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31st December, 2016
Where have all the lyrics gone?

Gone are the days when good lyrics dominated and made a song a great success. Today, songs are more musical and lay a tremendous emphasis on the sound track and special effects. The poetry and words with meaning have been given the back seat. Are words no longer important to a song?

Ghazal singer Anup Jalota, is very clear when he categorically states, "Our tradition says that the words of a song come first and then the music. Earlier film songs were beautiful and meaningful." But today's films too have changed. They are more racy and raunchy. Love is not the main theme of the movie but a love story is thrown in as one of the many ingredients. Therefore the music and songs too have undergone a dramatic change.

Singer Sunidhi Chauhan believes that, lyrics depend on the requirement of the situation in a film. She says, "If I am not comfortable with the situation or song I do not do it." On the other hand Jalota laments that today with films like “Dabang” what songs can you expect but ones like Munni badnam hui. We have more of these films today and therefore more of such songs too. However once in a while there comes a film like “Parneeta”, which has scope for good music.

Technology too has contributed to this change in film songs. With new techniques and equipment producers want to try out the latest gadgets and sound effects. Therefore sounds and special effects are given more importance than lyrics.

Changes are bound to occur in any field and music is no exception. Will the current trend of poor lyrics continue? Many old songs have now been remixed to modern day music. The tunes differ but the lyrics remain the same. So perhaps there is some hope for lyric lovers. Sunidhi is optimistic and feels the present form of music is just a passing craze. We will perhaps move to the golden era of Indian music in time.

Film producer and director Kailash Surrendranath ruminating about those glorious times says, "My dad Surendra was a singing star of yesteryears. His legendary duet with Noorjehan 'Aawaz de kahan hai' still lives on in our memories. I grew up with music and mehfils at home all the time, and apart from that the radio was all pervasive in that era. Most of India woke up to strains of Hindi songs blaring from local radio stations”.

As Naipaul describes in one of his books, this was the ambient sound in most of the country. “……And though I grew up as a fan of western music, played in a band and loved the Beatles, Rolling Stones and all the legendary rock of that time, my head is full of Hindi songs and I sometimes wonder how. Those three or four decades were definitely the golden age of Hindi film music and most of the songs of that era still linger in the Indian sub conscious……”.

The two main reasons for so many memorable songs being recorded between the 40's and 70's are melody and lyrics. These factors went almost extinct in the years that followed and were replaced for commercial reasons by ' groove', rhythms and razzmatazz arrangements! Nothing really wrong with that, but I do feel that there is absolutely no reason why composers, arrangers, lyricists and music producers can't give us all this together; lyrics, melody, groove, and razzmatazz arrangements! It does happen occasionally though today as well, and when it does, we have a sure fire hit. However there will always be a generation who despite growing up in an electronic world far removed from the traditional radio waves will still enjoy the classic remixes.

So, considering the various perspectives put forward by some eminent people from the entertainment world, there is a chance that we will perhaps move back to the golden era of Indian music in the not too distant future.

By Monarose Pereira


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