Bollywood music in 2017 has been all about singles rather than the albums itself. In this year we saw excessive use of the marketing trick of releasing music one song at a time and launching the full album on the eve of the film release or sometimes even after the release. Following global trends, it became all about getting a couple big hit numbers right rather than building a sound for the film via a soundtrack. This has increasingly taken the focus off the albums and thus 2017 has seen a dip in Bollywood music biggies making a big impact. Although the overall quality of music across Bollywood has gone up and the competition has become fierce, there has been a lack of real massive tunes in the year. Part of this is down to the fact the big star big budget films that did have good potential with their music delivering mediocre or flop performances at the box office leading to the music staying below expectations on the charts too. Even the big commercial songs with great mass potential have struggled to climb charts and stay up due to the films letting the music down.
The trend of collaborative music across a single album has continued and perhaps not to the advantage of the listeners. When listening to an album there is almost little consistency in the listening experience. But overall the quality threshold of music has come up in the last year which is good for the industry and makes it difficult to decide who the top 5 really are. Remakes were the most popular sound & trend in the last year and perhaps got a little overdone in the first half of the year while the second half went back to driving the original sound.
2017 has seen a lot of maturity in the music across all genres with strong melodies and a genuine effort by film producers to go an extra step to deliver good music. The lyrics have been the focus with some really good material written in the last year but the compositions have started sounding a lot similar to each other. There has not been a lot of new talent breaking into the industry either and it has stayed with the current music stars to bring the films alive through their music.
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 – ‘Raees’ (2017) – Going head on with ‘Kaabil’ (2017), Shah Rukh Khan used the concept of releasing the album on the eve of the film release as a marketing tactic for the much anticipated ‘Raees’. The top three songs were released as part of the promotions and simply killed it on the charts. Zaalima was the big romantic song with Arijit Singh & Harshdeep Kaur doing an impressive job while Laila Main Laila easily ruled over Haseeno Ka Deewana from ‘Kaabil’ in the item song race. Sukhwinder Singh and Bhoomi Trivedi impressed in Udi Udi Jaye with the Gujarati touch in a couple songs including Ghammar Ghammar. The three top songs surely did very well impressing all listeners while the others were just situational filler and background songs in the movie. Music by Jam8 and Ram Sampath was good in some songs while average in others. Overall the album didn’t pack a punch and was all about the 3 lead singles but at least even with multiple composers it stayed true to the strong Gujarati & Mumbai music touch which is why ‘Raees’ makes it to our top five.
=5 – ‘OK Jaanu’ (2017) – With the great Gulzar saab on an album combining forces with AR Rahman one can surely expect some good work. The music of ‘OK Jaanu’ was as expected delivering innovative sounds, catchy numbers for the masses and some exquisite songs for the discerning musical ear with two musical maestros working on the album with a legendry film director behind them. The use of Hindustani classical music was strong on the soundtrack which was a surprise for a young romantic modern day story soundtrack. A common factor to any Rahman album is his choice of singers which is always exceptional and ‘OK Jaanu’ was no exception! He launches new talent all the time and there are some amazing new voices on this album never heard in Bollywood before. Shashaa Tirupati, Savirtri Prithvi, Kaly, ADK are some talent to listen to while Arijit Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Badshah, Neeti Mohan & Rahman himself are at their typical best on this album. Compare this work of Rahman to some of his recent films and this OST was better by miles. The Humma Song was the clear big winner along with Enna Sona (one of the best songs of 2017) & OK Jaanu being other major commercial hits. Saajan Aayo Re and Sunn Bhavara are brilliant classical songs while Kaara Fankaara is something unique and innovative to listen to. For Gulzar to fit Hindi lyrics within existing Tamil songs must have been difficult but he does it well in his distinctive style… of course with deep and complicated lyrics. The fact that the film flopped big time has partly ruined it for the music of this movie but well done to the team as this is clearly some brilliant work from Rahman.
4 – ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ (2017) – The music album of ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ is overall a fine one to listen to. With a mix of artists and no consistency in the overall sound the soundtrack seems a bit disjointed but these are all good songs that work well individually. With well-rounded artists like Arko Pravo Mukherjee and Tanishk Bagchi on the album it is difficult to go wrong here as these guys put great work along with their talent to work on every song they produce. Lyrics are good but not the strength of the soundtrack but the compositions and vocals sure do make this a good album to listen to. Arijit Singh, Dev Negi, Harshdeep Kaur, Samira Koppikar, Sumedha Karmahe and Ayushmann Khurrana himself have delivered great sounding renditions on their respective songs. Nazm Nazm and Bairaagi delivered the soulful romantic touch to the album while Sweety Tera Drama and Twist Kamariya brought lots of fun and dance on the album. The songs try hard to merge urban music with rural lyrics and style which is the real strength of the album that worked across the masses. Overall this is not path-defining or path-breaking album but it is well balanced and gives just the right listening pleasure to the commercial listeners.
3 – ‘A Gentleman’ (2017) – For a short commercial album for the urban Indian audiences, the music of ‘A Gentleman’ was perfect. With just 5 songs this album had the mix of songs that used commercial electronic sounds to build a strong soundtrack that reminds one of the music of ‘Baar Baar Dekho’ (2016) and ‘Befikre’ (2016). The music of Sachin-Jigar clicks instantly on first listen of the songs with dance music being the most prominent genre dominating the album with Disco Disco and Baat Ban Jaye being the two big hits of the album that have the right level of energy and fun vibes to them. Chandralekha and Bandook Meri Laila are quite unique songs that are not commonly heard sounds in Bollywood and give the album an international appeal. While Laagi Na Choote is the romantic one on the album that is perfectly delivered by Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal. The album has a good balance in genres and some really good singing talent going from Benny Dayal to Vishal Dadlani to Jonita Gandhi and with Siddharth Malhotra delivering some rap himself on Bandook Meri Laila. Lyrics by Vayu and Priya Saraiya are not super amazing but extremely catchy which is the best feature of this modern album. Kudos to Sachin-Jigar for compiling and bringing this album together nicely.
2 – ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ (2017) – With the big names of Shah Rukh Khan and Imtiaz Ali behind this project, the pressure to deliver a strong commercially viable album is evident and Pritam is the best to deliver that. He once again delivers a really good soundtrack with ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. He brings his typical style to some of the tracks and goes beyond to deliver some really good exceptional tracks with the help of Irshad Kamil delivering some amazing words for these songs. Safar is by far the best song on the album with Beech Beech Mein, Radha, Hawayein and Butterfly all being really good songs on the album that did well on the charts and excessive radio and TV plays. Arijit Singh is the star of the album delivering a new him on Beech Beech Mein but he is at his best on Safar. Kamil shines with some brilliant lyrics on the album consistently from one song to another. He fluctuates between good and great but nothing short of good lyrics anywhere. The album crosses all borders and with King Khan bringing in trance superstar Diplo on Phurrr the album has international credentials to it as well. Overall this was an exciting OST to come out this year that has something for everyone from masses to the discerning listeners with a lot of focus on dance and party numbers in line with the current music trends. With so many good to great songs on the album the music of this film overpowered and clearly made a rubbish film do well at the box office… that is the power of good music!
1 – ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ (2017) – Clearly the most memorable and impactful music of the year was the soundtrack of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ which is short & sweet and does not disappoint at all. A commercially powerful soundtrack that had all its 5 songs on the charts even before the release of the film. With the popular pairing of Alia Bhatt & Varun Dhawan the movie did very well at the box office and has made these songs even more iconic to make them stand the test of time for years to come. There is a perfect variety of genres in the OST with something for everyone here. Tanishk Bagchi is the real star of the album with two big numbers to his credit including Badri Ki Dulhania and the massive remake Tamma Tamma Again that is a lot different from so many other recent remakes. The man knows what the masses want and how to make a hit for sure and these two songs prove that well. Amaal Mallik and Akhil Sachdeva support well with the romantic songs with Roke Na Ruke Naina standing out in the category and Aashiq Surrender Hua in the dance category. All singers and lyricists have done a great job on their respective songs making this an overall a great collaborative album to listen to and thus the most successful & popular music album of the year.
Some other albums that deserve a mention that couldn’t make it to our top 5 but have something brilliant to offer as well include Aamir Khan’s ‘Secret Superstar’ (2017). Amit Trivedi works with Kausar Munir again to bring in innocence & vocal freshness in a new wave with the voice of Meghna Mishra. Main Kaun Hoon, Meri Pyaari Ammi are two well executed songs along with Sexy Baliye being the crazy dance tune from Mika on this album.
Another album worth a mention is ‘Half Girlfriend’ (2017) that has a very strong romantic vibe. For a big 10 song album, 8 are love songs with either a sad or a happy feel to them but romantic nonetheless. After the first four it seems to get a little too much as the songs head down a more depressing route and it thus becomes a little overwhelming. Thodi Der, Baarish and Phir Bhi Tumko Chaahunga are all really good song in their respective styles. The lyrics and vocals are the real stand out factors in each composition with Ash King, Arijit Singh and Shreya Ghoshal all doing really well. Mere Dil Mein is a good addition that breaks away from the overdone romantic tunes and has a big fat groovy beat to go with the real Rishi Rich style. There are some big romantic hits on the album but it had limited variety beyond that.
Rajesh Roshan made a big comeback with ‘Kaabil’ (2017) with a modern soundtrack. It had a good mix of romantic, sad and party songs with a good variance in music, lyrics and compositions. Kisi Se Pyar Ho Jaye and Mon Amour were the best songs on the album while Haseeno Ka Deewana was the big party song. Overall the album does not go on and on delivering just the right level of mix of songs for a dramatic action film. It’s a fairly decent album with some good songs that are worth listening to.
Another album that had good music was ‘Raabta’ (2017). The album had good amount of material in it thanks to the work of Pritam and supported by Jam8 and Saurav Roy. The party and romantic bits are the two strong focus genres of the album with Raabta (Title Track) being the best of the lot followed by Ik Vaari Aa and Main Tera Boyfriend. Overall this was a commercially strong album with a clear focus on the young love target audience and thus so some decently good party numbers to keep them on their toes.
The recent music release of Salman Khan’s ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ (2017) is also worth a mention as songs like Dil Diyan Gallan and Swag Se Swagat are growing up in the charts. But Vishal-Shekhar and Irshad Kaamil’s work on the album is not exceptional really on this album.