Coke Studio Pakistan has been on air since 2008. Eight seasons in, it is one of the most popular shows in Pakistan. Across the border, it mixes sufi and urdu sounds with contemporary music.
The ninth season is two episodes in, and seems to promise what season eight lacked: there will be much more diversity in each episode as each song will have a guest producer or director roped in to give their unique style. Instead of Strings producing each song this season, they will be still overseeing the whole operation.
The first episode has four songs, beginning with the Marwari folk classical, 'Sasu Mangay' sung by Naseebo Lal and Umair Jaswal. Naseebo Lal's trademark delivery makes this rendition a winner. This was followed by the equally melodious 'Janay Na Tu'. 'Aaja Re Moray Saiyaan' is extremely heartwarming. Produced by the rock band Noori, the song has the trademark rock-sufi collaboration that has made them so popular.
The track 'Aaqa' is a collaboration between Sufi Queen of music Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi. The hair-raising track reminds us why Abida Parveen is the 'Queen of Sufi Music'. Though the devotional tracks lacks the tempo and pace that's expected out of it, Parveen's vocals are what save the song from dying a mediocre death.
The second episode has Meesha Shafi singing 'Bholay Bhalay'. Shafi, who is also a model and actress, has seen her music career grow with Coke Studio. Her collaboration with Arif Lohar for 'Alif Allah (Jugni)' (Coke Studio Season 3) gathered more than 25 million views on Youtube. This track too wins because of Shafi's haunting vocals.
Rahat Fateh Ali Khan teams up with Momina Mustehsan to reprise Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's famous 'Afreen Afreen'. It looks like it was a tough task for the Sufi master to live up to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's genius because fans thought this rendition of the song was not as good as the original. However, this version does serve as a beautiful tribute to the original.
‘Baliye (Laung Gawacha)’ starts out as an upbeat track sung by singer-songwriter, Haroon Shahid. The second half melts down into a slow rendition of 'Laung Gawacha' by Quratulain Balouch. The track seems to transit from a fast-paced track to a ballad too fast and comes out looking slightly confused.
‘Man Kunto Maula’, does what Coke Studio does best; mix old school traditional sounds with contemporary music. This rock qawwali sung by Ali Azmat and Javed Bashir is fusion music at its very best. Ali Azmat takes the lead as the vocalist, and music director Jaffer Zaidi (lead vocalist of the band Kaavish) seamlessly blends classical and rock elements together.
The third episode, which is set to air 27 August 2016, braces us for exciting collaborations and guest producers that might be on the horizon for this popular show