By Shershah Ahmed: Sufi music and folklore has been steeped in mystery for centuries. It is a genre that continues to astound in its versatility, yet manages to keep its traditional essence intact in the modern era. Enjoying immense popularity in recent years in the Pakistani music scene as well as abroad, what better way to commemorate this genre, than a Top Ten track list of the most streamed and downloaded Sufi music on Taazi?
10. Main Mast Hoon-Jal
Jal is one of those Pakistani acts that needs absolutely zero introduction. Exploding on to the music scene in the 2000’s, the band has been a prime example of Pakistani talent, with numerous hits and awards under their belt. Main Mast Hoon is a foray into the Sufi genre that is exceedingly well done. The song carries the traditional Sufi elements staying true to its roots, yet keeps it firmly grounded in the tone of today. The vocals are a definite standout, from the crooning opening lines to the latter parts of the song where they intertwine and separate in mesmerizing ways and the vocal harmonies are exceptionally well done, making this a fine way to start off the list.
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The man, the myth, the legend. There is not a single person in Pakistan who has not heard his name, or his music. Even people who may not be fans of the Sufi genre in particular, will find themselves admitting that they like at least one of his works. His singing prowess is and was the stuff of legend and this track proves that without a shadow of doubt that there will be no one like Nusrat. The sheer power in this song with his voice alone, and the obvious emotion behind it earns it a rank in the top Sufi tracks on Taazi.
8. Mann Kunto Maula- The Sketches
Hailing from Jamshoro, Sindh, ‘The Sketches’ certainly live up to their proclamation of being the pioneers of Sufi Folk Rock. Swimming against the current of the popular trend these days of commercial music, The Sketches have always stayed true to their mantra of ‘being original’ and keeping Sufi music alive and ‘Mann Kunto Maula’ is off their latest album; ‘Tu’. Brimming with exceptionally crafted music and well executed vocals that conjure up images of the deserts of Sindh, the track hits all the emotional notes and lives up to the band’s motto of keeping things strictly traditional when it comes to Sufi music.
7. Mujhey Baar Baar Sada Na De- Abbas Ali Khan
Hailing from Islamabad Pakistan, Abbas Ali Khan is a veteran in the genres of Pop and Sufi, and various album releases and a stint on the ever omniscient Coke Studio gives weight to his accolades. The song, which contains an immensely catchy acoustic guitar and light drum combo is quite frankly, superb. Superb musicianship notwithstanding, Abbas Ali Khan has got all the vocal skills to get your head swaying with ecstasy and the chorus is guaranteed to get you hooked, hence the inclusion of the track on this list.
6. Khuda Aur Mohabbat- Ahmed Jehanzeb
Taken from the soundtrack of the television drama of the same name, and an immensely popular one at that, Khuda Aur Mohabbat comes in at number six on our Top Ten Sufi Songs list. The song carries an immense amount of emotion, which does well to convey the sense of loss the characters on the show feel. With plenty of multi voiced vocal melodies all coming together to accentuate Ahmed Jehanzeb’s vocals, the song is destined to be on repeat for most people who listen to it!
5. Ashiqui Angar- Irfan Ali Taj feat. Zoe Viccaji
Coming it at the halfway mark at number 5 is Ashiqui Angar, a masterful track by Irfan Ali Taj, feat Zoe Viccaji. A song that manages to merge both Sufi melodies with the sounds of the Frontier, while somehow managing to put a modern twist on it, Ashiqui Angar is at number 5 for a reason! The lilting sounds of traditional instruments complement the vocals beautifully, with Irfan and Zoe trading off choruses and verses with superb aplomb. Irfan’s vocals retain a sense of traditionalist sound, while Zoe Viccaji shows why she is one of the best female vocalists in the country with her incredible versatility. A vocal melody in the middle of the song is both haunting and immensely satisfying, which earns this track its well-deserved number 5 spot.
4. Alif Allah Chambey Di Booti- Arif Lohar ft Meesha Shafi
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past half-decade, you will definitely have not missed the track coming in at number four. Alif Allah Chambey Di Booti is a song spawned by Coke Studio, which is one of its most renown and beloved renditions. Arif Lohar became practically a household after this hit, and Meesha Shafi’s already superstar status was further elevated. A song which is both catchy and true to its roots, it is chock full of traditional elements. Apart from this, Arif and Meesha matching each other’s vocals with ease and its upbeat nature just adds to the overall incredible effect of the song.
3. Allah Hu- Ali Zafar and Saaein Tufail
Ali Zafar needs no introduction. A man who has excelled at acting as much as he has done music, Ali Zafar is a multi-talented individual who one is hard pressed to find fault with in respect to his projects. Multiple award nominations, multiple film endeavors and multiple stints on Coke Studio means that his rockstar persona is solidified. Allah Hu is a track that retains the ethereal and mystical Sufi elements which elevates the emotional status of the song into the stratosphere. The simplistic addition of drums and bass guitar serves to ground the song however in terms of musicality, while the real prowess is in the vocals of Ali Zafar and Saaein Tufail, and this earns the track the number three place on this list.
2. Sab Akho Ali Ali- Asrar
Coming in at the number two spot is definitely one of the highlights of Coke Studio’s 2014 season. If people were worried about the change in production affecting the show’s quality, this track alone would put those fears to rest. Adding veteran drummer Ahad Nayani to the mix elevated the season out of orbit. Sab Akho Ali Ali is a superbly crafted track with all the right elements from the lead vocals by Asrar, to the instrumentalists and to the oft-missed backup vocalists. The song has it all, and its upbeat driving nature is locked in with the modern era, yet the all-important traditional aspect is still present.
1. Tajdar-E-Haram- Atif Aslam
A track and musician that require absolutely zero introduction. Atif Aslam is one of the most recognized names in Pakistan and abroad. His collaborations with Coke Studio are always hits, and this track is perhaps the biggest. The sheer genius of this track earns it the number one spot on our list, and with good reason. Any song that starts off with the rubaab is destined for greatness. The masterful production and composition this song boasts gives it an immense amount of weight and Atif’s ever masterful presence and sheer talent carries the track effortlessly. A song heard and beloved by millions, Tajdar-E-Haram is a classic, which has been brought into the modern era with an incredible crafting, and quite rightfully earns the number one spot on the Top Ten Sufi Tracks on Taazi!