Perhaps the story in Pakistani pop at the moment is the swift rise of Abdul Hannan, whose two songs with young producer Rovalio this year, have become incredible hits. What is staggering about this story is how big these hits are, how early in both of these artists’ careers they have conquered the charts, and how they did so with no endorsement from corporate sponsors.
Of course, as is true with most overnight successes, the story of these two artists reveals a long grind before this point. Abdul Hannan, the songwriter, has been working on his guitar, doing covers, slowly building his way up to fully-produced original music over years. Rovalio, the producer, is barely 20 years old –if that–, and has a body of work which in its sheer volume challenges many established producers who have been around the industry longer than Rovalio has been alive. In his repertoire are collaborations with Hasan Raheem, Shamoon Ismail, and Annural Khalid – extremely relevant names for the recent renaissance in Pakistani pop.
The genius of these two songs is their minimalism. The melodies are effective but uncomplicated. The production leaves much room for the listener to fill the empty space with their emotion. Together the collaboration of Abdul Hannan & Rovalio creates a sweet emotional ambiguity which lends these songs to be available to a wide audience regardless of what sort of day they are having. The trap of a music industry where artists must establish their musical talents not just amongst the audience, but also amongst themselves, is the arms race to display musical virtuosity. That has its place of course, but at times can come at the detriment of the audience. I hope both these artists will lean on the clarity of their thinking in upcoming work. There is much reason to remain deeply optimistic.