The good, the bad and the ugly of Coke Studio episode 3

Published: June 22, 2012

According to listeners and viewers, this time "Coke Studio" has failed to cater to their music appetite.

For our music industry, “Coke Studio” is like a gemstone that is emitting rays of hope for music lovers all over Pakistan. Overall, it would be completely fair to suggest that “Coke Studio” is innovative music to everyone’s ears. 

However, season five has received a lot of criticism; according to listeners and viewers, this time “Coke Studio” has failed to cater to their music appetite and this outcome might well be considered a musical faux pas.

Let us go through the comments and reviews of our music experts and fans regarding a recent episode of “Coke Studio” to decide whether this statement holds any truth or not.

Hadiqa Kiyani, Bilal Khan, Uzair Jaswal , Bohemia, Overload and Rachel Viccaji were the vocals of “Coke Studio’s” 3rd episode.

“Neray Aah” – Overload and Rachel Viccaji’s overdone vocals

This has to be by far the messiest track that has ever been composed in the history of “Coke Studio”. And I tell you, I’m not the only one holding this opinion, in fact it’s a statement by the “Coke Studio” fans. The song was first sung by the famous Pakistan singer Saira Naseem for the super hit film “Choorian” in 1998 and it attracted a lot of praise. But the rendition of this song was a disappointment.

Sadly, the outcome of this experiment, according to its listeners, was just a waste of energy, time and resources. The connotation of “Neray Aah” is romantic and enticing, and according to the viewers and listeners it should have been done as per its original theme.

Even though Rachel Viccaji owned the song, she failed to impress the audience. The reason behind this, I believe, was the language barrier. It was difficult for her to learn and understand the poetry of the song, and as we all have heard from the literary community, changing the medium of anything will be at the cost of its purity.

The second reason that ruined the originality of the song was the pitch it was sung at. As mentioned, the nature of the song is naughty and romantic, but the song was performed at a high pitch which destroyed it’s very expression.

“Nindiya Ke Paar” – Uzair Jaswal’s failure to launch

According to the fans, the performance by Uzair Jaswal was very mediocre. The only attraction was the chunk of Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s “Tere Bin Nai Lagda”, which really boosted the bluesy stage and injected the song with some life.

The vocal expressions by Jaswal lacked a sense of maturity and just fell flat. In fact, it felt like a college concert not a “Coke Studio” composition. For the avid music lover, this performance, just didn’t suffice.

Having said as much, young Jaswal can count on Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song fusion to maintain his followers.

“School Di Kitab” – A page from Bohemia’s Diary

We all know about Bohemia, the Punjabi rapper from California. Bohemia had also performed in the first episode of “Coke Studio” season five on “Paisay Da Nasha”, and then once again he strummed the strings in “Coke Studio’s” third episode.

According to the fan community, the recent song “School Di Kitab” by Bohemia was not really a song ─ it was more of an essay which had been written in the light of his personal experiences. At the same time, some people said that it’s a good way to upraise and encourage oneself.

Somehow, the lyrics of “Paisay Da Nasha” were considered to be provoking and meaningful. It felt like “School Di Kitab” was delivering a a rather unpleasant message; that children need to bunk classes and ignore education.

However, is this really surprising? According to some websites, Bohemia himself was a very slow learner and has never been keen on studying.

Even though this might be true, the message derived by this song could impact our youth in a negative way. Artists should be wary of this, as a lot of youngsters idolise them.

“Taaray” – Bilal Khan’s alternate side

Bilal Khan became a part of this industry just a few years ago and he has become a popular name amongst the youth.

The only shocking thing that has happened so far in this season of  “Coke Studio” is that Bilal Khan has sung his first ever ‘happy’ song!

Wow, what a exhorting and heartening song. Kudos to Rohail Hyatt for exploring the new side to Bilal Khan’s talent, something his viewers must have been secretly wishing for.

The music for most of his songs is filled with the expressions of angst, depression and deep emotions, but this time he really hits the happy notes and seems almost ready to say goodbye to broody, sullen ballads.

Let’s talk about the feedback of the experts and music fans, and explore the shortcomings of the song.

The rendition was full of energy but the lyrics of his song, once again, reflect gloominess and the element of accusation. On the other hand, Bilal Khan incorporated optimism and which will serve to inspire the youth to go after their dreams, look forward to their future, and encourage them to sport their rose-coloured glasses once in a while. The music composition was dressed with the same instruments yet, the guitarists played to the crowd and their’s is the part that will be remembered by many.

I believe that this song will take some time to grow on the  listeners and viewers. So keep listening and try to inhale the ditty of charming Bilal Khan. 

“Rung”– Hadiqa Kiyani’s ‘awe’ performance

Hadiqa Kiyani is probably the best thing that has ever happened to “Coke Studio’s” thus far. She is the one talisman for “Coke Studio”, who really strikes the beauty and rhythm of every single instrument and has won the hearts of  the listeners, spectators and professionals alike.

According to the experts and fans, the only hope for season five’s success might be Kiyani’s performances. This time she performed Ameer Khusro’s kalaam (poetry) titled “Rung”. This Qawali had become a part of many Sufi gatherings because of the spiritual value it possesses.

According to different sources, Khusro wrote this pious piece when he met “Pir Nizamuddin Auliya “. He returned home with glee and told his mother that he had met the person whom he had been searching for.

The kalaam illustrates a believer’s devotion, chastity and achievements.

Hadiqa indulges herself in the origin of Ameer Khusro’s kalaam and delivers it with the zeal and glory it deserves. The purity of these words are successfully reflected in her every single note. It won’t be wrong to say that she’s done the kalaam justice.

She definitely hits a home run with her performance on the “Coke Studio” stage and no doubt the house members beautified it with their mesmerising performance; what a heavenly fusion indeed.

Follow Alina on Twitter @PareesaZarees


Alina Ilyas

An associate producer and researcher in Express News who Tweets @PareesaZareesa

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

  • M Ali Khan

    Too much Bilal Khan this season and no return of Akhtar Chanal Zehri.

    He was the star last season with his awesome Balochi-Brahui ballads so he should have been allowed to perform.Recommend

  • RiffyR

    This blog appears to be really biased and not towards the popular opinion. The song “Neray Aa” that you complain of is being played in every nook and corner in Karachi and being heavily shared on Facebook. On the other hand, I have yet to come across a person listening to Kiyani’s rendition of anything. Nindiya ke Par is also all over the social media as well and is being appreciated by critics and audiences alike.

    Also, it would really help the blog if you’d mention the musical “experts” whose views you have taken into account. As far as I’m concerned, Season 5 of Coke Studio has brought into many “unknown yet talented” people in the limelight, mixed various music genres beautifully and have done an amazing job of not just familiarizing national and international population about our poetry but also getting them hooked onto it for a considerable time to come.

    Only good thing happening on Pakistani Television right now. Recommend

  • Aamna

    Dude whatever Neray Aah’s original theme was, it sounded way awesome as in an accusatory tone, Farhad was a disappointment however but you cant ignore Javed Iqbal’s violins and Rachel’s attractive vocals.. I totally agree with the writer about Uzair and Hadiqa’s songs but plzzzz Bilal Khan is whom you would admire as youth????? seriously?? I know this has been an exciting torque having him sing a ”HAPPY” song but still, only guitar solo was one good thing about it.. Pathetic lyrics and so were his vocals, he’s the BIGGEST disappointment in CS if you compare his last two songs back in season 4 Recommend

  • Shahid

    I would LOVE to meet these ‘experts’ and ‘fans’!Recommend

  • Hafsa

    Nicely written and I totally agree with the author. I could not even understand what rachel viccaji and that dude from overload were trying to prove by singing in such a oh we are so cool way!Recommend

  • ozzie

    Are you even serious ? while publishing this article. :D
    I know that this season’s has not been upto many fans expectations, The only good episode was this one, Like seriously Neray Ahh and Nindiya ke paar were the top 2 performances of this season, Rachel’s language barrier did a good thing, it gave the song its “sexy” feel while maintaining the original theme, Nindiya ke paar was the most soothing track of the season, Well composed, Well sung, Uzair proved his skills by that, Recommend

  • maria

    I think writer of this article is deaf or precisely “music deaf”Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    are you serious??? Neray Aah is the best of Coke Studio Season 5…. I just love this song…. After this song I have started liking OverloadRecommend

  • Umair Khalil

    Says the woman who thinks Hadiqa Kiyani is ‘the best thing that has ever happened to “Coke Studio’s” thus far’. I mean Seriously?Recommend

  • Ordinary Villager

    ET have a Fetish for Bilal Khan and Angst for Naray Aaah. Recommend

  • Cheryl

    I seriously stopped reading after the criticise made by the author on Neray Ah and Nindiya ke par! i mean seriously it seems that the author have no taste and sense of music, these two songs are the best in Season 5 :) Recommend

  • Ali S


    The word is tone-deaf :)Recommend

  • WTH

    Stopped reading when Neray Aah was written off as a disappointment. First proper raw emotional track in the series and this is the response it gets. actually I was reading this for the sole reason to see what this track would be described as, because to be VERY honest the rest of the current crop of “artists” in coke studio is a dead giveaway to the increasing sell-out nature of its production team. BIlal Khan? Seriously? A one hit wonder is going to share the same space as the legends of previous seasons?

    Come on.

    The one innovative track that shook some ground and went boldly where no one else was willing to go, brought a dubious classic into a genre that is otherwise shunned in the general “POP” obsessed public and did so with GUSTO, is written off as messy and a disappointment.

    Maybe its the musical taste that’s the disappointment here.

    ‘Nuf sed.Recommend

  • Momo

    I like this article… true!!!! Nehray Aah is good but for the Teeagers not for general music lovers..Recommend

  • Momo


  • Naveed

    its an a good artical……….. we should emthases on good an terdition music rither then neeray aah bull sh*** :P keep it upRecommend

  • Waseem

    Wow… Coke studio comming better and better episode wise this season is also rocks except one song Nerray Aa.. Nerray Aa…wht a waste of time :(Recommend

  • Ali Imran

    OKK fans who commented about Neray Aah, ppl if u like the song just say v like the song but plzzz dont compare it with the original one.. song’s theme style is way out of line.. someone here mentioned about song being “sexy” yes it is cuz the original one too represents love lust feelings but in a CLASSY WAY.. this one was real dissapointment (agree with the author). and it being shared on the social media doesnt make it good. most of the ppl shared it for humiliating the song. “I myself think that the song was a little offshore from the original but i guess that was because of Rachel. we had to come up with the theme easier for the singer and yet feels good for the listeners. i beleive if not 100% we were 70% successful in that. said ROHAIL HAYAT

    Nindiya K paar was the hit of the coke studio S5. the cocktail of 3 songs was nailed by Jaswal. so no discussion on it. i attended a concert on 19th and Naeem Abbas sang his song too. so there is another reference for ppl who were asking.

    Hadiqa kiyani’s Rung was also good. her vocals kept the spirit of the song. thats keeping the essence of the poetry and yet mingling up the musical tones. Recommend

  • Dani

    This season has been poor so far. Charkha Nolakha is the ONLY masterpiece so far.Recommend

  • Parvez

    My observation on Coke Studio is that the recording and playback on TV is of poor quality.
    No matter how brilliant the arrangement or the singer is, if the recording person is not up to standard the whole song flops and that’s what is happening.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    I agree wid her.. she even parised uzair’s performance and no doubt neray aah will be vanished soon from the mind of the peopleRecommend

  • SHani

    OOhh its really Heart touch… I like it very much and enjoingRecommend

  • Devil

    Hie Its CRAP… NEHRAY AAAH… Recommend

  • Zeshan (manager)

    its very hard work.. but she did it… ith so beautiful, Hope all people Enjoy it Thank YouRecommend

  • Adeel

    Another biased & negative blogger/reviewer in ET!! I am unable to understand why such negative journalism is present ONLY in our country.

    We have very rare stuff that we can proudly share with the world, and Coke Studio is on the top of that list. If you see the feedback for Season 5 of Coke Studio on social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter etc), you will note a lot of appreciation (from across the globe) for this season. For example, click on following link which contains review of the last Episode by Rohit (an indian guy)

    You can see that his opinion is exactly different than usual ‘negative’ bloggers/reviewer on ET. Take a lesson from Rohit.Recommend

  • Sami Malik

    Naray aah is the best and it have crossed 300,000 views and even i heard this song in Europe by Non Pakistanis and mark my words it will cross a million mark sooner and haters will hate but Naray Aah stands out among the rest. My friend is writing article peculiarly for Naray aa and it will be featured in European Newspapers sooner.Recommend

  • This review is so sub par, it’s language so juvenile and awkward, it’s insights so banal, uninformed, and sweeping, that I am shocked it made it past the editorial staff and actually got published. Where is the quality control ET? Do you guys just publish anything you get?Recommend

  • Asif Nawaz

    I think Season 5 is going very strong. And I have my own set of ‘experts’ to prove that!Recommend

  • BAD EDITING ET! This thing is FULL of incorrect grammar, typos, and awkward sentence structure. What was ET thinking publishing such bad writing? Please take it down, it’s bad for your credibility as a serious news resource. Recommend

  • Expert

    The opinion of the author is not baised whatever she is saying, she is saying in the light of expert and fan opinion. she has not given these comments dellibratly. and i also think that “narrey aa” will be no more in the mind of people soon. Recommend

  • Anzee

    I think “Narrey Aa: is just for the teenagers not for the true listeners……..Uzair,s voice is very similar to his brother’s voice. the performance of Uzair is just theek haiiii…….bus….keep it up for ur further opinionRecommend

  • Kanwal

    well done……..Recommend

  • Sunaina

    I think its great analysis and very well written.Recommend

  • Akbhar

    Wow. express tribune, you never fail to disappoint me with your one-sided, biased, and amateur reviews of things.

    i understand that there is always opposition against people’s opinions, but this is just crossing the line. it seems as if you guys are purposely just trying to garner people’s attention to your stupid and horribly written articles by making absurd claims and immature observations.

    it shows how backwards you writers at ET are and how little thought you give to everything. you clearly need to give both sides of the story; the GOOD and the bad. Neray Aah and Nindya ka Pyaar were by far two amazing songs, and there were a million things good about it.

    it seems as if you just purposely try to focus on the negative aspects of everything. Recommend

  • Dee

    All students are advised to check / – the voice of the voiceless. Recommend

  • omer

    Neray Aah’s original theme was, it sounded way awesome as in an accusatory tone, The BIGGEST disappointment in CS if you compare his last two songs back in season.Recommend

  • raw is war

    here we go again.Recommend

  • RiffyR

    For people who liked the original Neeray Aa, just listen to the original then. Who is stopping you?Recommend

  • Ms. I’m always right

    For the record, i thought Neray aah with rachel was awesome, raw– full of energy and i liked the choppiness and spontaneity of it. Recommend

  • Ms. I’m always right

    I AGREE with u. Neray aah was the best in coke studio for me this time. @Sami Malik: Recommend

  • Ahsan

    I think author never listened Bohemia or any good rapper before. “School ki Kitab” is not a song rather an essay? like seriously, go and watch previous Bohemia’s work or any famous English rapper, the lyrics always carry no message, no sur, no rules, and they just “say whatever comes in their minds”, its music, its stylish.Recommend

  • Hira Z

    Extremely pathetic review.. In fact disgrace to Coke Studio. Bilal Khan who? Nursery rhythm-er.
    Dear Author , Why don’t you check out the you tube hits to determine the value of the song? Uzair Jaswal is topping with big lead and you say hes singing in a college concert. Oh come on!Recommend

  • Saad Ullah

    Where the HELL are zaib and haniya in season 5??? they r the best performer, and werent even given a chance in season 4!Recommend

  • Samira Khan

    Well personally i liked Humayoon’s “Larsha Pekhawar” the most in Coke Studio Season 5 but apart from my personal point of view, I found the above analysis of CS Season 5 by Ms Alina very well written and research-based. The author has thoroughly analyzed the vocal and music composition of every song and has also given us the background info about the original tracks which adds to the knowledge of music lovers. As a reader, I’m keen on film reviews as well, hope the author considers my request and writes a review on one of the upcoming or recently released movies as well. Recommend

  • Murtaza

    very nice Alina Ilyas , a great read. i really liked the pieceRecommend

  • Nadeem

    Nice article…. we should save our culture…..Recommend

  • faryal

    a very biased article…why express tribune is posting articles not in favor of coke studio and promoting coke studio india…r u also getting money from themRecommend

  • Chun

    I COMPLETELY disagree with your comments! Neray Aah is the only listenable song this season, followed by Jaswal’s Nindiya Ke Paar’s last 2 minutes (not too excited about the beginning or even the Nusrat part). The whole point of Coke Studio is ‘interpretation’ and ‘innovation’ in music.

    Bilal Khan was also disappointing. Taaray was very commercial, trite and unexciting for me.

    Khusro is probably cringing at Kiyani’s rendition of Aaj Rang Hai which is uninspiring, pitchy and in my opinion not even lyrically all correct. It lacked the profound effect a Sufi poem or verse usually has on a listener.

    Overall, I feel a qualified music critic with valid arguments should write music columns since this was a very opinionated and unconvincing article. A performance like The Sketches last season was authentic, unique and memorable. Recommend

  • zahid

    changaa haiRecommend

  • xyz

    This has to be the dumbest blog ever. Also you can clearly see the positive comments about Neray aah and know what people really think about it ;) Also Neray aah sounds rather sexy with the high pitch.Recommend

  • Mehtab

    good attempt;music is difficult subject & criticism is more difficult…its great keep it up Recommend

  • Ramla Hussain

    Oh Come On ! You dnt know then what music is! season 5 is not a flop as you have portrayed. Neray AAH is one of the most played song and famous one. i luvd this season and most of my friends as well! Recommend

  • umar

    Great article! Do keep writing more….Recommend

  • Sundus

    Well written Alina, Good Effort, Seriously, as it is your ever first try in tribune. so first of all i really appretiates it. n I really like your Ananlysis, the way you critizse, like bilial has sung first Happy song n in Neray Aah the way u critize thngs seems tht u r a profrssional writer. although at times the initial stage of wrting was also getting prominent. like u don’t need to mention again n again tht accorfing to fans, fans community etc.. but this article reflects ur deep concern with coke studio n interest in understanding music. after all very well Effort indeed. Keep it up :)Recommend

  • Tz

    A balanced assessment indeed! Keep it upRecommend

  • Tz

    A balanced assessment indeed! Good read. Keep it upRecommend

  • Kisa

    Neray Ahh will be record breaking! Just wait and watch!!!Recommend