A whole generation of current crop college students is missing out on some amazing pop music from the 90s and early 2000s. And they need to be introduced to these! Since the early 2000s, the internet has allowed Indians to download their favourite songs for free. A sad casualty of this has been the pop music industry. A prolific industry that used to consistently churn out gems in the form of songs, bands and artistes is almost dead for a few years now. Remember “Yeh Kaisi Jawaani Hai”, “Deewane Toh Deewani Hai”, “Made in India” and “Raat Shabnami”? No one makes such any more! And the worst part is, the generation which has grown up devoid of these, is old enough to be in college right now! We present to you, a list of Hindi songs, bands and artistes, necessarily non-Bollywood, that influenced the taste of music of the generation of this writer. And what taste we had!
A Pakistani band, Strings was possibly the most loved band of our time. They started out as a college band and evolved into a pop sensation with their third and most popular album, Duur. They’ve belted out hits like “Dhaani”, “Anjaane Kyu” and “Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar”, and yes, while keeping their videos devoid of too many scantily clad women on disco floors.
Another Pakistani band that made it pretty big on the Hindi music circuit. Using Hindustani classical Raagas as base for their songs, they gave some memorable stuff like “Jhoom Jhoom“, “Mora Saiya Mose Bole Na” and “Aankhon Ke Saagar“.
Euphoria changed the entire pop rock scene in India with their first album, Dhoom. Their melodies were soulful and always had stories to tell. Their music videos launched the careers of Bollywood actresses like Rimmi Sen and Vidya Balan and their first single, “Maaeri” became their trademark tune.
This Delhi based rock and roll band not only gave us amazing music, but they gave it for free! What more, they have no qualms against their music being copied and distributed. Still popular, Parikrama has performed with the likes of Iron Maiden numerous times. Their most popular track, “But It Rained”, was dedicated to the kidnappings in the Kashmir valley in 1996 and left many of us teary-eyed.
5. Lucky Ali
Lucky Ali was your guy for soulful, romantic music during the 90s. With almost haunting videos, he has many melodious tracks to his name, best known ones being “O Sanam“, “Gori Tere Aankhein” and “Kabhi Aisa Lagta Hai“. He ventured more into Bollywood in the early 2000s but his first few personal albums remain unchallenged. Best music for the rain and chai combo!
6. Shubha Mudgal
If Lucky Ali’s music made you want to stare at the rain while you reminisced about times long gone, Shubha Mudgal’s tracks prompted you to enjoy the showers and dance with abandon! Originally a Hindustani classical singer, she recorded quite a few Indian pop songs like “Ab Ke Saawan” and “Dere Dere“, which were big hits. Another one of her popular songs was “Hai Pyar Toh Musafir” which had a beautiful tempo. Adele fans will definitely enjoy her music!
7. Adnan Sami
Another artist from Pakistan! This chubby fellow with a soulful voice had an amazing knack for expressions and comic timing. Apart from his super famous, romantic “Kabhi Toh Nazar Milao“, he gave some pretty good numbers like “Lift Kara De” with a bunch of Bollywood stars and doubles and “Kabhi Nahi” with Amitabh Bacchan. Like bands and artistes, some songs became particularly famous during the 90s. Here are some hit wonders that had the Kolaveri di kind of popularity back in their times.
1. Purani Jeans
Very few people haven’t heard of this nostalgic number which makes you reminisce college life. As you listen to this sprightly track, you realise that while many things have changed drastically in the last 20 years, college life hasn’t changed much at all!
2. Thoya Thoya
This was a popular song by Vijay Athma which unfortunately released at the same time as Adnan Sami’s “Gela Gela dil gela“. The video is swag-anusar and was considered the definition of cool in those times. The song had mixed genres with portions of rap here and there, baggy jeans and all.
3. Maahi Ve
This song is an eccentric mix of deep lyrics, cha cha cha beats and a video with slightly dark humour. Faakhir’s endearing vocals and strappy beats will definitely make you boogie-woogie.
4. Hip Hopper
This one is your typical hip hop track complete with the “work it gurrrll” choruses. Forget Honey Singh with his Ferraris and white chicks, ishQ bector rapping about his bai is what you want.
This soulful Sufi song by Pakistani band Junoon was a super hit. The guitar and tabla jugalbandi is a treat to the ears and was very popular among people who played instruments.
6. Saawan Mein Lag Gayi
Before Mika sang for Bollywood, he gave hits on the pop circuit. This one is classic Mika. Just forgive his sense of style. Not that it has improved much now.
7. Khoya Khoya Chand Rehta Hai
Babul Supriyo and Alka Yagnik have given beautiful renditions by themselves. In this one, they come together to give the most haunting nostalgia inducing song with the combined power of all your college heartbreaks.
8. Sabse Peeche Hum Khade
Mohit Chauhan is an unrecognised genius. No nostalgia inducing song list is complete without this one by Silk Route, the same band that gave us Dooba Dooba. A strangely uplifting song of a reluctant goodbye, this one was really popular amongst the college guitarists and singers of a decade ago.
9. Kya Soorat Hai
This one by Bombay Vikings had a hilariously cute music video with UP barbers and pehelwaans lip-syncing to English lyrics. Beyond cool for their time!
10. Ek Rahen Eer Ek Rahen Beer
There was a time when Amitabh did anything that came his way. That time is now. But it started at the fag end of the 90s. This amazing song from the album Aby’s Baby is from then.
Aah! Arguably the best piece of Indian music along with a healthy parody of what Indians wanted then (cue TV ad music). This was some serious rocking out by the band Agosh. I can only wonder where they went! The current generation is missing out on all of this! Aur maango free ka music! Today’s pop-rock scene in India is largely dominated by western music and Koreans riding horses. All we can do is hope that they will appreciate good music as much as we did. What other artists do you think today’s kids should know about?