End of another year. Here’s the list of songs (mostly Hindi films) that stood out for me (they are in no particular order of liking). Disclaimer: This in no way is an exhaustive, scientific list of all the music released this past year. It is purely based on my personal likes.

Song: Ek Lau
Movie: Aamir
Singers: Shilpa Rao, Amitabh Varma
Lyrics: Amitabh Varma
Music: Amit Trivedi

A soothing yet haunting composition by debutante music director Amit Trivedi in this independent small movie can definetely be called a theme song for a year marked by multiple incidents of terrorist induced violence in India. This one is to all those lives that ended abruptly for no particular fault of their’s. Shilpa Rao’s voice will be heard more and more in the coming years.

Song: Ha Raham
Movie: Aamir
Singers: Amit Trivedi, Amitabh Varma, Murtuza Qadir
Lyrics: Amitabh Varma
Music: Amit Trivedi
Another winner from Amit Trivedi. This time the lyricist and the music director contrinute towards the vocals. The use of instruments in the tune seems like a mix of Qawaali, street music, and cheap orchestras. The overall effect is spectacular.

Song: Kabhi Kabhi Aditi
Movie: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Singers: Rashid Ali
Lyrics: Abbas Tyrewala
Music: A.R.Rehman

It was clearly another stellar year for ARR – JTYJN, Jodhaa Akbar, Yuvvraj, Ghajini and Slumdog Millionaire. All of the above have distinct sounds (have not heard Ghajini , hence does not feature in this list). I am not a sucker of the Gen Y genre of music but with ‘Aditi’, ‘Pappu can’t dance’ and ‘Nazare milaana’ ARR has created anthems for this generation. Abbas Tyrewala’s zany lyrics makes this one an instant hit, but not the kind which wears off after multiple listenings. This one has longevity written on it. Another reason to like this particular song is for Aditi. (uhm….yeah…mr. sappy…!)

Song: Kaahin To Hogee Woh
Movie: Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na
Singers: Rashid Ali, Vasundhara Das
Lyrics: Abbas Tyrewala
Music: A.R.Rehman

This one is one of those ARR melodies which grow on you on repeat hearings. The lyrics depict the angst and the confusion of adolescent love. It’s sung soulfully by Rasheed Ali and Vasundhara Das (why do we not hear more of this girl’s strong vocal chords? Remember – O Ri Chori?)

Song: Sindbad Sailor
Movie: Rock On
Singers: Farhan Akhtar, Raman Mahadevan
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy
Farhan Akhtar as the lead actor – Maybe!! As a lead singer – NO WAY!!!! But, boy did he prove everyone wrong!! “Rock On!” is a winner as a soundtrack all the way. A lyricist who is 65 years old (and has pretty much written songs centered around LOVE) and a lead singer who is no singer at all. Isn’t this what Rock is all about? Defying the norm or as the respected professor of Rock music, Sir Dewey Finn says “Rock is about Sticking It To The Man“. Sindbad Sailor takes the cake amongst other songs from this album for it’s energy, gusto and inspired lyrics. The transition from Farhan’s husky voice to Raman Mahadevan’s silky smooth “Tum ho To” is like eating the cream under the cracked top layer of a perfect Crème brûlée.

Song: Yeh Tumhaari Meri Baatein
Movie: Rock On
Singers: Dominique
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy

Of the all the rock inspired songs from this album sung by male singers, this is one of the two songs with a female voice (the other being Phir Dekhiye by Caralisa). The guitar loop in the background in this song, has an “Indian Ocean”-esque feel to it.

Song: Jashn-e-bahaara
Movie: Jodhaa Akbar
Singer: Javed Ali
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: A R Rehman
Only ARR can deliver a Gen Y soundtrack like Jaane Tu and a soundtrack of a period film like Jodhaa Akbar. If I had to rank the songs in this list, Jashn-e-bahaara takes the crown for it’s masterful composition, lilting and delicate poetry (Jaaved Akhtar) and silky smooth buttery rendition by Javed Ali. The instrumental version of this melody is to die for. Notable also is the instrumental version of Khwaja Mere Khwaja (how often do Indian composers make use of the Oboe?)

Song: Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah
Movie: Jodhaa Akbar
Singer: Mohammed Aslam, Bonnie Chakraborty and Chorus
Lyrics: Javed Akhtar
Music: A R Rehman

Two words to describe this: Grandeur and Opulence. This is probably one of those composition’s where the movie director also is part of the creative process along with the music director. Too bad, the real Akbar never got to hear this – he would have had ARR amongst his Navratnas.

Song: Tu muskura
Movie: Yuvvraj
Singer: Alka Yagnik, Javed Ali
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: A R Rehman
What a waste of brilliant music on this awful movie. The movie is worse than an overflowing gutter and the music is the polar opposite of that – a clear stream flowing through a valley amongst snowcapped mountains on a moonlit night. Alka Yagnik sounds like a completely different singer when she sings for ARR. Before Lagaan, her voice did not do a thing for me and then O ri chori and Mitwaa happened. She was outstanding in Taal se taal mila (Taal) and Ay Hairathe (Guru). With Tu Muskura she rightfully deserves her place as a master singer in the Hindi film music world.

Song: Jai Ho
Movie: Slumdog Millionaire
Singer: Sukhwinder Singh, Mahalaxmi Iyer
Lyrics: Gulzar
Music: A R Rehman
This is such a joyous song, you cannot help but smile and join the moves. A perfect composition for a movie that in my opinion is the Best of 2008. If you catch the movie in the cinemas (if you haven’t yet….go NOW, it’s the best use of your 10 dollars in this economy), the song bursts on the screen with the end credits and the entire audience sits their asses back in the seats or freeze wherever they were to get immersed in this ultimate rocker of a song. I had a gut feeling that the lyrics were Gulzar’s – who else can write:
Aaja aaja jind shaamiyaane ke tale aaja, zariwaale neele aasmaan ke tale aaja“. Upon googling it, my gut feeling was confirmed. What a way to end the year!