Koimoi rating: 4.5/5 stars
Fans of Rahman will notice that this isn’t a typical Rahman album. Rockstar has the unusual mix of sufi, grunge, rock, soul, pahadi and much more! While some of the songs will be instantly loved, others will take some time to grow on you.
The Rockstar music album has 14 tracks and every track is unique in its own special way. There are no remixes or repeat tracks, unlike regular film albums we are familiar with and thank God for it! The arrangement and tunes are simple in certain tracks for connect with the masses. However, music director Rahman knows how to do it well. It would not be wrong if I call this album a Mohit Chauhan album, as most of the songs have been sung by him. The songs are lyrically sufi and very engaging. The production values are very good with respect to the mastering and mixing. Moreover, the sound of this album is slightly different from the earlier film works of A. R. Rahman.
Rockstar Music Review: Phir Se Ud Chala
Phir se ud chala starts off like a pahadi song and fades into a happy recurring tune which keeps playing throughout the song. George Doering plays the mandolin in the song. The bridge of the song has interesting pan on the vocals, and the filters and synth add more to the overall feel of the song, giving it a melodic trance-like feel towards the end. The song eventually returns to the pahadi feel, giving you a good feeling.
Rockstar Music Review: Jo Bhi Main
Jo bhi main is a concert song and has parts sung by the crowd! The drums (played by Ranjit Barot) fade into the song. The beauty of Rahman’s music lies in his subtle use of elements and his craft of weaving it together. In parts, the song sounds like one by ‘The Doors’!
Rockstar Music Review: Katiya Karun
Katiya karun is a Punjabi song with folk elements. The percussions in the beginning are interesting along with the panning and the peppy vocals by Harshdeep Kaur and Swapna Awasti. The flute by Navin and the transition into the melodic guitar piece rendered by Keba Jeremiah are things to look out for in this song.
Rockstar Music Review: Kun Faaya Kun
Kun faaya kun is a sufi song on the lines of earlier Rahman songs like Kwhaja mere kwhaja (Jodhaa Akbar), Arziyan (Delhi-6) and Piya haji ali (Fiza). It has vocals by Rahman, Javed Ali and Mohit Chauhan. The harmonium starts off in a very simple way. The guitars sound great where they are, just another part of Rahman’s vision and arrangement! A treat to the ears overall.
Rockstar Music Review: Shehar Mein
Shehar mein me gives you a feel like its being recorded in a studio with a demanding composer in the control room. Although it is a simple song, it has a catchy lyrical hook and a great tune. While Mohit Chauhan sings it with a twisty rock-like style, Kartik sings it like a song of the ’90s. The bass guitar rendered by Keith Peters has a nice groove to it.
Rockstar Music Review: Hawa Hawa
Hawa hawa has an old Spanish feel to it. It has a complex arrangement which appears simple. Ann Marie Calhoun is good with the violins and the song has great percussions, along with the guitars, mandolin and dulcimer (look out for the solo). Definitely a track with mass appeal. It flows well and is melodic and pleasant.
Rockstar Music Review: Aur Ho
The song Aur ho starts with the deep soulful, sensually melodic, fragile and subtle vocals by Alma Ferovic after which Mohit Chauhan takes over. It is a soulful song with respect to the overall feel. It is highly intense and is also lyrically fine. The flute is played by Navin who is a veteran playing for Rahman since the Bombay days (who can forget the flute piece he played for the theme song of Bombay!) Overall, an extremely soulful song.
Rockstar Music Review: Tango for Taj
Tango for Taj has got a great piano piece. No prizes for guessing who played it! It is very tango and has the perfect blend to touch your various emotional chords.
Rockstar Music Review: Tum Ko
Tum ko is sung by Kavita Subramaniam. The vocals are breethy, airy with a little bit of sibilance creatively used. Sticking to the mood, the song conveys a feeling of longing. The sarangi played by Dilshad Khan takes the mood of the song to another level.
Rockstar Music Review: The Dichotomy Of Fame
The dichotomy of fame is the second instrumental track of this album and contains a long sarangi solo by Dilshad Khan along with shakers and nylon guitar. It is very acoustic and Indian in feel.
Rockstar Music Review: Naadan Parindey
Naadan parinde is another great song in this album with a simple tune. It has great percussions by the likes of Shivamani, a dexterous guitar solo by Sanjeev Thomas and vocals by Mohit Chauhan and A. R. Rahman.
Rockstar Music Review: Tum Ho
Tum ho is a captures the mild melancholy of romance. It is sung by Mohit Chauhan and Suzanne D’Mello. It is spacey, melodic and smooth. The groove of the song is good, though it is common. The chorus by Suzzane adds to the intensity.
Rockstar Music Review: Sadda Haq
Sadda haq is the mainline song of this album and has been created to deliver a meaningful hit, be it lyrically or in other ways. Sadda haq is a very commercially relevant hook. It’s a great song with respect to intensity and emotion. The overdriven distorted guitars, along with synth, give it a very raw, grungy rock concert like feel. Mohit Chauhan breaks the mould this time by singing high vocals in the bridge; the lead has got a great feel to it. The chorus is a treat, including the second bridge. I can smell a hit in this song!
Rockstar Music Review: Verdict
Overall, Rockstar is a good album. Some songs will be instantly loved, while others may take their time to grow on you. It’s a semi-commercially relevant album, because all songs are not massy! Compared to his earlier albums, the sound of A. R. Rahman has changed a little in terms of production. However, Rahman still lives up to his equity and what he stands for is delivered in this album.
Vivek V Warrier is a keen listener of music, has worked as a sound recordist and currently writes, acts and sings for the internet comedy show Jay Hind.