2018 Reflections: Top 5 soundtracks of the year

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The sound of 2018 has been that of a familiar one as remakes of 80s and 90s classics ruled the music scene. Bollywood dance music genre has been dominated by remakes with very few original ones out this year. At the other end of the spectrum Bollywood music in 2018 also saw a good amount of classical influence and the reinvention of several traditional styles of music. Composers have been brave to go away from typical commercial sounds and bring back classical styles to reinvent them. While we saw some almost new music directors make it big this year, the choice of composers has been dominated by directors compiling singles from various composers in most cases.

The music scene of Bollywood has grown and matured a lot in the last year and the typical dance and song approach has died a slow death within the movies. If the song doesn’t fit within the story then directors have not force fixed the songs within the movie, rather placing the song outside the storyline in the credits. This has also led to soundtracks being rather small with 3 – 5 songs in most albums. Composers have tried to fit in as many genres in the album as possible permissible by the story in these short length albums. This has added pressure on the middle album songs with a number of background songs also creating an impression. Punjabi music grew bigger in 2018 with artists like Guru Randhawa, Honey Singh and Badshah ruling the charts.

Considering the popularity, chart success, variety in the album and innovative approaches to musical expression here are our top 5 Bollywood music albums of the year.

We have a tie at number 5.

=5 – ‘Badhaai Ho’ (2018) – The timing for the music release of ‘Badhaai Ho’ was perfect in the lead up to the wedding season in India as the music was all about the fun and celebrations of different moments within that. There is an engagement song, a couple’s fun dance song and even a song for baby showers going with the theme of the film. Even with different music directors & lyricists on the album director Amit Sharma did well to reign in the Delhi theme well with a good amount of Punjabi element to the album. That in itself was perhaps responsible for half of all the melodic fun on this soundtrack. Tanishk Bagchi delivered the biggest song of the wedding season Morni Banke & Badhaaiyan Tenu that are traditional and urban at the same time which is a great mix to help the songs climb the charts around the world. Rochak Kohli and Jam8 delivered perfectly good songs too with Nain Na Jodeen & Sajan Bade Senti. MellowD’s work on the lyrics to reinvent Morni Banke is mention worthy amongst others while Vayu & Kumaar delivered some good writing too. Vocally the album has some great talent with Guru Randhawa, Brijesh Shandilya Dev Negi, Neha Kakkar, Harjor Kaur and even Ayushmann Khurrana delivering strong vocals on their respective songs. The problem of the album was its lack of variety with a sad romantic bringing the only variety to the album’s monotonous wedding party sound. But what the album delivers well is staying true to its character and film theme. For Punjabi music lovers, this was the best album to listen to!

=5 – ‘Loveyatri’ (2018) – While ‘Badhaai Ho’ captures the Punjabi feel, ‘Loveyatri’ delivered a strong Gujarati influenced music album. The movie in itself was a disaster at the box office but the music sure created an impact. This was yet another great piece of work from Tanishk Bagchi based around an international love story with new comers Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain to Salman Khan’s production. Akh Lad Jaave is perhaps one of the biggest dance numbers of the year featuring Badshah’s rap and seductive vocals by Asees Kaur and Jubin Nautiyal. Atif Aslam’s vocals and Manoj Muntashir’s lyrics on Tera Hua are surely worth a listen making a terrific love song. Dev Negi & Honey Singh’s Dandiya flavoured dance number Rangtaari had good vibes and an interesting mix of sounds in the mashup of urban and Gujarati music that is quite unique. Dholida is the pure Navratri number that features some of the best vocals of Udit Narayan, Palak Muchhal, Neha Kakkar and Raja Hasan. But the biggest song of the album is the work of DJ Chetas with Chogada ruling the Navratri season of India. The warm vocals of Darshan Raval don’t have a great range or depth but are effective enough on a great Dandiya beat that makes this a winner song on charts and airplay alike. Overall with a string of unplugged and mashup remixes there is a good amount of music on this album to showcase talent, variety and be a true entertainer deserving a position in our top 5 of 2018.

4 – ‘Padmaavat’ (2018) – Sanjay Leela Bhansali created yet another musical masterpiece with the music of ‘Padmaavat’ that was drenched deep into the feel and times of the setting of his film. He is precise with the sound that has depth, grandeur and class to it. He executed his instrumentation perfectly on all songs be it the Rajasthani Hindustani classical songs or the Arabic-Turkish flavoured songs although the two middle eastern songs were not too great. Every singer is brilliant with Sharma, Ghoshal and Pathak stealing the show. As expected the album was best with its love songs as Bhansali is all about deep and moving love stories. Ek Dil Ek Jaan and Nainowale Ne are best romantic songs while Ghoomar is a great lead song and Holi is a well delivered festive song. This album was not for everyone’s taste especially if classical music styling is not one prefers to listen to but this album made classical cool & mainstream again. The soundtrack was also not extensive as his previous albums and his formula is quite typical as heard before. But the musical knowledge and effort behind putting it together cannot be faulted making this one of the best albums of 2018. The success of the film and all the controversies made this one of the most iconic music of 2018.

3 – ‘Namaste England’ (2018) – The soundtrack of ‘Namaste England’ sounds similar to that of ‘Namaste London’ at times which is good as an identity considering it is part of the series and comes from the Vipul Shah film house. It has its high points and a few lows too but it is a well-balanced album overall. It has the typical commercial characteristics of a Bollywood soundtrack with a couple romantic, a couple party and a couple background songs. The good thing here was that the background songs were not average filler songs but an attempt was made by Mannan Shaah to put some good meat on the bone. His focus on live instrumentation and arrangement is audible in the songs creating a more wholesome music. Tere Liye and Dhoom Dhadaka were great songs to listen to with Atif Aslam and Shahid Mallya delivering great vocals. Kya Kahoon Janeman & Tu Meri Main Tera are good songs to check out as well with the former bringing back the sexy sound while the latter is a vocal masterpiece thanks to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. Javed Akhtar was consistent with his lyrics throughout delivering good poetic rendition to this story. Party boy Badshah brought in the most amount of commercial success to this album with his Bhare Bazaar collaboration with Rishi Rich that is a total dancefloor burner along with Proper Patola that achieved some easy success too with its historic brand name. This album worked overall for the young TG it catered to and make its mark even though the movie was a disaster on the box office which speaks volumes about its music.

2 – ‘Veere Di Wedding’ (2018) – The soundtrack of ‘Veere Di Wedding’ was quite exciting and well delivered. It was right up in the league of previous Shashanka Ghosh project and so one can be rest assured of what to get here. Fusion desi DnB, desi-urban and EDM was something that delivered a new sound to 2018 and made the songs really stand out from anything else heard in the year. This is one multi-genre album with a full house of 8 good to decent songs with no bad ones in there. Shashwat Sachdev and Vishal Mishra ruled the album with some good numbers in there. Bhangra Ta Sajda, Veere, Aa Jao Na and Dagmag Dagmag are songs to check out with Raj Shekhar, Gaurav Solanki and Anvita Dutt Guptan delivering some good lyrics to go with. Badshah & QARAN top it all with their superhit Tareefan that kills it on the dancefloor with its unique beats. There is some great vocal talent across with Arijit Singh, Badshah, Divya Kumar, Neha Kakkar, Vishal Mishra, Jasleen Royal & Sunidhi Chauhan all delivering good renditions. Overall there was something for everyone in here and even though the soundtrack takes a musical leap to a little over the top at times, it is unique and exciting to hear as it flows from one song to the other. This surely deserves to be in the top soundtracks of 2018 for all it offers.

1 – ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ (2018) – For a story about friendship and based around a Delhi wedding theme, this movie had all the right hooks in the script for a great musical soundtrack that delivered some phenomenal success on the charts. For a compilation soundtrack, this album has the best music pulled together from all sides with artists including Honey Singh, Amaal Mallik, Guru Randhawa, Zack Knight and Rochak Kohli coming together to compose some of the biggest hits of 2018. Honey Singh marked his big return to delivering hits with superhit dance songs Dil Chori and Chhote Chhote Peg with impressive vocals by Neha Kakkar. Arijit Singh brought the Electro party home with Subah Subah to the lyrics of Kumaar. Knight’s UK superhit ruled the charts in India with Bom Diggy Diggy becoming huge on the party scene. Randhawa brought his magic to Kaun Nachdi in his famous style while Mika Singh delivered the iconic Sweety Slowly Slowly to the music of Saurabh-Vaibhav turning that into a big radio hit even with its slow seductive composition. With all the party tunes in there, there is also another gem of a slow song that became the new sound of friendship. Kohli and Arijit Singh deliver Kumaar’s touching lyrics on Tera Yaar Hoon Main. For a 8 song album, there is something for everyone and almost every song was a chart success making this the biggest album of 2018 and clearly our favourite.

SPECIAL MENTIONS
In addition to our top 5 we always give a special mention to some of the other deserving work from the year that just missed the mark to get into our top 5. Shah Rukh Khan’s recently released ‘Zero’ (2018) is one of them. This soundtrack was an interesting one that features the music by Ajay-Atul and Tanishk Bagchi – the hottest music directors in Bollywood in 2018. With top marketing behind it this OST delivered some great talent and a deep full soundtrack with tons of genres. Mere Naam Tu truly has the potential to be the biggest low ballad of the year while Husn Parcham is a strong item number. Issaqbaazi is a decent song too although a little too strongly regional in its appeal. Bagchi gets to deliver only the support filler songs on the album but still does manage to create an impact with Heer Badnam & Tanha Hua. Overall this album is a wholesome one as expected from a King Khan film.

Another album worthy of a mention is Alia Bhatt starrer ‘Raazi’ (2018). The music of ‘Raazi’ was situational and true to its theme and story. The album lands up sounding like a patriotic album rather than a film score which could be a testament of its focus on keeping the music rooted in the script. Gulzar delivers good lyrics overall guided by his daughter. His work on the title song Raazi and Dilbaro is worth a listen. The music of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy is quite melodic for a serious themed soundtrack as this one. The use of Kashmiri instruments is very refreshing to hear and carefully composed around the lyrics and vocals of each song. Vocally this is quite a strong album with Arijit Singh trying something new going away from his romantic side of music with two patriotic songs including Raazi and Ae Watan. Harshdeep Kaur delivers a heart-warming vocal too with Dilbaro.

‘Dhadak’ (2018) is another good piece of work from Ajay-Atul this year based on their superhit Marathi work in the original. Being a small album with just four songs there is not much variety in the album in music styles. Musically the album had some considerable amount of depth in its instrumentation and it has something that is missing in most patched-up-together albums – “a music score”. Some of the compositions were iconic and the conduction of the orchestra is just amazing on Dhadak (Title Track) and Pehli Baar with Zingaat as the party dance song of the album.

Also worth a mention is the music of ‘102 Not Out’ (2018). This music album was an exact mix of uplifting and depressing songs. Although for a movie about not giving up in old age there are still a decent number of slow songs here that sombre up the mood that the uplifting and party songs create at the start of the album. Salim-Sulaiman did a mediocre job on their songs overall while Amitabh Bachchan stole the show like he always does whenever he sings or shakes a leg in a song. Bachche Ki Jaan is perhaps the best song of the duo thanks to his super jazz composition and vocals by Arijit Singh. Big B kills it with his party song Badumbaaa as he gets Kapoor to sing for the first time too on his own musical direction. His vocal style on Waqt Ne Kiya is worth a listen too.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.

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