I can still remember the wonderful plastic audio cassette cover with a really refreshing and miles-away from run-of-the-mill inlay cards prevalent those days. About 10 years have passed but I can still recall the vibrant energy filled in that music album named ‘Oorja’ (meaning ‘energy’ in Hindi) (Meanwhile the inlay card I was talking about was an interesting pot-pourri of cool and bright colors and hence very-very eye catching!).
It was actually a compilation of songs by various artists and had a variety of songs having only two things in common, firstly voices were all mint fresh and secondly, the music was breaking the barriers set by film music. (This was all before A R Rahman had erupted on the scene, you see!)
Now I am no authority on music or Indian Pop so I can’t say if this was really the first movement towards now multi-million bucks private album industry or not! (Perhaps Gurdas Maan or Parvati Khan or Malkeet Singh had cut their albums earlier, can’t say for sure but I believe that these were not consolidated efforts as these guys were more in stage shows and functions.)
I was not in buying cassettes till Rahman came on the scene, so my interaction with private albums was only through the albums my brother bought and he compensated for my non-contribution! Magnasound was the leading name (perhaps the only name at that time!) which gave chance to many newcomers who wanted to croon and made stars out of them.
Alisha Chinoy, a well known name after ‘Baby Doll’ got meteoritic rise with ‘Made in India’. Anamica (‘Kahin karta hoga’), Shaan and Sagarika (‘Lovology’), Sanjay Raina (‘Hangama’), Baba Sahgal (‘Thanda thanda pani’) and scores others got an album and fame against their names. (Actually there was a joke doing the rounds that anybody who could be a bathroom-singer could become pop-singer!)
Daler Menhdi got a huge huge opening in the music arena with consecutive successes starting with ‘Bolo tara rara’ and following with other hits. Actually it was his success which started the Punjabi Pop revolution and virtually abducted the Indian Pop.
After every Rajinder, Harinder and Gurinder (now Tom, Dick and Harry don’t become Punjabi Poppers) was singing ‘Balle-balle’ from TV channels and FM stations, Punjabi Pop had started getting on your nerves! But you will have to give it at least the credit for being original. The tunes were mostly different though lyrics were almost never understandable and music nearly similar (after all they all had to experiment with authenticity!)
During all this hullabaloo of Punjabi Pop, there was another stream of private albums flowing pretty quietly. This was Remixed Music. I believe Sony Music were the first to start the trend with immensely successful and highly sophisticated ‘Dance Masti’ sung by Shaan. HMV came up with ‘Dance Mix’ series which was a new concept in Indian Music Industry at the time since the voices were of the original singers and extra music was added. The songs they had used were from the recent films and I remember that I had got a couple of them recorded.
A new band called Bombay Vikings appeared with a terrific video and even terrific concept of planting new English lyrics on old Hindi numbers with jazzed up music. ‘Kya soorat hai’ and other hits insured that Vikings had conquered Indians as well!
What had actually started as a trickle soon became a pour! ‘Jalwa’ from Times Music launched DJ Akbar Sami in upper space, (I mention this because I was fooled by Times Group’s policy of mixing advertorial and editorial space!) and soon other music companies too started patronizing DJs making stars out of them.
The aftermath is that, what debuted as a sidekick to the hero has now reduced the hero to not even sidekick, but a mere passer-by. Now on the pop charts 18 out of top 20 tracks are remixed versions of olden day classics. Every song has got some unfathomable English crap thrown in with some sound effects and digital wizardry which makes every song sound like other.
Now my point is this: should we consider Remixed Music as a part of Pop? In the years that I have witnessed there have been various genres but all had one similarity between glaring differences; they were original efforts. The musicians and lyricists did something that they called their own (even if it was dubbed crap by everybody else!). But in the case of remixes all the DJ and his team (I don’t know if he needs a team actually) have to do is what I mentioned earlier (add “some unfathomable English crap thrown in with some sound effects and digital wizardry”). No I am not deprecating his efforts, he has to churn up something new working in the constraints (preset lyrics and tune) and use the technology creatively and imaginatively to sound different from others doing the same. I can accept Remixing as an art on its own but as a stream of Pop? Sorry, no!
There is no original pop music emanating from India anymore. With everybody remixing the existing, nothing new is actually coming to shelves of music stores! Even the music videos are terribly similar showing … well we all know what! And same is on the cassette inlay cards!
That’s why I am missing Oorja even after ten years!
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