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So, what's your kind of music?

Western influence in film lyrics is hep, young and in tune with the times, finds K. JESHI


It is not the question of promoting Tamil or English ... one language shouldn't replace another Thamarai



WESTWARD HO! Dancing to a different tune.

You see them everyday — jeans-clad youngsters with Gen X hairstyles and trendy accessories, now made complete with a swanky i-pod.

If you thought they groove to the latest international tracks, they'll prove you wrong. They enjoy listening to `Western' but their heart is completely in `Indian' music!

Thanks to the liberal use of English lyrics, whacky sounds and instrumental music in film songs and albums, they are now dancing to the tunes of Ramp boy Remo and Kannum kannum Nokia from Anniyan.

Enakoru girlfriend venum and Secret of success (Boys) and Shakalaka baby from Mudhalvan are still the most sought-after in colleges.

Going by the newfound popularity of Tamlish in films, it will not be surprising to see these words make it to the Oxford English Dictionary like some of their Hindi counterparts — bhelpuri, aloo and filmi — did.

Fast beats



Some songs in Boys, Mudhalvan

Says Rupa K.G., a second year M.Com student at the PSG College of Arts and Science: "Youngsters want to look Western right from hairstyles to outfits to music. Access and exposure to original Western music is very limited. So, we are satisfied when we get elements of rap and hip-hop in film songs. Such songs are trendy and easy to follow and remember. They have fast beats too."

Many a Tamil movie has worked at the box office solely on the strength of its music. How do such songs manage to capture people's imagination?

Explains V. Paramesh, owner of Music Junction and a dealer of film music for 23 years: "Simple. Youth is the in thing to drive any product and in music they prefer songs with western elements — some rap elements with the main song, a masala mix. When such numbers are played in college culturals, they become hits and create instant demand."

The trend is also attributed to the lull in arrival of original Western music.

"In the 50s and 80s, we had record-breaking albums like those by Retro and George Michael. It's almost close to a year since we have had got such albums. Eminem was in demand for just three months," he adds.

Great melodies may survive; but, for them to live even longer in a noisy impatient world, thunderous percussion is required.

"Gone are the days when 50 violins were used to bring the effect. Now, music is technology driven and electronic gadgets make it easier to handle fast beats. English lyrics blend with this package," he explains.

In Hindi too



Anniyan fall under this genre.

The trend of mix and match is picking up in Hindi as well.

If the top sellers in Tamil are Anniyan and S. J. Suryah's yet to be released Aa..Aah Aruyire, in Hindi, it is Salaam Namaste, Zeher, Maine Pyar Kyon Kiya and Bunty aur Babli.

Adds Rupa: "The songs of Raghav are a hit because of the combination of bhangra music and English lyrics. The albums of Bombay Rockers, Jaggi and DJ Jaysean are also popular."

Do playback singers approve of this trend?

"As long as it flows with the mood, music and the situation, it is enjoyable. It becomes jarring when planted," says Shalini, who has sung the western version of Mayil iragaal varudugiraai in Aa..Aah... with Vasundhara Das.

She says it is a marketing gimmick to reach to the youth.

"The trend of aping the West is only being made more obvious by using English lyrics," she adds.

Singer Renjini of Mayilu mayilu mayilamma (VIP) fame agrees.

"Anglicised songs appeal to the youth. For singers, it is a question of adapting. Classical singer Bombay Jayshree can also sing beautiful film numbers. Anuradha Sriram sings anything from classical to dappankuthu. It is the versatility of the singers that comes to the fore."

Lyricist Thamarai, who has chosen to write only in Tamil as a policy decision, says that such trends bring down the usage of Tamil.

"With children studying in English medium schools, Tamil usage in everyday communication is limited. It shouldn't lead to a situation when your mother tongue becomes a foreign language. It is not the question of promoting Tamil or English. But one language shouldn't replace the other. I watch English movies, read English novels but stick to writing only in Tamil. It's a matter of social consciousness," she adds.

She has even managed to write a club song, Thoodhu varuma in Kaakha Kaakha, without English influence.

She says English lyrics can be used when the song demands it.

"In the Remo and Nokia numbers, it suited the character — a split personality trying to woo his girlfriend with whatever English he knows. There is a justification. When it comes as a extra fitting, it brings in artificiality," she adds.

Despite the popularity of these numbers, melodies continue to sell.

"The craze for fast beats is short-lived. The current trend may give way to another in a couple of years. There was a time when O! podu from Gemini was selling like hot cakes. But, people still ask for Ilayaraaja's Annakili. Such melodies linger on," adds Paramesh.

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