Friday, December 11, 2009

One song wonders

The credit to bring new voices in the tamizh playback singing industry should go to A R Rahman. Pre 1991 there were just a handful of male and female singers who ruled the industry for almost two decades. Earlier, most of the film credits had just two names in the Pinnani padagargal category - SPB, Janaki or TMS, P Susheela. I love SPB's voice but thinking about it now, imagine a whole lot of singers that were denied an opportunity to sing by the Jaambavan music directors of yesteryears only because they preferred to use the tried and tested 'hit' voices.

Most of you will not agree but you can't deny the fact that new voices added magic to the sound tracks of ARR, Harris, Yuvan etc.

But oflate, it has become overcrowded there. Music directors want to introduce a new voice in every new track of theirs. Result? A whole lot of people who sing a song or two and vanish immediately. And so, PR-giri, that is marketing themselves has become more important than improving their vocal chords.

Singers like Suchi and Shilpa Rao (Bollywood) are masters at this. Suchi's PR skills amaze me! Right from calling Aishwarya Rajnikant 'Aishooo' or pall-ilichifying at every party, she is a complete PR expert! And that's what is helping her get more singing chances. Shilpa Rao is a very boring singer. Lacks the lilt the voice requires for a 'Khuda Jaane' (Bachna aee haseeno) but man! her PR agent (yes she has one!) ensures she is part of every radio station's PR activity, award function, press coverage etc.

Last week as I watched the finals of Zee TV's 'Sangeetha Mahayuddham' I pitied all the me-too playback singers... same set of faces who appear in almost all music reality shows. Each of them who have been in the industry for almost 2-3 years, singing the same set of one or two songs in every medai.

Starting with Vinaya. I have seen her in almost all reality shows singing one song only which is 'Paalakkatu pakkathula'. Atleast this girl has a decent voice. Look at this character - Belly raj. Every time my dad sees him, he has only question "Paavam, ivanukku vera chance-e kedaikkaliyamma?" and dad has been asking this question for over a year now. And what's worse- This guy cannot catch the damn shruti! Vijay Anthony's favourite - Sangeetha. Again, sings like as if she's been starving for over a month and that too - only one song "Yean enakku mayakkam". Singer Rajalakshmi's one and only song is 'Kokku para para' but acts like she's one number seasoned singer.

How can one even think of giving peppy tracks like 'Pokkiri Pongal' to Naveen? The peppiness has to come from within. Pal tries to mukkufy his best to sing such tracks. The worst of them all - Srilekha Parthasarathy. Seven plus years as a playback singer and she ends up singing only one song. The moment she starts "Yelllo yelllo....(kalyanamdan kattikkittu)" you want to switch off. Another singer who thinks too much of himself - Krish. "Naa U.S return" kind of bandha! "Ayyo Krish, enda pitch-la paadamatengra?" Malaysia Vasudevan's daughter despo in PR thanking Harris Jeyaraj Saar in every interview of hers hoping he'd call her again after "Mundinam paartheeenee"

Singers like Harish Raghavendra, Krish, Unnikrishnan have such a pombala kural they should actually be singing for heroines than heroes.

Recently I had met this famous music director-actor-sinnnnnger in Bollywood (avaredaan!) . I had asked him on why singers come and disappear immediately. He mentioned that unless you become a music director yourself, you cannot survive in the industry for long as a singer. You may be a great voice but you cannot be assured of a hit every time. Because this would mean not only the music director remembering you and giving you an opportunity to sing but also the fact that the song needs to become a hit for you to make it big! He gave an example of Kunal Ganjawallah who made it big after 'Bheege hont tere...'. You hardly hear his songs these days. He is a fabulous singer but hasn't got the right songs in the last year or two.

That's probably why you see singers like Karthik and Shrinivas turn music directors. But imagine a whole lot of the singers above turning MDs... yabba, time for another post!

18 Responses:

கா.கி said...

இந்த கிருஷ் தொல்லைதான் எல்லா சேனல்லயும்.. பாடின ஒரே ஒரு ஜூன் போன பாட்டை வெச்சு, எல்லாரையும் ஜட்ஜ் பண்றது.
இப்போ டான்ஸ் shows வேற ஜட்ஜ் பண்றாரு. but, புது singersku chance கெடைக்கர்துல நிறைய politics இருக்குல்ல. உங்களுக்கு தெரியாததா...

and sangeetha rajeswaran not such a bad singer. she s way better than suchi and srilekha parthasarathy. she has so many hits to her credit to. can be heard regularly in vijay antony's comps.

Satish N said...

I partially agree and partially disagree with your thoughts on this, but again, idhu ungaloda blog, naa unga veetukku vandhu ungala kutham solla mudiyumaa ;0))) so I like this post very much ... :))))

See, SPB, TMS ellaam born genius nu thaan solluven. Ippo irukara singers are also good, but they lack the consistency which those folks gave us and hence the longevity factor no longer exists. New singers la the one impressive female (also by looks) is Shreya Gosal, male singers la I would pick "Karthik" :)

RamNarayanS said...

As you said :), I will not fully agree to the statement that singers were denied chances in the 80s et al. There were singers, for example Jency who in-spite of back to back to back hits faded off sometime. There were singers who were getting options, but couldn't shine or pull the song out of mediocrity. But one lady whom I really felt was not used much was Uma Ramanan. She had a wonderful voice, but rarely utilized.

But anyway, variety helps as you say. Unga sinnnnnger kannadaththula ellaam naallavey paaduraar. :-) He is a big shot there. Look at Shreya Ghoshal, She is churning out Tamil, Kannada and maybe Telugu songs without knowing an aksharam.

It has become a dog-eat-dog world. :)

Praveen said...

Very good observation.

Ditto on Shilpa Rao. I hated her voice in Kuhuda Jaane, avo pesaramaari irukku, padaramaari illa. Wonder how Ilayaraja made her sing Mudi Mudi, vera aala illa paada?

Ditto on that Suchi, Krish and Srilekha too! I don't think Srilekha had any songs after 2005.
Same with Harish, apart from Nenje Nenje.

Kunal Ganjawala is singing in Kannada these days.

Srinivas ok, Karthik has turned music director? Since when? What film?

Appu said...

Somehow i like suchi a lot :)

The Print Lover said...

By Suchi, you mean mirchi Suchi? I dont know much abt her, but its her husband I cant stand. The agmark US return mapillai.

Vibaas said...

So true..tooooo many singers these days. There was some show in sun t.v. i cant remember the name of the show, but the judge prasanna was vittufying too much bandha..i believe he had given only one hit song.

I like Harish Ragavendra though. Love his nirpadhuve nadapadhuve :)I am waiting for your 'Paa' review :)

Nat Sriram said...

So right..And there are singers whose names everyone knows of, not their songs..Rahul Nambiar, Prasanna, Ranjith, Mathangi,Sunitha sarathy, Kalpana, Gopika Poornima, Sumangali, Roshini (pottu thaaku), Madan Pop's daughter..

All genres of songs/Playback singing is heavily crowded..Except Manicka Vinayagam's space. Avar thania jamnu irukkar.
Unless one becomes a MD, or is a carnatic singer, buva is not guaranteed. SPB, Mano, Chitra must thank for having born 20/30 yrs early.

The guy I hate is Benny Dayal. The moment he starts "taxi taxei" with a yellow hoodie, complete-shaving-long-kirutha-will-hide-my-baldness look, dancing with his guts, I flip the channel right away..

Arun said...

you love ripping apart people, don't u! fun to read, but u r just being a cynic more than a critic,

but then one should also be liberal in praise too, Unnikrishnan might have a feminine essence in his voice, but he also has given some of the most beautiful songs of our times...

nice read

Anonymous said...

Indha effemniate voices-sunga tholla thaanga mudiyala - check out Nenje Nenje from Ayan. Mahathi bravely fights on despite Harish Raghavendra trying to sound like ... whatever - he is absolutely irritating.

Now that you mention it most singers who are very prominent on TV haven't sung that many songs.

How come you haven't written anything about these singers trying to dance ?

Why do FM stations try to speed up songs - most irritating.

Anonymous Injikudi Bhagavathar

Shobana said...

Avanga pozhapula mann podatheenaga...etho intha mathiri reality shows la vanthu ennamo, naan thaan intha patai padinathu...enna marakkathinga..appadi marathanavanga intha parthu memory dust pannunga....that is the kind of logic here. Also, those who can't or don't have a PR use this as their PR method. Krish is too boring, because of his attitude...I liked his singing in Adiye kolluthey. Avvary etho padathula romba naala hero va nadikkurarunnu padicha mathiri irrukku...romba nalaikku munnal.

Sreekrishnan said...

Krish and HRaghavendra - both have the almost female voice .. June ponal song - i almost thought it was Usha Uthup ! ... I dont agree with UnniKrishnan.....

on the other hand, if you see the people whom rahman introduced they have stayed .. mostly !!

Singers not getting chances, so true ! I met this musician in Chennai theatre one day when i was watching Kannathil who mentioned he was mentored by Ilaiyaraja .. I was mentioning about Rahman's score during the interval when he overheard and spoke !
He felt though he worked for Raja somehow he didnt get the respect for his work. Its when he played Violin for Rahman he felt a respect for himself .. when he heard rahman was very insisting on mentioning his name on the cassette ... he said he was able to walk with his head high ! .. i do not know whom to blame ... but i saw tears in his eyes when he said that ! Speaks volumes !

Anonymous said...

I love the way you have put down all your thoughts on these so-called "Super Singers"..

I dont know if you got to see one of the reality shows where Mahathy, Srilekha Parthasarathy and Mathangi were literally fighting for the mike to voice their opinion about contestants..

The kids were all so much more talented than these ladies who had to stoop down to level of fighting for few minutes of screen space.

Namma Krish "sir" aala romba makkal affect aagirukaanga pola irukku.. Avar paadina oru 2-3 songs kooda avarala stage ley sruthi oda serndhu paada mudiyaadhu.. Enga ponaalum udane thannoda Broadway story aa solluvaar... These guys are turning out to be bad role models for the next generation.

Legends like SPB, Rahman and Janaki are so very humble about their achievements.. God alone knows why these singers have to go around bragging..

Good observation with regards to Suchi ;-) Was wondering how the lady ends up with new songs very now and then..
I enjoy reading your blogs..Keep writing.. Cheers, Renuka

Anonymous said...

Dude, PRing has to be done in every field now. Why single out film music.What s happening in carnatic industry?? I might agree with the idea behind this post but extremely disagree with the way in which it has shown professionals in poor light. when the music listeners and their tastes change/drift towards mediocrity, why not the caliber of singers delivering it ? Good singers might stay away from the industry if they no longer find meat in it. Quite possible !Technology can make any voice sound divine and lovely. where is the difference then. Thats where time(sustenance) will take care of singling out the meritorious from the 'one timers'. how long can mere PRng help ? FYI the singers of yesteryear's also started off as ordinary mushy(nasal) voices, but got groomed with time !:P Opportunity should be given to people, but time will see the real singers outshine the others ! everybody has some scope to make a space for themselves today, lets encourage it! On that note, It is high time one promotes private albums and other means of music production, so that good talent reaches the audience from media even outside of cinema !

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Essay said...

One song wonders, is some thing new to listen because the song does not have any thing which can be called as for meaning and I think such songs are not needs to come.

Mannatech said...

One hit wonders are ok, but why is the question?

Kannan said...

Blogeshwari, Haven't you heard Ilayaraja's whole list of "fresh" voices during the 80's? Chitra, Mano, Jency, Uma Ramanan, Sujatha, Radhika, Manjula, Deepan Chakravarty, S.N.Surendar, Arunmozhi, Krishnachander, Ramesh name a "few" of whom shot to FAME just by singing many or few songs for Ilayaraja.

Arr was NOT the first to do it. So, your first sentence of this post itself is WRONG!

Back then, there was no internet or cable TV. So people hardly knew these singers, the only TV channel Doordarshan which hardly interviews "Celebrities" unlike these days where everyone whether it is a one-song-junkie or a veteran composer or a director legend, is a "celebrity".