In a year when basic relations of parents and children couldn’t come together… when basic festivals of Christmas, New Year, Eid and Diwali could not be celebrated… in a year when most were stuck in isolation MUSIC has been that one element that has helped many people get by and keep their sanity!
2020 saw perhaps the least amount of music and movies release this year thanks to the pandemic with cinemas and concert venues shut for the longest time in our generation. Artists and producers chose to hold off or postpone releases hoping for better times to come and earn their due through sales. But our hats off to those artists and producers who went ahead and found ways to beat the trend and release their material to entertain millions stuck at home. We bow down to thee as you are true to your art and care more about your audience than sit worrying about the bottom line. This countdown salutes the top five albums this year who delivered smiles to their listeners with their originality in music.
There was very little choice and variety in the music released in 2020 tainted by Covid-19 and to add to it there were some major losses of talent and controversies that hit Bollywood in a major way. Yet fans haven’t given up and have waited patiently for each piece of music coming their way. Be it OTT music releases or OTT series soundtracks or simply YouTube single videos, the industry found new ways to entertain. The year became more about singles than albums in 2020. There has been no consistent themes either this year but clearly remakes took a back seat which was a welcome change and perhaps a big positive for the industry thanks to Covid. The best thing about music in 2020 was that with the absence of the big budget releases it gave a chance to smaller albums and artists to take centrestage.
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 – ‘Dil Bechara’ (2020) – The soundtrack of this movie had the eyes of the world on it being the last movie of actor Sushant Singh Rajput and it was perhaps in the most capable hands in the industry. Of course, when AR Rahman was making the album no one knew what the significance of this album would be, but he packed in a full range of genres with romance being the primary genre. Rahman proved he truly knows how to emote through his music as he brought expressions effortlessly through each song. The use of modern European sounds gave the album the young personality that the script needed, and Rahman carried that through across the album giving it a homogeneous sound. The music material is good throughout in this soundtrack although different from the current music trends which one can expect from Rahman who is known to create his own style. Lyrics are not the best work of Amitabh Bhattacharya and definitely a big let-down overall in this album. The big-bad orchestration of Rahman clearly was not matched by the lyrics or even the vocalists. Even with a whole range of big singers, not many created a memorable impact. The title song Dil Bechara, its remake Friendzone, Afreeda, Taare Gin and The Horizone of Saudade are all worth a listen. Overall the soundtrack of ‘Dil Bechara’ has a consistent soundtrack with lots of genre variety, whole host of youthful musicality and talent but lacked depth in lyrics & vocals that keeps this soundtrack from leading the music of 2020.
We have a tie at the 4th position.
4 = ‘Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan’ (2020) – This soundtrack is a decent 7 song album with good material that relates well to the movie and has a fair standing on its own in the music world. The album continued in the trend of remakes from 2019 and with the remake king Tanishk Bagchi at the helm of the album, one can expect good dance numbers. The remakes are definitely not his best work but Gabru and Arey Pyaar Kar Le delivered well on the charts with Romy making a good impression as a singer on the former. But the album is best with its original songs with Ayushmann Khurrana bringing back his original vocal magic on the lovey-dovey Mere Liye Tum Kaafi Ho being the best song this album had to offer. Tony Kakkar & family’s Ooh La La is another original that is perfect for wedding parties bringing some cute fun to the album. Raakh with Arijit Singh brought the sad romantic side to the album and is great on the music and vocal front while Kya Karte The Saajna being a cheeky retro classic song with good sampling skills demonstrated on the production front. The Vayu – Bagchi team delivered run-of-the-mill lyrics and music but still managed to create an impression on the charts partly thanks to the controversial topic of the movie. Overall there is a good variety and content on this soundtrack ticking all the boxes except the box of delivering something different and brilliant, but still one of the top albums of 2020.
4 = ‘Malang’ (2020) – Mohit Suri is known to deliver great music on his passionate and aggressive love stories and ‘Malang’ was no different. Doing a mix of picked up songs by artists Mithoon, Ankit Tiwari, Ved Sharma and Asim Azhar gives this album a marginally inconsistent sound but a great sound nonetheless. Amongst its 6 songs it has a beautiful and deep number called Humraah sung to perfection by Sachet Tandon to the music of Azhar & The Fusion Project. The lyrics are a must listen on this song! Chal Ghar Chalen is such a warm number to soft groove to thanks to the music of Mithoon. Arijit Singh delivers his best on the vocals to Sayeed Quadri’s moving lyrics on this amazing song. The title song Malang & its alternate version Hui Malang have brilliant vocals by Asees Kaur with great personality that suits the movie with its thrilling music while bringing the sex appeal in its video with Disha Patani on Ho Ja Mast Malang Tu. There is something good about every song on this soundtrack and thus, it truly deserves to be in the top soundtracks of 2020.
3 – ‘Angrezi Medium’ (2020) – This album was always going to be an interesting one following on the success of ‘Hindi Medium’ (2017), especially considering actor Irrfan Khan acted in this movie while suffering from cancer. Considering this released a month after his passing brought additional focus on this movie, but that still didn’t take away the credit the music on this soundtrack deserves. With just four songs Sachin-Jigar and Bagchi were able to truly entertain and create a lasting impression. Each song is free spirited and with a lasting impression that they are perhaps more memorable than the bigger hits this year. Kudi Nu Nachne De is an anthem in itself and promotes equality while celebrating women. The video is so beautifully shot being graced by some of the biggest leading ladies that it is the most iconic number of 2020. Lyrics by Priya Saraiya are brilliant while the music uplifts the spirit. Bagchi kills it with his remake of Nachan Nu Jee Karda with exquisite urban Punjabi beats and killer vocals by Romy and Nikhita Gandhi. The revival of Ek Zindagi is vibrant and uplifting while Laadki is the most beautifully rendered song that touches the soul thanks to the amazing Rekha Bhardwaj on the mic. The entire album revolves around the theme of empowering the girl child and it delivers exactly to that them making this a fabulous and fitting soundtrack this year worthy of a top 5 spot.
2 – ‘Street Dancer 3D’ (2020) – This soundtrack is actually an album in true sense of its definition! An extensive and solid 12 song soundtrack where each song was fitting to the story and genre of the movie while independently being good songs to listen to added extra marks to this album. Kudos to director Remo D’Souza for handpicking each song across various composers and artists and pray he makes a full recovery since his recent heart attack. A good dance movie needs good music and he has left no stone unturned in picking the best! The variety in this album was staggering with most genres covered from dance to romantic to mytho to sad to patriotism but of course dance is the main theme and adding the danceable music layer to each category of song is very well done to let dance be the main medium of expressing all emotions. Sachin-Jigar are the real star of this album with their originals and some remakes being all well arranged. Mile Sur, Nachi Nachi, Dua Karo are brilliant songs by them while Badshah smashes it with his one number Garmi becoming the song of the season. Bagchi only does a fair job on his remakes getting it brutally wrong on a couple of them but Muqabla and Illegal Weapon 2.0 are good ones that scaled up the charts. Gurinder Seagal’s Pind is by far one of the most gorgeous numbers on the album while Harsh Upadhyay’s Hindustani remake is worth a listen. There is some great singing and lyrical work across the album that make some of them top numbers of 2020. Had the album not hedged strongly on some disappointing Punjabi remakes then this would have been a nearly perfect album but other than that this truly is a top music album this year.
1 – ‘Love Aaj Kal’ (2020) – One can trust Irshad Kamil and Pritam to deliver almost every time, especially when it comes to romantic music! Going with the script this soundtrack needed to be cool, modern and contemporary all at the same time and it truly is. For a movie to release under the shadows of Imtiaz Ali’s original only a decade ago and that too when it was a massive musical hit must have added a great deal of pressure to live up to the expectations. Pritam knows a thing or two about delivering under pressure. Shayad and Rahogi Meri are two easy romantic favourites this year in the voice of Arijit Singh. Kamil’s lyrics are simply so smooth on these making them easy for Singh to deliver his magic on. The reprise versions are equally good and musically note perfect. Haan Main Galat is by far the coolest remake in recent years! It is almost completely original but with a tinge of familiarity of the original that is so hard to balance making it a great dance number. Haan Tum Ho is another genius romantic number by Singh and Shilpa Rao with melodic nuances that are great to listen to while Meharama is the sad romantic that has a great amount of musical ambience and lyrical depth that touches the heart easily. Darshan Raval and Antara Mitra are sensational on this song! Its great to hear Mohit Chauhan recreate Yeh Dooriyan on this soundtrack with a modern take on it while KK is great but on an average song Aur Tanha. Overall there is everything one hopes for in the soundtrack of ‘Love Aaj Kal’ but the romantic flavour is so strong that it easily rules the music of 2020 making it a deserving top album of the year.
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.
The soundtrack of ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ (2020) was a short one but a sweet one too. Sadly there was little originality in the album with three of the four songs being remakes but nonetheless these were good remakes with strong production value and crisp execution. Gallan Kardi and Ole Ole 2.0 delivered well on the charts and truly deserved as these two are actually great remakes by Bagchi. Harshdeep Kaur and Akhil Sachdeva deliver a deeply engaging and emotional vocal in Mere Baabula (Madhaniyaa). This is a party album as a generic description and so lacks some variety while still being a good one as a party album.
Recent rom-com ‘Ginny Weds Sunny’ (2020) has done well on the charts with Mika Singh’s Sawan Mein Lag Gayi Aag killing it at every lockdown home party and airplays. Payal Dev and Badshah have actually done well on this remake and it sounds great. LOL and Rubaru are two other good songs on the soundtrack with good lyrics and vocals on each. The music is good but not great overall on this album.
Another recent comedy ‘Indoo Ki Jawani’ (2020) is making some waves with its dance music that is a little different than traditional massy club tunes. Hasina Pagal Diwani is another remake of Mika Singh’s first hit produced himself with supporting vocals of Asees Kaur while Badshah delivers a good bubbly tune in Heelein Toot Gayi. Rochak Kohli does a fair job with Single Ladies but not to the level required to push his songs into the A grade list. Yet this is a good effort for the music of a small budget movie.
Another soundtrack worth a mention is that of OTT Diwali release ‘Ludo’ (2020). With Pritam leading the music there is good amount of depth in this soundtrack brought forth with great talent in lyrics of Sayeed Quadri & Sandeep Shrivastava and vocals by the likes of Arijit Singh, Ash King, Darshan Raval and Jubin Nautiyal. Meri Tum Ho and Aabaad Barbaad are two great songs on this album and definitely worth a listen.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.