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Singing it all away

Instep takes a close look at the Lux Style Awards music nominations for achievement in the year 2014 and the artists who made us think, sing, dance, hum and dream away

Singing it all away
Mekaal Hasan Band's versatile record, Andholan, is nominated in the Album of the Year category and is our pick for the trophy.

The Lux Style Awards (LSA) have the unique honour of being the only mainstream award ceremony that is an annual fixture in the entertainment calendar. The scale of the show may vary but the ceremony happens every year. And, with no association to any one particular media group or channel, it is the one award ceremony that strives to recognize artistic brilliance, every year, without fail, which is a remarkable feat because other award ceremonies tend to disappear after just a few year’s run.

It is true that the show is dedicated to the cause of fashion given the number of categories. However, the five music categories that shed light on music, albums, songs and soundtracks, are perhaps the most exciting bit because they’re a mixture of merit as well as popularity, indie as well as mainstream, collaborations and arresting music visuals. Of course, this still doesn’t change the fact that as more young, fierce artists enter the music scene, a way of acknowledging their work must be found. It isn’t perfect, and perhaps, it isn’t enough anymore if acts like Mai Dhai are not making the cut in any category. But until evolving categories are added and a change is made, one will just have to make do with the categories that still exist.

So, here, then, are the five music categories and the many, many artists who made us sing, think, dance, and, daydream with their melodies this past year.

Album of the Year

This is the most prestigious category in the field because it is about a complete body of work. One hit tune isn’t enough.

In 2014, many indie artists released complete albums. However, to make the cut for this competitive category, an artist must be visible. And in that department, the three acts that stood out include the Mekaal Hasan Band, Zoe Viccaji and Abbas Ali Khan.

Mekaal Hasan Band’s Andholan is remarkable for many reasons. The record features Indian musician, Sharmistha Chatterjee, in place of former singer Javed Bashir, and yet, it still remains a stellar display of musicianship. The eight-track record is a unique combination of Sufi Kalaams, gorgeous bass, terrific guitar work and drums. Produced by Mekaal Hasan, the album represents a new direction for the Mekaal Hasan Band, and could easily take the trophy.

Abbas Ali Khan, often dubbed the dark horse of Pakistani pop, returned with an album that represents his spiritual transformation. The album, Tamaam Alam Mast, is a mix of devotional undertones, ethnic instruments, and features Sufi Kalaams in Urdu and Persian by various sources such as Hazrat Baba Gulzar Sabri, Hazrat Zaheen Shah Taji, Jigar, Hazrat Shah Niyaz, Siraj and Hazrat Ameer Khusro. Abbas Ali Khan is in fine form, as a singer and as an artist on a record that also features some of music’s finest names like Faraz Anwar, Sarmad Ghafoor, Sameer Ahmed, Allan Smith, Gumby, Taimoor Mirza among others.

The third and final nod went to Zoe Viccaji, who spent years working on her debut solo album, Dareeche, and released it last year in India as well as Pakistan. The song writing on the album combines Zoe’s real-life experiences over the course of her life, and with her penchant for thrilling, melodic pop moments, it clicks. Dareeche features original compositions like ‘Phir Mili Tanhai’ as well as covers of popular tunes like Strings’ ‘Mera Bichra Yaar’ and Junoon’s ‘Neend Aati Nahin’.

Song of the Year

Song of the Year is a popularity contest and not just about musical accomplishment alone. The five songs nominated represent just this simple fact.

Asrar’s ‘Sab Akho Ali’ is rooted in folk majesty and blues groove, ‘Billi’ from Na Maloom Afraad is loud, garish and incredibly popular, ‘Badnaam’ is the combined effort of Karachi underground band, Spoonful and a somber, reflective Mohammad Sibtain Fazli aka Sibti. It is a moody melody that is as compelling as it is memorable. Jimmy Khan’s ‘Nadiya Par Par Karke’ speaks of love loss, while ‘Roiyaan’ captures Farhan Saeed at his romantic best.

Asrar has earned a nomination in the Song of the Year category for his majestic song, 'Sab Akho Ali'.

Asrar has earned a nomination in the Song of the Year category for his majestic song, ‘Sab Akho Ali’.

Best Emerging Talent in Music

Best Emerging Talent in Music is essentially about celebrating young talent, and the five nominees certainly represent that. However, from the five nominees  Masooma, Zunair Khalid and Young Stunners, Sara Haider and Shajie Hassan, the latter two stand out for their unique blend of song writing, musical style and ability to think creatively. Sara Haider has appeared in musicals like Grease, appeared on Coke Studio and plays in a band called Teeen and has singles like ‘Baarishon Mein’ under her belt while Shajie Hassan is one of indie music’s finest artists with beautiful songs like ‘Battakhain’, ‘Bakwas’, ‘Oonchain Dost’, ‘Bhaag Lo’ to his credit.

All in all, it’s a victory for music.

Best Music Videos

Music video is always a dicey category. It isn’t enough for a music video to be good, it must also find a way to break the clutter and stay visible. As a consequence, some videos don’t make the cut while others qualify.

The top three contenders in the category include last year’s winner Yasir Jaswal, back with Farhan Saeed’s ‘Roiyaan’, Adil Omar’s ‘Exploding Heart’ and Josh’s ‘Dil Mein Chumke’.

Jimmy Khan has also earned a nod in the Song of the Year category for his song, 'Nadiya Par Par Karke'

Jimmy Khan has also earned a nod in the Song of the Year category for his song, ‘Nadiya Par Par Karke’

‘Roiyaan’ takes its cue from the bluesy mood of the music here and hence, it focuses on the story of a woman missing her dead lover. Farhan Saeed stars opposite Sabeeka Imam in this beautifully shot video. The other stylish video that makes an appearance in this category is Adnan Kandhar’s ‘Dil Mein Chumke’ music video for Josh, which is part performance, and part story; a smoky, stylish and fashionable effort. It presents Josh at the top of their game, and they sound good and look even better.

Adil Omar’s dystopian ‘Exploding Heart’ is the best of the lot, and our pick for the trophy.
Directed by Shahbaz Shigri and Aisha Linea Akhtar, ‘Exploding Heart’ is abstract and stunning in equal tones. It shows blood literally dripping from Adil’s forehead as he traces a wound on one hand with the other, with a gun lying close by. A world inhabited by masked men riding horses, Adil rowing a boat, ‘Exploding Heart’ works, both as a stunning music video, and as a metaphor for the violence that has engulfed our collective lives.

Best Original Sound Tracks

The songs in this category make the cut on the basis of sheer popularity. It is voted for by the viewers and features songs from films and television. The songs nominated here must resonate with listeners across the board. From television, the three songs that made the cut include ‘Sadkay Tumharay’ from fan favourite Sadkay Tumharay, ‘Liayan Liayan’ from Jackson Heights, and ‘Nazdeekiyaan’ from Nazdeekiyaan. The other two songs belong to Dukhtar and Na Maloom Afraad respectively.

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