The Firstpost Playlist: The Beatles’ heartbreak, Ilaiyaraaja’s classical strains and Chitra Singh’s ghazal

This weekend, Firstpost Playlist pays tribute to the legends of music – from Ilaiyaraaja to The Beatles and from Julie Andrews to Chitra Singh.

FP Staff June 04, 2016 09:17:15 IST
The Firstpost Playlist: The Beatles’ heartbreak, Ilaiyaraaja’s classical strains and Chitra Singh’s ghazal

This weekend, Firstpost Playlist pays tribute to the legends of music – from Ilaiyaraaja to The Beatles and from Julie Andrews to Chitra Singh. Of course we also have some catchy songs from Alt-J, Matthew Mole and The Shins. The songs will take you across the globe – jazz from Norway, classical music from Tamil Nadu, Bollywood from Nagaland, soulful music from London and pop from South Africa. Scroll down to see what we have in store for you.

Left Hand Free (This Is All Yours) by Alt-J

Written in "about 20 minutes" and deemed "the least Alt-J song ever" by the band itself, Left Hand Free from the 2014 album This Is All Yours, is perhaps the most catchy song the band has ever put out (yes, keeping in mind Breezeblocks and Tessellate).

On a loop on a summer day. Thank me later.

PS: The song also had an alternate video. Imagine Harmony Korine collaborating with Michael Bay. Yeah.

— Harsh Pareek

Winter Comes (Northern Light) by Covenant

Covenant is one of my all time favorite bands, they are a Swedish electronic body music / synthpop band. Their tracks are industrial, but still mellow and soothing. Their kind of music is mechanical and without imperfections. This track has calm vocals with swelling music.

This song can also totally be the Stark family theme song, so fans of Game of Thrones or A Song of Ice and Fire will find something else to appreciate in the video. It is full of serene winter landscapes, and there are even slow motion shots of wolves, which are getting increasingly rare in the show. The song is called Winter Comes which totally goes with the Stark house words. The song is from the Northern Light album, which has some of Covenant's best songs ever, including Call All Ships to Port (can imagine Euron Greyjoy singing this one) and Invisible and Silent.

— Aditya Madanapalle

Mt Grace (Young Alaska) by Christian Löffler

Löffler's techno percussion exhibits an interesting emotional palette. The music is at once lonely and futuristic but it is definitely grounded in Nature. His exquisite and complex arrangement of music pushes the envelope of ambient music, one note at a time.

In his finely crafted songs, there is melancholia, but there is also sunshine that peers through. His music is uplifting, yet there is a feeling of something lost.

— Vishnupriya Bhandaram

Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine (The Home We Built) by Matthew Mole

The only way to describe a Matthew Mole song is to say, “I cannot get over it”.

Tuning into this South African singer-cum-songwriter’s track while you’re pampering yourself on the weekend, would be a good choice to make.

You play this song once and realise that it has catchy music. When you come back to it later in the day, you find out that it’s more than just a folk pop. Why is that, you’d wonder? You'll find the answer towards the end of your second beat: words.

To resonate with any of Matthew’s lyrics is never a tough task. You listen to them, and you instantly connect and it's the same with this song too. In addition, Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine has a detailed electronic instrumentation and one of the most unconventional set-ups for its video. What makes you go back to it again and again is the distinctive voice of the singer. He makes sure all of his songs are your own. And once he has you on board, there’s no going back.

So this weekend, if you want to put a new song on repeat while you’re travelling, or writing, or working, or reading, or well, just being, then do pick Take Yours, I’ll Take Mine. You won't regret it. Happy weekend!

— Reema Mukherjee

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (Mary Poppins) by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke

Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke set "the biggest word you’ve ever heard" to music, and the result is—to use a slightly shorter word—charming. A little over two minutes long, the composition has the simplicity of an old-world advertising jingle. Listen to it on a Saturday morning, and you can set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

— Neerad Pandharipande

Easy to say by Blanche Ellis

Many of you have probably never heard of Blanche Ellis. That's because she is yet to come out with an album. But I recently had the chance to meet this wonderful singer on my travels across India.

Based in London, she is a multi-potentialite: she is passionate about music, art and creating visual minutes.

I heard her sing a lot of her original work while we travelled together and loved most of her songs. So, while this might not be a regular song number for everyone, for me, the song has become an earworm, along with one of her other songs called Stormy Siesta.

Blanche is the actor in the music video. The video looks interesting and fresh with mime and the song makes an impact.

She is a new artist and I think, one should definitely check her music out. I am looking definitely looking forward to her album.

— Kinjal Vora

Phantom Bride Ft Jerry Cantrell (Gore) by Deftones

Both Deftones and Alice in Chains were an integral part of my (angsty) teenage years for different reasons. The heavy grunge sound of Alice in Chains was perfect for some brooding and the chaotic nu-metal (and now alternative metal) melodies of Deftones were perfect to counter my restless adolescent boredom.

Never in those times did I imagine that these two sounds would meet. In Phantom Bride, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains sets the tones with an almost jazzy guitar intro followed by vocalist Chino's usual crooning. The harsh ending is classic Deftones: a tumultuous combination of beauty and brutality. Even their album title and cover reflects that, the stark term Gore written against an image of a flock of flamingos.

But what makes this song so interesting is the lyrics. The deceptively quieter song has a gloomy message behind it. Some fan forums speculate that the 'poison' and 'void' that the band talks about is the conformity and habitual nature of our life. I agree with this; we feel simultaneously comforted and trapped by our lives. This song approaches this bleak reality really well.

— Siddhi Desai

Pink Bullets (Chutes Too Narrow) by The Shins

I first heard The Shins while watching Zach Braff's movie Garden State. Since then, I've pretty much listened to everything they've produced. This song remains one of my favourites because its a simple one. It's melancholic and I enjoy listening to it in the night while looking at the stars.

The guitar at the start is one of the best hooks I've ever heard to a song. I guess that should pretty much set the ball rolling!

— Shashank Nair

Mandram Vandha (Mouna Ragam) by Ilaiyaraaja

Considering Ilaiyaraaja and Mani Ratnam share their birthday (2 June), it's only fair that the FP Playlist this weekend features at least one of the great soundtracks that the duo gave Tamil cinema audiences in the ’90s.

You can broadly divide Ratnam's movies into two phases: Ilaiyaraaja and AR Rahman.

Mouna Ragam belongs to the 1st phase: the film traces a couple's marital discord — the heroine is torn between the man she loved and the man she finally marries — and the soundtrack beautifully mimics it. The film's longest song, Mandram Vandha, which is based on Raag Keeravani (and Natabhairavi notes), is a masterpiece, sung soulfully by SP Balasubramaniam. Interestingly enough, the song was adapted by the music director again, as Cheeni Kum's title track in 2007, but it pales in comparison to the original.

However, I'd say you should go ahead and check out the movie's soundtrack, as it's a timeless classic.

- Apoorva Sripathi

Mystery Man (Heat OST) by Terje Rypdal

Terje Rypdal, the Norwegian composer, was introduced to the world as part of Michael Mann’s most stylized and popular films to date. Rypdal’s dressing of jazz — as it was then in Norwegia — cuts into the unrushed and ponderous soundscapes. The two songs that Rypdal contributed to Heat (Mystery Man and Last Night) situate the audience in the midst of a moment both contemplative and unending in essence. When Robert De Niro meets a woman at his house overlooking Los Angeles, Last Night dives through the sexual banality of the situation with a tinge of perspective. It is an iconic scene, but when it comes to choosing between the two songs, I prefer Mystery Man. It has a more subdued role within the film but on its own it, for me, finds middle-ground between rhythm and pace, post-rock and progressive, good and great.

- Manik Sharma

Dil Hi to Hai Na Sango Khisht by Jagjit and Chitra Singh

Jagjit Singh and Chitra Singh revived the magic of Mirza Ghalib’s poetry in 1988 when they composed music for Doordarshan’s take on the poet’s life. Recorded in Chitra Singh’s soulful voice, Dil Hi Toh Hai Na Sango Khisht is one of Ghalib’s timeless ghazals.

The ghazal is a meditation on life, loss and despair— the themes and philosophies which always dominated his work. One of my most loved couplets from this ghazal is —

Ghalib-e-Khasta ke baghair kaun se kaam band hain?
Roiye zaar-zaar kya, keejiye haay-haay kyon?

Apart from the philosophical depths of Ghalib’s poetry, much of his work is a reflection of the last days of Mughal Delhi. As historian William Dalrymple notes, Ghalib’s Delhi was witnessing a renaissance in the midst of a political crisis — the rapid decline of Mughals and expansion of the East India Company.

— Onkar Surve

Yesterday (Help!) by The Beatles

Yesterday is a break up song. The lyrics talks about the time when the singer persona and his beloved were together. But something went wrong along the way, and the beloved left without giving an explanation.

It's a song which many have sung in the empty chambers of their broken hearts, many a times without ever bringing it on their lips. Like a quiet internal murmur, that goes on and on and on...

Why should you really listen to this beautiful creation this weekend? For the beautifully emotional lyrics. Here are a few lines:

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they're here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly I'm not half the man I used to be.
There's a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

— Bindisha Sarang

Barso Re cover by Tetseo Sisters

While the temperatures in Mumbai soar over 35 degrees C and we await the monsoon, here's a song to jput you in a good mood over the weekend. AR Rahman's songs are evergreen, specially when they involves a waterfall at some exotic location and a solo female track - remember Chotti si Asha?. Barso Re from the film Guru is yet another hummable song from the Mozart of Madras.

But this cover of Barso Re by the Tetseo Sisters, a four-member women's band from Nagaland, adds a whole new flavour to the classic. The pitter patter at the start of the song, complemented by the close up montages of the landscape, streams and flowers, immediately put you in a pleasant frame of mind. Then come the close shots of the iktara-type instrument being played by the Tetseo Sisters while they sing the cover of Barso Re.

The musical arrangement is limited to a couple of percussion instruments and a flute, with the iktara holding things together. The stunning brown/green landscape contrasted by the bright colours and headgear worn by the Tetseo sisters keeps you visually engaged. The three sisters nicely mix in some traditional Naga folk songs into the canvas of Barso Re as well, to a point that it does not seem like a forced fit. Surely, a cover that I think Rahman himself would endorse.

— Nimish Sawant

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