Fusion When Done Right

16 Mar

You know, I’ve frequently made disparaging noises about what passes for fusion in Hindi (or to be more exact, Bollywood) music for a long time, with special contempt reserved for all the wanna be hip hop tracks. This is not because I’m a crazed traditionalist who hates to see any kind of innovation. Just the opposite actually: a large part of my frustration stems from the fact that I’m convinced that there is a way to make it all work and the results would be awesome on many levels.

Take, for example, Preet Mangat’s hypnotizing Nasha Hai (video above), which is seriously let down by some extremely polite rap that involves asking girls for their telephone numbers. But it manages to float above the vast majority of its genre by virtue of its beats and Mangat’s own voice.

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of opportunities to crib in the future as I have in the past (sob!), so by way of doing something different this Sunday, I thought I’d put up a couple of videos of tracks that I thought had done well in the fusion stakes.

First up is Nelly Furtado’s Maneater. It’s one of those songs that I really don’t understand why I enjoy (like Britney’s I’m a Slave 4 U) but have made their way to my iPod all the same. I guess it needs to be seriously fucked up for me to delete it – like 50 Cent whom I used to love but made the mistake of listening to on my daily commute. After a couple of solid months of listening to what hos like and what pimps like to do, I was beginning to get seriously depressed. I didn’t want to believe that a song could affect me that much – but I took it off my playlist and guess what? I immediately perked up. Lesson learned. Love you Fiddy, bump into you on the radio sometime.

Um, what was I saying?

Nelly Furtado. Maneater. Right. It was remixed into this addictive JoSH track below:

Josh’s other remix of Powerless is pretty great too. I’d say JoSH is one of those bands that really gets it. Consistently.

Next is INXS, who’ve never been too shy to experiment themselves, with Afterglow.

I know! I know! JD Fortune is no Michael Hutchence and INXS will never be the same and yadda yadda yadda. But look, Fortune isn’t exactly Sanjaya either. I’m still recovering from the fact that they did the whole reality show thing but it seems to have worked out better than it sounded on paper.

Anyway, here’s the always awesome Sona Mahapatra, who doesn’t get half the play she deserves, doing a variation on the theme:

I’d love to wind things up with a Bollywood track but I can’t think of any. There must be something though. So you tell me – what am I blanking on? In the meantime, in lieu of something better, here’s a catchy song from the upcoming Race – there must be something about Saif Ali Khan that brings out the chica chica in the lyricists.


Posted by on March 16, 2008 in Entertainment, Music, Video


6 responses to “Fusion When Done Right

  1. headmistress

    March 17, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I really liked the soundtrack to Yuva actually – perhaps this counts as fusiony stuff? there were certainly some happy house/ rave(lite) influences, and one with some brit-asian dudes doing their stompy, charmingly accented thing…

  2. Amrita

    March 17, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Oh thats right, Yuva. I sort of liked it but it didn’t really make my head explode the way Rahman usually does. I wonder if I’d have liked it more if Rahman wasn’t attached to it?
    Do you remember the tabla in Its the Time to Disco? That was pretty cool. Thinking of Hone do Khud ko Fanaa reminded me of it.

  3. Aspi

    March 17, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Interesting – all those songs sound excellent.

    There seem to several schools of fusion. The one I like the least is just straight up singing in hindi without changing a thing about the way the song is structured. That would be the first song on this list. (Its just the style I’m bitching about not the song).

    Then there seem to be genuine attempts to change the beat and meter which is the JoSH remix of Maneater.

    And then there are also the incremental changes – via subtle melodies. And Nelly Furtado herself is an excellent example of someone who does that in her music – on Loose as well but in more interesting ways before that.

  4. Sanke

    March 18, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I do love the ‘Powerless’ version that JOSH did… If the definition of fusion is that people from across many races find the song appealing than it definitely qualifies. We have had many a party and when that song comes on – everyone, I mean EVERYONE be they desi, white, black, hispanic, martian, etc. – starts dancing and then waits patiently at the end of the night while I burn a copy for them.

    Interesting back story on the song, apparently Nelly Furtado was never too pleased with the album cut of the song (she actually sounds bored singing it) and was beyond thrilled about the remix with JOSH.

    Bollywood fusion? I will have to sleep on that one but today’s movies can’t compete with the crazy Bollyweed movies of the 70’s (Bollyweed meaning the movie was either made while someone was high or can only be fully enjoyed if you are). ‘Om Shanti Om’ from the movie Karz is a glorious piece of disco & classic desi music, hai na? 😉

  5. Raja Sen

    March 18, 2008 at 5:35 am

    It’s not fusion, but you mentioned Atif and I am completely haunted by a song of his called Mann Hota Hai — staggeringly good.

    Try it.

  6. Amrita

    March 18, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Aspi – it’s the reason why I first began to listen to Nelly Furtado. I think I agree with you on the straight up Hindi singing, esp when their idea of fusion is getting some guy to say “Yeh yeh yeh” at intervals. And some day everybody in the Caribbean is going to come to Mumbai and beat up every single lyricist who lampooned them. And ignorance will not be a defense.

    Sanket – I didn’t know that about Powerless! That song just went up in my esitimation and it was pretty high already! LOL @ Bollyweed! It’s perfect! I think RD Burman was the king when it came to stuff like this! He made it sound authentic in a way that nobody else has ever quite managed.

    Raja – will do! Just finished listening to Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s latest album btw and it’s magic!

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