How friends are destroying weekend mornings by sharing desi cringe pop

After listening to the song, an ordeal of auditory discomfort, I just longed for the sweet sounds of silence!

My morning took an unexpected turn when my dear friend and scholar par excellence, Dr Om Dwivedi, decided to share a song by Chahat Fateh Ali Khan with me. Initially, I assumed it was one of the renowned Fateh Ali Khans, but little did I know that this unsuspecting song would utterly disrupt the tranquility of my morning routine.

Forced into a morning of musical torture, I found myself subjected to an unexpected onslaught of discordant notes and grating melodies, courtesy of a song by Chahat Fateh Ali Khan.

After listening to the song, an ordeal of auditory discomfort, I just longed for the sweet sounds of silence!

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In his defence Dr Dwivedi says, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter! So, how can I deprive my good friends of sweeter melodies? I didn’t want to remain silent, only to be blamed later that, my silence promotes violence.”

He adds, “the freedom of the popular Ustad to produce a cringy affect of words, I dare call it a song, is undebatable. But I also wanted to use my freedom to find someone with whom I could share my ‘willing suspension of disbelief.'”

In an age dominated by social media, the landscape of music consumption has undergone a seismic shift. With the rise of platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, music has become more accessible than ever before, but I wonder at what cost?

In fact, Dr Dwivedi agrees with me and beleives that “cringy entertainment is one of the crude tellings of our popular culture. The fanatical fascination with such Ustads sums up the perverted nature of modern-day entertainment.” 

He adds, “When raga is rendered that unheard popular touch, what one witnesses is the vikaar. Exactly the feeling that struck me when my son diverted my attention to this besuraa song by an apparently popular Ustad on social media. But that’s one thing!”

The proliferation of desi cringe pop, a genre characterized by its simplistic melodies, repetitive lyrics, and often superficial themes, is threatening to erode the quality and depth of musical expression.

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Desi cringe pop, often produced by amateur artists, unimaginable music sensations, seeking fame and recognition on social media platforms, prioritizes virality over artistic integrity. Songs within this genre often rely on catchy hooks and gimmicky visuals to attract attention, rather than genuine musical talent or creativity. As a result, the music produced tends to be formulaic, uninspired, and lacking in substance, contributing to a homogenized cultural landscape where individuality and originality are often sacrificed in favor of mass appeal.

Chahat Fateh Ali Khan is not the only sensation in the cringe music genre. India and Pakistan have seen a proliferation of desi cringe pop music in recent years, with numerous examples of artists gaining overnight fame through viral social media videos. One notable example is the Pakistani singer Taher Shah, whose song “Eye to Eye” became an internet sensation for its eccentric lyrics and outlandish music video.

While Shah achieved widespread recognition and millions of views on YouTube, his music was widely criticized for its lack of musical merit and superficiality. Similarly, in India, the rise of cringe pop has led to the emergence of artists like Dhinchak Pooja, whose songs “Swag Wali Topi” and “Selfie Maine Leli Aaj” garnered millions of views on YouTube.

While these songs may have achieved viral success, they have also been derided for their simplistic lyrics and repetitive melodies, contributing to a culture of disposable music where instant gratification trumps artistic integrity.

The problem with desi cringe pop extends beyond its artistic shortcomings; it also has broader implications for the music industry as a whole. By prioritizing short-term popularity over long-term sustainability, desi cringe pop undermines the value of music as an art form and perpetuates a culture of instant gratification and superficiality.

Moreover, by flooding social media feeds with low-quality content, cringe pop detracts from the experience of discovering and appreciating music, turning what should be a meaningful and enriching experience into a shallow and ephemeral pursuit. However, it is not all doom and gloom.

After doing a bit of research, it was clear to me that the new music sensation Chahat is in not in any way related to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan. The real name of this 56-year-old “singer” is Kashif Rana and self-describes himelf as an expert of qawwali, pop, classical, Bollywood and many more genres. It is also clear after watching Chahat Fateh Ali Khan’s Live performance in London that he doesn’t use autotune to improve his voice.

The prevalence of desi cringe pop, has made me, and I assume Dr Dwivedi too, realise that rather than passively consuming whatever content is served to us on social media, we should actively seek out music that challenges us, inspires us, and moves us on a deeper level.

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