Pakistani pop music
|Music of Pakistan|
|Classical • Ghazal • Qawwali|
Pop • Filmi • Rock • Hip Hop
|Religious music||Hamd • Nasheeds • Naat|
|Ethnic music||Balochi • Kashmiri • Pashto|
Punjabi • Sindhi
|Media and Performance|
|Music awards||Lux Style Awards|
|Music festivals||All Pakistan Music Conference|
|Music media||AAG • Bandbaja|
MTV Pakistan • PlayTV
|National anthem||Qaumi Tarana|
|Local forms||Brahui • Hindko • Khowar|
Shina • Siraiki
|Related areas||Persian • Dari|
Pakistani pop music or Paki-pop refers to popular music forms in Pakistan. Pakistani pop is a mixture of traditional Pakistani classical music and western influences of jazz, rock and roll, hip-hop and disco sung in various languages of Pakistan, including Urdu language. The popularity of music is based on the individual sales of a single, viewership of its music video or the singer's album chart positions.
Veterans like Runa Laila started the pop industry in Pakistan while the fifteen-years old pop sensation Nazia with her brother Zohaib Hassan ushered the birth of pop music all over South Asia tailing on the success of her British endeavours.
From Rushdi's pop hits to songs sung by the Hassan siblings, to bands including Junoon, Vital Signs and Strings, the Pakistani pop industry has steadily spread throughout South Asia and today is the most popular genre in Pakistan and the neighbouring South Asian countries. Songs sung by Pakistani pop artists are a regular feature on soundtracks of most of the Bollywood movies.
The genre has always been accepted in the mainstream youth culture but hindrances came in the form of changing governments, radical Islamicisation, foreign influences and a stiff competition from neighbouring countries. Still, pop music thrived and survived with a steady growth. In was not until recent times that Pakistani pop music was to be admired throughout South Asia and the rest of the world.
Rise and fall of playback (1966 – early 1970s)
After the partition of India, the most popular form of entertainment in the newly created Pakistan was the medium of film. Cinemas sprouted up in various corners of the nation, especially in Lahore, Karachi and Dacca in East Pakistan and playback singing became popular. People that tended to move into the genre had to be trained in classical music, usually trained by ustads who mastered its various forms and styles.
In 1966, a talented young playback singer Ahmed Rushdi sang what is now considered the first Pakistani pop song “Ko-Ko-Korina” for the film Armaan. Composed by Sohail Rana, the song was a blend of 60s bubblegum pop, rock and roll twist music and Pakistani film music. This genre would later be termed as ‘filmi pop’. Paired with Runa Laila, the singer is considered the pioneering father of pop music, mostly hip-hop and disco, in South Asia.
Following Rushdi's success, Christian bands specialising in jazz started performing at various night clubs and hotel lobbies in Karachi, Hyderabad and Lahore. They would usually sing either famous American jazz hits or cover Rushdi's songs. Rushdi sang playback hits along with Laila until the Bangladesh Liberation War when East Pakistan was declared an independent state. Laila, being a Bengali, decided to leave for the new-found Bangladesh.
The 1970s saw a nose-dive in the progress of cinema in Pakistan as the nation was left in the state of turmoil over the changes in the government administration and Pakistani cinema lost its Dhaka leg. Number of cinemas decreased rapidly and people preferred watching television over going to a cinema. Playback singing that once was popular now struggled to exist and the singers needed a new medium to start afresh.
Alamgir Everlast King of Pakistani Pop - New Wave music (1972-1981)
While the cinema in Pakistan was declining, the neighbouring India was gaining in strength in film content and quality. People began admiring the Indian playback counterparts. And when it seemed that music in Pakistan had no hopes of surviving this foreign influence, Anwar Maqsood and Shoaib Mansoor launched the career of Nerissa, Beena and Shabana Benjamin (collectively known as the Benjamin Sisters) in 1972. The sisters filled television screens with their melodious charms and tabloids started calling it the Benjamin Sisters Phenomenon.
A few years later came Alamgir. Like all people from his generation, Alamgir was raised listening to songs by bands like ABBA and Boney M. He would do renditions of popular New Wave songs in Urdu. In 1973, influenced by disco and funk, Alamgir sang Albela Rahi, an Urdu song literally translated from an English hit. Alamgir brought a new form of music to Pakistan, one that blended the classical forms with a tint of modern Western music. Hit after another, he proved to be the most successful singer and musician of his time. Alongside Alamgir, Muhammad Ali Shehki also rose to fame with his renditions of the Hindustani classical forms with mediums like jazz and rock. Patriotic songs sung by the singer are still the nation's favourites. Pop music was growing a snail's pace until the appearance of the most unlikely entrant in the music scene.
Nazia Hassan - Pakistan's Queen of Disco Pop
In 1980, Nazia Hassan, a fifteen-years old Pakistani girl residing in the United Kingdom were approached by Indian actor and director Feroz Khan along with Biddu Appaiah, an Indian music producer who asked her to sing the song Aap Jaisa Koi for the film Qurbani. She was selected for the nasal quality of the song's delivery. The song became an instant hit in the UK and the Indian sub-continent. Influenced primarily by disco beats and hip-hop, Nazia along with her brother Zohaib Hassan produced successive hits. Their songs Disco Deewane and Tere Qadmon Ko became the rage all over Asia to the extent that their very first album was declared the best selling album of the time in Asia.
The hype did not last for long as with Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's regime came drastic decisions to Islamicise the nation. Almost all music videos were banned to air on local television. The religious leaders found the two Hassan siblings dancing together on the stage most un-Islamic. When shown the videos would feature Nazia waist-up to hide her dancing feet. Hence came another blow to the music industry.
Zia-ul-Haq years (1981 – 1989)
Immediately following the military installation of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq as President, measures were put in place to limit the distribution of music and the only source of entertainment was the government-owned television network Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV). While music videos were banned in the country, veterans released albums elsewhere throughout the world. The siblings, Nazia and Zohaib, teamed up to produce more albums, but in the turmoil that Pakistan was headed through, the duo lost viewership and sales in their own country. They managed to reach UK Top 40 with the English version of their song “Disco Deewane” titled “Dreamer Deewane”. The album sold over 14 million records, not only in Asia, but as far as South America, South Africa and Russia.
Indian artists including the likes of Alisha Chinai, Shweta Shetty and Lucky Ali followed in Nazia's footsteps giving birth to the Indian pop industry, formed out of the void that the Pakistani industry had left. It is reported that the song “Made in India” was initially written and composed by Biddu for Nazia but was later given out to Alisha to perform. Satellite television broadcast from across the border became more popular in Pakistan and the people lost track of the local music scene.
In 1988, Zia-ul-Haq's regime ended abruptly with his death and the music industry started recovering. In a time when there was no hope for the industry to survive, the first privately-owned television station, the Network Television Marketing (NTM) opened up introducing shows aimed at the younger generation. In 1989, Shoaib Mansoor produced a show for PTV called Music '89 and took the Hassan siblings as the show's host. This show is responsible for single-handedly creating legends out of bands like Vital Signs, Junoon, Ali Haider, Sajjad Ali and Jupiters also including underground alternative rock bands like Final Cut and The Barbarians.
Music Channel Charts (late 1980s – 1994)
In the late 80s pre-MTV days, the primetime reception on NTM in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad was handled by the Shalimar Television Network (STN) which broadcast a show titled Music Channel Charts (MCC). An hour-length show that showcased music videos for various artists in a countdown format. When people started getting acquainted to the show's format, amateur bands and singers taped their own videos and sent them to be aired. Artists never heard of before began appearing on the show, fighting for a place in the countdown charts. With competition rising and only a few minutes dedicated to a single video, musicians from all over the country were being recognised for their work. The show made upcoming artists like Fakhre Alam, Fringe Benefit (the debut album 'TANHAI' was recorded and mixed by Tahir Gul Hasan at his SOUND ON SOUND recording studios in Karachi), Strings, Aamir Zaki, and Haroon Rashid and Faakhir Mehmood from Awaz household names. The show lasted for a few more years but was later overshadowed by quality content and newer television channels being broadcast from India.
With the advent of MTV India and Channel V in mid-1990s, the Indian music industry started to blossom and overshadow every effort the Pakistani counterpart would make to highlight the talents within. Music industry in Pakistan lingered on as India gained in strength. It was during this time that record companies like EMI and Sound Master started taking note of the new and rising stars. They started signing contracts with bands like Strings and Awaz who would later become iconic pop bands. The early 90s Nawaz Sharif government didn't help much either but the genre thrived nevertheless.
In 1994, the Indian government privatised a large number of television channels which received viewership in Pakistan. Quality music videos for Indian artists began airing on the channels and gathered a following in Pakistan. Music Channel Charts had to be taken off air as it could not compete with the Indian productions in terms of quality and content, and as a result musicians and singers started journeying to India and the UK to release their videos.
Filling the void (1994 – 1998)
As Indian media became popular in Pakistan, pop singers were limited to performing gigs only at select parties and events. At the PTV Lahore centre in 1994, host of the children's musical show Sohail Rana's Angan Angan Taray, Hadiqa Kiyani sang in Adnan Sami's musical Sargam. She would continue to host the show for three years after taking a break out to pursue her career as a solo pop artist. She would later be crowned as the second most popular pop singer after Nazia.
In the very last years before its closure, MCC introduced a Punjabi pop song “Billo De Ghar” in its line-up which instantly became a hit. The chart-topping success was most unexpected for the singer, a Pakistan Studies teacher at the esteemed Aitchison College. Abrar-ul-Haq became a celebrity overnight and decided to leave his teaching career to enter show business in 1997. His Punjabi pop songs with bhangra beats introduced ‘Punjabi pop’ to the masses later followed by Indian singer Daler Mehndi.
Where the local industry was dry, the band Junoon had established a name as the pioneers of Sufi rock in Europe and the Americas, although people believe the genre started with Alamgir's “Jugni”. In an effort to revive the Qawwali/Ghazal genre, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was invited to join music directors in India and produced the first ever Qawwali/Ghazal pop song “Afreen Afreen”, with Javed Akhtar.
Cross-border rift (1999 – 2002)
In 1999, following the Kargil War, all Indian channel broadcasts were limited or banned in Pakistan and after Pervaiz Musharraf's coup d'état, the media was privatised. To cater to the needs of thousands who watched the Indian channels with regularity, programmes were broadcast to match the Indian content. Seeing this as an opportunity, bands returned on the music scene and started producing videos with a much richer content. In 2001, Ghazanfar Ali, producer and CEO of the Indus Media Group started his very first venture into the music industry with Indus Music, a channel dedicated to music following the formats used by MTV India, Channel V and B4U Music. The channel started as a part of the Indus Vision channel and was later started as separate channel in 2003. With nothing much to watch than a few Pakistani channels, the youngsters in the country would settle in for Indus Music and would become interested in music once again.
Once the ban was fully lifted in 2002, the music industry in Pakistan had fully recovered and with local concerts in full swing, Pakistan music had taken the country by storm yet again. Websites opened up discussing, distributing and satirising music. Perhaps, the only reason music began so popular in so short a span of time can be attributed to piracy. Instead of fighting against piracy, musicians embraced it and released their musical content not through a record label but through the Internet on their own website and personally collaborating with fans.
Pakistani pop music in the 21st century continues to grow in popularity as more singers enter the genre. The Pakistani music industry is still dominated by Pakistani pop singers and their popularity has spilled over into neighbouring countries such as India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and other countries in South Asia and Central Asia.
List of Pakistani pop artists
Following is a list of some of the many legendary pop acts in Pakistan.
- Ahmed Rushdi
- Runa Laila
- Benjamin Sisters
- Muhammad Ali Shehki
- Nazia Hassan
- Faisal Kapadia
- Zohaib Hassan
- Bilal Maqsood
- Junaid Jamshed
- Vital Signs
- Sajjad Ali
- Shehzad Roy
- Salim Javed
- Ali Haider
- Faakhir Mehmood
- Haroon Rashid
- Fakhre Alam
- Adnan Sami Khan
- Hadiqa Kiyani
- Jawad Bashir
- Ahmed Jahanzeb
- Atif Aslam
- Ali Zafar
- Ali Azmat
- Maaz Moeed
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Socio-political History of Modern Pop Music in Pakistan". Chowk. http://www.chowk.com/articles/8459. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- ↑ "Nazia Hassan finally laid to rest". Express Daily, India. http://www.expressindia.com/news/ie/daily/20000907/iin07060.html. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "Made for Nazia, sung by Alisha". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/192704.cms. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 "A musical bridge for India and Pakistan". Internation Herald Tribune. http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/06/opinion/edsharma.php. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "Bollywood set to get a bigger dose of Pakistani music in 2008!". Mazqah. http://mazaqah.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/bollywood-is-set-to-get-a-bigger-dose-of-pakistani-music-in-2008/. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "History through the lens". Sustainable Development Policy Institute. http://www.sdpi.org/help/research_and_news_bulletin/Nov_Dec_2005/history_through_lens_2.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- ↑ "Benjamin Sisters: Silver Jubilee". All Things Pakistan. http://pakistaniat.com/2006/12/17/benjamin-sisters-silver-jubilee/. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Nazia's life as a star". Nazia Hassan Foundation. http://www.naziahassan.co.uk/herlife.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 "The Business of Music". Newsline Pakistan. http://www.newsline.com.pk/newsJan2007/cover2Jan2007.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
- ↑ "Do your own thing". The Sunday Times. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/961208/plus3.html. Retrieved 2008-06-27.