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Blog, The Other View

Coke Studio – Why it matters?

Karachikhatmal has a good reasoning up why Coke Studio does matter. It is an enrichment to the musical scene in Pakistan (since it gives musicians an exposure that they otherwise woul hardly get in that extent), whether you like the music they come up with or absolutely dispise it (like me).

But there are obsessions with the show from two groups that I find bemusing.

The first are foreign journalists like the one at the Atlantic recently. There is nothing to add, it finally convinced me that I won’t touch that newspaper again (Kaplan was the first incentive).

The second are those that get so enraged by such articles, and those who comment on it, tweet it and absolutely agree with it while at the same time getting all excited when a new Coke Studio episode comes out.

Pakistan is full of really good music, whatever genre, be it old recordings or live concerts. Are the people who get so excited about CokeStudio so busy tweeting and blogging all the time that they can only watch/listen to local music via TV and not go out to a live performance and appreciate that (I hardly see tweets about a good concert, and great concerts there are)? One can think of Coke Studio whatever one wants, and it is definitely a good opportunity for artists to get airtime but it hardly adds anything musically new to the Pakistani cultural landscape. Musicians who perform at Coke Studio did so before it existed in the same way (minus the useless electronics and overuse of fusion). It is simply a means to bring music to the people – but why didn’t you observe it’s existence beforehand? Do you really need Coke to bring you in contact with the music of your country, mashing it into hoorible loops and echoing with musicians wearing big headphones so it looks cool enough? Or are you all burgers who actually prefer to listen to non-Pakistani music (fair enough, I seldom listen to music from my home country and don’t feel oblidged to) but cheering about Coke Studio is just an easy way of showing empathy for your conutry and its traditional culture which you don’t necessarily want to relate to but it just needs supporting against all the bad media it gets, creating a defensive together-feeling supported by its huge success?

If in a European country, traditional music would be churned out in such a fashion (fusion, folk, pop, rock mix over often highly spiritual and poetic texts) it would have potential to be popular for the TV watching masses, but comparable people to Paki bloggers (in terms of age and education) would trash it as cheap and embarassing.

About Jakob Steiner

... lived, worked and studied in Australia, Europe and Asia.



  1. Pingback: Danka - Pakistan's Cultural Guide - July 12, 2012

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December 2010


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