|Music of Pakistan|
|Media and performance|
|Music awards||Lux Style Awards
|Music festivals||All Pakistan Music Conference|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||Qaumi Taranah|
Since the 1980s, the rock music has its own distinctive elements, such as a homegrown class of sounds and melodies, spanning progressive rock, hard rock, or heavy metal, initially influencing the development of the heavy metal music in late 1990s. Pakistani rock is almost entirely sung in Urdu, however many new bands have recently come out with songs in Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi and English languages.
New wave of music (1980–1989)
The rock music in Pakistan began in the 1980s with the arrival of many of cassettes of several Western rock music groups such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Van Halen and among others. By 1983-85, various underground rock music groups began to perform at the local five-star hotels and university campuses in the country. The rock music had rooted in the ultraconservative regime of President Zia-ul-Haq who had denounced the Western culture and put forwarded the program of Islamized transformation of the country.
In mid 1985, the Western-influenced rock music began to be notice by the public and the underground concerts were held all over the country. The quick success of the rock music jolted the country in a peak time when the ultra-conservative regime of President General Zia-ul-Haq was reigning supreme as dictator masquerading as a "democratically elected." The President with a puppet parliament sanctioning his every move reeking of a Machiavellian brand of so-called "Islamisation." President Zia-ul-Haq had famously and strongly denounce the "western ideas" such as jeans and rock music. Various groups had garnered and got the attention of the public and the rock music naturally got appreciated as it was out of the ordinary.
Ironically, it was these political and economic tensions and pretensions, heavy metal, rock music power plays and the economic prosperity that also propelled the gradual expansion of the country's urban middle and lower-middle-classes. According to the leftist cultural critic, Nadeem F. Paracha: "The youth culture at that emerged from these classes that launched the first shots of the kind of pop culture, scene and music we now call modern Pakistani pop and rock."
In mid of 1986, Benazir Bhutto returned to the country and rallied a mammoth rally that weakened the conservative President Benazir Bhutto. The country’s major urban music media centres saw a quiet but certain outpouring of brand new rock bands who wanted to sound somewhat different from the time's top pop-rock scions. During the peak and end times of regime of President Zia-ul-Haq, there was popular wave of cultural change in the country, and the youth at that time was attracted to many underground rock music bands. In 1986, the Vital Signs released its very first single Do Pal Ka Jeevan which became an ultimate success and the band built its reputation in Pakistan's underground music industry. The rock music bands and trios came to be perceived by many Pakistani fans and country's cultural observers as a "promising new era of cultural revival". Their enormous popularity significantly opened a new wave of music and a modern chapter in the history of Pakistan.
In the 1980s, the rock bands including the Strings, The Barbarians, The Final Cut, Jupiters, Junoon, and Vital Signs gained a lot of public appraisal and popularity for their act; the public opnion was generally positive and welcomed the bands for their unique act. The STN, NTM, and PTV launched a show titled Music Channel Charts to highlight new talent every week due to popular youth demand.
Continuing success (1990-Present)
The Vital Signs were followed by Junoon, Awaz, Strings, and Jupiters, which all of whom had exploded the pop, rock and heavy metal music genre in the country, bringing the significant shift of country's transformation into modernism during the 1990s. The Pakistani rock further matured itself and gained public appraisalwith the arrival of American satellite television in the 1990s. The popular form of music quickly spread throughout the country and with that came the arrival of various rock bands in the 1990s. Early rock bands such as Vital Signs and Junoon are regarded as the pioneers of Pakistan's rock music. Other bands such as Strings began in the mid 1990s and during the late 1990s underground bands were becoming a norm in cities across Pakistan. In a short span of time, the Western-influenced rock bands gained enormous popularity and were generally welcomed by the public. The Music Channel Charts became the first rock music entity that gives ratings of rock band and Music '89 was the first ever all pop/rock music stage-show to be aired on PTV and other privately held channels.
Cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad witnessed an explosion of rock bands and concerts in 2000 as Pakistan began to liberalize under President Musharraf's "enlightened moderation" campaign. In 2002, a major shift in the rock music of Pakistan occurred with the arrival of the Pepsi Battle of the Bands, which saw bands like Aaroh, Mizraab, Entity Paradigm and Mekaal Hasan Band appear onto the scene. Finally Pakistan saw good rock music, with respectable instrument playing. In 2006 Raeth and Aaroh spread waves across the border by their debut song Bhula Doh.
The Vital Signs emerged during the times of Pakistan when country was controversially put forwarded towards the Islamization. With the rise of Vital Signs and later, Junoon and others, the rock music, exploded in the 1980s and 1990s, became a vehicle for expressing patriotic nationalist spirit in Pakistan. Undoubtedly, the rock music has been one major influential force which has truly kept the national spirits high amidst the prevailing social woes which have had worsened in since the 1980s, such music included songs like "Dil Dil Pakistan" and many more.
In 1980, such Western ideas were denounced in the country, and the film industry was declining quick to compete with counterrevolution of Indian film industry. According to the editorial written in The Express Tribune in 2011, the "Vital Signs and Pakistan's ingenious rock music was the only "arsenal" the country had against India's encroaching entertainment industry."
The band Junoon is said to be the pioneers of "Sufi Rock— a genre of Pakistani rock which mixes Sufi poetry with modern rock music elements. They sang mostly in Urdu, in a style blending Western hard rock with Sindhi and Punjabi and folk. Junoon effectively created an audience for rock music in Pakistan. "The band's appeal reaches beyond the Westernised elite", said Newsweek. Q magazine called them "One of the biggest bands in the world". The New York Times referred to Junoon as "the U2 of Pakistan".
In a preview of Junoon's performance at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, the L.A. Times said that Junoon's "ability to captivate audiences" is "inspiring Beatles-like reactions". Junoon has been credited with beginning the "Junooni" generation in Pakistan, similar to that of the MTV generation in the United States.
The majority of all Pakistani rock bands are contemporary in nature, often mixing soft rock with Pakistani classical music. Several popular bands, including EP, Call, and Noori, have been integral in revitalizing the rock culture in Pakistan.
After the successful emergence of Vital Signs in the 1980s and Junoon in the 1990s, the heavy metal music genre began to rise after the 1997 general elections. The Black Warrant was one of the earliest heavy metal band that releases its very first album in the public. The roots of Pakistani heavy metal music can be traced back to the British styled New Wave when it was transferred in late 1980s and early 1990s. In the 1980s, the bands "Final Cut" and Barbarians are considered the earliest Pakistani heavy metal bands. Although they were short-lived, they influenced many other musicians. Guitarist Salman Ahmad gained fame for his unique style of playing Sufi-style and neoclassical musics in heavy metal form.
The second wave of heavy metal artists, including bands such as Dhun which was Fawad Baloch's more conventional metal project and Black Warrant which still continues to promote the genre. The most notable and productive work on heavy metal genre was bestowed and carried out by the Mizraab whose Panchi album was an ultimate success in this genre. Guitarist Faraz Anwar of Mizraab's solo instrumental work is widely noticed by the public and news channels dubbed Anwar as "Pakistan's master of progressive-metal rock." In recent studies and reports conducted by CNN, the Heavy metal is one of Pakistan's most popular genres of music, and country's radio FMs broadcast the music each week. Since 2004, the economic liberalization programmes of Prime minister Shaukat Aziz which helped open the new Pakistan and several music video channels, have trigger the underground heavy metal movements in cities such as Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.
Although Mizraab, a band led by Faraz Anwar that is considered to be Pakistan's first progressive metal band, have also played a significant role in promoting the growth of metal music in Pakistan. Furthermore, bands such as Jehangir Aziz Hayat, Takatak, Messiah and Foreskin are examples of significant metal bands that have surfaced in the past five years.
"Underground" is an umbrella term that covers bands that perform in small establishments throughout the country, most notably in the various universities and colleges in Pakistan. Bands like Kainath, Seth, Incision, Black Warrant and symphonic metal band Jangli Jaggas were some of the earliest underground bands. Other bands such as Burzukh, Corpsepyre, Holy Black, Against All Odds, Hassan Sheraz, Ecstasy, ICU and Sifr have recently emerged. There are a large number of bands from all across Pakistan at present including The world famous Kamode Band, Black Warrant, Paranoid, Mercury, Kain, DissBelief, Ahsan the band, Drain, Lithium, Drainage, Cultural Jukebox, The Rising, Genocide, and Hypnotix-2000. The underground scenes in both Karachi and Lahore are teeming with college students eager to become famous. ICU is the first Pakistani punk band.
More recently Death Metal and Progressive Metal have experienced a rise in popularity in the underground Pakistani music scene. Newer bands composed mostly of university students have taken a huge step in taking the heavy metal scene of Pakistan forward. Bands like Berserker, Black Warrant, Cardinal Sin, Elegy, Communal Grave, Sacrament, Avatar, Dementia, Odyssey, Takatak, Keeray Makoray, Reckoning Storm, Ruin and Soul Vomit among others have already made their mark in Pakistan.
- Jehangir Aziz Hayat
- The Kominas
- Mekaal Hasan Band
- Sajid & Zeeshan
- Vital Signs
- 1980 in Pakistan
- Music of Pakistan
- Pakistani hip hop
- Culture of Pakistan
- Rock and Roll
- List of Pakistani musical groups
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