Pakistani music is creating waves globally.
Pakistani music's predominant influence of Arabic, Persian, Indian and Western music has given rise to 'fusion' or 'pop' bands who have blended traditional folk and classical, Sufi music, Ghazal, Qawwali, Balochi, Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi, to name a few, to create a unique soundscape that appeals to music lovers beyond its borders.
With leading private music and entertainment companies and FM radio contributing to its popularity, Pakistani music today has a global appeal. Its music has come a long way from the days of popular singers such as Malika-e-Tarranum Noor Jehan, Runa Laila, Alamgir and the brother-sister duo of Nazia and Zoheb Hasen who rocked South Asia in the early eighties with hits such as Disco Dewaane and Aap Jaisa Koi.
It was due to the popularity of these singers that even established musicians from non-pop genres such as qawwali maestro Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan were also drawn to popular music to reach a wider audience.
Their success marked a turning point in the country's pop history, and today, there are scores of bands from Pakistan who have made a name for themselves, not just in Pakistan but also in neighbouring India and the Middle East.
We list out some of the popular bands and singers:
Junoon: Popularly recognised as the Sultans of Sufi rock, their music, lyrics and sound are based on the issues of today. Formed in 1990 by guitarist/songwriter Salman Ahmad, the team consists of Ali Azmat, John Alec, Jay Dittamo and Aashiq Ali. Their popular tracks include Jazba-E-Junoon, Sayonee (1998), Talaash, Main Kaun Hun and many more.
They toured Denmark and other parts of Europe in 2001 to increase their international exposure and enhance the awareness of Pakistani music. After the nuclear tests in 1998, they composed Yaaron Yehi Dosti Hai to bring the Indians and Pakistanis together. They were invited to Paris by Unesco in 1999 to perform at their Millennium Peace concert.
Junoon has been the most successful Pakistani group in history, having toured extensively around the world, including at the renowned European rock festival, Roskilde in June 2000. The band has been across Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Currently, both band members Ali Azmat and Salman Ahmad have released their debut solo album.
Strings: Strings became globally popular due to their lyrics and style of music. Set up in 1990 by four college students Bilal Maqsood, Faisal Kapadia and two friends, they made their debut with a self-titled album, but soon after their second album Strings 2 in 1992, the group split. Eight years later, Bilal and Faisal reorganised the group and gave the world some smash hits in their album Duur and Dhaani. In 2003, they also composed the official song for the Pakistani cricket team Hai Koi Hum Jaisa. Their song Naajanay Kyun from their album Dhaani was also included in the original soundtrack of Spider-Man 2. In 2005, Strings won the best artist award at the MTV Asia Awards. They sang the title track Zinda Hoon for the Indian movie Zinda, giving them fame in Bollywood. They also contributed to the anti-war video Beirut launched in September 2006.
Jal: Formed in 2000 and currently consisting of Gohar Mumtaz, Farhan Saeed and Shazi (Aamir) and primarily a rock group, they have enchanted music lovers with their melodious and catchy tunes in films and music albums. Their track Aadat and Who Lamhe both from the soundtrack of popular Bollywood films, made them extremely popular. Jal also received a special award by Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital in recognition of their support and efforts to raise funds for fighting cancer in Pakistan. In 2006, Jal won at 'MTV Asia Awards 2006' and 'Indus Music Awards Best Rock Band Award' in Pakistan.
Fuzon: A popular rock band formed by three members Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan, Sayed M Imran and Shallum Asher Xavier in 2001, it is a fusion of Pakistani classical music and modern rock music. Fuzon was the first band to release their debut album Saagar in both Pakistan and India.
Shafqat's first entry was with the famous song Mitwa from the Hindi film Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Since then, they have won many awards such as 'Best Asian Band' at Bollywood Music Awards (Dubai), 'Best Emerging Talent' in the second Lux Style Awards and many more in the first and second Indus Music Awards. They have also performed in concerts such as 'MTV Emmy Awards 2004', US Tour in 2005, 'Rhythms of Indus' at the Albert Hall London.
The huge fan following of Pakistani bands in the UAE has resulted in popular bands such as Strings, Fuzon, Junoon and many solo artists such as Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Tufail Sanjrani, Atif Aslam, Ali Zafar, Adnan Sami, Ali Haider, among others, coming to Dubai for events such as Jaan Yehi Dosti Hai concert in 2000, Rock & Bhangra Festival 2003, Dubai Rain 2005, Vibes 2005, Umeed 2006 and the Global Village during the 2007 DSF.