This is a story.
A very long time ago Geo TV had a trick up its sleeve. There was of course its megalomaniacal approach to market its presence with decent camerawork and shoddy news reporting but there were plenty of other rabbits in the abysmal burrow of the TV giant’s hat. In less than five years’ time, Geo TV had become the biggest brand on television that Pakistan could ever produce. In doing so, a handful of other TV brands operating on the same modus operandi as Geo TV found a massive decline in their viewership.
A collective revamping of the drama industry interspersed with cut-throat competition and interchanging TV personalities was the new dawn that had broken on media’s big fish. This was a direct consequence of the resurgence of Indian TV and the failure of Pakistan’s music machine. Indus Vision and ARY had drifted ashore with their music channels that operated independently as strict music stations but were gradually faced with lesser viewership every month.
There was a new contender, one that would shake the foundations of several businesses: the internet. Free downloading evolved into free streaming. CDs evolved into online MP3 files. The chaos that ensued was poetic. Geo TV observed the many Atif Aslams who roamed the streets with their guitars strapped to their backs and the Mahira Khans who had the looks and the TV presence to host live programs.
While the internet gained steady popularity, AAG was launched on TV as a youth-centric station that dedicated most of its broadcasting hours to local music scene. AAG was a success but the target market already suffered from sporadic episodes of dwindling attention spans. It had beaten other names in the field but had an extremely low viewership in its monthly histogram. AAG propelled a number of groovy bands to stardom that was to last a couple of years.
The first time I heard Paheliyan, I made sure everyone in the room heard it as potently as I could. The song had a wonderful guitar opening that would lead up to drums entering in with delayed halts. Omran Shafique did not really have powerful vocals to go along with his prowess on the guitar but he did manage to wail out a soft-punk sounding voice that went pretty well with the song. The band did make it to the number one spot on AAG’s music charts but did not gain much popularity in the general public. Nonetheless, it had a new texture to deliver which it did perfectly.
2. Poor Rich Boy
I heard Poor Rich Boy at a star-studded event held at Nando’s, Lahore. The crowd hated their performance. It was peculiar and strange. One of the vocalists held a glass close to his mouth while chanting the song lyrics. He soon went wild with the act and introduced a spoon to his performance. For a minute, the audience was completely enthralled as they waited for the sort of shaman magic that would curtail.
They were severely disappointed as the performer started tapping the glass’s bottom with his newfound gavel in sync with the rhythm. The band left the stage with lots of angry people throwing insults at it. PRB, was anything but poor musically. The sound was unique, mellow and melancholic. The lyrics profound and rebellious. The band has yet to find mainstream fame and fortune.
3. Sajid and Zeeshan
An eccentric bunch of musicians who pay little attention to how they look on stage. True to their music and the art of performance Sajid and Zeeshan hail from Peshawar, an unfavorable incubator for such raw talent. Their song Walk on Air is an infectious tune that soon hit the number one spot on AAG’s music charts back in the day. The band’s sound is a mix of electric guitars, harmonic synths and funky drum sequences. Though they did manage to get themselves featured on Coke Studio, they did not attain much fame with the general public.
4. Somewhat Super
I had the pleasure of listening to this exciting duo on one of Beaconhouse National University’s event. Little did I know that these guys were also spearheading Patari. The overall jam was extremely energetic. The duo’s forte lies in remixing old classics and giving them a solid beat that has you on your feet in no time. Check out their Daler Mehdi number.
Pakistan has produced some brilliant musicians who’ve found acclaim worldwide. The mystery lies where a few from the many reach a certain standpoint. These few make a decent living relishing in fame and fortune. The many, the unfortunate bunch, are as skilled as these very few but fail either in terms of glamour or the genre that they are trying to market. There is also little room for marketability considering there are not many paying platforms left.
A dearth of payed gigs and venues also demotivate artists to create more music. The answer is simple and quite apparent but little heed is payed to such concerns for they do not involve the ousting of a prime-minister.