Omer Inayat - Be The One (2006)

Another lawyer turns musician – and we are not talking about Ali Noor. The new kid on the block is Omer Inayat, a young new singer with a fantastic debut single that is so good that it is actually coming out in mix cassettes with names like Gwen Stefani in local selections. His video hit airwaves sometime ago and while the video is nothing to write home about, the song is simply superb. "You've Got Something (Tenu Le Ke Jaana)" is in one word, addictive. Bass and percussions take the lead here. It starts off with "You've got something" and when the Punjabi chorus overlaps with "Tenu le ke jaana", one just wants to hum along. The lyrics blend in well with the melody and composition. You can't imagine it any other way.

This track makes something very clear – after rock music's domination in the current music scene, now it's all about beats, percussions and happening tracks (we still love rock, though). Hip Hop and R&B music is a rage all over the world. From Kanye West to Craig David, Bombay Rockers to Raghav, this is the music of the 21st century, the generation X that wants to take over the dance floor and sing "We're gonna party as much as we can". Omer picked up on this information and has come up with an album that proves that he knows just how to rock the party.

There are all sorts of songs on this album. The title track, "Be The One" is a unique number. It sounds familiar but it's never been done, not here at least. There is desperation in Omer's voice as he sings, "Can I Be The One To Tell You That I Care". Acoustic guitaring opens the pace of the song. One would think it's a slow number but with flute and dhol beats in the background, it is just the opposite. And the addition of saxophone gives it that jazzy feeling. It's a track one can go listening to while jogging. It's a happy number. And while we're on happy number, another good one is "Kya Yeh Pyar Hai". Drumming in this song is marvelous. It's fast, happening and complements the heavy guitaring. This is a pop/rock number and a welcome addition. The lyrics are ordinary but just because the music is so good, this track is worth a listen. The deep blue version of this track, however, is disappointing. There was no need for this track. Skip it.

With all happy songs, there are sad, mushy love songs. This album has quite a few of them and most of them are pretty good. "Yunhin", "Closed Eyes", and "Kaash" – all three have elements of sadness and melancholy attached to them. But none of the tracks sound the same. "Yunhin" is mysterious and with subtle piano being played in the background and gloomy guitaring, it makes a great number. The morbidity is apparent as the lyrics go, "Yaadein Teri Jalti Nahie, Manzilein Kho See Gayie, Neendein Meri Ur See Gayie." Moving onto other human emotions that agonise in different ways, "Kaash" is about regrets and mistakes that one makes in a relationship with subtle saxophone in the background. It's a mellow romantic ballad. And "Closed Eyes", calling a lost love. The latter's music is more on the lines of "You've Got Something" but it forms its own distinction with the haunting, emotional singing. The only disappointment in this song are all the "Wooh's" and "Aahan".

Rap comes in the form of "Kya Honay Laga". But it's just a dull number with predictable tones and rather chessy lyrics. An average track. Skip "Gangster Mix", its just random noise of smashing and vehicle siren sounds that is in the album for no rhyme or reason.

And now, we come to the gem, ahh, a true dance number that would make you want to stand up and do a tango or swing your head around in a peculiar but fun sort of a way. The track is "Beqarar". It's a seven–minute long song, which opens at a relatively slow pace but soon breaks into beats that remind one of Darude, in a non–cheated way. It's a through and through percussion track with guitars taking a backseat. One can picture it being played in a discotheque, where a man sits and sings about not understanding what he's feeling while the world around chooses to dance.

"Be The One" doesn't have dazzling, intricate wordplay or thought provoking questions about social disparity. But it's a darn sight better than most pseudo–intellectual rock albums coming out left, right, and center these days. The lyrics on the album are romantic to the point of being sappy and most of them are very ordinary. But then again, so was Ali Zafar's "Huqa Pani". But Omer follows the grand master of new age Pakistani pop by delivering enough pleasant and fresh melodies that continue to change pace with every song. And he has his USP as well. "Be The One" employs the use of English and Punjabi in the same tradition as the super smash Bombay Rockers from across the border. Artistes have attempted it, but few efforts have worked. But the ones that have worked, have been super sellouts Abrar's "Sanoo Tere Naal Pyaar Ho Gaya" and Annie's "Mahiya". Some of Omer Inayat's songs have the same potential to be those irritatingly catchy chartbusters you can't get out of your head.

Unfortunately, the recording and production quality of the album falls short. It doesn't sound clean enough. Omer needs to work on this because it makes the album sound bad. But overall, this is a good debut. Pick up a copy of this album. It's worth a listen. This is exactly the kind of variety that music that the Pakistani pop mainstream lacks. Hopefully, Omer Inayat's debut will open the floodgates for many more artists.

Maheen Sabeeh
The News International, Pakistan