Rock On 2 music review: Without Farhan Akhtar, this would be a much better album
Admittedly, Farhan Akhtar has the grungy quality in his voice that is best suited for rock music. There's no denying this.
But does that make him a good singer? Or, let's phrase this differently (in pursuit of diplomacy). A soundtrack like Rock On 2, composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, should be boasting of stellar vocals. But what we get, instead, is washed down (courtesy Akhtar), forced album in the name of rock. You don't become a rock musician just by using the devil's horns pose in a photo wearing all black.
But here's the silver lining. I genuinely believe that this soundtrack minus the forced rock genre, and Farhan Akhtar's vocals could have been something really great. SEL recently composed the music for Mirzya, and they are in absolute top form.
The album's first track 'Jaago' is possibly supposed to be an anthem, and with it being shot at important places in Mumbai, it may just become one. Let's get this out of the way: the song is catchy. But Siddharth Mahadevan's 30 second chorus (where he literally sings only two words again and again: Jaago, jaago) is far better than Farhan singing the whole song. His voice brings it down.
Shraddha Kapoor, however, is a surprise. Her voice is like a mix between Colbie Smoulders and Amy Lee (of Evanescence fame) and works really well with the tone that this album takes. Udja Re is my personal favourite song in the Rock on 2 soundtrack because it doesn't try to be a rock song, and in the process ends up being extremely unique. In fact the chorus riffs actually stand out, as opposed to sounding like noise (like in the other tracks).
'You Know What I Mean', again sung by Farhan, is like an ad-jingle that you will forget the minute it stops to play. Possibly the least impressive song on the album. But 'Manzar Naya' is still passable. It reminds you of 'Khabon Ke Parindey' from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, with whistles et al, but how I wish they'd chosen Siddharth Mahadevan to sing the whole song instead. There's a falsetto part in the song that Farhan attempts that is just cringe-worthy.
If you had any doubts about whether Shraddha Kapoor's voice had been tuned to perfection from just her first song, her second one 'Tere Mere Dil' will confirm it. It's a dreamy, sing-song track that is hummable, but the stringy, sitar bits stand out. However, Kapoor's voice is at its best in her duet song with Farhan, 'Woh Jahaan'. It's pristine, smooth and when we hear Farhan's voice in the second verse, you immediately want to switch back to Kapoor's.
'Hoi Kiw/Chalo Chalo' is one of the two tracks on the album to have neither of these voices, and offers a respite with Usha Uthup's voice. A quirky, upbeat number — this is the most dance-worthy song on the Rock On 2 soundtrack. The Shillong-band Summersalt that sings in Khasi is the winner of this track. 'Ishq Mastana' helmed by Shankar Mahadevan and Digvijay Singh Pariyar, is an intense, powerful ballad and (finally!) the vocals match the ambition of the track.
These two songs together are better than the other four.
It may seem like one is being particularly mean to Farhan Akhtar, but this sense of disappointment comes from a part of me that is actually a fan of his. I love his films, be it Lakshya, Dil Chahta Hai or Don. I think he's a great actor, especially in films like ZNMD or Luck By Chance.
So this album just angers me because there is such a thing as overkill. One song here and there is fine, but the Rock on 2 album is majorly split between two voices: Shraddha Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar, and the latter fails very badly at evoking any emotion.
Listen to the soundtrack here: