Despite the fact that Covid-19 has affected our lives in profound ways and taken up most of our attention this year, music enthusiasts still looked forward to the forthcoming season (13) of Coke Studio, which had earlier been threatened by various challenges set by the pandemic. However, Rohail Hyatt – the maestro and producer behind the show – decided that although a difficult undertaking, the show would go on.
Hence, the show that should have been called Coke Studio Season 13, was aired as Coke Studio 2020. “As always, the season is dedicated to audiences but this time it was also about playing a role in society. We wanted to give hope through music,” says Wajiha Naqvi, Research and Creative Strategy Lead, Coke Studio.
The show’s first song launched on December 4, 2020 and the short season concluded on December 25. The logistical challenges resulted in the season being shorter, with only 12 songs instead of the usual 28 to 31. The songs were recorded separately and later brought together in a ‘longer-than-usual’ post-edit. They also included several international musicians. According to Naqvi, although the team had earlier opted to launch an audio album, the energy brought by the performers was such that a decision was taken to record each individual performer live in the studio (as opposed to the whole band performing together) and the international component was coordinated remotely.
Coke Studio takes pride in the fact that it acts as ‘the music feed’ for the industry and constantly endeavours to bring new talent to the platform, and this year Wajiha Naqvi, Ali Pervaiz Mehdi, Mehdi Maloof, Aizaz Sohail and Sehar Gul Khan, were given a chance to make their debut. Another commitment was to introduce original music with no remakes, which is why the season was termed experimental and included several less frequently appreciated genres. For example, Mehdi Maloof’s Dil Khirki, a song in Hindi, was included as was Meesha Shaafi’s rap Na Tutteya Ve.
In terms of response, most of the songs have already clocked a million views on YouTube, proof of the season’s success. Naqvi concludes by saying that “the Coke Studio app has been revamped and there are a couple of promotional surprises in the pipeline.”