Traditional Bhangra Song RIP? 2019 had many high points for Punjabi music. We had a Sardar chart in the top 40 mainstream for the first time. Laung Laachi became the first song from India to hit 1 billion views and artists are touring everywhere. The scene internationally is growing like never before. Yet as we go into a new decade, we have to ask – Is this the decade we say goodbye to the Bhangra/Punjabi music influenced songs?
Has the rise of the scene come at a cost to the ‘Chakma’ (traditional dhol driven songs) song?
Diljit Dosanjh kept the fire burning with Shadaa
2019 saw over 14,000 Punjabi songs released into the market, that excludes remixes and bass boosted versions (lol). Yet, fewer songs than ever (43%) had no traditional Punjabi/Indian instruments used in them.
Most of the songs which had no traditional instruments used in them were from outside of Punjab. Some of 2019’s biggest hits had little or no Punjabi/Indian instruments used at all. So has the scene changed that much that we don’t need our traditional instruments?
Every function our team attended last year the same thing was repeated to us ‘where are the actual Bhangra songs’. People who are in charge of generating playlists for Spotify even asked the same thing; Why is everything so chilled out? Has Punjabi music actually lost its powerful music and replaced it with gangster pomp lyrics?
Almost every big hit from 2019 such as Don’t look, No Need and Morniye are all played with dhol loops placed on top or sped up to generate more of a Bhangra vibe (when played at public events). So, it’s evident that people still want that sound and feel when at a social gathering. So why are people not pushing that sound instead of being reliant on others adding the traditional elements in their songs? The new breed of Punjabi music producer has a whole library of sounds available to them and we do appreciate innovation, but we have to be careful not to lose that actual connection to Punjabi music.
Wedding DJ’s and DJ’s who gig on a regular basis have also spoken with us over the last few weeks voicing this issue. The question was asked by them to us ‘do you know of any real Bhangra songs coming out?
We are not saying that every song should use traditional instruments. We understand music has changed and evolved, no one advocates new Punjabi music as much as us. All we are saying is make the most of what we have. The scene is changing and the term ‘Bhangra’ song is set to become something that is used very sparsely.
Using the right instruments at the right time is key and should be done carefully. We went through a phase in the late 2000’s where a basic dhol loop and tumbi pattern were added to everything. This took away from their importance. Please let us not return to that. We just want Bhangra songs not to die! The listening public want Bhangra songs, the DJ’s are asking for it, now lets hope the artists can reverse this swing. Let’s make sure this is not decade we say RIP to the Traditional Bhangra Song.
Please let’s NOT make the 20’s the decade where Punjabi music became the missing factor from Punjabi songs.
The end of 2019 saw two albums released that both maximised the use of traditional instruments! One was 56 Districts by the one and only Panjabi MC. The other was Dreams by Manna Music – Hopefully, these two albums are a sign of things to come this decade and not just Bhangra music signing off!