2020, a year in Indian music charts: A reflection of how life came to a halt after the COVID-19 lockdown

0
7

Here’s how different categories of music fared in this most unusual year.

Read more from our ‘2020, the year of…’ series.

That life came to a standstill after the nationwide lockdown was imposed in the last week of March, was reflected on India’s music charts during 2020. The country’s independent acts released more singles, EPs and albums than ever before but as far as mainstream music was concerned, there were few monster hits from April onwards. None of the songs on Apple Music India and Spotify India’s year-end top tens came out after January, and while there are a few more recent releases on JioSaavn’s list, their survey only includes singles and tracks from albums put out in 2020. Here’s how different categories of music fared in this most unusual year.

Bollywood soundtracks

Despite the fact that hardly any major Hindi films were released between April and December, like in every year, songs from Bollywood OSTs were the most streamed tracks of 2020. And this, even though only one movie — according to Indian box-office monitoring website Koimoi.com — could be classified as a hit. However, no tunes from that film, the stridently jingoistic Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior, disturbed the music charts.

Instead, there were a bunch of soundtrack smashes from movies that either flopped outright or did average business: the 2020 reiteration of Love Aaj Kal, action thriller Malang: Unleash The Madness and the de facto threequel in the Any Body Can Dance series, Street Dancer 3D, the last of which scored the maximum chart toppers. Like many OSTs these days, it was more of a compilation comprising remakes/remixes/“recreations” of earlier hits such as AR Rahman’s “Mukkala Mukkabala” from the 1994 Tamil film Kadhalan and a pair of Punjabi pop tracks from 2017, Garry Sandhu and Jasmine Sandlas’ “Illegal Weapon” and Guru Randhawa “Lahore” as well as new versions of songs from the prequels. Among its few fresh tracks: “Garmi” by Badshah who had a good run on the charts (see “Non-film” music) despite his run-ins and run outs involving the police.

While a handful of the soundtracks for Bollywood movies released on video OTT platforms, including AR Rahman’s Dil Bechara (Disney HotStar) and Pritam’s Ludo (Netflix), were well received, their stream counts didn’t match up to those of tunes from the aforementioned theatrical releases.

International music

The year was short on international hits crossing over to mainstream Indian audiences. The most streamed English-language song on JioSaavn in 2020 was “Yummy” by Justin Bieber. Its success was on account of his strong fan base in India rather than a cross-generational appeal; the track’s total streams of over 15 million on JioSaavn were less than a third of the more than 46 million plays “On My Way” by Alan Walker and “Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, the top English-language tunes of 2019, tallied on the service. That said, there were a few big English-language smashes even if their popularity was limited to those who listen to international music.

Two “foreign” favourites are common to the year-end top tens of both Apple Music India and Spotify India: The Weeknd’s“Blinding Lights”, the No.1 song of 2020 in the US, is a 1980s synth-pop homage that tapped into our need for nostalgia, while Trevor Daniel’s “Falling”, from way back in October 2018, was among the several singles that benefited from trending on the now-banned TikTok. A discussion about international music in India would be incomplete without a mention of BTS, which broke their own record for the largest number of streams in any given week on Spotify India when “Life Goes On” debuted with over 2.75 million plays in November, just three months “Dynamite” landed with more than 2.43 million in August.

2020 a year in Indian music charts A reflection of how life came to a halt after the COVID19 lockdown

(Clockwise from top left) Shayad – Love Aaj Kal; Firse Machayenge – Emiway; Ghungroo – War; Falling – Trevor Daniels

Independent music

With each passing year, the audience for Indian independent music or at least certain Indian indie acts grows to a critical mass, resulting in those artists managing to outrank their more commercial counterparts on the streaming charts. In April 2018, I wrote about how they were topping the iTunes all-genre charts in India. As we know, far more people stream music than buy it these days so it was great to see that this July, “Kasoor” by Prateek Kuhad became — as far as I know — the first Indian indie track to hit No.1 on Apple Music India’s daily Top 100 songs chart. Earlier this month, Divine’s Punya Paap crowned the streaming service’s all-genre Top Albums chart, achieving one spot higher than his debut album Kohinoor, which got to No.2 in 2019.

Two other tunes reached the top tens of both Apple Music India and Spotify’ Indias songs charts: Ritviz’s “Liggi” (No.4 on Spotify, No.10 on Apple Music) and Divine’s “Mirchi” (No.2 on Spotify, No.10 on Apple Music). “Liggi”, in fact, was so huge on Spotify that it just missed out on the top ten of 2020; it’s No.12. Of course, some might counter that Divine, who was signed to Universal Music’s sub-label Mass Appeal last year, is no longer an indie act. Those people are likely to say the same about Kuhad whose deal with Elektra Records, part of the Warner Music Group, was announced in October. In March, Arista Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music, got playback and pop singer Armaan Malik on board for his English-language career. This means that now, all the three major international record labels have Indian artists on their roster. (P.S. You can check out my personal picks of the best Indian indie of 2020 in this Spotify list, which is named after my monthly column of recommended listening.)

“Non-film” music

This strangely named genre is synonymous with commercial Hindi pop. It’s distinguished from the Indi-pop that emerged in the 1990s, the exponents of which were subsequently cannibalised by Bollywood after the turn of the decade. The reason “non-film” music isn’t simply called Indi-pop is because record companies, such as Universal Music that runs the “non-film” sub-label VYRL Originals, want it to stand as a genre of its own, never mind that sonically, the composers take their cues from Bollywood movie soundtracks.

In 2020, it seemed like they were taking their cues from the Hindi film OSTs of the early 1990s. From Jubin Nautiyal’s “Meri Aashiqui” and B Praak’s “Dil Tod Ke”, both the handiwork of Rochak Kohli, to various other tracks from the T-Series factory as well as the likes of Desi Melodies and Desi Music Factory, they all channelled the heartbreak ballads of the era with sad notes and strains of flute and strings. Notably, the year’s biggest “non-film” hit, Badshah’s “Genda Phool”, was an up-tempo cut. The song — released, incidentally, the same week the lockdown was announced — was based on a Bengali folk tune, the lyricist of which, Ratan Kahar, was credited and compensated only after public outrage.

Other “party” smashes were all released during 2020’s relatively carefree first quarter; Emiway’s “Firse Machayenge” and Tony Kakkar’s “Goa Beach” were out in January and February respectively. The label-less Emiway qualifies to be included in the independent music part of this round-up but he really belongs in a special category of ‘YouTube artist’. He’s unleashed over 30 music videos in the last 12 months, but none were as popular as his sequel to 2019’s “Machayenge”.

2020 a year in Indian music charts A reflection of how life came to a halt after the COVID19 lockdown

(Clockwise from top left) Genda Phool – Badshah; Blinding Lights – The Weeknd; Butta Bomma – Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo ; Malang – Malang

Regional-language music

Broadly, audio-streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music tell us what music fans in mostly the metros are listening to and the likes of JioSaavn and YouTube, which have a deeper pan-India presence, reveal what those across the country are hearing. The main difference between the all-genre charts of the audio OTTs and those of the video-sharing platform is the dominance of regional-language music. Punjabi pop is the regional language genre with the largest audience overall, but its cousin Haryanvi pop rose as one of the fastest-growing within the segment, with two of the year’s most streamed music videos, “Moto” and “Feelings”.

On the other hand, the south Indian film industries, dealing with the same woes as Bollywood, were similarly short on hits. Composer Thaman S’ soundtrack for the year’s highest-grossing Telugu film Ala Vaikunthapurramaloo, released in January, boasted three huge songs, “ButtaBomma”, “Ramuloo Ramulaa” and “Samajavaragamana”, each of which performed impressively on both YouTube and audio-streaming services, with numbers higher than those of many Hindi “non-film” tunes.

Most streamed songs of the year:

Apple Music India

1. “Ghungroo” (from War), Vishal-Shekhar, Kumaar, Arijit Singh and Shilpa Rao, YRF (Bollywood)
2. “Makhna” (from Drive), Tanishk Bagchi, Ozil Dalal, Asees Kaur and Yasser Desai, Zee Music Company (Bollywood)
3. “Dance Monkey”, Tones and I, Bad Batch/Warner Music (International)
4. “Blinding Lights”, The Weekend, Universal Music (International)
5. “Memories”, Maroon 5, Universal Music (International)
6. “Senorita”, Shawn Mendes and Camilla Cabello, Universal Music (International)
7. “Falling”, Trevor Daniel, Alamo Records/Universal Music (International)
8. “Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage” (from Kabir Singh), Mithoon and Arijit Singh, T-Series (Bollywood)
9. “Shayad” (from Love Aaj Kal), Pritam, Irshad Kamil and Arijit Singh, Sony Music India, (Bollywood)
10. “Malang” (from Malang), Ved Sharma, Haarsh Limbachiyaa and Kunaal Vermaa, T-Series (Bollywood)

JioSaavn

1. “Shayad” (from Love Aaj Kal), Pritam, Irshad Kamil and Arijit Singh, Sony Music India, (Bollywood)
2. “Muqabla” (from Street Dancer 3D), AR Rahman and Tanishk Bagchi, Shabbir Ahmed and Valee, Parampara Thakur and Yash Narvekar, T-Series (Bollywood)
3. “Garmi” (from Street Dancer 3D), Badshah and Neha Kakkar, T-Series (Bollywood)
4 .“Genda Phool”, Badshah and Payal Dev, Sony Music (Indian pop)
5. “Meri Aashiqui”, Rochak Kohli and Jubin Nautiyal (T-Series) (Indian pop)
6 “Illegal Weapon 2.0” (from Street Dancer 3D), Garry Sandhu, Intense and Tanishk Bagchi, Priya Saraiya and Jasmine Sandlas, T-Series (Bollywood)
7. “Malang” (from Malang), Ved Sharma, Haarsh Limbachiyaa and Kunaal Vermaa, T-Series (Bollywood)
8. “Bheegi Bheegi”, Tony Kakkar, Prince Dubey and Neha Kakkar, T-Series (Indian pop)
9. “Taaron Ke Sheher”, Jaani, Jubin Nautiyal and Neha Kakkar, T-Series (Indian pop)
10. “Chal Ghar Chalen” (from Malang), Mithoon, Sayeed Quadri and Arijit Singh, T-Series, (Bollywood)

Spotify India

1. “Shayad” (from Love Aaj Kal), Pritam, Irshad Kamil and Arijit Singh, Sony Music India, (Bollywood)
2. “Falling” , Trevor Daniel, Alamo Records/Universal Music (International)
3. “Ghungroo” (from War), Vishal-Shekhar, Kumaar, Arijit Singh and Shilpa Rao, YRF (Bollywood)
4. “Tujhe Kitna Chahne Lage” (from Kabir Singh), Mithoon and Arijit Singh, T-Series (Bollywood)
5. “Makhna” (from Drive), Tanishk Bagchi, Ozil Dalal, Asees Kaur and Yasser Desai, Zee Music Company (Bollywood)
6. “Illegal Weapon 2.0” (from Street Dancer 3D), Garry Sandhu, Intense and Tanishk Bagchi, Priya Saraiya and Jasmine Sandlas, T-Series (Bollywood)
7. “Blinding Lights”, The Weekend, Universal Music (International)
8. “Garmi” (from Street Dancer 3D), Badshah and Neha Kakkar, T-Series (Bollywood)
9. “Tu Hi Yaar Mera” (from Pati, Patni Aur Woh), Rochak Kohli, Kumaar, Arijit Singh and Neha Kakkar, T-Series (Bollywood)
10. “Malang” (from Malang), Ved Sharma, Haarsh Limbachiyaa and Kunaal Vermaa, T-Series (Bollywood)

YouTube India

1. “Genda Phool”, Badshah and Payal Dev, Sony Music (Indian pop)
2. “Moto”, Aman Jaji, Ajay Hooda and Diler Kharkiya, DIL Music (Haryanvi pop)
3. “ButtaBomma” (from Ala Vaikunthapurramaloo), Thaman S, Ramajogayya Sastry and Armaan Malik, Aditya Music (Telugu film)
4. “Feelings”, Khatri and Sumit Goswami, Sony Music (Haryanvi pop)
5. “Illegal Weapon 2.0” (from Street Dancer 3D), Garry Sandhu, Intense and Tanishk Bagchi, Priya Saraiya and Jasmine Sandlas, T-Series (Bollywood)
6. “Goa Beach”, Tony Kakkar and Neha Kakkar, Desi Music Factory (Indian pop)
7. “Firse Machayenge”, Emiway and Tony James (Indian hip-hop)
8. “Ramuloo Ramulaa” (from Ala Vaikunthapurramaloo), Thaman S, Kasarla Shyam, Anurag Kulkarni and Mangli, Aditya Music (Telugu film)
9. “Muqabla” (from Street Dancer 3D), AR Rahman and Tanishk Bagchi, Shabbir Ahmed and Valee, Parampara Thakur and Yash Narvekar, T-Series (Bollywood)
10. “Dil Tod Ke”, Rochak Kohli, Manoj Muntashir and B Praak, T-Series (Indian pop)

Amit Gurbaxani is a Mumbai-based journalist who has been writing about music, specifically the country’s independent scene, for nearly two decades. He tweets @TheGroovebox

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here