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KK - THE MESMERIZER View topic - countach, baby (or; are you afraid of the dark?)



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 Post subject: countach, baby (or; are you afraid of the dark?)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:45 am 
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Greetings, Earthlings! Guess what day it is? ;)

Well, looks like it's that time of the year again - and in my defence, I had planned to return earlier this time, but circumstances conspired against me no, actually I just don't know where most of the rest of the year went. Things have been hectic as hell - I imagine hell is pretty hectic - and for once I've enjoyed most of it a great deal, so I'm not complaining. I'll take the highs with the lows.

...And speaking of highs and lows. ;)

I've screwed with the mould enough (and been present sporadically enough) over the past few years for there to pretty much be no mould any longer. So, for this post, I'm going right back to basics: Clearing the backlog, one song at a time.
I spent a considerable while contemplating how best to deal with the volume that's on my hands. Sort by preference? Sort by theme? Sort by colour? - but then it occurred to me that it's often best to strike while the iron is hot in terms of a track's immediacy. That points to chronological order. Some tracks fade, some do not, and which ones do is often personal; Mat Aazmaa Re, for instance, has remained as immediate to me as though it had been released yesterday. On average, though, a more recent track is quite likely more accessible than an earlier one - so the further back in time I go, the harder I'll have to work to jog your memories. Which the geekery of Cain is most certainly up to, but isn't the most appropriate task for a birthday.

Here, therefore, are all this year's and 2014's tracks, in no particular order.

Happy birthday, dearest. ;)

(WARNING FOR BARELY-COHERENT RAMBLING, LONG SENTENCES, STANDARD AMOUNTS OF SWEARING AND HORMONES AAAAND I HAVEN'T EVEN MENTIONED THE URDU FETISH BECAUSE IT IS SO DEEPLY ENTRENCHED IN MY BEING BY THIS POINT. OH, AND CAPSLOCK. LOTS OF CAPSLOCK. facepalm.)

Meri Maa (Yaariyan) is a sweet and heartrending depiction of - wait for it - the more-or-less-universal mother-child relationship. Now I have ~issues with filial-devotion songs, and I'm told that men will identify with this one to a greater extent than women (????????), but hey, even I can appreciate the simplistic beauty of the lyrics, and the way KK works with that simplicity to get the message across. The music backs his powerful vocals up at every turn; there are no frills to his delivery, because there are none needed.
It's recently come to light that KK had recorded Maa from Taare Zameen Par, which then somehow got scrapped in favour of a different version by Shankar Mahadevan. In all honesty, I do always pine for KK tracks that might have been, but I feel the loss of this particular song keenly because it's directly from the child's point of view. The protagonist isn't an adult remembering the past in all its bittersweet shades, not a child speaking directly to his mother, but an internal monologue - what the protagonist, limited both by the cognitive walls of childhood and the neurodivergence that's the subject of the film, thinks, but cannot put into words. It's putting music in film to its highest use: as a narrative device conveying the otherwise unsaid. And therefore it would have lived a life of its own outside the film as well.
That's what differentiates this song (aaj bhi koi chot lage toh yaad aati ho, yaad aati ho tum), from that one - and that, my friends, is what might have been.

Dil Tod Ke (Ishq Ke Parinde) is, on the face of it, Just Another Heartbreak Song. I distinctly remember listening to it and filing it under 'sweet, but...well, just sweet'.
Then I happened to listen to it again. And suddenly it made sense - a devastating amount of sense.
Okay, let's get impartial for a moment here. Heartbreak songs abound in all our lives; it's pretty much Bollywood's bread and butter, after all. But there's Tadap Tadap Ke - the beautiful, melodramatic ballgown, the sweeping generalization of a sad, sad love song - and there's Sach Keh Rahaa Hai, the measured, tailored tux, the quintessential disillusioned 'inside very cynic is a disappointed idealist' song, and they have one motif in common: the fact that they seem to accept the inevitability of loving and losing. This is a natural outcome, they say; I have loved and lost and learnt, and you, listener, must take heed lest you should fall into the same trap.
By contrast, there's Beete Lamhein, more sweet than bitter - strong, coarse, comfortable cloth, the texture you've craved since you knew what texture was - passing no judgement on the occurrence itself, but simply deciding despite the pain to dwell on the positives instead. There's O Meri Jaan, gauzy gossamer fabric, floating and twisting and knowing there's still hope.
Dil Tod Ke is the intersection of these archetypes. Dil Tod Ke is a quiet heartbreak song. Dil Tod Ke says, You may not need me any more, but I need you; I cannot help it. I still love you; make of that what you will.
Dil Tod Ke is heartbreak untouched by drama. And for all KK's dramatic flair, his core is his heart and his gift for the matter-of-fact. In his hands, this song could be a shroud - or it could be, and I hope it always is, a soft, warm symbol of a new beginning.
Vaqt bhi jis se rooth gayaa hai, main vo bebas lamhaa hoon...
Either way, I don't think I'll be listening to it again until I'm sure I'm quite ready.

The Rock Song (Manjunath) is...exactly what it says on the tin. :P Yay electric guitars! Yay almost-but-not-quite power chords! Yay vaguely nostalgic lyrics set to upbeat music! But...frankly, something about it doesn't seem quite right to me. I haven't got the 'feel' of it, as Sukhi would say - and it ain't for lack of trying. Is it that the lyrics seem just a little contrived? Is it that it's called 'The Rock Song' with absolutely no connection to the subject matter, as though the writers didn't care what it's about? Is it that even after listening to it about ten times in a row, I feel like I have no idea what it is actually about? I don't know - but if I figure it out, you're the first folks I'll tell.

Dil Aaj Kal (Puraani Jeans) is one of those just-another-love-songs that grows on you and won't let go. Like Haan, Tu Hai, Tum Kahaan Ho and Kaise Bataaoon before it, it seems ordinary at first but promptly - there is no other way to put this - takes over your brain. The lyrics are sweet and predictable, the music pleasant and unremarkable: at the end of the day, it's the tune and the way KK carries it that truly make this song. He's chosen to take it neither in the direction of fluff nor intensity, but somehow, in his impeccable way, found exactly the right balance between the two.
Kya tum ho - kya tum ho vahi?
They let you go, eventually, songs like this - but not before creating a little corner for themselves in your heart. Dil aaj kal meri sunta nahin and all. And you know what? You're going to end up glad for it.

Tune Maari Entriyaan (Gunday) is a track you're all acquainted with - and probably familiar with, what with TV and radio and sundry live concerts. It also happened to spark a great deal of fan outrage last January, when the Bombay Times ran a story crediting all the singers of the track but KK. (The outrage paid off - they corrected their mistake in subsequent issues. I do not, however, think they apologized, which is poor form on their part.)
Since it featured in Bombay Times top-ten lists, it's safe to say Entriyaan is a pretty popular song. That said, it's easy to dismiss as merely a catchy cutesy number - unless you pay close attention to the lyrics.
So. Pair of flirtatious men? Check. Praising a woman with attitude? Check. Stanzas? Wait a minute.
Meethi meethi baatein karke aana chaahe dheere se nazdeek pyaare / Bhole panchi, tu na samjhe ki main kya hoon; sholon ko samjhe tu taare - the female protagonist of this song is disillusioned with love, and to top it off doesn't believe she's worth it. The men are trying to convince her they are genuine, and she is.
I love this subversion of the usual gender roles so much. Not least because it's happened to me. Holy shit.

Tere Bin Ho Na Sakega Guzaara (Paranthe Vaali Gali) is a grand, majestic number that's intense from the very first note. It's a what-if song, a last-attempt song, a can-you-handle-the-truth song; his sweeping highs and lows are backed beautifully by the contrasting middle-pitched piano music, both working seamlessly to paint the song's second person a portrait in no uncertain hues. It's not a ballroom dance track but the ballroom itself, all chandelier and crystal and echo and contrast of light; it's perfectly structured, the intensity rises and falls with the notes, he's front and centre stage; he's the very air you breathe.
I cannot get enough of Tere Bin.
Kismat se gilaa nahin ab rahaa - falak mil gayaa; dil ko mili hai dhadkan abhi -
Dil ko mili hai dhadkan abhi...

Soniye (Heartless) is, what, the third Soniye to take up residence in our hangar? :P I LOVE BOTH THE OTHERS FOR WILDLY DIFFERENT REASONS, SHUT UP. yes, I did just compare songs to aircraft, shut up. Be that as it may, this particular Soniye is the happy love song to Tere Bin's grave devotion. The common ground the two tracks share is KK's trademark frank honesty and his unwavering intensity - to say nothing of his vocal perfection. Like Kaafir Andhere and Rafta Rafta, they're sort of paired in my mind; it doesn't hurt that Tere Bin is tinged with green and this with red, making them colour complements.
Soniye's graph is higher, though, lighter and airier. It's as though he's perched on a platform or a balcony in a breeze, proclaiming his love for all the world to hear - soaring and trembling and revealing. ...you know what? Thank you, subconscious. Yes - this song is a magic carpet ride.
Khud ko main tujhmein aa qaid kar loon, nishaan na mera mile...
I also completely randomly one day happened to imagine a rock version of this song - and now I cannot. get it out. of my head. Just think about it - electric guitars with a strong bass, KK himself interpreting the lyrics as less romance than fiery passion, maybe a slightly lower pitch: I believe - I'm alive and I know that this is love...
It's not likely to happen anytime soon, but hey, a girl can dream. ;)

Kabhi Aaine Pe (Hate Story 2) aims, like many, to be a standard love song. It uses the usual ingredients - easy popularity-bait lyrics, and relies on the tune, the music and the singer to carry the track to glory.
And KK delivers. His vocals turn the romantic subject matter into ever so slightly more: that hint of passion lurking beneath the surface for anyone who pays attention. There's only one problem: the music somehow refuses to support him at all.
Throughout the track, there's a haunting feeling of something missing - something KK, despite giving his all, can't provide. No matter how excellent the singer, if the score he's given to work with is this lacklustre, there's only so much he can do. So Aaine's footsteps are dogged throughout by a sort of cognitive dissonance: the music and the singer are on different planes entirely, and never the twain shall meet. This could have been a Sajde, could've taken its turquoise flashes and surpassed Tum Ho Mera Pyaar, could just possibly have aspired to hit the heights that Soniye does. But it doesn't, and that's solely because the music directors dropped the ball.
And that, once again, is the tragedy of what might have been.
Tanhaai mein aksar sunta hoon teri sadaa - ae khudaa, ae khudaa; ae khudaa, ae khudaa...
(This song also has a remix, which is abysmal. I'm not even kidding, it's truly awful. WHERE IS THE BASS. WHERE IS THE DROP. YOU DON'T HAVE TO START THE CHORUS RIGHT AWAY; SEE KYA MUJHE FOR A PERFECT EXAMPLE. Excuse me, I have feelings about remixes and this one has disappointed me greatly.)
(...Also, I must admit I'm a little iffy about the lyrics: they promote stereotypical gender roles in a very weird way. Jesus H. it's not the duty of the woman to wipe away the man's tears, I mean what. I'd probably have felt better about the stanzas if they'd been repeated by a woman. Separate but equal. What do you know, a KK song that could possibly be better as a duet! That's a first. :D?)

Indiavaale (Happy New Year) has been greatly dismissed as a simple showcase track for a dance-heist (????) film, but it's actually quite a fun track when you get down to it. I haven't seen the movie yet, but this song seems to me the perfect embodiment of Farah Khan's filmmaking spirit: Know what you are, laugh at yourself, but love yourself no less. Indiavaale is that philosophy in a song: Humein ek baar hota hai pyaar, ye laakh baar keh daale! Kehte hain humko pyaar se Indiavaale...
It's been a long time since we've had a song as unabashedly fun as this one - I think the last one was Desi Boyz, and that was a little problematic, as things always are when gender issues are involved. Indiavaale, though, is us laughing at our own nonsense and still promising to chhakke chhudaaofy the enemy. Honestly, what's not to love?
The only issue I have with this track is the fact that there are other people in it. I'd have loved KK to have more stage space for this one - but wait a minute. There's another track on the Happy New Year album called World Dance Medley. This starts off innocuously enough, with familiar lines from Indiavaale, but take my word for it and stick it out to the very end - and then behold this gem:
Apni marzi ke hum khudaa -
Aati hai jeet ki adaa -
Yaaron se apna vaasta,
Dushman ke chakke chhuda dein!
Dum hai toh koi rok le -
Sooraj se oonche haunsle -
Saath milkar jo hum chale,
Kismat se kismat churaa le - hum Indiavaale!
And KK drowns Vishal for EVERY. GLORIOUS. SECOND. OF IT. Praises be! ;)
...Well, actually, praises needn't be. WHY WASN'T THIS A SOLO? WHY IS THIS SEGMENT NOT IN THE ORIGINAL? WHY DOES INDIAVAALE HAVE SOMETHING CALLED AN 'ELECTRONIC' VERSION THAT'S A TRULY PATHETIC ATTEMPT AT EDM GIVEN THE FACT THAT VISHAL AND SHEKHAR WERE THE PIONEERS BEHIND DOOR SE PAAS? Well, we'll never know what odd fancies strike the bobbleheads in power, but what I can give you is this: How adorably, deliciously predictable.
I'm all aquiver, darlin'. More, please? ;)

Tu Jo Mila (Bajrangi Bhaijaan) is a sweet little track about love and fulfilment. The lyrics ring both of personal honesty and universal truth - given the religious-tolerance-oriented message of the movie, I'm particularly fond of Dhoondhte tera khudaa, mujhko rab mila. It has a very floaty sort of aura, with KK soaring thorough arch after loop of tune, the highs strong and true with the lows more middle than really low - but the little touch that really makes it is the backing vocals in the last thirty seconds. There are both male and female voices in perfect concert, sighing behind him in unconditional support; the overall feeling is that of a church choir: high ceilings, primal echoes, voices united in a cause greater than the sum of its parts. And what cause, after all, is greater than passion?

Yaara Re (Roy) is...well, I like to describe it as Not Quite A Quiet Love Song. It's not quite quiet, for one; it strikes out from a steady, grounded centre, but burns decidedly, dangerously hot. And it's not quite a love song - it could be speaking of a deep friendship, or it could be uncertain where the boundary lies. It's not as confident of the distinction (or not) between the two types of relationship as Yaaron or Dekho Na, and it's not mourning a loss - there's no sense of graveness or finality. What Yaara Re is doing, what KK's character in the song is doing, is trying to figure out where that distinction lies. Is the person he's missing a friend, a significant other - both - something else entirely? We don't know; we don't know the backstory, we have no idea of the context. What we are privy to is what his character knows: that he misses them deeply, is lonely without them, and is at a personal crossroads.
From the lyrics and KK's musing, contemplative tone, I get the feeling that either alternative is possible - a reconciliation, or a final severance of the two characters' paths - and that either, should it happen, will happen peacefully and naturally. The deciding factor here is the protagonist's conclusion: the song is his effort to sort things out in his own mind in order to reach it - and the beauty of it is that it never really tells us what it is. The listener still has no idea who or what the third person is, but we do know now that he does want them, and will calmly welcome the reunion when it occurs.
Hai har ghadi vo tishnagi, jo ek pal bhi na bujhi;
Hai zindagi chalti hui, par ye zindagi hi nahin -
Ishaare bhi chup hain, zubaan khaamosh hai;
Sadaa gumsum si hai; tanhaa aaghosh hai...
The bolded lines are my absolute favourite, because of course they are. :P
And yes, I did say tu refers to a third person here, since the contemplative tone of the song paints it in the shades of a monologue. The listener is not the addressee; we are merely granted the privilege of overhearing his thoughts.
The music aids both setting and tone, backing up his rational melancholy with that one gorgeous minor guitar chord (after the second 'yaara re' in each chorus) that I may possibly be madly in love with. I'm not sure what exactly about that chord is so goddamn poignant, but it is, it's a sort of combined cry for help and 'don't touch me', a request for company without interference - it condenses everything KK expertly leaves unsaid: 'I need you, but please let me do this alone.' Yaara re, yaara re...
As an aside, I love the fact that this song was presented in the movie as the internal monologue of a female character. I also love the fact that she's shown travelling in various modes of transport, because the song has a very travelly sort of feel to it; it's exactly the kind of contemplation one would find oneself engaged in on a train or a bus or a plane to nowhere - and disembark to realize one had a destination all along.


And finally, Kab Kahaan Se (Drishyam). As always, I've been saving the best for last - my heart leapt the moment I heard Gulzar and Vishal Bhardwaj in the same sentence - buuuut I'm afraid it's a bit of a downer.
Seriously. Go listen to this track. THIS TRACK HAD SUCH POTENTIAL. THIS TRACK HAS SUCH POTENTIAL. From the sinister scraping electric guitars to the chorus segment to the gorgeous lyrics to the stripped-bare Bojhal Se vibe to KK himself being The Freakin' Tyger himself, everything is perfect - except - except -
- except that it's a bigger goddamn cliffhanger than Don v2.0.
Kya pataa, kab kahaan se maaregi zindagi?
Bas, ke main zindagi se dartaa hoon -
Maut ka kya hai, ek baar maaregi!
Hey-ey-ey...
CAN YOU GET BETTER THAN THAT GODDAMN INTRODUCTION? I SUBMIT THAT YOU CANNOT. Of course I don't mean it, 'cause if I did KK would immediately go and prove me wrong, but hey. Hey, you listening, you? Please keep proving me wrong. We may all be addicted to your proving that wrong.
Then there's a short stanza - and then the chorus again.
And then lights out, fade to black, endof.
Now, you guys, that is a total cop-out. Would one more stanza have hurt anyone? What the hell is this repeat-half-the-lyrics-and-call-it-a-song trend? And a song as freakin' brilliant as this one was shaping up to be, too. This could have been the spiritual successor to Main Khudaa and O' Mama, but as it stands...well, all I've got is, what's left? What next? What the hell now?
Honestly, I wouldn't even mind it that much if it weren't for the fact that I'm left with so many annoying unanswered questions. Yep, I said 'annoying', not the good kind of unanswered questions - those deal with possibilities, events, alternatives, deciphering clues in the words or his voice. Here we're left with an enormous reconciliation to make: Why is he singing about his supposed fear when he doesn't sound one damn bit afraid?
Really. Listen to the man. Frightened? He laughs in the face of terror. And yet the stanza's all about the various ways life can do you in, his starting at the slightest movements, being afraid of the dark. This is a gaping hole in the fabric of the song, one that unequivocally needs explanation in-universe. Another stanza would have done the trick; we need to know what Gulzar was thinking! Give me more words. Tell me why. Elaborate, and let the music build - and then the song will end of its own accord. Tie it up with a fiery bow; just give. me. more. At the risk of repeating myself: you don't just turn a girl on and leave.
But in the absence of Gulzar's own thoughts - which, by the way, I intend to ask for on Twitter - I have a few theories of my own.
KK's character could be speaking of the past, of fear he has now overcome, but is speaking in the present tense for reasons unknown.
He could be speaking not of permanent but of temporary fear - maybe he's done something, is afraid he's done something, or has been framed for something that's left him perpetually wary.
Or, my favourite of all, he could be speaking sarcastically - deriding a type of person, or a second person, who is scared of the littlest things, while he dreads not the physical things that can screw you over but the psychological, emotional things. I had a dream about this more than a year ago, I kid you not. That's probably why it's my favourite.
Sure, be afraid of the dark - it's not the dark that'll get you in the end; it's your fellow human beings who will brand you different. The herd will drag you down, the mob will beat you bloody, and finally they'll break you and call you normal. I fear incompetence. I fear conformity. I fear irrational hatred, and I fear hope most of all.
And he doesn't.
Sound.
Afraid.


Happy birthday, Cat of all our hearts! Shine on, rock on, play on. As always, you are loved.

Yours, in celebration of your art, your genius and you,
Cain - and, as ever, all of us.


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 Post subject: Re: countach, baby (or; are you afraid of the dark?)
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2015 8:58 am 
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footnotes, baby

• Countach is not only a beautiful badass Lamborghini but also Italian provincial slang for 'contagion'. ;)
yes, I'm flirting.

• Yes, I referred to The Tyger again. HE WAS BEING A BIG CAT AGAIN; IT'S NOT MY FAULT.

• After the next two weeks (semester exams), please poke me repeatedly until I do a snippet post. I want to ramble about random music and incidents and things. AND THE FACT THAT I KISSED HIM ON THE CHEEK.

• I have pages and pages of notes. KYRH for Halloween, yes? Yes.


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