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THE ENDURING APPEAL OF BOY BANDS PLAYING POP MUSIC

Noor Anand Chawla

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No matter when you were born, you are familiar with the hysteria that often accompanies successful boy bands that make pop-music – whether the group in question is The Beatles from the 60s, Backstreet Boys and NSync from the 90s and early 00s, or the K-Pop sensations of today. A number of Indian all-male pop groups have also made a name for themselves over the years. It is this enduring appeal that attracts newcomers to the field, even in the midst of a pandemic. The only change inflicted by the present circumstances is that instead of full albums and EP’s being launched at once, now singles reign supreme. Yet even these singles are often clubbed together to form an EP or an album at a later time.

Chennai-based boy band RAAG, is the latest all-male pop group to join the bandwagon. Known for their cover versions of Bollywood songs, they recently released their first soulful single ‘Tu’ in the run-up to their debut EP, ‘Unchi Udaan’.

When singer Pratap met his classmate Soorya at the Dr A R Rahman KM College of Music & Technology in Chennai, they immediately clicked as creative souls are wont to do. A true-blue love for Bollywood songs, and common taste in music and bands, led their friendship to become a fruitful musical partnership. They teamed up with Bhairab, Shoaib, and Rahul to form RAAG band in 2018, a Chennai-based pop group best known for its renditions of Bollywood songs, performed on Youtube as well as in live gigs across Chennai and other parts of India. After tasting success, they took the period of the pandemic to work on their first original EP ‘Unchi Udaan’, which will be released in parts over the next few months, with its first song ‘Tu’ launching on October 2.

“The song depicts the core thought behind the emotion of love, which is so strong that you need two people to contain it, bind it and complete it. What one feels, the other understands, what one lacks, the other completes. Tu is not a song but a feeling that one experiences. The feeling of being incomplete without the other,” explains vocalist Pratap.

As an out-and-out romantic ballad, ‘Tu’ is about a young protagonist pining for his lost love. Through upbeat music and catchy lyrics, the audience gets a glimpse of the protagonist’s pain. According to Surya, the lyrics were written to highlight the fact that music is capable of making one feel at peace when everything seems to be in chaos.

Written, composed, and produced entirely in the lockdown period, Tu is a reflection of the personal difficulties faced by each of the band members – young boys ranging from ages 23-29. Pratap explains, “We all had a difficult time separated from our friends and families. We were stuck in our homes for months and that’s when we wrote this song. We worked with Arjan Dev Singh who penned the amazing lyrics for it. The song is mixed and mastered by our favourite mixing engineer Vivek Thomas.”

Pratap does vocals and compositions, Soorya is the music producer and composer, Bhairab is the guitarist, Shoaib is the bassist and composer, and Rahul works the drums. Three of the band members are part of A R Rahman’s Sufi ensemble and have performed with him in various parts of the country and abroad. Soorya holds the distinction of having performed alongside the Maestro himself at the UN General Assembly in 2016, in an exclusive concert held as tribute to the late Carnatic singer Dr MS Subbulakshmi. Pratap has additionally recorded vocals for various Sufi albums and movies like ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’. Rahul has played tabla for the Malayalam film “8amPadi” and Tamil film “Magalir Mattum”, and also worked with Jonita Gandhi. Bhairab and Shoaib work as session artists in the industry.

Soorya shares, “We describe our music as positive, hopeful and uplifting, based on situations or things we experience – it’s different every time.” Their second single for the EP, called ‘Befikar’, will be out soon. Till then they encourage you to stream their single ‘Tu’ on their Youtube channel @raagtheband and across all major platforms like Spotify, Gaana, Apple Music and others.

The writer pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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