Among the fresh new voices on Pakistan’s diverse indie music landscape is that of Zoha Zuberi. Its best-known release to date, a catchy, multilingual electronic dance number called Kyun Chal Diye, is a popular track on radio stations even today, a few years after its initial release.

It’s a well-produced song – you sometimes forget that it was created and released in Pakistan – that stays with you long after it stops playing.

His other major song, an English song called Falling Stars, was released in December of last year. It’s a very different track from Kyun Chal Diye, in that it’s more geared towards indie, emo, alternative rock, acoustic, mid-90s sound with Natalie Imbruglia, Anna Nalick, M2M, Michelle Branch, Vanessa Carlton and The Wreckers.

But while a lot of those names broke through and made themselves known and this sound in the 90s and early 2000s, in Falling Stars, Zoha Zuberi made that unplugged, emo acoustic sound her own.

Thinking About You sounds like a cookie-cutter version of an American pop song. Zoha Zuberi can do so much better

Falling Stars is a hauntingly beautiful act that enhances and works brilliantly with Zoha’s voice. The strumming and soft hum of the guitar creates a hypnotic vibe similar to that of Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire, before Zoha starts singing. It’s an introspective number, where Zoha reflects on the power she gives others to hurt her and how she needs to protect herself. His own backing vocals join the chorus, providing a rich sound to the song.

His latest release, Thinking About You, a duet with an artist called Uzair, follows the same moody emo vibe found in both EDM track Kyun Chal Diye and alternative acoustic track Falling Stars.

At first listen, I admit, Thinking About You is a bit disappointing. It sounds like a cookie-cutter version of an American pop song but sung by desis with incredibly affected accents. They’re just trying too hard. The colonial hangover in this one is very real. The song’s production is pretty decent, it grows inside you, but the accents are very cringe.

The lyrics aren’t very interesting either. The predictable chorus goes: “I think of you (x2) / Until the end / I’ll think of you / I’m breaking my heart now / But I see you so close / Until the end / I will think of you. “

Another bone of contention with the song is that while both singers have the accent affected almost perfectly, all they need to work on now is their speech. Over a lot of words, it’s as if their tongues are rolling right over them, as if he’s expecting the listener to know what is being sung by intuition alone.

Zoha has released a number of songs to date, both hits (Kuchh Kehna Chahta Hoon is another intriguing number growing in you) and duds. But with Kyun Chal Diye and Falling Stars, it felt like the singer / songwriter had reached a certain level of maturity in her profession, which is not reflected at all in Thinking About You. You can do better Zoha, do a lot better.

Posted in Dawn, ICON, September 26, 2021

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