Now, I know that this writeup is going to be subjective
, and possibly even a rant
. And I should admit that I do not have an in-depth knowledge of Bhangra
music (to be honest, I only have limited knowledge of music in general). But as we've got plenty of writeups featuring some metal/country/rock-listening guy from the midwest USA
as "that's not real music maaaan", I think it's only fair I give my opinion. I invite Bhangra fans to correct me and hopefully point me to some highlights of the genre.
I don't understand the appeal of Bhangra. All the songs sound the same - an ultra, ultra repetitive beat (played on traditional Indian instruments) paired with inordinately overblown singing. If you've ever seen a Hindi musical movie (or even a clip of one) you'll get the general idea. I realise my description of the two basic elements could be applied to most styles of pop music, but the true awfulness only becomes apparent in the implimentation.
Female vocalists whine the same high-pitched refrain over and over again (sometimes hundreds of times). The beat, although played by a group of skilled musicians, is like a jackhammer or a washing machine in its repetitiveness. At least techno and house occasionally try having a hook or a breakdown or something to break up the monotony. Bhangra just occasionally speeds up or replaces the beat with a repetitive, undanceable thumping. The female vocalists always sound like banshees on lithium and the men sound about 50.
This is all, of course, opinion. But the other thing that I don't understand about Bhangra is that unlike reggae, or soul, or any other type of music the BBC would describe as "ethnic" (i.e. developed by immigrants), Bhangra is purely backward-looking. It's just poppy Indian (South Asian) folk music. There's no experimentation or (as far as I can tell) relevance to the life of second generation Asians in the UK. Yes, it's something from home and keeping traditions alive and blah, come on, surely it could have changed one tiny iota in the last 50 years? Also as a result it seems to be much more "closed" to non-Asians. Maybe I don't have the complete picture, but this is how it seems to me.
At which point my neighbours turn off the blaring Bhangra and start playing UK Garage... argghhh....