Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Their masters' voices

If it's the best, it's mine.

It's not a dialogue from Hitler or Napoleon (I don't guarantee though) but it's the policy of the music composers since time immemorial.

When I was a buyer of cassettes, I used to see the names of composers as they were brands to me. And most of the times these brands gave good results, Nadeem Shravan being the most consistent until they gave Jeena Sirf Mere Liye.

But soon the time of cassettes was over and I got digital format, that is MP3 songs. Now I had to find which were the best songs in every album so that I could listen to them first. To remain a leader in the hostel.

And that was when I got my algorithm to find the best songs.

My initial algorithm was made of two standard parts.

1. If there is a song sung by the composer of the album, it should be listened first.
2. The longest song of the album should be listened first otherwise.

The first part is generally applicable to movie albums only but the second one is applicable almost universally.

For those who believe in superstitions, I got a third part that says a song if 3 minutes and 28 seconds must be good. (Dus bahane and One love are examples)

Well, superstitions apart, the first two hold good most of the times and later I realized that it was an old formula that the best songs were always captured by the music composers themselves.

Want some examples?

Let's start with the King of Indian music industry, A R Rehman. Rehman has not sung many songs. But the best of the songs in almost all the albums he has composed are sung by Rehman himself. Be it 'Dil se', Guru's 'tere bina', or Jodhaa Akbar's 'khwaja mere khwaja'.

Other than Rehman, it's been Vishal from the Vishal-Shekhar duo and Shankar from the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy trio who have given their voices to the best of the songs for the past few years. Both have been quite selective about the songs they sing and such songs have either had the best of lyrics, or something 'different'.

'Aazma le' from Taxi 9211 and Saaiyaan ve from Ta-ra-rum-pum are the best examples of Vishal's love for good lyrics. To some extent, the same can be said about Shankar Mahadevan for his Mitwaa and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom title song.

Even composers who have not been this regular at composing music for Hindi movies, have also tried the same. And succeeded to some extent, at times. Awarapan from Jism and Khoobsoorat hai wo itna from Rog sung by MM Kreem and a try of Adnan Sami at Sun Zara of Lucky have been such examples.

Vishal Bharadwaj has also sung the best of the songs in his previous movies Omkara (O sathi re) and U me aur Hum (title song).

But for a long time I was thinking that it was a new trend and only the composers of this age were trying to keep the best songs for themselves.

Guess I was wrong.

And I got this when I came to know that the song I liked the most in Guide, 'Wahaan kaun hai tera' was sung by SD Burman himself instead of a professional singer.

There were legendary singers like Mohammad Rafi, Kishor Kumar and Mukesh available at that time, but Burman Senior decided to sing it himself. And the result is there. A superb song.

In fact, now a new trend has started where lyricists have started singing their songs. This is about Swanand Kirkire singing Khoya Khoya Chand, even though his voice is not that good and the slow version of the song shows the discrepancies. I don't have any stats on the trend if this too is an old and is being followed since then.

Anyways, next time you see an album for the first time and you have to decide where to start, just pick the number sung by the composer. Hope it will be good.

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