Musical Heritage: Millennials Passing on the Legacy of Music to New Generations
For many Sunday mornings during my childhood, I’d wake up to my father blasting Kishore Kumar songs. He called it “real music”, until the moment I listened to ‘Sayonee’ by Junoon. I remember the feeling of attachment to music that I experienced for the first time as I watched my sister twirl to the rhythm as if in a trance.
Every generation has seen musical geniuses creating music that is heard even long after they are gone, etched in our brains, and forever in our hearts, making a legacy of iconic music. Undeniably, the generations before us were the luckiest to witness the rise of artists and experience live performances in person, it is especially heartbreaking for us now with the ongoing pandemic.
Most of us have grown up listening to musicians from the times of our parent’s youth and continue listening to them for a nostalgic connection to our childhood. For this reason, millennials and boomers together mourn the loss of their favourite artists every year, from Chris Cornell to David Bowie, the fans belong to every age group because their music continues to speak to them, breaking the barriers of time and space.
Our parents shared their music with us, introducing us to icons like Pink Floyd, ABBA, Kishore Kumar, Noor Jehan, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and these are just a few of the popular names. There is a whole catalogue of legendary musicians from their time that are still loved exuberantly by fans even today. In light of the recent news of Lata Mangeshkar’s demise, who was aptly nicknamed “The Nightingale of India,” it was a reminder of an epic era coming to an end. People shared her songs on social media as a way to remember how her voice was once part of everyone’s life.
Furthermore, the release of Coke Studio’s latest season, featuring a variety of artists, from Sufi folk singers to the new-age genre introduced by our desi rappers, made us realise that the torch has been passed on to the younger generation of artists.
Thus, it’s a great time of reflection on the legacy of music the generation of millennials will pass down for future listeners. In the early 90s, Hadiqa Kiani, Sajjad Ali, Fakhir, Haroon, Fuzön were making history with bands like Strings, Noori, and Vital Signs that didn’t just produce songs but released anthems of our youth.
Moreover, it led to the discovery of music that was being produced in the millennia that created a sense of relatability to the lyrics and melodies, speaking for the younger generation. Later began our desi Megadeth vs Metallica era, where we debated the musical supremacy of Atif Aslam vs Jal The Band.
Despite my father’s critique of my taste in music, I blasted songs by new-age Pakistani pop stars on the weekend in retaliation. According to my father, Atif Aslam and Ali Azmat were no match against the maestros Rafi and Kishore, but it was what made sense to our teenage hearts back in the early 2000s.
However, even though the Pakistani pop music scene worked hard for a promising future, the threats of religious extremism waged a war against arts. The quality of entertainment declined and we sought refuge in western music. But for a brief period in history, there was a magical time when we had our local music channels on TV.
As we entered our emo/teenage angst era, where we weren’t considered adults but also no longer were just children, this is when the underrated but brilliant bands like Aaroh, EP, co-VEN, and Call, among a few others, changed the way Pakistani music was perceived, forming a fusion of rock music with Urdu lyrics.
As the socio-political situation got somewhat less dreary, along came hits after hits produced by Coke Studio, getting praises from all over the globe for a brand-new representation of Pakistan. Meesha Shafi and Arif Lohar’s ‘Jugni’ was playing in every car across the country, while ‘Nindiya Ke Paar’ by Uzair Jaswal was soothing many to sleep. Zeb and Haniya promoted a refreshed concept of loving our cultural roots and how can one forget ‘Wo Humsafar Tha’ by Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch.
Fast forward to the recent times of the audience consisting of woke millennials and Gen Z kids, the latest music is a twisted composition of techno-pop and folk fusion. It’s hard to describe it with a label as much of this is still in the evolving stage as the new artists have been experimenting with the influence of western beats inducing hits of nostalgia with lyrics in Urdu and English for the new crowd that is slowly learning to stop shaming people for bad grammar.
Although there are some underground bands and artists that have been performing live in major cities, the spotlight is for the few artists who have made a mark in reshaping mainstream music. Shamoon Ismail was one of the pioneers to make Pakistani pop music sound as if Taylor Swift and Chainsmokers collaborated but, in Punjabi. Similar to that sound, Hasan Raheem and Maanu came out with more lo-fi versions of the same thing but somehow softer.
Zahra Paracha, Natasha Noorani, Arooj Aftab and Natasha Baig are some of the many extremely talented vocalists that have marked their spots as legendary musicians from this generation. Faris Shafi, Young Stunners, Lyari Underground are the fierce local rappers making waves, while Takatak, Karakoram, Poor Rich Boy, Bayaan, Khumariyaan and many local bands are slowly receiving their well-deserved recognition.
As ‘Pasoori’ by Ali Sethi and Shae Gill becomes the catchiest song of this Coke Studio season, it will be a treat to listen to it years later on the same playlist as ‘Disco Deewane’ by the Queen of Pakistani Pop music, Nazia Hassan.
However, the glory days are not long gone. The new age of music might not be full of rock and roll, but it has a true sense of identity in line with the modern, techno world. With musical genres ranging from dreamiest tracks from dream pop, indie pop, rap, and hip hop, the music of this millennium is soulful and bearing the torch of legacy to be passed on to the younger generation.
With that being said, the latest Coke Studio song ‘Peechay Hutt’ featuring Talal Qureshi, Hasan Raheem, Justin Bibis is a true representation of what’s more to come soon and talks supremely about the attitude and aesthetic of how Gen Z will reform the arts and culture of Pakistan.
Nonetheless, despite the debate whether the artists of our times will be able to leave a legacy as good as the legends before them, it is definite that certain musicians will be remembered as the defining artists of the modern world.