The Islamabad-based,19-year-old prodigy known as Rovalio (Rommel Yazdan) has been making waves on the Pakistani electro-pop scene for the past several years as a producer of very modern, slick-sounding tracks. Two of his productions have been in the top 10 trending on Spotify lately. Both are collaborations with Abdul Hannan — a singer, songwriter, guitar player, producer and ‘overthinker’ (according to the artist!) from Lahore.
The first one, 'Bikhra' [Scattered], came out earlier this year. It’s a beautiful love song that has all the makings of a modern romantic pop hit. The signature riff played at the start sounds almost like it was made on water glasses.
'Bikhra' is about that bittersweet torment of being in love. That’s the whole song in a nutshell.
The main chorus goes: “Na janay kyun tu hi tu/ Dil mein basa hai/ Teray bina kya jiyoon/ Bikhra yeh mann kya sitam/ Tu ne kara hai /Phir bhi mein kuch na kahoon”
Music prodigy Rovalio and Abdul Hannan team up on 'Bikhra' and 'Iraaday', two lovestruck songs that have proved to be quite popular
[I don’t know why it’s only you/ That’s in my heart/ How do I live without you? / I am in this torn and scattered place/ You did this/ Yet I remain silent]
Abdul Hannan has a soft, fresh-sounding voice with a very sweet quality to it. So far, these songs reviewed do not show off his vocal chops, as the songs don’t require powerhouse vocals. But I’m looking forward to more. Abdul Hannan shows potential.
Towards the second half of the song, Rovalio begins introducing more elements into the song, most notably the saxophone. The main riff of the song is played via the saxophone as it morphs into a solo and later backs Abdul Hannan on his vocalisation of the chorus. It’s a nice touch that adds a little richness to the song.
The duo’s latest collaboration is on 'Iraaday' [Intentions] and, from the first few seconds of the song, it sounds nothing like 'Bikhra'. This one has an electro-pop-acoustic quality to it. It starts off with the strumming of the acoustic guitar, that vintage over-the-radio vocal distortion, and the song morphs into a pop song from the ’90s.
Abdul Hannan even sings the main chorus in the same tempo and mannerism as a 1990s American pop song. 'Iraaday' is a playful number, with the artist teasing the object of his affections, wanting to show her how he really feels about her (or him!).
The main chorus goes: “Kaisa sama hai/ Hum tum yahan hain/ Zahir karoon kya hain jo/ Meray iraaday/ Teray hawalay/ Main kissi bahanay/ Zahir karoon kya hain jo/ Meray iraaday
[What an atmosphere/ You and I are here/ Should I reveal/ My intentions/ I’ll leave it on you/ By some excuse/ For me to reveal/ My intentions]
'Iraaday' is such a cute, heart-warming, easy-on-the-ears, sing-along-able song, that it’s no wonder it’s proved to be incredibly popular. Much like 'Bikhra' which, at the time of writing this review, was the most-listened to song in Pakistan for that week.
Originally published in Dawn, ICON, June 5th, 2022