2021 has been coming on strong with fresh new music releases. January's last week alone saw current pop music trending favourite, the young Abdullah Siddiqui, release his third album, Dead Beat Poets, just as he was finishing releasing singles and music videos from his second album, Heterotopia.
But between that and the buzz and releases from major (and some emerging) platforms such as Coke Studio, Velo Sound Station and Bisconni Music, among others, is a creative, playful and incredibly fun track — albeit with a very sombre message — called 'Mera Nahin Hai' by the All Girl Band.
The All Girl Band (TAGBand) consists of Anna Salman on lead vocals and guitar, Amal Nadeem on violin, Mishal Faheem on percussions and Sumera Waris on tabla. They broke on to the music scene in the (then) severely underrated Nescafe Basement sometime in 2016, with a cover of John Newman’s 'Love Me Again' and caused quite a stir.
The All Girl Band returns with the catchy and inventive Mera Nahin Hai, that also packs an emotional punch
According to the song’s description, “'Mera Nahin Hai' is a song that talks about fighting through the societal pressures faced by all of us in our lives. Let the girls walk you through their struggles only to walk towards the light at the end of the tunnel by accepting yourself for who you are.”
'Mera Nahin Hai' is an incredibly creatively produced pop-rock-electronic dance number. Amal Nadeem opens the track with the song’s signature riff on the violin with just a light beat and Anna Salman’s fresh-sounding voice pronouncing the words in the lyrics in that very burger-esque style that’s annoyingly become a signature of the more current local pop-rock-electronic music sound.
The music and vocals pick up pace, Anna Salman is now rapping the lyrics, during the chorus before descending into the song’s hook — a piece of music with an electronically distorted violin riff with accompanying electronic percussions in the background. We only get the slightest hint of Sumera Waris’s tabla in the second half but, overall, in 'Mera Nahin Hai', the violin/violinist is king (or queen, in this case).
So much of the approach to both the song’s music and video is about matching contrasts — which sounds like a contradiction, but it’s not. It’s a style that could’ve gone horribly wrong, but in 'Mera Nahin Hai', it works. At the outset, the song appears like a light, preppy dance number, but listen closely to the lyrics and it tackles some pretty serious, pervasive issues faced by young people, and especially women.
When it comes to the video, as fast-paced as the music is, scenes in the video move painfully slow. It’s a stark contrast between the visual picture and accompanying music — very interesting, indeed.
The lyrics that really stand out come towards the end: Har din mera nahin hai/ Par dil chhota nahin hai/ Kuchh din se rota nahin hai/ Dar se ub larr liya hai/ Khud hi sub kar liya hai/ Waada jub sar liya hai
[Every day is not my day/ But my heart is not that small/ It hasn’t cried lately/ I’ve fought my fears/ I’ve done it all myself/ Now that I’ve made that promise]
The All Girl Band might have been missing from the scene of late, but 'Mera Nahin Hai' proves that these ladies still have what it takes to produce music that is catchy, inventive and with somewhat of a mass appeal.
Originally published in Dawn, ICON, January 31st, 2021