Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Angrej Ali ft. Aman Hayer – Ajja Ajja

Bhangra means money…?


Anthony Easton: I have no idea what is going on here, but I am enjoying myself. The best bit is where the song stops and starts, interrupting the almost expected seamless rhythms inherited from Bollywood. I also appreciate the instrumentation over the vocals, but not by much.

Brad Shoup: Couldn’t tell you what’s textually going on, but this is a rush. It starts as a midtempo cruiser, then picks up with a real sense of drama, maybe from the BGVs, maybe from the synth hits leading into the chorus (a technique improved from a previous attempt). Ali’s vocal leaps are a knockout; they’re the part I’m carrying with me.

Iain Mew: The initial beat and riff is incredible, so delicate and yet so powerful. Then the slapping percussion floats in and it gets into a proper groove and it’s pretty much pure pleasure from then on. The little synth hits and excited whistles suggest party music, but it must be one graceful and mellow party.

Jonathan Bogart: It seems I have Hayer to thank for the production, silkily bombastic and a great backgrop to Ali’s fluid voice. I don’t know bhangra music or culture at all (is it aspirational working-class music?), but the video reminded me of Mexican regional music: the same emphasis on modern technology, middle-class signifiers, and fitting romance into the texture of everyday life.

Edward Okulicz: Hmm, so it turns out this is one of the songs I’ve been hearing leaking out of the headphones of a dude on my train in the morning at alarmingly high volume. It caught my ear, and the bits that caught my ear half-muffled — namely, the perkiest, boppiest bhangra beat, and the chanted “ajja ajja” — still sound good. It’s rich and gorgeous, a veritable rainbow of songs. The actual non-“ajja ajja” bits of the song leave me rather cold; I will concede I’ve heard the song far fewer times than I’ve heard the rest of it, so next week I might be ruing this score…

Alex Ostroff: My knowledge of bhangra doesn’t run deep, but I’m a sucker for it and have been since high school, when albums and films from their parents’ collections half-ironically soundtracked late nights hanging out with my desi friends. It’s one of the few genres of music that can simultaneously code as both languid and genuinely joyful (and opposed to merely pleasant). The chorus of ‘Ajja Ajja’ is killer and the production is detailed without overwhelming the vocals, the light trills in (what might be) the sitar are a lovely touch, and the occasional appearance of synths feels natural. It never sounds self-consciously dance remixed, if that makes sense. The only thing holding it back are the verses, which are nice enough, but don’t stick in my brain the way those from my favourite bhangra tracks do. A minor complaint, though, given how perfectly calibrated this is for the early days of summer.

Josh Langhoff: I should buy whatever it’s selling, because then my life would be just as well ordered as all those perfectly-placed string stabs and sound fx and ululations. This song is money in every conceivable sense, especially the smarmy ones.

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