I've been quite away from music reviewing this year for no particular reason whatsoever. So I'll try to round-up the best Hindi film albums here in this post. Here goes my top 10 list:
1. Raanjhanaa (A. R. Rahman/Irshad Kamil)
This is not ARR's best. This is far away from his last team-up with lyricist Irshad Kamil, Rockstar. This is also not as good as Aanand L. Rai's last film's album, Tanu Weds Manu, where one single track Rangrez owned the album. (Both, Rockstar and Tanu Weds Manu, came in 2011, and were my top favs of that year.)
Quite like Tanu Weds Manu, one single track from this album too owns it entirely. Tum Tak, that is, though this one is not a qawalli like Rangrez. It's more like a bhajan in its arrangement and those infinitely recursive "Tum Tak, Tum Tak, Tum Tak", rightly picturing the passion of the protagonist of the film (a Brahmin from Kashi) to get the girl. "Meri sakal jawaani, tum tak, meri akal deewani, tum tak, meri khatam kahaani, bas, tum tak!"
Other songs from the album that stayed with me are: lovely Nazar Laaye, peppy title track, energetic Tu Mun Shudi (for that shehnai and ARR's part), and jazzy Aise Na Dekho.
2. Kai Po Che (Amit Trivedi/Swanand Kirkire)
Amit Trivedi had 4 albums this year, of which Bombay Talkies and Ghanchakkar had nothing much to take away from. Kai Po Che, with only 3 short tracks, is his best this year. It left us craving for more, and Manjha is still as fresh as when released. Full review here.
3. Lootera (Amit Trivedi/Amitabh Bhattacharya)
Though Lootera had no "bad" or "under-average" tracks, it is too perfect to be at the top. Trivedi tried to perfect each and every part of the song, it seems, thereby lacking organicness, which was much needed for the period template of the film. Sounds were too electronic, vocals were everything from strained (Shilpa Rao in Manmarziyan) to outright dull (Trivedi himself in Zinda) or over-modulated (Monali Thakur in Sawaar Loon).
But these are minor nitpickings that don't take away the mastery with which the music has been arranged and composed. My favorite track from the album remains Ankahee, well sung by Bhattacharya.
4. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy/Prasoon Joshi)
Must say, SEL, sort of, reinvented themselves this year with two strong Hindi albums this year: D-Day and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The latter ranks up here first, for its earthy yet innovative sounds and creatively fitting lyrics for the film (see second-last para of this review; many awards are coming your way, Mr. Joshi).
The album ranges from simplistically arranged yet very much evocative tracks, like O Rangrez, Gurbani and the title track, to country music in Slow Motion Angreza to extremely catchy music in Maston Ka Jhund and its phrase Havan Karenge.
5. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Pritam/Amitabh Bhattacharya)
Except for Dilliwali Girlfriend and Balam Pichkari, I liked almost each of the songs. Badtameez Dil is clearly the party anthem of the year and has that funky lyrics for which Bhattacharya is known (Pungi and Bhaag DK Bose). Kabira, though tried to be very Iktara-ish on that template of Yaariyan from Pritam's Cocktail (2012), had its soul intact in its place. Even Subhanallah, though very reminiscent of Shukranallah from Salim-Sulaiman's Kurbaan (2009), was a lovely one. However, Illahi stands out for me from this album, for its very fresh appeal and innovative sounds.
6. Go Goa Gone (Sachin-Jigar/Amitabh Bhattacharya, Priya Panchal)
Sachin-Jigar, though having made their mark with Shor In The City (2011), have arrived in this year. This and Shuddh Desi Romance validates their arrival. Suitably perfect album for the most kickass film of the year, with only 5 songs, each one is a hit.
7. Shuddh Desi Romance (Sachin-Jigar/Jaideep Sahni)
Of 9 tracks, only 4 were full length songs, rest 5 background-score instrumentals were equally interesting. Quirky lyrics by Sahni in the title track and Chanchal Mann Ati Random suitably accompanied the Rajasthani sounds. The duo composer's craft in this album is accentuated with the sonic Gulabi and bantery Tere Mere Beech Mein that has lazy Sunday morning feel and playful sounds of children playing, cycle ring and horn.
8. D-Day (Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy/Niranjan Iyengar)
This is the most under-rated album of the year. I don't know if many have heard the songs from this film, because who pays attention to qawallis and classical these days, right Yo Yo fans? Speaking of which, this album had an excellent qawalli Murshid Khele Holi and an eloquent sufi by Rekha Bhardwaj, Ek Ghadi. On the opposite, there was beautiful heart-wrenching melody in Alvida. Also, Duma Dum Mast Qalandar on brass-band! Who would have thunk that?
9. Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (Vishal Bhardwaj/Gulzar)
The quintessential VB-Gulzar magical song Khamakha and Badal Uthiya are the two clear favorites from this 11-track album. The title track and Oye Boy Charlie assured the funk factor of the album. Full (fanboy) review here.
10. Nautanki Saala (Mikey McCleary, Falak Shabir, Ayushmann Khurrana)
Mikey McCleary, known for his Bartender Mixes, made his kind of music prominent in this album with evocatively fresh sounds in Dil Ki Toh Lag Gayi and in reprising old songs like Dhak Dhak and So Gaya Yeh Jahan. Ayushmann and Rochak Kohli, on the same lines of Paani Da Rang (Vicky Donor), delivered Saadi Galli Aaja with beautiful Neeti Mohan. My most favorite from the album is Falak Shabir's breezy Mera Mann Kehne Laga.
Other albums that didn't make it to the top 10 but worth a mention would be:
Ek Thi Daayan (for Yaaram),
Special 26 (for Kaun Mera, Mujh Mein Tu)
Special 26 (for Kaun Mera, Mujh Mein Tu)
Madras Cafe (for Zebunissa's Ajnabi),
David (mainly for romantic Yun Hi Re and Carribean style Mast Qalandar from many tracks),
Ram-Leela (only for Laal Ishq and Mor Bani).
And, no, nothing from Aashiqui 2. It sucked.