BizAsia 2019 Reflections: Top five Bollywood soundtracks of the year

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2019 has followed on the music trends of 2018 with remakes becoming a bigger deal and almost part of every album. This trend has caught on to new levels in 2019 but in a way almost killing creativity for originals this year. But there are always good exceptions to the rule and this countdown salutes the Top 5 albums who brought in a mix of originality in music to the forefront in a creative way… even if it was a creative remake.

This year saw a few reinventions in music as new genres surfaced altogether with new films which was a refreshing change. Classical took a back seat this year as there were not many old classics came through this year and those that did took a contemporary approach. A mix and match approach with talent helped shape a good few albums and in a good way as individual singles competed with each other to get in albums and thus the standard of music was mostly high.

There was a lot of good talent that got decent breaks this year and thus became big stars. It was the year of Tanishk Bagchi, Jubin Nautiyal, Devine, Guru Randhawa, Harrdy Sandhy, B Praak, Asees Kaur, Tulsi Kumar and even the actor Ranveer Singh making it big behind the mic this year. It was a return of Vishal-Shekhar in a big way and they delivered some good soundtracks leading the full soundtracks and all three of their works making it big on the charts. This makes wonder if compilations or single music director works are better for the music project. There is still no right answer for this but in the current era of singles getting good individual singles together seems to be the main focus of producers be it from different music directors or just one.

And yes.. Punjabi music grew even bigger in 2019 compared to 2018 but it now does feel a little overdone!

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

5 – ‘Student Of The Year 2’ (2019) – Vishal-Shekhar brought back the magic of SOTY for this second installment of the young and glamorous film franchise. Although the film bombed at the box office, the music of ‘Student Of The Year 2’ (2019) did not disappoint. The music director duo managed to bring the commercial magnitude of music to the forefront of this album while keeping genre variety and a good blend of strong compositions and light lyrics with the help of Anvita Dutt Guptan. What’s missing was good instrumentation as the album sounded rather programmed with synthetic computer sounds but nonetheless the songs delivered their purpose of delivering strong melodies overall. The Jawani Song is by far the biggest song and delivered a huge success for the album thanks to its meticulous handling of the original classic song. The Hook Up Song and Mumbai Dilli Di Kudiyaan are great party tunes too in their respective sub-categories that drove the album to the top 5 of our charts. Fakira is a great romantic melody that’s great to hear and enjoy on a romantic drive thanks to the vocals of Sanam Puri & Neeti Mohan. Main Bhi Nahin Soya with Arijit Singh isn’t the best while Jat Ludhiyane Da is just average but still delivered. The album overall rides on young party tunes as expected and delivers good vocals with Vishal Dadlani, Payal Dev, Neha Kakkar & Dev Negi doing well. This album succeed in creating a fresh party sound for 2019 with strong visuals & choreography in the videos with all the masti & entertainment that it brings.

4 – ‘Marjaavaan’ (2019) – Perhaps the most recent release in our Top 5 but the soundtrack of ‘Marjaavaan’ (2019) has quickly created an impression. As a romantic action drama the music of the album is just that… lots of deeply violently romantic songs. Then to top it up it adds a touch of glamour with party tunes capturing all the latest music trends with remakes in various genres. With 13 songs this one full detailed soundtrack for a movie and also for a compilation album director Milap Zaveri has done well in picking songs from various artists and creating a consistent sound of the album which is usually difficult in the absence of a single music director. Thodi Jagah and Tum Hi Aana were by far two of the best romantic songs of the year thanks to the vocals of the two kings of romance Arijit Singh & Jubin Nautiyal. There is immense amount of depth in their vocals and the lyrics penned by Rashmi Virag and Kunaal Vermaa respectively. While dance remakes are common now, this album ventured into remaking Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s classic Kinna Sona which is a great song by Meet Bros & Kumaar. The dance glamour songs are very good remakes in the form of Ek Toh Kum Zindagani and Haiya Ho which have already become big hits in DJ playlists around the world. The different sad, happy and duet versions of the two top romantic songs add good amount of variation to the album and have been well produced. Overall this was a strong music album which has been delicately handled and gives listeners a good experience throughout.

3 – ‘Kalank’ (2019) – The soundtrack of ‘Kalank’ (2019) is well worth the wait and disappearance of Pritam in 2018 as he made a strong comeback with what is one of the biggest soundtracks of 2019. This album delivered true to expectations from a multi-cast top A-league Bollywood production that features the work of Amitabh Bhattacharya with Pritam. They are both fire every time they come along as they deliver some unique melodies and composition that are difficult to fathom when one listens to their songs and wonder “how did they ever come up with this!” Kalank – Title Track is one of those romantic songs that exudes talent in every aspect and is a genius arrangement. Ghar More Pardesiya is a top opening song that is classically perfect with a great melody and has a very strong star value and thus a strong melodic personality. Tabah Ho Gaye is good too but limited in its appeal and rather dull after a few listens. First Class and Aira Gaira are top party songs in their respective genre styles and delivered further depth and variety to the album and became hugely successful numbers of 2019. Musically one can’t fault how Pritam conducted and composed the songs in this album while carefully balancing the classical and modern relevance of each song. Except for a couple mediocre songs and some forcer filler songs the rest are almost spotless! Lyrics consistently range from good to brilliant while vocally one has Shreya Ghoshal and Arijit Singh leading the way for a great soundtrack! Overall this is a collector’s album with a sound as grand as the film’s sets, costumes and cast.

2 – ‘Kabir Singh’ (2019) – Clearly the romantic album of the year ‘Kabir Singh’ (2019) was the underdog album when it released. No fancy promotions.. no big deal made but the songs took their time and grew on listeners making this one of the top album successes of the year. For a pure romantic album there is a good amount of material in this soundtrack that has been carefully picked and compiled together by director Sandeep Vanga. The song Bekhayali gave this album a head-start by becoming a hit before the movie arrived on the screens and later became the biggest romantic hit of the year… quite simply because it is a brilliant piece of music composed and sung by Sachet along with Parampara. The rock feel to this romantic song gave it a clear differentiator and Irshad Kamil’s lyrics just took it to the next level of success. Mithoon’s Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage is yet another beautiful number on the album delivered with a brilliant vocal by Arijit Singh. Vishal Mishra’s Kaise Hua is yet another gorgeous number with some deep meaningful lyrics written by Manoj Muntashir. Other songs closer to the theme of the movie including Tera Ban Jaunga, Mere Sohneya, Pehla Pyaar are also all well written songs by the likes of Kamil and Kumaar with some great amount of vocal talent on the album with the likes of Shreya Ghoshal, Tulsi Kumar, Armaan Malik to name a few. All of these songs together make this one of the most iconic romantic albums of recent times and well deserved on that front. The lack of variety of genres is purely down to this being a violent romantic story and the music stays true to this theme. The fact that the movie became a big hit in itself helped push further success for this album making this an easy favourite in our Top 5.

1 – ‘Gully Boy’ (2019) – This one album changed the game in 2019! Pure revolutionary material!! The music of ‘Gully Boy’ (2019) delivers every bit on what it promised to be. It represented Indian Hip Hop in a manner of utmost purity as the reigns of controlling the music are in the hands of artists from the streets around whom this film is based on. No music producer has spiced them up or interfered in any way to commercialise it or make it mainstream Bollywood… and this is the biggest win of the album. Kudos to Zoya Akhtar for being brave enough to do that and present this in its true form while giving these hugely talented artists a platform to showcase that Hip Hop movement does exist in India. With a huge 18 song album there was a good amount of musical content here and it is not just all Hip Hop. Apna Time Aayega, Azadi, Sher Aaya Sher are the easy top favourites on the album with resounding beats and top lyrics that inspire and tell a story. Divine and Dub Sharma are just awesome! Ranveer Singh himself impressed as a rapper. Spitfire, Neazy, Kaam Bhaari, Ace are some top other artists to listen to. Train Song, Goriye, Asli Hip Hop and India 91 are some of the other good songs on the album. A collaboration of all global sound giants including Raghu Dixit, Karsh Kale and Midival Punditz was a great addition to the album. The poetry’s by Javed Akhtar are worth a listen as well. Overall this soundtrack is a defining piece of work making street Hip Hip now mainstream. Whether listeners across India and all around the world warm up to this style of music or not is a different thing but this album sure is the top feather in the cap of Bollywood music in 2019. American Hip Hop is commercial and mainstream but not everyone enjoys it. Indian Hip Hop should also be in the same league of other mainstream music and this film gave it that opportunity as it was a top effort and delivered resounding success as well!

SPECIAL MENTIONS
In addition to our top five we always give a special mention to some of the other deserving work from the year that just missed the mark in our top 5.

With just two proper songs, but both fantastic and superhit party tunes ‘WAR’ (2019) missed our top 5 due to lack of depth in the soundtrack. The movie was the biggest hit of 2019 with the magic of Hrithik Roshan and Tiger Shroff coming together but their talent was only exploited for two songs in the album. Vishal-Shekhar coming together with Kumaar delivered a classic cool dance number with Ghungroo and a Holi party anthem Jai Jai ShivShankar both with a touch of remake but almost entirely original in lyrics and composition to deliver big successes for both these songs. It was amazing to hear Arijit Singh in a cool avatar on Ghungroo while Benny Dayal & Vishal Dadlani’s collaboration on Jai Jai ShivShankar worked like magic. With two superhits the album has 100% hit record but with no variety, no depth demonstrating limited appeal of the album it missed a position in our top 5.

Another album worthy of a mention is yet another Vishal-Shekhar hit album ‘Bharat’ (2019) and they have been quite clever with the music of this album. Rather than keeping each song rooted in the decade of characters life in the movie they have delivered a contemporary soundtrack with traces of traditional and modern in each song. This helped the soundtrack feel a lot more consistent and technically easier to deliver commercial success instead of dwelling in a different era for each song. Their team work with Irshad Kamil on the lyrics is something that rarely goes wrong and it truly is the making of good music. There were no extraordinary or great songs that delivered major hits but overall there was good variety, talent and material on this album with consistency. Slow Motion and Aithey Aa catered to the dance genre while Chashni was the big romantic song. Turpeya and Zinda were the other two good songs. Even with good vocal performances by Sukhwinder Singh, Shreya Ghoshal, Neeti Mohan, Neha Bhasin, Jyoti Nooran & Nakash Aziz the absence of good orchestrated music made the music quite superficial and thus missing our Top 5.

Akshay Kumar’s ‘Kesari’ (2019) was another gorgeous album this year. With strong traditional Sikh values associated with this album there are some soothing sounds for everyone to listen to. With collaboration songs from various producers there is a good variety in the album. Tanishk Bagchi is the most impressive writing & producing one of the most romantic songs of the year Ve Maahi with one of the best vocals of year by Arijit Singh & Asees Kaur. Plus his party number Sanu Kehndi is a strong Punjabi number. Other songs like Teri Mitti and Ajj Singh Garjega have also impressed with some great vocals and lyrics by the likes of B Praak, Jazzy B & Manoj Muntashir. The folk and prayer songs like Ek Onkaar and Deh Shiva are also great additions to the album. Being very limited by the folk and war theme the album failed to chart big successes but the music is still worth a listen.

Also worth a mention is the music of yet to release ‘Good Newwz’ (2019). With four songs out so far this album is proving to be one of the strongest commercial popular soudtracks of the year. Big on dance numbers and Punjabi remakes, this Kareena Kapoor, Akshya Kumar, Diljit Dosanjh & Kiara Advani starrer album is showing strong presence on airwaves. The opening original song Chandigarh Mein has one of the best beats this year with great music by Bagchi & vocals by Badshah plus Harrdy Sandhu. The remakes of Punjabi superhits Sauda Khara Khara and Laal Ghaghra are proper dancefloor burners perfect for the winter wedding season. While Maana Dil is a nicely written sad romantic song by Rashmi Virag with brilliant vocals by B Praak. Still need to see what more this album has to offer and the success it delivers but it sure is a strong album to end the year.

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

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