When it was first introduced, Coke Studio soon became a sensation across Pakistan. Known for inviting artists from various regions and languages across Pakistan to recreate traditional music, the show has given us gems like Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi’s Alif Allah and Atif Aslam’s version of Tajdar-e-Haram. It was not long before Coke Studio won critical acclaim from across the border as well, spawning an Indian version known as Coke Studio@MTV, which proved to be just as successful.
However, of late, standards at Coke Studio Pakistan have been slipping, and they have been receiving more criticism than acclaim. Here’s a list of some of our favourite songs ruined by Coke Studio, in no particular order.
Sayonee – Coke Studio Season 10 (2017)
Junoon’s Sayonee proved immensely successful when it came out in 1997. The song bore elements of Sufi rock that the band was well-known for, and needed to be handled accordingly.
When Salman Ahmad, former Junoon band member, recomposed the classic for Coke Studio in 2017, we hoped some of the magic would be recreated. And then, he got Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to render the song, and we were stunned!
Check out the original:
And then Coke Studio’s version:
No offense, Rahat Fateh is an amazing singer, but we have to admit that a Qawwali singer trying to do Sufi rock is absolutely not on.
Hawa Hawa – Coke Studio Season 11 (2018)
Plagiarism allegations aside, Hassan Jahangir’s 1980s hit single is popular among the masses even today, so expectations were running high when he appeared on Coke Studio to recreate Hawa Hawa.
We have to admit, it was going reasonably well until his partner Gul Panrra began singing.
Here’s Hassan Jahangir’s, ahem, original:
And the Coke Studio version:
Don’t get us wrong: we think Gul Panrra is an extremely melodious singer. However, her voice is more suited for ballads, and pop just doesn’t seem to be her kind of thing. Getting her to render the song failed to give Hawa Hawa the kind of punch the song required.
Daanah Pah Daanah – Coke Studio Season 4 (2011)
Daanah Pah Daanah is one of the finest folk tunes of all times, and we were really looking forward to this one. Akhtar Chanal, one of the most revered musicians in Balochistan, did his best to salvage the song, but there was only so much he could do after Komal Rizvi ripped the melody to shreds, like a complete amateur.
We have heard Shazia Khushk do the song before, and we feel her powerful vocals would have been a much better choice.
Or maybe Coke Studio could have roped in someone like Hadiqa Kiana or Meesha Shafi.
Ranjish hi Sahi – Coke Studio Season 10 (2017)
Ali Sethi tries hard, but we believe that this classic only works in its original form. Mehdi Hassan managed to introduce a great deal of heartbreak and pain in the vocals, which after all is the entire point of Ranjish Hi Sahi.
However, Ali Sethi tried to add his own touch, which made it sound much more upbeat than it should have been, completely destroying the essence of the song.
Mehdi Hassan’s version:
Ali Sethi’s Coke Studio cover:
The Coke Studio National Anthem – Coke Studio Season 10 (2017)
Okay, we lied when we told you this list was in no particular order. We saved the worst disaster for the last.
The prelude to Coke Studio 10 saw the entire ensemble singing the National Anthem. The idea sounded great on paper. After all, the previous year’s Ae Rah-e-Haq Ke Shaheedon was rather well-received. But the Pakistani national anthem had us questioning whether the featured names were really professional singers.
The gaps in the song were too long and rather jarring. Additionally, the grouping of the musicians did not seem right, as it did not bring out the best in their vocal qualities.