Bollywood has had a terrific 2022 in terms of the variety of soundtracks and volume of quality songs. 2023, in comparison, fell short by a distance as it had just about an album or two that truly flaunted a personality of its own. On the plus side, there was a marginal decrease in mindless remixed numbers and an increase in songs that became popular through Instagram Reels.
Below are some highlights from the Bollywood music scene in 2023:
The Re-Emergence of Sonu Nigam
Meet the man that every Bollywood-loving music lover wanted to resurface. 2023 will be remembered as the year when Sonu Nigam returned in full force and that too in A-list films, singing for superstars. With a string of memorable songs (in my list and possibly in others), the vocalist’s proven mettle hasn’t aged a day.
The Zest of Youth Captured Right
First of all, I thank OAFF and Savera for continuing the vibe they brought in Gehraiyaan with Kho Gaye Hum Kahan and Starfish in 2023. Due credit should also go to Tiger Baby Productions for trying this ‘new sound’ in their films, all supervised by Ankur Tewari. The biggest result this year ought to be The Archies, a near-perfect soundtrack that brought back an out-of-form Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy in style.
Let’s Warm Up to Bona Fide Musicals
Speaking of The Archies, 2023 was an impressive year for films that used music as an integral part of their narratives. Amit Trivedi did a swell job in Anurag Kashyap’s underrated Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat wherein he dished out an array of funky numbers that merged beautifully in the film’s plot. Another notable album was Animal by various artists which used folk Punjabi folk music in key action and dramatic sequences.
An Overdose of Male Solos
What’s with Bollywood composers refusing to utilize female singers? It is appalling when a film like Tarla which chronicles the life of a celebrated female chef barely has a song in a woman’s voice. A lease of life was brought in by Shantanu Moitra in the year’s sleeper hit 12th Fail wherein the signature song in Medha Shankr’s voice spilled magic onto the narrative.
Sample It Right
Although Bollywood composers (largely) spared us from mindless remixes last year, it was also the year when they got inspired in the most creative ways. The most striking number has to be the controversial Karar Oi Louho Kapat from Pippa wherein AR Rahman put Kazi Nazrul Islam’s lyrics to interesting results. Harshavardhan Rameshwar delivered an unexpected banger in Animal’s viral number ‘Jamal Kudu’, taken from a popular Iranian folk song. Mithoon did a great job of revisiting two of Uttam Singh’s iconic numbers in Gadar 2 without tampering with their soul.
Pritam-Amitabh Bhattacharya – The Golden Run Continues
A pair on the verge of turning legendary for Gen-Z and the late millennials, the duo delivered big time in 2023 with a string of good and chart-busting songs. Among all the work they did, the soundtrack of Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar stood out for its fabulous mix of catchy and soulful numbers.
What Happened To Karan Johar’s Musical Mojo?
How can a filmmaker who gave us iconic musicals such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil go wrong? Well, Karan Johar didn’t exactly fall flat on his face but the songs of Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani could not match up to the standards he had set for himself.
Hello, Instagram Reels
Karan Johar’s film was notable for What Jhumka – a not-so-exciting rendition of ‘Jhumka Gira Re’ – designed to fire up on Instagram Reels and did. The bigger surprises were thrown by ‘Jamal Kudu’ and ‘Arjan Vailly’ from Animal which are trending in millions on this date. Jawan’s ‘Chaleya’ may be far from the best of any artist involved but the song, too, was viral from the word go.
Arijit Singh Burnt the Dance Floors
It might be a personal choice and perhaps an odd one but I enjoy listening to Arijit Singh the most when he croons pacy club numbers. 2023 was the year when he seemed to have maximum fun with foot-tapping numbers such as ‘Leke Prabhu Ka Naam’, ‘Jhoome Jo Pathaan’, and ‘Pyaar Hota Kai Baar Hai’.
Quantity Over Quality for Shreya and Sunidhi
Sunidhi Chauhan who made a splash with the popular web series Jubilee failed to bag a memorable film song despite singing many. The story was a little different for Shreya Ghoshal who did have several good to great duets but a crackling solo number evaded her.
Here’s the list of the year’s Top 25 Best Bollywood songs, ranked in reverse order:
25. Shehzada (Shehzada)
24. Chal Ve Watna (Dunki)
23. Oonchi Oonchi Waadi Mein (OMG 2)
22. Show Me the Thumka (Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar)
21. I Wanna See You Dance (Kho Gaye Hum Kahan)
20. Tere Vaaste (Zara Hatke Zara Bachke)
19. Leke Prabhu Ka Naam (Tiger 3)
18. Mohabbat Se Kranti (Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat)
17. Aami Jaani Re (Mrs. Chatterjee Vs Norway)
16. Dil Se Dil Tak (Bawaal)
15. Main Parwaana (Pippa)
14. Chal Tere Ishq Mein (Gadar 2)
13. Khushi Ke Bahaane (Shastry Vs Shastry)
12. Hone Do Jo Hota Hai (Kho Gaye Hum Kahan)
11. Jaadui (Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar)
10. Bolo Na (12th Fail)
9. Kudmayi (Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani)
8. Besharam Rang (Pathaan)
7. Phir Aur Kya Chahiye (Zara Hatke Zara Bachke)
6. In Raahon Mein (The Archies)
5. Pyaar Hota Hota Kai Baar (Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar)
4. Pukaroon Hari Om (The Great Indian Family)
3. Plum Pudding (The Archies)
2. Duniya (Almost Pyaar with DJ Mohabbat)
1. Itni Si Baat (Sam Bahadur)
HALL OF FAME
Male Singer of the Year: Sonu Nigam
Female Singer of the Year: None
Composer of the Year: Pritam
Lyricist of the Year: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Best Sung Song (Male): ‘Duniya’ by Abhay Jodhpurkar (Almost Pyaar With DJ Mohabbat)
Best Sung Song (Female): ‘Bolo Na’ by Medha Shankr (12th Fail)
Best Original Score: Harshavardhan Rameshwar (Animal)
Best Music Production: Kho Gaye Hum Kahan
HALL OF SHAME
Worst Soundtrack: Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan
Worst Original Song: Lets Dance Chotu Motu (Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan)
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2022
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2021
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2019
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2018
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2017
The 25 Best Hindi Film Songs of 2016