Coke Studio review: Episode 1 saved by Zeb Bangash's lovely ballad

Coke Studio review: Episode 1 saved by Zeb Bangash's lovely ballad

Zeb Bangash's 'Aaja Re Moray Saiyaan' is sweet and infectious, and an essential for your playlist on your next roadtrip
14 Aug, 2016

It’s that time of the year again when we spend almost every Saturday anticipating what Coke Studio will bring us next.

The ninth season began yesterday with some interesting pairings between musicians - but not all of them worked. (More on that later.)

However, what's exciting about this season is the promise of diversity: each song has a guest producer or ‘music director’.

Last season, Coke Studio was handed over to Strings (Bilal Maqsood and Faisal Kapadia) after Rohail Hyatt called it quits and the duo’s crack at it was pleasing. This time, while producing the overall show, they brought in prominent producers to make their mark on Coke Studio 9.

Let’s take a look at how this new format shook things up in the first episode.

Sasu Mangay (Naseebo Lal and Umair Jaswal)

The music producer for this number was Shiraz Uppal. This isn’t Shiraz's first time at Coke Studio; he worked on Atif Aslam’s rendition of 'Tajdar-e-Haram' last season, but wasn’t credited for it until much later. He’s also worked on recent Pakistani films like Bin Roye, Karachi Se Lahore and 3 Bahadur.

Despite Shiraz's range of experience, he wasn't able to coherently bring together the diverse talents of renowned Punjabi folk singer Naseebo Lal and rocker Umair Jaswal in 'Sasu Mangay'. Jaswal should have been pushed to show some variation, but he unfortunately stuck to his characteristic rock vocal style.

It is Naseebo Lal's powerful delivery that captures our attention on the get-go and keeps us listening to the song that goes on to get repetitive.

Janay Na Tu (Ali Khan)

After Ali Khan’s decade-long disappearance from the local music scene, he returns with 'Janay Na Tu', which proves that he still has the knack for producing sweet little love ballads.

Ali's original claim to fame was 'Saathiya', a chart-topping single that played repeatedly on almost every music channel (remember those?) back in the early 2000s. While retaining Ali's pop roots, music director Jaffer Zaidi freshens the feel of the song by bringing on Mannu on bass, who adds that little groovy push.

The track also features Kamran Admani of Mizmaar as lead guitarist; it's great to see a lot of underrated musicians getting their due in this season of Coke Studio.

Aaja Re Moray Saiyaan (Zeb Bangash)

Despite two of Pakistan's most celebrated vocalists being a part of this episode (Naseebo Lal and Abida Parveen), Zeb Bangash's 'Aaja Re Moray Saiyaan' takes the cake.

The Noori brothers Ali Noor and Ali Hamza took over music direction and produced the perfect blend of funk and folk in this track. Ali Hamza also joined Zeb on the vocals and their synergy was the winning combination in this episode.

Lyrically, the song is fitting for August in Pakistan; it's one of those times when the yearning for a road trip is strongest - and who wouldn't want this ditty play along on their journey? Here's hoping that Coke Studio continues to emphasise on original music this season.

Aaqa (Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi)

This number was heartbreaking, and not just because it's devotional music. This was the first time for me that an Abida Parveen song on Coke Studio felt so average.

Ali Sethi has been making waves in the music scene and can certainly boast of a great range, but he wasn’t the best choice to pair up with Abida Parveen on this particular song. His pitch wasn't consistent with the style of the song yet he wasn’t even singing out of key. Perhaps what this pairing needed was a different song choice.

The song, however, did have its moment in its chorus, where Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi's vocals meld harmoniously with the qawaals.

Overall, this episode added something new to the Coke Studio formula with a diversity of production styles. However, only one song stood out, making this a very lukewarm start to the season.


Eymaad Aug 14, 2016 01:40pm
That's what you think dear and we very much respect your opinion but do dare to differ:)
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Abi Aug 14, 2016 01:53pm
Maybe the best will be last
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Annie Shahmos Aug 14, 2016 02:08pm
Coke studio is great! MashAllah suggestion plzPushtho songs Zeek AFRIDI thank you
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Khalil Aug 14, 2016 02:29pm
Best was Aaqa by Abida Parveen and not Zeb.
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Khalil Aug 14, 2016 02:36pm
Looks at the number of views - Biased review. Aaqa is the best.
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Taimoor khan Aug 14, 2016 04:32pm
CS is going south ever since Rohail Hayyat left. It is becoming a glorified version of bollywood music. On the other hand Nascafe basement has come leaps and bounds, while sticking to core and unique Pakistani rock/pop/folk music heritage.
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XOF Aug 14, 2016 06:57pm
The Bollywood touch was a disappointment and not really upto Coke Studio standards. People are bored of listening to the cliché themes of Bollywood and crave for innovative sound from Coke studio... I may be wrong, but my listening taste is saying it and isn't satisfied. Hope other episodes can deliver what people truly want. Rest no doubt, song were good and appreciate the hard work been put into, serious exceptions apart.
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Tauseef Aug 14, 2016 08:07pm
It is very ordinary start for coke studio as it needs Betterr team of composers.
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Saleem Moinuddin Aug 14, 2016 08:15pm
Hats off to Coke Studio. Coke Studio is a precious gift to Pakistan , for bringing such great talent. Wish you all in Coke Studio great success. My request is to keep our music alive with adulteration. As long as we keep our classical music alive it will never die.
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Ali Aug 14, 2016 08:17pm
I don't know why you are being so critical. And I think you are off base. This level of talent is remarkable. And the performances are amazing. Pakistan zindabad.
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Amna Aug 14, 2016 11:07pm
unlikely, i think all the songs are perfect to the dot and you enjoy watching the episode, as well you dare not to change channels while episode airs, cause it is mind blowing.
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ARSLAN Aug 14, 2016 11:37pm
Abida Parveen is class par excellence. Maybe duet wasn't as impressive but her voice is simply magical. I also have been waiting for Naseebo lal on this platform. Great to see and hear her on CS.
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Jimmyali Aug 15, 2016 01:21am
First episo de very disappointing. The rest will follow the same. Not looking forward to it anymore(CS).
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Imran Khan Aug 15, 2016 06:59am
love the new episode
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hasan Aug 15, 2016 09:22am
The first Episode was too Bollywood. Filmi Qawali is not what we were expecting here. The producers need to step up their game.
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hammad Aug 15, 2016 09:36am
@Imran Khan What was to love in it? Can u point something out that I may have missed.
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Hanif Aug 15, 2016 09:50am
I absolutely disagree with the writer on this, Shiraz Uppal's Sasu Mangay was excellent and has a real feel about it. And the saving face for my is Aaqa, it is disturbing to note these comments that Abida g sung average, just listen to that line Ye Sab Tumhara Karam Hay Aaqa, it sinks in your heart and melts it.
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Naqvi Aug 15, 2016 10:00am
Well, that's not what we think.
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Sohaila Javed Aug 15, 2016 11:41am
Episode 1 is awesome and credit is owed to all the contributors. Loved the performance by Abida Parveen & Ali Sethi ... Melodious and heart warming. Also Zeb & Hamza have performed a great lyrical ballad. And other singers too have done justice to the coke contribution. Have started a whole new conversation about music in Pakistan!
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Fawad Aug 15, 2016 04:19pm
The writer needs to really listen to all tracks again; Abida perveen was not at all average and neither was Zeb's ballad that exceptional. Too biased a review.
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Ali Aug 15, 2016 04:56pm
Aqa by sethi and abida g was not that bad as the writer has said. In my opinion, it was best track in 1st episode and zeb bangash stands second.
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umair rasheed Aug 15, 2016 05:33pm
I am no professional, but I disagree with a part of this review. I agree that Umair took the same tone as with Sami mere War, but Aaqa was not average in any sense. I was hooked on it, and it gave me goosebumps for quite some time.
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Adeel Aug 15, 2016 10:03pm
Aaqa is the Best... It ws perfect... Its on repeat while i drive... Rather the Zab ws ordinary more into bollywood kinda stuff!!
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Hamza Aug 16, 2016 03:31am
Completely agree! Aaqa was definitely disappointing. While Abida Parveen has given us some gems in the previous seasons, this song was definitely below par. Seemed redundant and flat. I hope we get to see the best of Abida Parveen soon.
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Zoeb Aug 16, 2016 09:49am
Pure entertainment is not about comparing. It's about getting that time spent well. The beauty of Coke Studio is its diversity, which stands this production out from the crowd. Well done Coke Studio, Strings and the producers of each and every song.
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Ali Ansari Aug 16, 2016 10:16am
Dont agree. You r right about Zeb n Noori. But Aaqa was the same pleasant as the earlier one.
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Tabish Waqar Aug 16, 2016 12:52pm
i think the ali sethi and abide parveen track was brilliant...might be the only track that saved the first episode....
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Nouman Aug 16, 2016 02:29pm
Total Biased comment. Shuja showed his class by creating such a wonderful song Aaqa. Ali Khan Returned with a bang
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hammad Aug 16, 2016 03:35pm
Its time for me to say good buy to CS. Typical CS music. Opting for Nescafe Basement
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Sal Aug 17, 2016 10:07am
Aaqa would have been outstanding composition if it was done only with qawwals as Ali sethi never matched the chorus and level of the Abida Parveen,
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white noise Aug 18, 2016 01:55am
I did not want to say this but I had to listen to the whole few times to say that EP 01 fell flat, it feels like Bilal Maqsood's compositions and the way he sings, chorus and bridge feels the same, I hope Strings are not running out of ideas, and hearing what Noori did, I wont be surprised if Noori ends up producing future episodes of Coke Studio, they have the potential to do this. Let's see if EP 02 can make up for EP 01, looking forward to it
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