REFLECTIONS 2015: Top 10 Best Albums of 2015

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Bollywood had an interesting year of music, whether it was A.R.Rahman delivering a cohesive soundtrack in Tamasha or Amit Trivedi conjuring up the jazz and swing sounds of Bombay’s jazz age in Bombay Velvet. There was also less pressure on one music director to deliver when multiple artists contributed to the film’s hits like Roy’s ‘Chittiyaan Kalaiyaan’ by Meet Bros, and ‘Sooraj Dooba Hai’ by Amaal Mallik. 2015 was definitely a year for experimentation for music directors, which we completely appreciated including the retro albums like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo with the title track capturing the nation on Dubsmash. Read on for our picks of the year, and let us know what your faves were.

1. Bombay Velvet – Irrespective of what you thought of Anurag Kashyap’s magnum opus of Bombay’s murky past filled with gangsters, business tycoons, torch singers, and hitmen, you can’t dispute that it was most original and innovative album’s of the year. The gorgeous ‘Dhadaam Dhadaam’ was stylishly shot with Anushka Sharma emoting her heart out and Neeti Mohan’s stellar vocals recalling the type of torch song you hardly hear in Bollywood anymore. Bombay Velvet is truly Amit Trivedi’s best album of his career, because there’s a genuine craftmanship at work in every track making it appeal to both the jazz purists and listeners wanting to dance. Bravo to Trivedi and his team for this fabulous album.

2. Bajirao Mastani – If the film was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s tribute to Mughal-e-Azam, then working on the soundtrack himself was his effort to recreate that expansive and lovely Naushad style, and it paid off! Whether it was reworking his gem ‘Albela Saajan’ with more horns or creating a very contemporary song in ‘Malhari’, Bhansali shows us that he’s more than capable of handling all the duties to actualize his dream project. It’s hard to pick a standout on this album, because each song is textured and has lots of sounds to savour, or new voices like Vaishali Made or Payal Dev to keep you hooked.

3. Tamasha – There was a time when A.R.Rahman was going through a patchy phase from his middling Lekar Hum Diwana Dil album, but in 2015 he’s delivered one of his loveliest albums with Tamasha, where he’s paired with Imtiaz Ali who appears to bring out the best in Rahman. In this director-music composer team, all the songs have a certain mood they’re going for, and it’s evident in the upbeat songs from ‘Matargashti’ to the soulful ‘Safarnama’. We have to credit Rahman for letting us hear Alka Yagnik’s voice from the haunting ‘Tum Saath Ho’, and she’s in stellar form here.

4. Prem Ratan Dhan Payo – This was one album that you just couldn’t escape from in 2015, that was how ubiquitous the soundtrack was on social media, and Dubsmash especially. From Sridevi acing the steps or Bajrangi Bhaijaan moppet Harshaali Malhotra making us go “aww” everyone wanted to try the “Prem Ratan” dance and it’s easy to see why: retro sounds work. From the huge percussion section in the title song or the bantering in ‘Jab Tum Chaho’, Himesh Reshammiya showed us that he can apply his typically dated sounds into the right kind of film. Here’s hoping that at some point, Reshammiya can do his best again with another Salman film.

5. Baahubali (All Languages) – We’ll be talking for eons about how awe-inspiring Baahubali looked with its CGI and how amazing the fight scenes were in the second half, but it’s the music that’s suitably epic for the multilingual gem. M.M. Keeravani had the tough task of organizing three soundtracks in Telugu, Tamil, and Hindi and every song somehow wormed their ways into our minds. I definitely can’t think of ‘Prabhas’ without the huge horns and percussion in ‘Siva Sivaya Potri’ as he walks through waterfalls with a lingam on his shoulders. Keeravani has delivered a great album that definitely get us hyped to see what he might deliver in the second film with it’s likely big battle scene, which we hope comes complete with a rousing song.

6. Katti Batti – Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy have delivered some lovely work when they are paired with Nikhil Advani, and Katti Batti, despite its middling plot, had a great soundtrack. The adorable stop-motion sequence for ‘Lip to Lip’ was extraordinary with Ritu Pathak and Nikhil D’Souza’s fun and sexy chemistry. The album was fresh and every song had its own buzz that’ll make it live on even if the film wasn’t great.

7. Piku – It’s an unwritten rule that all road movies, however long the characters are in the vehicle, have to have excellent music. Piku had Anupam Roy creating a soulful ‘Journey Song’ to punctuate the squabbles and great scenery that the characters pass by. The softer tracks like ‘Lamhe’ or ‘Teri Meri Baatein’ had great sitar solos and Roy has a very tender voice that’s not intrusive to the flow of the sequences they’re placed in. This one that’s definitely going to be a part of your driving playlist for the future.

8. Dil Dhadakne Do – If all road movies have good music, then all boat movies should take note of the joyful songs in Dil Dhadakne Do, which Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy crafted. There’s the one shot sequence of ‘Gallan Godiyan’ that’s tons of fun with Sukhwinder Singh improvising and scatting, and it matches perfectly with Anil Kapoor’s very energetic dancing! But my personal favourite is ‘Girls Like to Swing’ that has that Parov Stelar neo-swing vibe and having Sunidhi Chauhan sing it is the icing on the cake! The less said about Farhan Akhtar’s singing on the title track the better, but Priyanka Chopra has a good few verses to showcase her husky voice, which is fab.

9. Dilwale – We doubt there’s ever been an SRK-Kajol film with bad music, and Dilwale delivers some gems with ‘Gerua’ and ‘Janam Janam’ where the Jodi show off their amazing chemistry and make you forget the rest of the madness around them. The funkier songs were definitely ‘Manma Emotion Jaage’ for which everyone needed to do a Dubsmash, and ‘Tukur Tukur’ where hoverboards are incorporated into the song.

10. Bajrangi Bhaijaan – How could we leave out an album that features an ode to chicken and a paean to selfies? Most Salman Khan films have catchy soundtracks which means half the battle is won already, but this time it was a rare treat that the story and songs were structured well into the narrative. Pritam made a versatile album that’s worth its repeat plays, especially ‘Selfie Le Le Re’, which you can use to justify all those shameless selfies you want!

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