ROCK MODE: OFF 😞 (ROCK ON 2 – Music Review)

Music Album Details
♪ Music by: Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy & Summersalt
♪ Lyrics by: Javed Akhtar & Kit Shangpliang
♪ Music Label: Zee Music Company [“Rock On (Revisited)” on T-Series]
♪ Music Released On: 20th September 2016
♪ Movie Releases On: 11th November 2016

Rock On 2 Album Cover

Rock On 2 Album Cover

 

To hear the full songs of this album on Saavn CLICK HERE

To buy this album on iTunes CLICK HERE

To hear “Rock On (Revisited)” on Saavn CLICK HERE

To buy “Rock On (Revisited)” on iTunes CLICK HERE

♪ Listen to “Rock On (Revisited)” on YouTube:


Rock On 2 is an upcoming Bollywood musical drama starring Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor, Arjum Rampal, Purab Kohli, Shashank Arora, Prachi Desai and Shahana Goswami. The film has been directed by Shujaat Saudagar, and produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani. The film is a sequel to the 2008 hit film, ‘Rock On!!’ which was like the pioneer for rock music in India, giving a whole new genre for the nation to like, love and perform for themselves. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy had given a brilliant soundtrack for that movie, and after that rock became an integral part of Bollywood music as well. However, times have changed, and now, after eight years, the rock scene in India has changed a lot! What Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy did in ‘Rock On!!’ now seems very ordinary (in that rock has evolved over the years) and now many composers have started using rock as a way of conveying both angst and fun, in almost all movies. Now, in 2016, the sequel to that movie is releasing, and the trio yet again, have to live up to expectations, but not necessarily live up to the standards of the first album (because rock has changed!) Though comparisons will definitely take place, I will try my best not to, because of the time that has lapsed, and also, because of the change of director for the second film. (The first one being directed by Abhishek Kapoor). Since Shraddha Kapoor and Farhan Akhtar are the female and male leads, it goes without saying that they’re going to sing songs in the album, and hopefully, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy use their limited abilities to bring out the best in both! 🙂 After that epic album to ‘Mirzya’, I’m kinda sure this one will sound less impressive, but you really cant blame the trio, because the genres are miles apart! Also, there is one song where Meghalayan band Summersalt collaborates with the trio, which is the seventh song of the album. So let’s see whether this album rocks on or not! 😛


1. Jaago
Singers ~ Farhan Akhtar & Siddharth Mahadevan

Sure enough, the album starts off with a song sung by none other than Farhan Akhtar, the lead actor of the movie, and lead singer of the Magik band (the band in the movie, in case anyone forgot). The song kicks off with a very groovy, and catchy rock guitar riff, and Farhan’s voice takes over to start off the melody of the song. The composition is quite bland, however. The mukhda is very low-key, and doesn’t scream in your face, “Hey, I’m a rock song, so you better cringe!” I liked that. Even the hookline is very catchy, and especially that line before the hookline which goes, “Sab jaan jaaye tumko…” is very catchy, and I like the way they drop down the scales one by one, in that line. Though the hookline has the singers scream in your ears, you end up liking it, because it is done very well, just like a professional rock song. It is the antaras, that cause the problem in the song. Well, at least the first antara is fine, it is just a repetition of the mukhda. However, once the second antara arrives, you can’t help but notice how long the song has been stretched, and on top of that, the quite sublime composition of this antara doesn’t help. It just gets you wanting the song to end soon, which i believe shouldn’t happen at all in a rock song! The composers do many great tricks with the arrangements though. The vibrant guitars are the main attraction of the song, especially that aforementioned riff. It plays throughout the song, and really helps in keeping you glued to the song. The drums (Jai Row Kavi) wonderfully supplement the guitars, and take the okay-ish melody to a different level. The interludes are full of great electric guitar solos, especially the second interlude, where the guitar first does a very awesome solo, and after that is broken down, making a sound like a machine gun does in video games. 😛 (I didn’t know how to describe that!) That part is electrifying! The vocals by Farhan are surprisingly full of zest, but (obviously because of the high notes) Siddharth has to give him a little help (which is okay with him, as long as it is something to do with screaming, that too, in perfect tune!) with the hookline, and Siddharth just rocks the hookline. Farhan doesn’t sound too husky in the song, and that’s a pleasant surprise. Javed Akhtar has written a good song about standing up to any wrongdoings and standing up for our rights. So, this song is two-in-one: entertainment plus awareness campaign! A good opener for the album, but if only the composition were a bit more well-polished, the song would’ve been awesome!

 

2. Udja Re
Singer ~ Shraddha Kapoor, Additional Vocals ~ Shankar Mahadevan

Shraddha, as expected, gets her first song for the album right away, and the song starts off with an entrancing and weird semiclassical piece, with Shankar (in a very chipmunkish, nasal voice that is obviously tweaked) singing a very nice aalaap. The composition starts off very mildly, with a quite ordinary mukhda, which is thankfully graced by Shankar’s weird nasal voice, which serves a great attraction, seriously! The composition only picks up in the midst of the mukhda, when Shraddha starts to sing the “Yeh jeena bhi socho koi jeena Hai..” verse. And then she sings the hookline in a very low scale, and that’s when you start loving the composition, which then goes nowhere but uphill. Shraddha repeats the hookline in a high scale, and that’s when the rock guitars and drums start off too, and from that moment onwards, the song is just energizing and catchy. However, it takes like two minutes to get to that part. Nevertheless, the wait is really worth it. The antara comes three and a half minutes after the song starts, and it is quite angsty, and very well-composed, and just as well-rendered by Shraddha. Overall, the composition is catchy and memorable, if not fast to start off. The arrangements by the trio are beautiful yet again. The guitars and drums (Jai Row Kavi) as always provide the perfect background to the song, while Shankar’s AALAAPS provide a nice semiclassical and also alien touch to the song. The drums are really energetic and energizing, and are enough to give you music to a nice morning workout. Shraddha’s singing, be it the miracle of some autotune or natural, is marvelous. She hits every note with perfection, and doesn’t falteer at any step, as I thought she would. (Like she did in ‘Sab Tera’ from ‘Baaghi’ where she was quite too high-pitched). Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are good here too, and motivational. A show-stopper of a song, mostly because of the arrangements and vocals, while the composition yet again, falls a bit flat. Nevertheless this one is a #5StarHotelSong!!

 

3. You Know What I Mean
Singer ~ Farhan Akhtar

A very happy-go-lucky guitar riff starts off the next song, which instantly reminds you of ‘Socha Hai’ from the first movie. The composition here too, is quite bland, though being so upbeat. The mukhda repeats twice in the song, while the hookline is just plain said, not sung. The antara is better than the mukhda, in that it has a more mellifluous composition. The arrangements are spunky, led by guitars and drums (Aatur Soni) again, and with the 2008 style of rock all around them. Theres not much more to talk about the composition and arrangements, because they are quite ordinary! In the interludes, however, there’s the usual nice rock guitar solos, that still sound impressive (that’s just because this is just the third song in the album) :p The hook where the backing vocalists sing “Oh-ohhh” sounds very clichéd, and also outdated. Farhan’s voice doesn’t help to elevate the pallidness of the song, because here, it is husky and very tedious to hear. Thankfully, the makers have kept the song short. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are so conversational, that it seems awkward at a point. When you experience déjà vu in such a youthful song, it means things are wrong, because the song is so plain!… You know what I mean! 😉

 

4. Manzar Naya
Singer ~ Farhan Akhtar

Here comes Farhan yet again, with another song, this time, a dulcet romantic melody. The composition is very pleasant and breezy — something that normal people in the real world (not characters in Bollywood) would compose and sing impromptu. The pleasantness of the composition actually works for it this time, and the trio churns out a very plain, simple song that touches your heart. The mukhda hooks you in all its simplicity, while the hookline very nicely blends in with the song, though reminding you of a lot of other such songs. The antara has quite some high notes, which, surprisingly, Farhan manages to touch rather smoothly. At the end, the mukhda repeats, and the song ends just as calmly as it had started. Talking about the arrangements, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have very beautifully employed a guitar riff that plays throughout the song, and is the USP of the song! (Do they need a riff to do that for them every time!? This is getting quite repetitive, but still wonderful!) But again, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are the best at those small riffs, be it vocal riffs or guitar riffs or wonderful percussion riffs. Speaking of percussion, the wonderful percussion (Anupam Deghatak) of shakers in this song brings that nice soothing quality to the track. The whistle in the interlude, instantly reminded me of that tune from ‘Teen Gawah Hain Ishq Ke’ (Mirzya), but then it dissipated and changed paths smartly and quickly. Backing vocals are beautifully placed in the antara, and the second mukhda. A female voice that seems to have gotten lost in the song suddenly appears somewhere towards the end, and that was quite weird, because it didn’t appear anywhere else before or after. Stray voice unleashed!! The vocals by Farhan are husky and faltery here too, but nevertheless, perfect for this type of song, which needed a faltering voice, as it was supposed to emulate normal people, and not Bollywood characters. 😛 Jokes apart, Farhan sounded good here, and the high notes in the antara particularly sounded well polished. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are just as simple and normal as anything else in the song. Pleasing, calm and above all, normal! #5StarHotelSong!!

 

5. Tere Mere Dil
Singer ~ Shraddha Kapoor

So after three songs by Farhan and one by Shraddha, one more song by Shraddha pops up on the album, and this one is just pure bliss. The “Tu Tu Tu Ru Ru Ru” vocal loop wonderfully opens the song up, and likewise, this is the USP of this song, and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy once again rely on this loop to carry the song. The mukhda is very well-composed, and oh-so-melodious. Technically the title of the song is in the mukhda, while the hookline is different — “Saari Jo kahaaniyaan hain..” and both the a and the hookline sound great in their own place. The hookline takes the song to a high, from where it never drops down. The whole magic of the composition is just so magical and entrancing, and it is the only song on the album which instantly reached out and hooked me. The ANTARA is also very beautiful, with a great assemblage of notes that complement the hookline and the entire song very well. So, the trio scores full marks with the melody of this song, but they still resort to the vocal loop to carry it forward.. Why!! Anyway, the arrangements are beautiful. A wonderful sarod helps Shraddha to make the song sound even more magical, playing the tune of her vocal loop itself. The rock plays a very little role in this song, though I guess the digital beats in the hookline are supposed to resemble the rock sound. However, the electric sarod replaces the guitar really well. The whole song has a similar sound to that of ‘Udja Re’ and also ‘Tumhari Meri Baatein’ from the first film — entrancing and mystical. Shraddha’s vocals are mystifying as well, and here, though it is evident that she has been autotuned, the whole thing just appeals nevertheless. The programming does justice to her rendition, and the trio has spun magic with their technical touches. Javed Akhtar, yet again, writes a good song, this time with a more melancholic feel to it. ‘Tumhari Meri Baatein’s equivalent fares far better than ‘Socha Hai’s equivalent. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bring a quite otherworldly feel to this one! Mystical! #5StarHotelSong!!

 

6. Woh Jahaan
Singers ~ Farhan Akhtar & Shraddha Kapoor

So here comes the long-awaited duet between the two lead singers. Now, even though these two have sung enough songs on the album already, I am not feeling any tedium, because the film actually calls for it.. So we can’t really complain. At least the lead actress isn’t Tulsi Kumar, and the lead actor isn’t Abhijeet. This time too, the composition is very mystical, and a kind of melancholia surrounds the whole song, but not the kind of tedious melancholia that gets you bored right away. This time, the melancholia actually works. The mukhda sees Shraddha start off the song, on a beautiful note, with the trio’s low notes working nicely to attract your attention. However, it is only when the hookline arrives, that you actually start getting the hang of the song and grooving to it. This time, the trio doesn’t rely on any instrumental piece to carry forward the song, and this one has pure melody taking it forward. The hookline has a mind-blowing composition. As Farhan takes over with the second stanza, which has the same composition as the first, you start drifting away a bit from the song. His portions aren’t as interesting as Shraddha’s and his voice (in this song) doesn’t really have that capacity to keep listeners listening. His part starts off the same way that Shraddha’s does, but then takes a different turn, as the tune changes as he progresses towards the hookline. After that, it is merely an instrumental piece to listen to, which ends the song on a high. More about that later. The arrangements are impressive in this song. A wonderful sarod (Soumik Dutta) takes centre-stage here too, while the rock elements keep entrancing you. The guitars are impressive as always (here taking a number of impressive variations), while the drums (Darshan Doshi) are just as intriguing. The interlude between Shraddha’s and Farhan’s stanzas, has that wonderful sarod piece, accompanied by piano, as well as a nice shaayari by Shraddha. The piano accompanies the singers well in the stanzas, and then hands over things to the rock instruments. At the end, as I said before, there is a wonderful instrumental piece which just keeps you hooked. There is another wonderful electric guitar solo there, which makes sure you don’t go anywhere. The backing chorus with their chants nicely helps the instrumental piece get more interesting, and it ends with a striking guitar strum. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are at their philosophical best, and he really weaves up a thought-invoking poem. Another mystical composition, which unfortunately gets highly tedious in the middle. Arrangements propel the listener through the tedium.

 

7. Hoi Kiw / Chalo Chalo
Singers ~ Usha Uthup, Kit Shangpliang & Pynsuklin Syiemiong, Co-Composers ~ Summersalt, Khasi Lyrics by ~ Kit Shangpliang

The next song finally sees some other singers taking the mic. And who else it is but the bold-voiced Usha Uthup? Along with a North-East Indian band called Summersalt, two of whose members accompany Usha on the vocals front. The composition for this one is quite fun and upbeat, but again, just as ‘You Know What I Mean’, I couldn’t quite catch hold of it. It might sound stupid, but I felt that the composition was just too typical, and reminded me of some European folk song. I found nothing in the composition that was hooking in any sense, and the hookline seemed very passable. The Khasi portions were fun to hear, but then it is not something I would hear again and again, either. The vocals by Usha Uthup seemed overshadowed by the Khasi band, whose lead male singer, Kit Shangpliang really excelled in the vocals. Usha seemed sidelined like a side attraction in the song, while the female Khasi singer barely had much of a scope to open up. The arrangements were pleasant, with the folksy duitara (Adorbha C. Shangpliang) sounding very nice and groovy. The rock arrangements in this song were quite similar to those in ‘You Know What I Mean’, and I found it quite boring. The Hindi lyrics were good, and depict a very free nature, while it was fun to hear the Khasi lyrics and not understand them. Very mixed feelings about this song…

 

8. Ishq Mastana
Singers ~ Digvijay Singh Pariyar & Shankar Mahadevan

This next song seems like such a misfit in this album.. But I’m still gonna review it as if I am a robot who can’t really make that out. The composition seems like a song that just ran away from the ‘Mirzya’ album and made a home for itself in this album — maybe a rejected song that was supposed to be there before ‘Hota Hai’. 😛 Or maybe an unused song that was lying around since the days of ‘Mission Kashmir’. The angsty feel in the song makes me feel this song isn’t going to be one that the band in the movie performs, but it might be a background song, which plays at a critical point in the storyline. The composition is quite interesting, a typical Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy Punjabi folk composition, which has a very catchy hookline. The rest of the composition is quite low-key and ordinary, something that didn’t really compel me to listen to it over and over again. The arrangements are fantastic here as well (tired of saying this so many times!) The keyboard (Gulraj Singh) which very professionally tries to imitate the tumbi, is the USP of this song, and it does a good job too. The rock element, though, is surprisingly the best part of this folk misfit. The rock guitars (played here by Ehsaan Noorani) and drums (Aatur Soni) always go well with a nice Qawwali-esque folk composition, and that is evident here too. The bass (Dibyajyoti Nath) really stands out here, which it didn’t in the previous songs. The percussions (Anupam Deghatak), mainly tabla, stand out well, but sound very clichéd and heavy. The dhols (Hanif Dafrani & Aslam Dafrani), which seem to be remnants of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s ‘Hulla Re’ (2 States), really do a great job in catching the listener’s attention. Meanwhile the dholaks (Prasad Malandkar) fail to reach out in the hard-hitting rock. The vocals are amazing too, with Digvijay Singh (the one from ‘Jaago Mohan Pyaare’ from ‘Katti Batti’) overshadowing Shankar! His voice is simply magical! However, Shankar shows his finesse in the high notes and aalaaps. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are not excellent, but they’re good here. A song that doesn’t fit into the album, but even if I judge it without knowing that, a song with a very underwhelming composition for a Punjabi folk song! The only great thing here is the arrangements, AGAIN!

 

♪ Extra Song – released by T-Series

9. Rock On (Revisited)
Singers ~ Farhan Akhtar & Shraddha Kapoor

Since the first album was on the T-Series music label, of course T-Series retains the rights for the remake to the title song, and so this track released separately later on. This could well have been the first promotional song of the album, but the makers chose ‘Jaago’ instead. On a whole, the overall sound of both the songs is the same, and the electric guitar riff that is the USP of the original song, gets a makeover here. It was broken down like staccato in the original song, whereas here, it is a complete, flowing guitar piece. I liked the change, it sounds fresh. The new composition is good too, especially the mukhda, which instantly drew me into the song. The hookline is already a favourite of the nation, and I can’t really comment anything else on that, as it is wonderful. The antara is beautifully composed as well, and continues the original hookline, not to mention supports it, well. The arrangements are, as in the rest of the album, electrifying. The electric guitars and drums (Darshan Doshi) yet again, provide the awesome rock feel to the song, without making it too boring. Again, a nice guitar solo graces the interlude. The vocals though, is where the song could’ve been a bit (a lot???) better. Farhan sings well, and I can’t really say much since he sang the original song, but I couldn’t help feeling that after the “Zindagi milegi na dobaraaa”, he sounds as of a ghost has suddenly possessed him or he is suffering from a sudden chill. I don’t know..! Shraddha has sung her parts very flatly, and it could’ve been way better. Well, yes, it kind of brought the raw feel to the song, but I would’ve enjoyed it if it were technically right as well. Javed Akhtar’s lyrics suit the youthful craze of the song, and will do well. A good revamp of the title song, and I really can’t expect more than this for this remake, so it is a #5StarHotelSong!!


Rock On 2 is a very underwhelming album. I started listening to it with a lot of hopes, thinking Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy would repeat the magic of the first album, and also because of their recent release, ‘Mirzya’, which was beauuuutiful. However, the trio seems to have delivered some quite stale songs. When an album I expected so much out of, disappoints in this way, I start doubting myself. 😬 The songs really fail to strike that chord, barring a few of them. The others rely on gags like a repeating guitar riff to propel them forwards. On a brighter note, a thing I noticed about the album is how Shraddha’s songs (except the title track) are mostly the mellow, sobre and melancholic types, while Farhan’s are the upbeat ones. Maybe it has something to do with Shraddha’s character in the movie, who isn’t allowed to explore herself as a musician owing to her parents’ restrictions. But I noticed that and found it worthy to be pointed out. Also noticed that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy seem to be struggling with modern-day and normal-life-movies albums after their comeback. ‘2 States’ and ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’ being an exception, their other albums for rom-coms and other urban-themed movies have been underwhelming, like ‘Katti Batti’, ‘One By Two’, and ‘Ghayal Once Again’, and now this. On the other hand, they composed awesome music for period films and films with a different theme. So I guess that that has become their weak point over the years. Anyway, when such a talented trio disappoints you can’t really do anything (because you know it is not going to happen again and again) but wait for their next album in the hope of it being better than the last! Rock mode is definitely ‘off’ for this one!

 

Final Rating for This Album: सा < रे < ग < म <  < ध < नी < सां

Note: The letter which is underlined is the final rating.

Recommended Listening Order: Tere Mere Dil > Udja Re > Manzar Naya > Rock On (Revisited) > Jaago > Woh Jahaan > Ishq Mastana > Hoi Kiw / Chalo Chalo > You Know What I Mean

 

Which is your favourite song from Rock On 2? Please vote for it below! Thanks! 🙂

 

Next “dish”: Tum Bin 2, Chefs: Ankit Tiwari & Nikhil-Vinay 

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One thought on “ROCK MODE: OFF 😞 (ROCK ON 2 – Music Review)

  1. Another well written review. Though i dont agree with the final words of most of the songs n the verdict of the album, but i read ur reviews for the beauty of ur writing n verdict doesnt affect that… So good job yet again ☺👍

    Liked by 1 person

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