Coke Studio vs Nescafe Basement – is there a winner?

Published: November 14, 2013

I believe that the two shows are not comparable.

Finally, the most awaited season of Coke Studio is on air. However, like last year, it seems like Coke Studio has not been able to ignite the same interest in people like it did in the first two seasons. Having said that, with just one episode on air, it is probably too early to determine the success of this season.

What is different this time however, is that Coke Studio seems to have competition – and that too, young and fresh competition – in the form of Nescafe Basement. This show has been produced by Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan, better known as Zulfi, who used to be a part of Entity Paradigm (EP) and is currently in the band Call. Moreover, Nescafe Basement centres around artists under the age of 22.

A social media war seems to have broken out between fans of Coke Studio and supporters of Nescafe Basement.

Intrigued by this battle of the fans, I decided to watch episodes of both shows back-to-back and having done so, I have a better understanding of why there seems to be a growing preference for Nescafe Basement over Coke Studio.

Below are some of my observations regarding some tracks from both shows:

COKE STUDIO

Khayal by Umair Jaswal

This has to be my favourite song so far, perhaps because I am more into the classic rock genre. The use of the rhythm guitar and drums has a definite Led Zeppelin feel which takes you back to the classic 70s era. Moreover, the melody of the strings in the background makes the song grow on you after a couple of listens. Of course, Umair’s vocals are absolutely superb as always, with smooth high pitches towards the end of the track. Unfortunately, although it is beautifully produced, rock music has still not caught up to the masses in Pakistan.

Babu Bhai –Ali Azmat

Ali Azmat, the man who needs no introductions, came up with a song called Babu Bhai which carries a very crucial message. With a pop-funk based feel, mixed with some electronic elements, the song has a great beat, but once again has a very western feel in terms of production. However, the end chorus with its multiple harmonies is quite innovative and even a bit of a tongue twister. Give it a try and see if you can sing it. Good luck!

Now, let’s see what Nescafe Basement has to offer us.

NESCAFE BASEMENT

Ankhiyan – Hamza Tanveer

Remember the super hit sung by Fuzon? Well, it has been re-hashed by young Hamza Tanveer. It is my guess that the original is so popular that listeners would immediately connect to the new version. The arrangement by Zulfi has done justice to the track and overall it is very catchy. Moreover, the young vocalist has done a decent job of trying to step into Shafqat Amanat Ali’s huge shoes.

Tere Ishq Mein – Various Artists

I have always loved the classic sung by Allan Fakir and Mohammad Ali Shaikhi and listening to it on Nescafe Basement made me very nostalgic. Since pretty much everyone who hears it can relate to it, the song hardly faces any acceptance barrier. Credit goes to Zulfi’s production for keeping the soulful Sufi element of the track intact while doing the adaptation.

Which show is better?

As a musician myself, with some experience in production, I believe that the two shows are not comparable. Also, how can one compare art when each listener derives his/her own meaning from music that they listen to?

Although Coke Studio has been the pioneer in the country to launch shows of this kind, its main focus has been on producing new tracks by established artists. Moreover, this season it has also received criticism for collaborating with musicians from abroad and not giving enough of a chance to local musicians – which seemed to be the objective behind the show initially. However, this is just the sixth season of the show, people! If after five seasons, they have brought in some foreign artists, then let’s take it as a breath of fresh air and enjoy the music.

On the other hand, Nescafe Basement has done well with its first episode featuring revamped hit tracks, which already improves the chances of acceptability and appreciation by listeners. During a conversation with Zulfi, I found out that the upcoming episodes will also carry some original tracks.

Although Nescafe Basement deserves praise for providing a platform to the youth and bringing something new to the industry, I feel that neither Coke Studio nor Nescafe Basement have provided enough support to all the musicians who deserve to be on such shows.

We have talented musicians like Shallum Xavier, Aamir Zaki, Meekal Hasan, Adnan Afaq, Nabeel Nihal (who used to be in Aaroh), who have not been given their due credit yet. Hopefully, the upcoming seasons will include a mix of new talent with old experienced musicians.

If you ask me, I personally enjoy both Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement, because each show brings with it its own individual flavour. I grew up listening to Rohail Hyatt as a kid, while during my teens Zulfi opened a whole new dimension of music for me with his work in EP. I respect both, Rohail Hyatt and Zulfi for their brilliant contributions to the world of music in Pakistan. Of course, having a close friend as the drummer in Nescafe Basement does tilt my loyalties just a little!

Jokes aside, I think both shows have their strengths and weaknesses and it would be better if people appreciate the diversity that each has to offer.

Thank you, Coke Studio and Nescafe Basement for giving us melodious sanctuary.

Which show do you like better?

     View Results

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Adil Iqbal

Adil Iqbal

Lead guitarist for a punk rock band called ICU, he is also working on a solo instrumental guitar project and tweets as @Adil_freesoul (twitter.com/Adil_freesoul).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • 123xyz

    neither. its just pakis like to pat on their own back. ‘we are the best’ syndrome has landed pakistan where it is now.Recommend

  • Shameel Faraz

    personally i think the track Ankhiyan was little too up beat than it had to be, vocals were fine, and Ali Azmat’s song was a disappointment, Umari Jaswal did a fantastic job , while Tere Ishq Mein was also good but not very much, Coke Studio shows a huge amount of experience level and expertise in their tracks while Nescafe Bassement is somewhat new and lacks in quite places, i guess what im trying to say is that if Tere Ishq Mein was produced by Coke Studio, it would have been much much better and would have been hard to find flaws in it.Recommend

  • facethetruth

    Guys, 71% votes for neither, seems lots of indikids have nothing to do.Recommend

  • Auwn Muhammad

    babu bhai is nice effort by ali azmat and definitely coke studio too !! i appreciate ,,he has delivered message of common man ,,plz spread msg ..it’s not only a track you have to understand thatRecommend

  • Tehami Sahir Rajput

    old is gold COKE STUDIO best ever, nescafe has part time singersRecommend

  • Akmal

    Judging by those votes it does look like the Indian Troll Army has been busy :)
    But on a serious note, competition is healthy and Pakistanis need to work hard and put Pak Art on a world level. Keep it up.Recommend

  • Hasan Siddiqui

    Sanam Marvi’s song in cokes studio six is a crap.. she was hardly breathing in the song. It seems a newbie can sing better than her. coke studio has added too much in a song that true essence of the song has gone. on the other hand, first two songs by nescafe basement are a lot better. my vote is for Nescafe Basement.Recommend

  • Khurram Malik

    Coke studio is about the most
    experienced and senior artist but Nescafe if a development from nearly raw
    material to professionals…Recommend

  • khan of quetta

    nescafe reeks of burgers bachasRecommend

  • khan of quetta

    burger logicRecommend

  • Cugoo taype

    Whats so bad about being a burger bacha?Recommend