An artist’s song went viral because everyone hated it. Welcome to the world of cringe choices, writes Raashid Andrabi while listing the top Kashmiri music content that people consumed online in 2022
On August 5, 2019, when the switches on communication were put off, the depression loomed large over Kashmir. Gradually the home-restricted enforced idleness, in a class of people paved way for content creation. It was slow, painful and costly but it got some youngsters busy. On February 2021, when the 4G internet was finally restored after around 18 months, there was a spike in content consumption. As the demand shot up, the content creators scrambled to keep the supplies ready for upload.
From news to music, people now consume everything online. Unlike past when overcrowded buses and the shop fronts would decide which number is popular, the internet now offers the precise details of who did what and how it topped the chart. In 2022, the top ten ‘songs’ offer an interesting mix. What is interesting is that Noor Mohammad who was No 10 in Kashmir Life 2021 listing is part of the No 1 in the 2023 list for 2022. Barring Ishfaq Kawa and Umar Nazir, none of the seven others is in the top 10 in 2022 music content consumption in the Kashmiri language.
Finally, the tinsel town took over. Mumbai’s music composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant tied up with Raj Pandit and featured Kashmir’s folk singer, Noor Mohammad to make a perfect number. Premiered on November 18, 2022, it has one crore views on YouTube, 57k on Facebook and 345k on Instagram. Mostly Ghulam Nabi Doolwal’s poem Yareh Myaneh Nazneeeh Yeh Chu Mulaqat, the song starts with a Lal Ded Vaakh. Nazneen means charming.
A perfectly choreographed number, it has a bunch of 15 singers and instrumentalists with Suliman on a Tumbakhnari. The focus remains on the Rabab-playing Noor Mohammad, a remote north Kashmir singer discovered for the virtual world by Kashmir Life, nearly five years ago. Raj Pandit, who also sings with Noor, termed the response “overwhelming” and “absolutely unreal!”.
The rise of Ishfaq Kawa from Shadipora (Sumbal) is phenomenal. Introduced to Kashmir by Nundi Bani, a tearful melancholy dedicated to mothers who lost their sons, the 2-years old song has already been watched by more than 1.5 crore people. In 2022, it was his Dilbar (lover) that already has 70 lakh views on his YouTube, 300k on Facebook. In the Reels section of Instagram, the song has been remixed for more than 5000 times making it one of the most viral Kashmiri songs of 2022.
“In 2019, when I returned to my room after my performance in a show, all of a sudden, a melody started playing in my head,” Kawa said. “I devoted a week to writing this and I released it after around three years.”
With simple lyrics sung in a powerful soulful voice, the romantic number is popular with teenagers.
- Sang Dil
In October 2017, Mahi Aamir, a young performer started Kashmiri Rounders, a YouTube channel, now with more than 10 lakh subscribers. It is mostly about comedy but sometimes it dabbles with music too. In March 2022, it uploaded a ‘song’ Sanag Dil (Hardheartedness) that got a whopping 53 lakh views. Though filmed well, the romantic number’s lyrics are “manufactured” by Umi A Feem. Despite being watched hugely, its lyrics were adversely commented on. “This video does to poetry what WhatsApp has done to English,” one broadcaster commented when approached by this reporter. Regardless of this, it was watched by 30 thousand people on Facebook too.
- Mohabatuk Niyaai
Sun by Moin Raja and Aahil Raja, Mohabatuk Niyaai (conflict of love) was watched by 40 lakh people. This is despite the fact that many people think it isn’t music at all. “Music is a serious art form,” a well-known Kashmir-based composer and singer said. “The level of degradation has been so great now even laymen can be singers.”
The song uploaded on the youtube channel Moin Raja Official (90k subscribers) was seemingly recorded in a room. The song’s lyrics are not particularly romantic. The duo vocalists have made an attempt to sing the traditional Kashmiri song in a contemporary style, but they have failed horribly.
- Roye Choun
With Roye Choun (Your Face), Ishfaq Kawa is taking the second slot in the top-singer singer10 chart of 2022. It has cumulative views of nearly 40 lakh including almost half of a million on Facebook. Co-written by Kawa and Muntazir Yassir, it is Kawa’s voice that is the prime attraction. Basit Fazli of Qalaam Studio produced the music, and Sheikh Gufran and Faiz Allie served as the DOP and director respectively.
- Be Dard Dadi Chane
Released by Mashq Talks Podcast YouTube channel on August 21, 2022, this song by the singing sensation Ayaan Sajad’s was watched by 30 lakh times and is still growing. Given the new discovery, Ayaan was profiled by formal and social media that garnered millions of views on other platforms.
On Kashmir Life’s diverse platforms, his interview mixed with the song had more than 16 lakh views. The song has been praised all around the world by Kashmiri-speaking populations for the mesmerizing voice of the young Ayaan Sajad as well as the composition. It is sort of a fusion using famous Kashmir sufi poet Shamas Fakir and the mesmerising voice of the emerging singer Ayaan Sajad, who hails from the Anantnag. The song was recreated in the remix section of reels more than 40 thousand times making it one of Kashmir’s most famous songs of 2022.
Sung by Umar Nazir, Lealli song got 26 lakh views on YouTube. A skilled singer, Nazir began singing as a young boy and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Mumbai. The song is an emotional outburst of a lover who praises her lady love in absentia and ‘rips’ his heart out while crying about his desperation and frustration. Lealli in Kashmir is what Laila is to the world. Unlike lyrics, visuals are powerful and it features the traditional bache kout, a dancing lad in mustard fields with modern exhilarating dance sequences as well.
“I anticipated the affection and support from Kashmir. I have been singing for a while, and although I sing in a variety of genres, I tend to favour upbeat music,” Umar said. “Traditional Kashmiri songs pique my attention, and I may sing them in the near future.”
Arafat Bhat, 11, uploads on his Rap-Kid Arafat YouTube channel. Hailing from Prechoo village in Pulwama, the young boy’s talent has been praised throughout Kashmir. More than 15 lakh people have watched his song Zooni. Besides, it has about 350 thousand views on Facebook and Instagram. The song is a mashup of Kashmiri and Urdu. Loosely written lyrics, the number addresses an elusive, Zooni, a lover and tells her what the rest of the world feels about her.
- Tata Sumo
Though neither well-written nor better-performed, Tata Sumo is one of the many pieces of cringe content that people like. Sung by Mir Parvaiz and Amreena Bhat, it has garnered around 15 lakh views on YouTube. Besides, the ‘song’ has about a million views on several pages that are unrelated to the song’s actual vocalists. It is basically a “musical” conversation between two lovers, one of whom is a Sumo driver.
The song Jhaanjar (Cymbals), sung by Adil and the lyrics written by Basit Malik gathered around 1.3 million views in just four months on the personal youtube channel of the singer Adil Lucky.
The song is produced by Dardil Shabir while the music to it was given by JCI studio. The song has received a lot of praise for using the basic traditional Kashmiri style with all the local instrumentals like Tumbaknari and Jhaanjar.