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The 13 songs of Coke Studio’s Season 14 have stirred a lot of attention this year but for the first time in many seasons, the conversation around the coveted music platform has been more positive than negative. Overall, the show has managed to revive interest and innovation, not just in Pakistan but all around the world. Perhaps the biggest achievement of this season is that it developed a global product that is inherently Pakistani.

Let’s start with what Coke Studio got right this year…

The Good

Xulfi as producer

For the last few years, Coke Studio had been trying to work with different producers but wasn’t quite getting it right. Strings, Ali Hamza and an assortment of established music producers came on board through Seasons 8 to 13, but the music often sounded predictable, unimaginative, and simply boring. Xulfi has an incredible musical portfolio behind him – EP, Call, Nescafe Basement, PSL to name a few – and was the right choice to bring in innovation and a new sound. In this season, Xulfi ensured that all artists were true to themselves but their work was enhanced by his vision and expertise.

A dynamic team 

It takes a village to raise a child, and that’s why its important to give credit to the young team that Xulfi got on board. He assembled a team of associate producers, which included the likes of Sherry Khattak, Adnan Dhool, Abdullah Siddiqui and ActionZain. Abdullah Siddiqui is especially the talk of the town lately, being the top choice for a lot of contemporary artists such as Meesha Shafi (‘Hot Mango Chutney Sauce’) and Natasha Noorani (‘Choro’). This ensured that the song-writing process was strengthened. We also heard a lot of great lyrics this year too! ‘Kana Yaari’, ‘Tu Jhoom’ have been powerful.



Audio-visual treat

Coke Studio was traditionally shot in a studio set-up, with the band and musicians all performing in the same space. This year, the visual aesthetics changed and each song saw a different set and layout, based on the song. For instance, Arooj Aftab and Asfar Hussain sang in separated rooms, to perhaps depict the separation the song ‘Mehram‘ speaks about. However, Ali Sethi and Shae Gill’s ‘Pasoori‘ has the most memorable video of this season, hands down. The intricately designed set, made by Hashim Ali, featuring the timeless grace of Sheema Kirmani, captured beautifully by director Kamal Khan (of Laal Kabootar) – all these big names and elements came together to produce the beauty that is ‘Pasoori‘. Zeeshan Parwez directed several songs of the season, including the season finale – ‘Phir Milenge‘ – which was a single take video featuring Faisal Kapadia and Young Stunners.


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A post shared by Ali Sethi (@alisethiofficial)

Style Quotient 

Every year, Coke Studio pays attention to the style quotient of the show but this year’s glamour was definitely heightened. Individual stylists were brought on board to create the memorable ensemble that Eva B is wearing in ‘Kana Yaari’, for instance. Atif Aslam was also sporting a younger, trendier look (in contrast to how he appears when he’s doing more spiritually-motivated music). Ali Sethi’s song ‘Pasoori’ is a good blend of cultural influences and his West-African suit complemented the song extremely well.Meesha Shafi’s nails in ‘Muaziz Sarif’ were also quite memorable (but then that’s probably Meesha’s own doing, as she often does her own styling for all her appearances.)

The Bad

Lack of representation

One thing that was glaringly ignored this season was the lack of regional representation, especially Pashtun and Sindhi voices. The season was dominated by Urdu/Punjabi/English speakers, with some Baloch representation in ‘Kana Yaari‘. But regional voices were largely missing this year, and Coke Studio could have easily included names like Khumariyaan, Fortitude or The Sketches to make the show more inclusive.

Artist Appearances

We are still wondering why some artists were more visible than others. For instance, it makes sense that Atif Aslam appeared twice, with a more trendy look and sound, and Faris Shafi made an appearance with Meesha Shafi and then again in ‘Ye Dunya’ alongside his contemporaries Karakoram and Talha Anjum. But why did Momina Mustehsan get an entire song to herself? And may we add, it was one of the most underwhelming productions of this season. There are less women in music so we’re happy to have more female representation on the show, but we weren’t impressed with Beparwah and would have loved to see QB, Shae Gill or Eva B make another appearance on the show!

All in all, this season is worth celebrating and we hope to see Xulfi and his incredible team learn from their mistakes and come back even stronger next season!



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