Coke Studio is just about to enter into its 12th season and there is a great deal of hype surrounding the upcoming show.
In fact, the show is arguably being anticipated more than ever before – and it isn’t because CS is a longstanding musical heavyweight in Pakistan.
Obviously, the single most potent factor that will have aficionados tune in to that familiar red and black studio this year is Rohail Hyatt, the man who masterminded the show 12 years ago and gave it its best years, returning to the helm once again.
With Rohail once again producing the show, fans are hoping that some of CS’ magic, having unfortunately waned over the past few years, will return. But will it?
New musicians and veteran artists
Since its inception when it brought in magical fusions of Western and Eastern music and became all the rage, it has been CS’ blessing and burden that the country at large has considered it as its own.
When it has spun out a hit, audiences have been exuberant and the song has broken YouTube records and become a favorite on local radio stations.
A case in point is 'Tajdar-e-Haram', that phenomenal melody spun together by Shiraz Uppal and Atif Aslam, which topped the charts and remains one of Atif’s most popular performances.
And when CS has plummeted to the depths of a flop, social media vitriol has let loose with memes popping up, battles being waged on Twitter and everyone, from the singer to the producer to the show itself, being attacked. For instance, last year’s 'Ko Ko Korina' and the many controversies, commentaries and all-out masala that it instigated.
Will the talented Mr Hyatt manage to reign in CS’ tempestuous audience and appease them with a spectacular 12th season? We don’t know. In fact, we don’t know much about the upcoming season except that it is scheduled to begin in early October.
Hitherto, CS used to take off on the 14th of August with a patriotic medley sung by the artistes that were going to be featured in the season.
But with Independence Day having passed us by, it can safely be assumed that there won’t be a patriotic beginning to the show.
We have also been digging about and despite Rohail being characteristically reticent, we do know that new artistes will be spotlighted in the 12th season. Some major veterans have also been incorporated into the artiste lineup.
Among others, the lineup includes Ali Sethi and Abrar-ul-Haq. There are rumors that Sahir Ali Bagga, Aima Baig and Zeb Bangash are also likely to be performing.
“We can also confirm that Atif Aslam will be playing a major part in the show,” our source at CS confirmed, thereby revealing yet another one of the show’s trump cards. Atif’s popularity is undeniable and his repertoire includes a long list of CS hits. Is the singer working on something similar to ‘Tajdar-e-Haram’ this time around?
We asked Atif. “Yes, I am an integral part of the show,” the singer confirms, “and there are a number of compositions that I have worked on. There will be a collaboration and the genres vary from zikr to khayal gayeki to a more hip melody.”
Were the songs selected for him by Rohail? “I actually came up with a selection of songs and then, the CS organisers tried to arrange copyrights for them. I then worked with the entire team, including Rohail, on the songs for which we managed to get the rights.
“Rohail is planning to present a mix of old artistes and new,” reveals our very reliable source at CS. “We can’t really confirm how the season will start off because things are still being planned. Also, even the songs for later episodes are decided over time. The first episode acts as a tester which allows us to gauge the vibe that people are responding to. The later episodes are then planned accordingly.”
Will the band be different? Yes and it is likely to take us back into memory lane. Word has it that a lot of the band members from Rohail’s time will be back on stage. Many from the last season will no longer be there.
Will the red and black studio have a new look? It always do.
What else? What will the introductory first song be? What are some of the major artist collaborations? Has more focus been placed on a particular musical genre? CS’ head honchos are sadly not letting out much information yet.
But here’s a question that we’re finding far more intriguing: will Rohail Hyatt manage to save the show from censure this time around?
There are always bounds to be hits as well as misses. Will Rohail’s heavy duty fan following make fans more lenient or will they lash out more viciously should the show not meet their high expectations? Will people like the show or comment that even with Rohail on board there is nothing new to it?
The pressure’s on.