director/producer and a music enthusiast, write to him at nofilnaqvi@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, ICON, October 2nd, 2022

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