The ‘Atif Aslam’ Genre

February 4, 2012

By Sid

The song begins. You hear the guitar, followed by an overused drum loop. Suddenly before you know it there’s the “alaap” which an incredibly pained singer croons, his voice woefully telling the tale of sorrow and gloom. And before the song even gets into its second minute you hear yourself say “Is that Atif Aslam?”. And thus begins the story of the newest genre of music – The “Atif Aslam” genre.

Atif began initially with Addat, as a member of the band Jal. The song became a rage and soon people were wondering who the wonder kid with the wonderful voice was? The instant popularity of the song catapulted Aslam in the limelight and soon many more hits followed. As his popularity grew to India Atif’s voice came to be recognised for its ability to “feel” pain while singing like no one else could. So much so that the famous Indian singer Shaan mimicked him in one of the laughter shows saying that “Atif does playback singing with two bodyguards who constantly punch him so that he keeps “feeling” the pain”. That fact notwithstanding Atif himself has confessed in an interview that he believes in his own individual style and consciously tries not to copy anyone. Unfortunately for Atif that particular ideology wasn’t followed by the newest class of home-made singers, and thus came the boomerang! What if people copy him? What if the “pained” voice suddenly becomes a feature every new wannabe singer associates himself with?

So before you know it, there’s an underground band with a lead vocalist who has his vocals slightly nasalised and obviously the never-ending-world famous pain in his voice. So whom am I referring to here? The leaked Jannat 2 songs? or Omer Nadeem? or Falak? Or maybe the enormous number of songs not sung by Atif when you type his name on Youtube. [try Shrey Singhal]

What began as one singer’s unique selling point has become into an epidemic of pained, horrible, crappy songs and even worse singers, with an enormous amount of talent, to, well bluntly put copy Atif Aslam. And its not just his cloned versions who belong to the Atif Aslam world, a few critics have now started using his name to judge songs as well! The recent music review of “Ye stupid Pyar” has Mr. Joginder Tuteja referring to the title track as “a crooning style usually associated with Atif Aslam”! What that implies is that, when singers were coming up with albums and songs, Atif went a step ahead and promptly ended up creating a genre. But then talent shines whatever the cost.

Having said all that one must also admit that the one man who isn’t at fault during all this is Mr. Aslam himself. His voice does have a unique selling point, and the growth of Atif-ised songs justifies the same – the demand for his voice. And while one may poke fun at the superbly-not-talented singers, Atif’s ability to deliver emotionally charged songs remains a highly revered quality in the eyes [read ears] of this writer.

Turns out Atif Aslam has become a genre of it’s own.