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Coke Studio is undoubtedly a phenomenon of its own. Stretching over a span of nine seasons, the show has featured over a hundred artists, exploring a plethora of genres and music styles. This is also why the show has proven its popularity time and time again. As it’s heavily marketed and well promoted, the songs tend to do well commercially, where the average CS song gets at least a million views on social media.

However, there have been instances where songs haven’t done that well in terms of views and likes, and it’s not because these said songs aren’t good or that the artists weren’t popular enough, they somehow just didn’t sit well with the audience. We round up five songs that weren’t big hits but should have been.

‘Aj Latha Naeeo’ – Javed Bashir (Season 2)

Javed Bashir is one Pakistani singer that we simply can’t get enough of. Whether you listen to his old Mekaal Hasan songs, or Coke Studio collaborations with artists such as Ali Azmat and Zeb and Haniya, Bashir has always stood his ground with superior command over his vocals. ‘Aj Latha Naeeo’ has been perfectly executed, which is a task in itself because it’s never easy covering a Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song. But Bashir does full justice to this classic and it’s a huge hit for us, even if other people don’t agree.

‘Nawai Ney’ – Tina Sani (Season 3)

Tina Sani needs no introduction. This classical singer has been mastering the art of music for as long as we’ve known her. Coke Studio’s musical expertise increased the moment Tina Sani joined the show. She sang two songs in season 3, and while her collaborative track ‘Mori Araj Suno’  with Arieb Azhar did remarkably well, ‘Nawai Ney’ was swallowed into oblivion. This hauntingly brilliant tune is distinctly Pakistani as it incorporates the flute and matki along with Sani’s vocal prowess. In our opinion, this song should have resonated with the audience more.

‘Baageshri’ – Mole (Season 4)

This performance perhaps received unfair criticism, mainly because of one band member, Danial Hyatt. Being the son of Rohail Hyatt obviously means careful scrutiny and a lot of expectations. Unfortunately, junior Hyatt became subject of this bias and that is probably why his band’s song wasn’t given a fair chance. But anyone who has actually heard ‘Baagheshri’ with an honest ear will tell you otherwise. Baageshri is originally a classical Hindustani raga but Mole’s interpretation is a journey on its own. Beautifully orchestrated, this instrumental takes you to different regions as the tempo successfully changes from fusion to folk. The song only got 124,000 views on YouTube but it definitely deserves more.

‘Dholna’ – Atif Aslam (Season 5)

Atif Aslam’s name is enough to get people talking. Which is why it’s surprising that he is on this list. But ‘Dholna’ wasn’t a very big hit. In fact, many people didn’t even hear it. The song captured the old Coke Studio essence very effectively, the one which everyone reminisces about nowadays. It starts off slow and smooth, and then the tempo picks up halfway through the song. The picks and drops of the melody are spot on and of course, Aslam’s soothing vocals are always a treat to listen to.

‘Sab Aakho Ali Ali’ – Asrar (Season 7)

Everyone knows Asrar for his famous song ‘Shankar Wandaan Re,’ which became an instant hit when it was featured in Ho Mann Jahan, so perhaps this song gets a little overshadowed. But ‘Sab Aakho Ali Ali’ did win an LSA for Song of the Year. Still, it’s not that popular amongst the masses, garnering only 443,210 views on YouTube. While such a number of views is quite large, it’s considered a small hit compared to other CS tracks.

Regardless, the song is perhaps one of the best fusions of contemporary rock with folk music.


This article was first published in Instep, 9th October 2016.