It’s the beginning of 2021 and the music industry just keeps coming out with fresh new original releases.
This time, it’s the Abdullah Siddiqui and Aima Baig collaboration, Be Myself. The song is also a part of Abdullah’s currently releasing album, Heterotopia.
Be Myself comes on the heels of Aima Baig’s other releases for Velo Sound Station that wrapped in December of last year, Te Quiero Mucho [Love you very much] and Bilji [Electricity]. Both of these tracks had Aima come out of the shadow of being a television and film playback singer, albeit a very successful and popular one, for a spot on the stage.
She shed her somewhat good girl image for a more sultry persona and fans loved it.
In Be Myself, she’s… being herself. There’s no on-stage persona. In the video of the song (directed by Shahbaz Shigri) she’s just a regular girl in sweats walking the streets, singing on the roof with Abdullah or sitting on a couch, observing different personas that presumably represent different sides of them.
In the end, you see the two standing, very unconvincingly, like mannequins and you understand that this video was supposed to be some kind of play on the Night at the Museum concept.
Musically, the song is a regular electronic pop song. I wouldn’t call this Abdullah’s best work or even best song from the album. It’s listenable, but nothing extraordinary. What makes this song truly interesting, however, is Abdullah’s poetry. He writes visually and, at times, in metaphors, allowing the listener to deduce what they may, depending on their perspective and where they are in life.
At the pre-chorus, he says, Burn the candle at both ends/ All the vandals are good men/ I’m giving in to me, giving in to me. To me, this is indicative of how constantly trying to pretend to be someone you are not, for whatever reason, requires so much work that it’s exhausting and it’s time to let go and just be.
The chorus goes:
Bow down now at the altar of this body-scape/ Don’t you know there’s never an escape/ Withering away in time and space/ Now, now, now, won’t you please be grateful for the pain/ Numbing it away like Novocain/ Withering away what I became/ I’m never gonna/ Be myself again as long as I/ Be myself pretending all the time/ I’m feeling so sublime/ I’m never gonna/ Be myself again as long as I/ Be myself pretending all the time/ I’m feeling so refined
The song does a good job of talking about how you can’t keep running from your demons. There is no escape from your inner complexes, the things about yourself that make you feel most insecure. And that true freedom lies in letting go.
Much like getting on the journey to self-acceptance takes several tries before you finally get it right, as a song, Be Myself is a bit of an acquired taste.
This story was first published in Dawn, ICON, January 17th, 2021