Is Bollywood music better than Western music today?

Taking off where my last post left off, I was going through the most played tracks on my iPod today and it turns out I’ve listened to more Bollywood music than Western music over the last couple of months. It came as a surprise to me, because I’ve never really considered myself a Bollywood music person. Is it age? Senility? Is it because I’ve spent close to 8 years in the North? Possibly.

But there’s probably more to it.

During my school days in the 80’s, Western music had a certain magnetic allure. These were the pre-liberalisation days, so anything with the ‘Made in USA’ tag was accepted like gold, frankinsence and myrrh. Jeans, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and the pre-paedophile MJ. It was a heady world. Bubble gum was cool. So was Bubbles the chimp. We craved for bootlegs of A-Team and Airwolf.

Hindi music was something akin to genital warts. In Bangalore anyway. Ocassionally when there was a blockbuster Hindi film or an impossibly catchy tune like Hasan Jehangir’s ‘Hawa Hawa’ infected people, it was a guilty pleasure. You enjoyed it but would never openly admit to liking Hindi movies because that just labeled you as common and uncool.

Probably like how listening to Country Music was in America.

30 years have passed. Kurt Cobain died a long while back. MTV came and left. The music industry is running on fumes. And Western music for several other reasons has lost its allure. It’s more about celebrityhood and fashion now, it seems. You take the top ten pop tracks and they all have that same synthetic, factory-produced Rihanna quality. I’ve never heard a single Lady Gaga track. I don’t think anyone has. But everyone talks of her clothes.

And as for rock, I have a one word summation of the state of the industry.

Image

Nickelback.

And there’s Beliebers and Miley Cyrus’s clitoris on display 24/7 for anyone who’d care to take a look.

Maybe I’m getting senile but Western music does seem to suck a bit.

At the same time, Hindi movies have gone through a sea change of perception. Funnily enough, it became fashionable among the hoipolloi around the time it hit its nadir, i.e. the David Dhawan era. Reverse snobbery kicked in and suddenly Govinda was cool. I never fell for that.

But things began to change slowly for Hindi films. Karan Johar and SRK brought in the overseas audiences. Multiplexes changed the nature of the old potboiler. And Hindi music has moved on from the Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik days to more sophisticated music directors like AR Rahman, Amit Trivedi and Sneha Kanwalkar. I would even grudgingly doff my hat to Pritam who’s brought back an almost RD Burmanesque quality to melody. Is this the watershed moment?

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Have we finally moved on and given up the baggage of the Raj Hangover, cantonment living and convent schools to finally embrace our own culture? Only time will tell.

Your move, Western music.

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One comment

  1. Hmm. Thats quite an interesting topic. Well, im just 19 yet. But, being a music lover in general, i have certain views. I have never looked at music like a “trend”. I dont trust in considering myself ‘cool’ for listening to a certain kind of music. I am attracted to every voice or tune that has soul in it. It should connect to my heart. While some people would consider me a traditionalist (but my age is?) just if i tell them that I do listen to a little old stuff like Whitney houston, john lenon or Luther Vandross or Kishore Kumar/Rafi. But, im also listening to today’s stars like Christinia aguilera, Adele, Adam Lambert and KK, Sonu Nigam in indian music. Now, does that make me cool suddenly? No! If you listen to the music of these people (ofcourse some r legends), u would realize how each of them r hugely gifted vocalists who know how to play with my internal emotions everytime i put on the earphones to listen to them. They dont focus on wearing extraordinary costumes to make them look like some mysterious creatures or try to make music thats more ‘cool’ than meaningful! They sing from their hearts and hence, reach my heart.
    My way of choosing my music is to stay away from singers who r less of singers and more of something else (i dont even know what to call them). Ofcourse, music has degraded over the years both in india and the west, but hopefully, its just a phase and soon we will see more and more of great musicians and less of showoffs!


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