It’s an eclectic mix this weekend on Firstpost Playlist as we bring together musicians fighting oppression through their music from America, Bhangra singers who make music in German and a how-is-this-a-song from Trinidad and Tobago. And how can we miss out on a beautiful love song in Tamil that will definitely make you swoon? As if that wasn’t enough, we also have a beautiful Farsi song by the inimitable Sonal Kalra. Get ready to be bewitched.
Irony. Utility. Pretext. by Algiers
This powerful track and video is inspired by the political art of Yugoslavia as well as Bulgaria and it draws a tangent to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
As the band states, “The video problematises the rise of “ruin exploitation”, a strand in photography that occupies a suspiciously colonial position wherein “white creatives” invade decaying towns such as Detroit or Gary to capture images for their own atomistic meditations. Such photography in former Communist countries adopts an “additional triumphalist air, ringing in the end of history and the supremacy of neoliberal capitalism.”
Algiers calls out this oppression under the guise of neoliberal capitalism.
Besides the heavy political message of the track the off beat electro gospel sound is really catchy as well! It always surprises me as to why Algiers isn’t famous yet, their time will eventually come.
— Siddhi Desai
Nina Simone – Feeling good (Nicolas Jaar edit)
Nina Simone’s Feeling Good is one of those classic songs that is open to a lot of covers. The reason for this is because there’s simply no one like her, and that’s why no cover will ever sound like the original. Even Michael Buble did his own (rather flamboyant) take on it. However, we prefer this Nicholas Jaar remix.
Like any Jaar mix, this one plays around with pace first. While Simone’s vocals come in soon enough, the soothing pace of the sound, backed by a slick beat, takes its time to rise. And then the song is given the quintessential Nicolas Jaar touch: heavy bass guitar backing, with distorted riffs. There’s some unique percussion going on in there somewhere as well.
If Nina Simone were to re-release her song and make it more contemporary, this is how it would sound. Listen with discretion. If you love the original all too much, you may not appreciate this cover. Jaar, however, seems to be a fanboy.
— Swetha Ramakrishnan
Diesmal sind wir dran! By Lovely and Monty (Bhangu Brothers)
Euro 2016 is underway, and there is no better way to show your support for Germany than by listening to a song composed by Lovely & Monty aka Bhangu Brothers.
These Punjabi brothers who have been working as cabbies in Hamburg, also make music videos in German on the side. In fact, they are renowned as the Singende Taxifahrer aus Hamburg or the Singing Taxi drivers of Hamburg. (Their singing prowess while driving around Hamburg has endeared them to their customers, who thrust this identifier on them). Google that term and you will come across Lovely and Monty Bhangu. They’ve been featured in Der Spiegel and are a regular feature on German TV talk shows.
Diesmal sind wir dran (This time it’s our turn) was composed and shot by the Bhangu brothers to show their support for Germany in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Germany went on to win the World Cup that year and naturally, the song went viral. The song talks about Germany having won the World Cup in ’54, ’74 and ’90 and how Germany will win it the fourth time in 2014; how not just the German team, but also its fans are the best anywhere in the world and much more.
The best part of the song is the fact that it is performed to bhangra beats, and if it weren’t for the language, would easily pass off as a Punjabi number. They’ve used the same dhol, flutes, stringed instruments that we do in India. Another unique thing one notices is the blatant display of flags and patriotism in the song, something that Germans themselves are quite wary of.
If you are a Germany supporter, you easily have the best anthem (German + Bhangra) to support your team
O Ramba samba, Ramba samba, Ramba samba, Oyyye!
— Nimish Sawant
Bread by Ravi B
Ravi B and his band Karma from Trinidad and Tobago create music in the genre of Chutney Soca. This genre developed in T&T due to the large number of Indians who settled in the Caribbean island. The Indian musical culture influenced the local Soca music and chutney soca began to include lyrics in Hinglish and Bhojpuri, and traditional musical instruments such as the dholak. You can find all those elements in Ravi B’s song Bread.
There’s not much of a plot in the video and some may even find it misogynistic (though that’s probably because they haven’t listened to his Dulahin. Now THAT’s the very definition of misogyny). But the funniest part of the video – and yes, it is funny – is that most of the song is sung in the same tune as Chane ke khet mein from Anjaam.
This is not a song that is meant to lift your spirits or transport you to another place and it won’t do either – what it will do however is make you cringe… oops laugh. I meant laugh.
— Asha Mahadevan
Disko Partizani by Shantel
Shantel, the German DJ is not one known for his techno beats, but for his use of Balkan instruments, creating upbeat and essentially happy music. Its foot-tapping music that will take you on a small tour of nondescript alleyways of Novi Sad. The melody is European, while the spirit and feel is rustic Gypsy — painting the perfect picture of a south eastern European cosmos. There is a certain charm and a flair in Shantel’s Disko Partizani — an iconic foot-tapping number — there is also a lot heart. There is an inexplicable delight in the song; it doesn’t just lift spirits, it makes them dance and only a stone can find himself/herself unmoved by the Gypsy soul.
If you listen closely, you might find yourself thinking of Manu Chao. If you ever get the chance to see a Shantel performance live, don’t miss the chance because there’s nothing else like it.
— Vishnupriya Bhandaram
Man Manam by Sonam Kalra
Sonam Kalra’s rendition of Man Manam for Coke Studio makes one want to learn Farsi, if only for the sole purpose of understanding its poetry. The evocative vocals give expression to the gentle mysticism associated with Sufi poetry. The use of the sarangi in the song is remarkable in the way it adds a richness to the composition. Language does not in any way act as a barrier from Man Manam becoming an earworm.
— Neerad Pandharipande
Sippi irukkudhu muthum irukkudhu (The oyster is there, so is the pearl) by MS Viswanathan
After a conversation with Vishnupriya on Kamal Haasan’s choice of movies with dark themes (Mahanadi, Guna, Sigappu Rojakkal), I settled on a somewhat lighter theme of unemployment.
A film from the early ’80s, directed by K Balachander, Varumayin Niram Sivappu (Colour of Poverty is Red), chronicles the lives of three friends struggling to make ends meet. So much that they pretend to enjoy a feast in front of their neighbour Sridevi to make her believe all is well with them.
This song is taken from the Bharatiyar poem Nallador Veenai Seidhen — it’s a brilliant read on wisdom being of some purpose in society instead of going to waste, if you’re interested. Of course, SP Balasubramaniam and S Janaki weave their magical voices in an already charming Tilang raagam for this romantic song. If that doesn’t make for a good weekend, doubt anything else will.
— Apoorva Sripathi
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