Music Moves The Soul
When Meesha Shafi’s Mein first came out, and when I first heard it, the article that followed briefly touched on the moving quality of music. To add to that, within the scope of that article, I only spoke how that one song made me feel. Music , however, is that transcendent force that passes through all barriers. It’s that arrow that always strikes at the heart, with such accuracy as to make even the Amores envious. It’s that seismic force that moves even the most hardened of souls. Pakistani Songs are no exception.
If I’m writing this, given the title, it should be obvious that Pakistani music is no exception. I have and Ushah has, on multiple occasions, touched on the expansive history and presence of music in Pakistan. While we may generally corner it all off as a collection of a few genres, nothing could be further from the truth.
Pakistanis have opened up to, and owned countless genres, from rock to hip-hop to alternative. While it takes some looking into, you don’t have to go far to see how expansive the landscape of music really is.
In such a swathe, it’s only natural that songs expressing deep emotions would be present. It’s also a given that enjoyment of a song is completely subjective. Thus, some songs will have a greater effect on some rather than others. That effect can be as varied as our ability to enjoy and emote. It could just be enjoyment that manifests in the form of a smile of a few snaps. It can also be as deeply manifested as to induce tears.
No, these tears are not necessarily sadness, rather the striking of a certain chord. Touching on those emotions that one feels so strongly about, that the body’s only natural reaction is to tear up. Goosebumps are also a known side effect.
This is a list of those Pakistani songs that had that exact effect on me. Note, these are not necessarily sad songs, they just elicit a strong emotional response.
1. Mein By Meesha Shafi
This was probably the most obvious choice for me. I mean, you’ve read that article already so you should already know that this song had me bawling by the first chorus. That was a combination of a several things. The first is obviously Meesha Shafi’s mystifying vocals. The rocker normally known for her powerhouse vocals that fill every room she’s in. She boasts a bravado that, forgive the pun, but rocks you to the core. So not only was it a surprise to hear her so toned-down, so demure, but it added weight to the lyrics. The lyrics, which if the toned-down vocals brought me to the edge of the sea, the lyrics drenched me.
I now face two constraints. Firstly I’m at a great risk for repeating, word for word, that earlier article. Secondly, space, I mean this is only the first song. However, to love and to love so intensely that one is both astray and recovered at once, is an almost sacred emotion for me. And I suspect for many. There’s also the assumption that the tragedy that unfolds in her song is a metaphor for personal experiences. Regardless of that being the case, the assumption alone adds to the relatableness. If you can relate to it, you open up to being moved and that’s what happened here.
2. Bol By Natasha Humera Ejaz
Note: I couldn’t find a stand-alone video for the song so settled for the above. It starts at 19:04.
Have you ever been transported away to another dimension just by the melody of someone’s voice? Has a song ever induced an out-of-body experience so strong that you completely lost your self of sense for those three minutes? If the answer to that is no, then I’m assuming you haven’t heard Bol by Natasha Humera Ejaz from the Cake soundtrack. Oh you’ve heard it and your answer is still no? Well, my silent judging of you have just intensified twin-fold.
It’s no secret that Natasha has found life-long admiration from me, ever since she exploded onto my plane of existence with Allahyar. Imagine my surprise when I realised she has been making music for a really long time. Not only that, but she’s also one of the nicest people I’ve met. But the emotions experienced supersede all of that. The melody of her voice is ethereal. That, coupled with the lyrics talking about a strong devout love and the amazing music provided by The Sketches, delivers a performance that moves the mountain that was once your soul.
There is an alternate version of this song on the Cake soundtrack, sung by Saif Samejo of The Sketches. However, they had another song on the album, which ever so slightly edges that version, off this list.
3. Tiri Pawanda By The Sketches
With lyrics of gut-wrenching heartbreak and separation penned by the legendary Sheikh Ayaz, and Said Samejo’s soulful voice, this song has a lot of emotion already. Though when you first hear it, you might associate the hook with Abid Brohi’s ‘The Sibbi Song’. Very few people are aware of its revolutionary origins, as Ushah has pointed out when she wrote on Cake’s Music. Even fewer would be aware of Alan Faqir’s rendition which made this a classic.
For me, the initial hit of emotion comes from the song’s placement in the film itself. In Cake, the song plays as a gut-wrenching moment towards the end of the film, by which time, I was bawling my eyes out the premier. Add to this, Saif’s vocals, which through some magical artistry, are able to personify my emotions at the time. Now add further the lyrics which translate to ‘when the red flowers come back to the branches, then we shall meet again’. It should be fairly obvious why this song secured a spot on this list.
4. Khwaab By Kashmir
I don’t know what it is about them, but I always feel swelling pride every time I hear one of their songs. Which is pretty awesome these days. It’s a bit hard to distinguish which I enjoy more sometimes, the songs or the swelling pride. Stupid jokes aside, their music has been nothing short of a revelation for me. I had been aware of them for a while, before I got a chance to experience them work their magic. The songs they bring forward are engrossing and relatable.
Khwaab particularly struck a chord though.
Bilal Ali’s voice, similar to Natasha’s, is probably one of the most soulful in the industry today. And much like Natasha’s, is able to take you on a ride you’re not about to forget any time soon. Vais Khan’a riffs are nothing short of sexy. Shane, Zair, Usman and Ali, all join in and you have one of the most enriching tracks to come from an aspiring band. But that would mean nothing, or at least be severely diminished had the lyrics not captured the essence of feeling lost and alone so well. The unexpected high note, hit towards the end, not only elevates the song but undoes the latch holding the floodgates closed.
5. Taarey By Shamoon Ismail
The final entry on this list is so good, a veteran singer and Coke Studio favourite, chose to completely and so brazenly plagiarise it. Trust me when I say this, that song didn’t even hold a candle to this. Honestly though, I was struggling with filling this last spot. I kept coming up with cliché after another. Until literally a couple of days ago, while driving to work, I played this. As I turned towards Shaheed-e-Millat expressway, the hook played and I was overcome.
I knew there and then, as I overtook a particularly slow Suzuki Ravi, that this song was going on this list. Why? Well firstly, have you heard Shamoon sing? No, well, what are you doing here, so listen to this song first! GO! Heard it? Good! Now you know the man has a voice so smooth, it will take your breath away and you’ll hardly be the wiser. Now let’s amalgamate that with the lyrics, about new love and longing, and you have song that is endlessly relatable . Well, at least for a hopelessly singly hopeless romantic like myself.
Face The Music
And there you have it, the five Pakistani songs that moved me right to my under utilised core. Now obviously, there are many, many more songs out there, and you may feel affronted that your favourite wasn’t on this list. In such cases, you are encouraged to comment below.
Should you want to hear these songs on the go, you click here!