Atif Aslam’s new track is a sincere and brilliant return to his musical roots
“I forgot about all the numbers and the views and all the pressure that comes with it…and just let it all out in the studio.”
It’s not easy being a pop star. Bollywood money is tempting, as well as the fame that comes along with it. Then Pepsi comes calling, asking you to judge the Battle of the Bands. More Bollywood gigs, touring, a few songs for Pakistani films here and there too.
But eventually your own voice gets lost along the way. We all know Atif Aslam has a great voice that shines through even the most processed and formulaic songs. But what we missed in the last few years was Atif as a musician, as a creative, willing to experiment with his own sound.
That’s what makes 12 Bajay so refreshing and exciting to listen to. It’s a grungy, loose pop song with a huge hook that’s crunched by an infinitely replay-able guitar riff. The verses, though, are purposefully meandering and fluid. The drums march through and Atif’s vocal slaloms between, like he’s improvising on the spot. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. When the chorus comes in, it feels like a load of papers drifting in the wind have just been punched together by a giant stapler. There’s an electric violin solo thrown in there, just for good measure.
The song is accompanied by another great video from Zeeshan Parwez, who proves he can pretty much do anything, from weird lo-fi stop-motion to this; glamorous but honest documentary work, cut with a pastiche of different visual effects – 80s VHS, 90’s glitch, liquid animation, the works.
In the description on YouTube, Atif writes: “here is a song made purely out of my love for music.” Forgetting about the views and the pressure, and the Bollywood money and the corporate scrutiny, he’s made a gem of a pop song where, finally, we can hear what Atif really sounds like.
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