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The promising Pakistani music scene is still moving slower than we expected this year. Coke Studio and more recently Uth Records, however, have emerged on the scene as two great platforms for enthusiastic musicians to aspire to.

Nevertheless it’s been a productive year of music with new entrants into the scene as well as old faces establishing their musical bonafides, making sure they escape the dreaded one-hit-wonder label.  From the established folk duo of Zeb and Haniya to the acoustic musings of Poor Rich Boy and the prodigious talent that is Usman Riaz. Here’s our take on the best songs of 2011.

10. Strings Mein tou Dekhoonga

Strings are by far the elder statesmen of the Pakistani music scene. And like much of their music, this simple and heartfelt song touched a lot of people by channeling the ubiquitous sentiment of hope. It’s an anthemic tune and sounds like a radio-friendly “Hum daikhaingay” ala Iqbal Bano. It could be criticised as rather safe and feel-good, but then again, that’s the sound that this duo has established for themselves, and they are still going strong.

9. Aag Mitti

This rock ’n’ roll out fit has been around for a while now. And with this well produced cover for Junoon’s 20th anniversary has followed in their rock/fusion vein. It’s simple and straight forward, with some crunchy guitars maintaining the feel of the original yet adding a bit of edge as well.  While the vocals are sound and do justice to the haunting lyrics, but we still have to say, he’s got nothing on Ali Azmat.

8. Zeb and Haniya Kya Khayaal Hai

Zen and Haniya have established themselves as a mainstay of the folk genre. And this is simply another great song by the dynamic duo in collaboration with Indian artists in a new show called the Dewarists. It might not be their best relative to the high bar they’ve set for themselves, but it still delivers with solid performance and songwriting that we have come to expect from them.

7. Sajid and Zeeshan Walk on Air

Sajid and Zeeshan are among of our most innovative musicians, and always present songs with a sound that is unique and pushes the boundaries just a little each time.  Their latest release, like many of their other songs, is an interesting blend of electronic and acoustic sounds and with an equally eye-catching video. Though the beats sound slightly derivative, the vocals and composition are great

6. Alamgir and Kristie Yung Keh Dena

It’s always refreshing to get a blast from the past now and then. It’s wonderful to see the ailing veteran’s old signature sway on a well-produced new music video.  This version of “Keh Dena” is a great way to revitalize a classic for the newer generation, and highlights how great the original was. Kristie Yung adds both novelty element along with her skill to this classic, and her voice adds a range and depth to the track.

5. Natasha Ejaz The Right Way to Fall

Ejaz seemed to be well on her way to be the KT tunstall of Pakistan.This soul/pop number is one of the gems brought to us by the new Uth Records show. The crew has helped the Ejaz turn her composition into a single that has a great western sound. It’s a great composition that isn’t just ‘good for a Pakistani’, but simply a great effort for young musician like Ejaz. We look forward to what she has brewing for the future.

4. Usman Riaz Firefly

There’s no questioning Riaz’s prodigious talent and facility with his instruments. A trained pianist, his skill with a guitar has that visual wow factor, as he extracts the percussive and melodic capabilities of the guitar. His pure approach to making music comes across instantly and we won’t be surprised if his name is uttered in the same breath as the likes of Aamir Zaki, Mekaal Hassan  and Faraz Anwar.

3. Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammad Kangna

Coke Studio has become synonymous with amazing live performances and “Kangna” performed by qawwals Ayaz and Muhammed is one of the seminal performances. It’s a great performance that fuses the soul and history of qawwali to more modern accoutrements of rock music. Gumby’s drumming stands out with a mixture of odd time signatures and versions like this are making classical music palatable to younger audiences.

2. Poor Rich Boy Fair Weather Friend

Well known among Lahore’s underground circuit, the band has surfaced with their brand of sincere music, with well thought out poetry, and intelligent songwriting executed with maturity. For a change, here is a band that exudes a certain genuineness, with songs that have depth and layers that leave interpretation up to the listener.

1. Yasir and Jawad Reidi Gul

Yasir and Jawad made quite a splash when they came up with a bearded vocalist from Orakzai Agency who sang about peace and love. They don’t strike one as a one-hit wonder like many other bands in the past. This song is easily the find of the year and does great justice to Ghani Khan’s poetry that many people would not have read or understood had it not been for this beautiful rendition. It’s great to see musicians from around Pakistan, apart from urban cities like Karachi and Lahore, come to the fore.

Comments (23) Closed

Osman Rehman Dec 30, 2011 03:56pm
Was wondering if this piece will come in the way thanks for the list :) Happy New Year
bluemountain Dec 30, 2011 08:54pm
Need more original rock songs on this here list IMO.......
Qaiser Bakhtiari Dec 30, 2011 09:31pm
I really enjoyed this list. Thanks for posting.
Ayesha Dec 30, 2011 10:01pm
You should also mention the singer's name in reidi gul, it's not fair to just mention Yasir and Jawad's name but not his. It's because of his vocals that the song is number 1! :D wali aurakzai should get the glory he rightfully deserves to get!
Khawaja Yasin Dec 30, 2011 10:10pm
dudddeeeee!!! where is Aalu Anday???
Sanghita Dec 30, 2011 10:44pm
Its so nice to hear the fresh voices and songs, alas in India we just get hear the Bollywood numbers.. hope these records can be easily available here!!!
Aiesh Dec 30, 2011 10:53pm
True. Wali , Strings and Alamgir-THE BEST SONGS THEY created and lent their voices to. gave the year songs which will remain memorable forever!
Shah Hussain Dec 30, 2011 11:56pm
The list is really interesting! Thanks for your your post! The Rich Poor Boys is a sweet new discovery!
Aqeel Nizamani Dec 31, 2011 12:06am
great collection i love all songs specially Natasha Ejaz wow what a great song. i loved that
MUKTI M MAJID Dec 31, 2011 12:44am
Hello Friends, Wishing you a very happy new year 2012 to all friends of DAWN. MuktiMajid Peelkhana Dacca Bangladesh.
TaRiK Dec 31, 2011 01:29am
I loved Mitti the most.. and this number by Jawad and Yasir is also cool... Touche to the poetry
Pakistani Dec 31, 2011 02:01am
Eating Chicken boti
jagjit sidhoo Dec 31, 2011 10:36am
Aalo anday was the clear NO 1
Ayesha M. Dec 31, 2011 01:50pm
Ahh perfect numbers one and two, although i agree about Aloo Anday, it shouldn't be absent from this list yo! I LOVE The Yasir and Jawad song, their vocalist was so adorkable in that particular episode!
Samira Dec 31, 2011 01:59pm
Really enjoyed the list...Please keep up the good work, and I hope you guys can post lists like that regularly (say, best songs over 3-6 months).
Rizwan Dec 31, 2011 04:23pm
Matchless collection except one " Mein tou Dekhoonga", but got surprise by missing " DAM GUDKU DAM GUDKU".
jamshed kharian-pak Dec 31, 2011 10:10pm
Very very good colection it was a pleasure thanks
G.A. Dec 31, 2011 11:54pm
More of the same. Slow and monotonous is a Pakistani hallmark - start with slow humming of vocals or strumming of the guitar. It's strictly geared towards the relatively small urban middle class. Little wonder Bollywood is so popular.
faiza Jan 01, 2012 01:07pm
where is "uth band kamar ky darta hai" by shehzad roy " apney ulloo" just released. who can you miss that
Ahmar Jan 01, 2012 03:03pm
Enjoyed the songs. Really a good effort. Keep it up.
lala Jan 02, 2012 03:49am
To G This mix is innovative, traditional, modern, creative at the same time. It's not cool to be derivative all the time- it's nice that elements of traditonal elements are retained/exploited.
SHERRY Jan 04, 2012 12:58am
Thank You guys... I was just searching for an authentic official for top pop singers of 2011 and you gave that to thanks again..
ibrahim Jan 09, 2012 09:04am
Thanks a bunch... You guys have put up a list of genuine music with great lyrics... for true music lovers... I can understand why this list cant have the likes of Alu Anday