Looking at LSA 2020: music

October 11, 2020

Laal Kabootar, Zindagi Tamasha, Abdullah Siddiqui and Ali Sethi sweep the nominations but with just 5 categories, the LSAs continue to struggle with music’s larger stratosphere.

Laal Kabootar artwork poster is designed by Shehzil Malik. The film uses Karachi, not just as backdrop, but almost as a character and was picked as Pakistan’s official selection to the Oscars.

The latest edition of Lux Style Awards – as a virtual event in all likelihood due to coronavirus – is coming soon. Laal Kabootar, Abdullah Siddiqui, Ali Sethi and Zindagi Tamasha have picked up two nods each. Meanwhile, Abdullah Siddiqui was nominated for ‘Resistance’ (as Emerging Talent) in 2019. The songs in his debut album Metannoya (2019), which should have landed him a nomination this year, have gone completely unacknowledged.

For far too long, we have said that the Lux Style Awards are Pakistan’s version of the Oscars but while the Academy Awards is changing rules as are The Grammys to become more inclusive and diverse, the LSAs have struggled in evolution, especially when it comes to music.

The show needs to adapt with the times. It started, almost twenty years ago, at a time when film and music were struggling to make their presence felt. Today, with thriving Film, Television, Music and Fashion landscapes, a handful of categories for each segment are insufficient. While Fashion still rules the roost in numbers, Music lands a measly five.

The jumbled nominees

Speaking of the music nominations specifically, some nominees make sense while many others don’t and several important names have been sidelined because of the limited music categories. And, given the present categories, the LSAs will propagate a certain culture. When there is no Best Album category, more artists will be compelled to release singles and not a record, which is a complete body of work. The ones who do release LPs and EPs will just have to accept getting nominated for singles. Moving onto the categories, there are a total of 5 categories that are meant to cover the entire world of music.

In Best Playback Singer (Film) the nominees include the year’s big hitters such as Ali Sethi for ‘Bekaraan’ (Superstar), Ali Tariq for ‘Behka Na’ (Parey Hut Love), Jabbar Abbas for ‘JugArt‘ (Laal Kabootar), Mai Dhai for ‘Raag Murli‘ (Laal Kabootar) and Zeb Bangash for ‘Gudi Wang’ (Baaji).

Taha Malik – featured on ‘JugArt’ - as well as the title track with Zoe Viccaji also deserved a nomination. Sunidhi Chauhan and Jabbar Abbas also deserved nods for ‘Noori’ from Superstar. Meanwhile, Saakin’s ‘Sik Mitraan’ and Nimra Gilani’s excellent version of ‘Zindagi Tamasha Bani’ from the still unreleased Sarmad Khoosat film could’ve easily made the film music category more competitive by being nominated for Best Playback Singer (Male) and (Female) respectively, but these categories no longer exist and have been combined.

It must be added that while last year Singer of the Year nominees included Bilal Ali (Kashmir) for ‘Khwaab’, Khurram Iqbal (Fuzon) for ‘O ki Jaana’, and Saif Samejo for ‘Raat (The Sketches) this year it’s different.

For ‘Aj Sik Mitraan Di’, the whole band of Saakin is nominated whereas it should be the band’s chief vocalist, Usman Shakeel who should’ve been nominated - like last year. And if the idea was to acknowledge the song’s entire production, co-producer of the song, Shamsher Rana’s name should’ve been included. Will Lux change its modus operandi every year?

In short, some artists have been snubbed while others are nominated in the wrong category or omitted.

Best Original Soundtrack (Television) should be the most competitive category given how invested people are in drama serials. But like films, it has been compressed to one nomination. Ergo, television nominees have, in the past, made the cut for one of three reasons: they’re sung by a famous artist; the popularity of a song validated by YouTube numbers and/or the popularity of the drama series. But this year’s nominations are somewhat surprising with ‘Ishq Zah-e-Naseeb’ by Naveed Nishad, ‘Kaisa Hai Naseeba’ by Zeb Bangash, ‘Khaas’ by Natasha Baig, ‘Ramz-e-Ishq’ by Shani Arshad and ‘Ranjha Ranjha Kardi’ by JB Sisters/Rahma Ali as nominees. The omission of ‘Mere Pass Tum Ho’, sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, is a strange oddity.

The grand categories, amongst them Singer of the Year, is even more confusing. Whereas Ali Sethi’s nomination for ‘Chandni Raat’ makes total sense as does Haadia Hashmi for ‘Bol Hu’, the rest is not as interesting as it could’ve been. Sajjad Ali, nominated for Song of the Year, easily belonged to this category as did Meesha Shafi for ‘Leela’ and Ali Noor for ‘Manwa Re’ – the acapella version. Nescafe’s Basement’s succinct cover of Haroon’s ‘Mehbooba’ ft. Ali Tariq and a slew of singers had just as much might. Ali Sethi could’ve easily picked up another nomination for his song, ‘Dil Ki Khair’. Just because Saif Samejo was nominated the year before shouldn’t take away from the fact the he released a full length record last year, Saanjhi. With no Best Album category, he should’ve been nominated for at least Singer of the Year.

Saakin, the Islamabad-based music group consists of Varqa Faraid, Usman Shakeel, Parham Faraid, Ali Hamdani and Ibrahim Akram. They became the breakthrough act of 2018 with the release of ‘Saaki-E-Bawafa’. 

Song of the year, the big kahuna, is a jumble. Shamoon Ismail’s nomination for ‘Late Night’ is more than acceptable, but where are the rest of the artists? Meesha Shafi (‘Leela’) and Fawad Khan (‘Uth Jaag’)? Xulfi produced both songs and deserves some credit. Also, where are Strings? They changed the game with ‘Raat Shabnami’. The rest of the nominees could easily have been replaced with Abdullah Siddiqui for any song from his debut album.

This brings us to the other issue? Abdullah Siddiqui released an entire album titled Metannoya in 2019. He was nominated for ‘Resistance’ in 2019 in Best Emerging Talent category. Furthermore, his original version of ‘Resistance’ and the Nescafe Basement version are not so dissimilar that he be given a nod for the new version. Any song from Metannoya, his debut full length album, qualified over ‘Resistance’. Song of the Year should’ve included at least one song from Saanjhi by The Sketches as well. To not nominate is to not acknowledge talent.

There is also a severe lack of acknowledgement for traditional, classical, contemporary and indigenous music. Electronic rock-star, Alien Panda Jury, also dropped his EP last year called Enneagram on a record label called Noland. He’s going without nomination.

Perhaps the most decent set of nominees is Best Emerging Talent which includes Ali Hasan for Chaaraasaazi, Hassan & Roshaan for Savera, Nimra Gilani for Zindagi Tamasha Bani, producers Hamad Khan & Sohaib Lari for Big Foot Music and Zain Ali & Zohaib Ali for Ali Haiderium. To be honest, I would’ve liked to see Leo Twins as well.

This is again, a hotchpotch of nominations where music video director, film, TV drama music directors, lyricists are not being acknowledged. It feels like the LSAs are paying lip service to music and they need to figure out a way to get ahead of the game.

Lux Style Awards 2020 – music nominations

Ali Sethi’s ‘Chandni Raat’ (produced by Noah Georgeson) with music video directed by Sarmad Khoosat, lends hope during jaded times we’re living through, both globally and domestically.

Singer of the Year

Ali Pervaiz for ‘Unkahi’

Ali Sethi for ‘Chandni Raat’

Haadia Hashmi for ‘Bol Hu’

Saakin for ‘Aj Sik Mitraan Di’

Shehroze Hussain for ‘Qurbaan’

Song of the Year

‘Late Night’ by Shamoon Ismail from Brown Sugar

‘Raavi’ by Sajjad Ali from Raavi

‘Resistance’ by Abdullah Siddiqui

‘Sitaaron se Aagay’ by Abbas Ali Khan featuring Lalarukh

‘You and I’ by Saba Jaswal featuring Abdullah Siddiqui

Best Emerging Talent

Ali Hasan for Chaaraasaazi

Hassan & Roshaan for Savera

Nimra Gilani for Zindagi Tamasha Bani

Producers Hamad Khan & Sohaib Lari for Big Foot Music

Zain Ali & Zohaib Ali for Ali Haiderium

Best Original Sound Track (TV)

Ishq Zah-e-Naseeb by Naveed Nishad

Kaisa hai Naseeba by Zeb Bangash

Khaas by Natasha Baig

Ramz-e-Ishq by Shani Arshad

Ranjha Ranjha Kardi by JB Sisters/Rahma Ali

Best Playback Singer (Film)

Ali Sethi for ‘Bekaraan’

Ali Tariq for ‘Behka Na’

Jabbar Abbas for ‘JugArt’

Mai Dhai for ‘Raag Murli’

Zeb Bangash for ‘Gudi Wang’

The writer is Assistant Editor, Instep and former LSA music juror.

Looking at LSA 2020: music