Pakistani musicians speak out
With the likes of the Noori brothers, Ali Zafar and Aunty Disco Project posting away on their online blogs, the rambling thoughts of celebrities have come right to our computers.
When I first started blogging in 2003, there were only a handful of Pakistani blogs that one could find. Over the past five years though, blogging has exploded in Pakistan (many years after the rest of the world, but I suppose better late than never), with a proliferation of online blogs by Pakistanis. With this, the response of bloggers to crises that have hit Pakistan such as the 2005 earthquake or the emergency in 2007, has seen Pakistani blogs to be quoted on foreign news websites like BBC, Slate and the Washington Post.
And the blogging phenomenon has also come to Pakistani music. When bands such as Noori, Aaroh and EP first burst out on to the music scene, what set them apart was they had become instantly accessible to their fans through the discussion forums that existed on their websites. But as these bands faded away from the scene and the limelight shifted onto different genres of music, Pakistani musicians are now making their voices heard via their blogs.
Celebrity blogging has actually gained immense popularity abroad over the past few years, with the likes of Donald Trump, David Beckham, Kanye West and Paris Hilton latching onto the bandwagon, using their blogs to clear up rumours about them and getting their opinion heard in a format they have control over. Amitabh Bachchan has taken it to a whole new level - he actually posts transcripts of his interviews to ensure he don't get misquoted in print. However, with celebrities such as the infamous Lindsay Lohan using her MySpace blog as a platform to engage in a virtual war with her estranged father, one hopes that isn't an example Pakistani celebrities aim to emulate!
But after all, everyone has the right to free speech. And blogging is a great way to vent and get your frustration out -as evidenced by Aunty Disco Project member Omar Bilal Akhtar's blog. While Omar's blog (adpdiaries.blogspot.com) is rather witty and proves a great insight into musicians trying to make it big, as well as a hilarious commentary on everything from the Lux Style Awards to working with television channels; he appeared to be rather frustrated with a review in a newspaper of the recent ADP/Munchkins gig. Omar's main beef seemed to be with a quote from the review that read: "Unfortunately, at a venue such as the PACC and with songs that didn't match his passion for exhibitionism, his 'performance' seemed very much over the top." Omar retorted on his blog, "I just feel really targeted... I don't mind being criticized over a lacklustre performance or bad singing or songs, that's part of the deal. But to get criticized for jumping around on stage? Would she (the reviewer) rather I just stand still and stare off into space?" One instantly wondered if Omar would soon be recording a cover of Stereophonics' infamous 'Mr Writer' - the song that Stereophonics wrote in response to a bad review.
Ali Noor, whose blogging habits were recently covered in Instep Today, even blogged (on thisisalinoor.wordpress.com) about the fact that it had made the news, writing "Some guests were over to see Sanjana (Ali's newborn daughter) and my blog was under discussion especially the fact that The News covered it…my Dad was saying that I sometimes make "English" mistakes….."
Ali Hamza (hamzasays.wordpress.com) and Ali Zafar (alizafar.net/blog) are two other musical bloggers of note - they not only post quite often, but also update fans on anything and everything: from Hamza posting about Eid and the baqras, to Ali Zafar posting a rough demo of a song about the late Benazir Bhutto.
But while the writing on the musicians' blogs is disjointed, and as Ali Noor's father has correctly pointed out, English grammar and punctuation rules ignored, the musicians have been presumably able to connect with fans to whom they may have earlier only seemed unapproachable, given their celebrity status. After all, via these blogs one has it straight from the horse's mouth!
link: The News International - No. 1 English Newspaper from Pakistan - Saturday, December 30, 1899