Universal Records, Audio CD, Rs. 75
We’ll admit we had some hope for Priyanka Chopra’s English vocal debut. The actress had sung in school choirs while growing up – and even one film, Thamizhan; we thought there would be a distinct sound she’d craft, perhaps one that highlighted her husky voice.
But In My City is musically generic, lyrically filled with platitudes. The song is supposedly about her growing-up years, wandering from city to city because her father was in the Army; yet, there’s little of herself that comes across. The song is a mash of standard dance-pop manoeuvres. There’s a whole lot of synthesised music on the track, and even her own voice is auto-tuned beyond recognition; this could be anybody on the vocals.
The rap appearance from The Black-Eyed Peas’ will.I.am does little to relieve the monotony; indeed, it manages to increase it, because of how predictable his exhortations to, say, ‘Let the music play/Dance the night away’ are. It’s not strictly relevant for an album review column, but if you check the music video out on YouTube, a similar lack of direction to the whole thing emerges: there’s some stereotypical ‘Bollywood’ sashaying early on, and the rest is a hash. We’re left looking at images of Priyanka Chopra’s stardom, and that’s it.
By the end of the much-awaited single (a preview to her album, which releases in December) you’re likely to be swatting at the song for the earworm quality it’s taken on. You’re also left wondering which city she’s talking about – one where everybody’s welcome, with “no worries”, and a supposedly legendary party scene.
Her vocal abilities are clearly packaged for an international (at least, American) audience: the song is a featured track at a football series in the US. It saw its worldwide launch on the night of the series’ kickoff, and will be played around the time of each game.
Additionally, Troy Carter, who manages Lady Gaga, is to manage her – this is an association that has been suitably highlighted in the buzz leading up to the album’s release. So the single – and, indeed, her vocal career – might be a success of marketing; for instance, fans are already gushing about the fact that her debut was international, as if she were too good to restrict herself to the ‘lowly’ Indian market.
But musically? Let’s just say that In My City might work if a craving hits for the sort of over-produced music that typically fills up a fast-food chain store. Even so, how one might distinguish In My City from the large body of repetitive, unoriginal dance-pop will remain a mystery.