The music industry in Pakistan continued its upward spiral with new musicians mesmerizing Pakistanis with their offerings and existing artists feeling encouraged to release new singles. Thanks to the improvement in the security situation, concerts across the country also recorded an increase and millennials finally had more reasons to hum to Pakistani tunes.
And so, as the year draws to a close let’s take a walk down the last 12 months to celebrate the moments that defined Pakistani music in 2018!
Junoon Reunited After 13 Long Years
After giving South Asia a flavour of Sufi-rock fusion and leading the rock revolution in the region, Junoon parted ways in 2005, leaving its fans broken-hearted.
While initially it seemed that the band had drifted apart overtime, later interviews by its lead vocalist, Ali Azmat hinted at serious issues between him and Salman Ahmed, thus, compromising the band’s ability to work together.
However, all of that is now a thing of the past as the trio reunited earlier this year amid great fanfare. Junoon will perform live for the first time in over a decade on 25 December in Karachi!
Strings Returned With New Music & We All Rallied Behind The Duo
Talking about old guns, another band that was literally all over the show in 2018 was most certainly Strings. The duo judged Pepsi Battle of the Bands, featured in the Pop vs. Rock contest and more importantly, came up with oh-so-many new singles!
After bidding farewell to Coke Studio last year, Strings focused all its energies on creating new music in 2018. While the band maintains that it will not come out with a new album, Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood promised to digitally release a new music video every month throughout the year. So far, 6 out of the 12 promised videos have come out with each offering being welcomed with millions of views!
Xulfi’s Pop vs. Rock Contest Had Everyone Talking
Former Call guitarist, Xulfi launched a friendly poll asking his fans to share the names of the artists that they believed best represented the pop and rock genres in Pakistan. The poll was an instant hit, with hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis eagerly naming their favourite pop and rock acts and musicians.
As per the final tally Ali Azmat was crowned Pakistan’s most beloved rock artist while Strings won the race for the best pop act in the country.
Coke Studio 11 Made National Headlines
Some loved it, others hated it but God knows, no Pakistani was indifferent to the eleventh season of Coke Studio.
The show returned this year with Ali Hamza and Zohaib Kazi replacing the Strings as the producers. The first episode was very well received, however things began to go downward with consequent episodes. While some criticized the show for half baked efforts, others were upset with the producers’ obsession with EDM. And then of course, there was the whole Ko Ko Korina debacle that left Pakistanis – including Minister of State for Human Rights Shireen Mazari and senator Sherry Rehman – quite upset with the cover.
However, despite these shortcomings, there’s no denying that Coke Studio did not leave without giving us some extremely memorable originals including Chand Tara Orchestra’s Nami Danam, Shikwa/Jawab-e-Shikwa, Rock Hai Sara and Mein Irada.
And while the effort to cover argubly Pakistan’s most beloved song, Ko Ko Korina did not go down well, not all renditions were bad. Abrar-ul-Haq’s mash-up of his Punjabi numbers was very well-received; Abida Parween enthralled with Balaghal Ula Be Kamalihi while Hasan Jahangir took us back to the 80’s with Hawa Hawa!
Pepsi Battle Of The Bands Came Of Age!
Another music show that had the nation grooving was of course, Pepsi Battle of the Bands.
With Season 3, the show most certainly came of age. The bands had a maturer sound, the judges were more at ease with each other and the finale was an absolute treat for music lovers! The fact that this year the show included a film music themed challenge was perhaps the highlight of the contest.
Apart from the fact that Pakistan was introduced to some extremely talented music acts such as Bayaan, Xarb and Tamashaa, there is no denying that Meesha Shafi probably gave her career best performance when she sang Mein at the grand finale.