Refreshing tracks, new voices, fresh lyrics, funky experiments… Mollywood music had all the right notes in 2013. In a year that saw films elbowing each other for release, obviously Malayalis had a lot of songs to choose from for their favourite hum list. Certain new voices impressed, a few established names continued their golden run and some disappointed.

Ringing in the change

They say, well begun is half done. Annayum Rasoolum did just that. The first release of the year, Annayum Rasoolum was cinematographer Rajeev Ravi’s directorial debut. Arresting frames, Fahadh Faasil’s and Andrea Jeremiah’s superb performances and catchy tunes by Kollywood composer K (Krishna Kumar) made it a winner. ‘Kaayalinarike’, ‘Kando Kando’, ‘Vazhivakkil’, ‘Yaaname’ and ‘Zammiluni’, two of them being remix versions of songs sung by Mehboob, struck a chord with listeners. Its songs encompassed genres and flavours that ranged from flock to rock.

Miracle at the box office

Barely three months into the new year there came a movie that surprised viewers with its story, performances, narration, and music – Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Amen. Prashant Pillai created nothing short of a musical. The flavour and exuberance couldn’t have been better. While Lucky Ali pulled off his first Malayalam song, ‘Vattoly’ with elan, the choir song ‘Aathmavil’ was pure magic. Picking the best out of the seven tracks isn’t easy. Yet, ‘Solomanum shoshannayum’, a duet by Prashant’s sister Preeti Pillai and Sreekumar, more of a traditional hymn, just made romance sound the most beautiful feeling in the world.

Well-composed indeed

As for the composers, M. Jayachandran pitched in nostalgic tunes for Celluloid, which poignantly captured the story of J.C. Daniel, the father of Malayalam cinema. While ‘Enundode Ambili Chandam’ fetched Sithara the Kerala State Film Award for best playback singer, the duet ‘Kaatte kattee’ came as a breath of fresh air in the voices of G. Sreeram and Vaikom Vijayalakshmi. He also gave singers such as Mridula Varier, who rocked with ‘Lalee, lalee’ from Kalimannu, and Haricharan Seshadri, soaring high on ‘Mazhaye thoomazhaye’ from Pattam Pole, much to cheer about. The Tamil track ‘Antha naalil’ sung by Madhu Balakrishnan and Harini was another beautiful track from Pattam Pole.

Gopi Sundar impressed with his tunes in Left Right Left, especially the rousing number ‘Kaal kuzhanju’ sung by Murali Gopy. Though the movie 10.30 a.m. Local Call didn’t do well, the melody ‘Etho sayahna’ by Sachin Warrier was noticed. Gopi also takes the credit of making maximum celebrities croon for him – Murali Gopy, Dulquer Salmaan (ABCD), Dileep (Sound Thoma) and Remya Nambeeshan (Arikil Oraal). Gopi also roped in Kunal Ganjawala to sing for 5 Sundarikal.

On a new track

A melody that came from Bijibal’s kitty was ‘Ilaveyil…’ sung by K.S. Chitra in Artist. Rex Vijayan rocked with his compositions for Neelakasham Pacha kadal Chuvanna Bhoomi. Vidyasagar teamed up with Lal Jose yet again, for Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum and came up with catchy tunes. But, Lal opted for Prashant Pillai in his year-end release, Ezhu Sundara Rathrikal, smitten by the latter’s tracks in Amen. Sathyan Anthikad was another director who opted for a change. After working with Ilaiyaraaja for many films, he chose to work with Vidyasagar in Oru Pranaya Katha. Both the above experiments didn’t disappoint altogether. Shaan Rehman broke away from his Thattathin Marayathu image and came up with different tracks for Thira.

Rocking the charts

Then there were a few songs that were liked irrespective of the fate of the movie. For instance, Rahul Raj’s ‘Kili Poyi’ from the ‘stoner’ movie Kili Poyi, the tracks ‘Veyil chilla’ from Zachariyayude Garbhinikal by Vishnu-Sharath, and the melody ‘Azhakolum mariville’, composed by Stephen Devassy and sung by Haricharan in KQ. Watch out for Govind P. Menon, founder of the band, Thaikoodam bridge, singer and composer of North 24 Katham. He roped in Raghu Dixit to croon a song. Another one to tune in to is Rahul Subramanian, Remya Nambeeshan’s brother. He gave fresh tracks for Philips and the Monkey Pen.

New directions

* Shyamaprasad’s multi-cultural English saw American clarinet player and composer Shankar Tucker collaborating for a Malayalam song, ‘Aakashamey’ composed by Rex Vijayan and sung by Rohan Kymal.

* It was also a year that saw rock bands coming up with promo songs. While Vidwan came out with the promo song of Romans, Kochi-based Black Letters worked in 5 Sundarikal and city-based Kolam in Vedivazhipadu.

* One couldn’t make head or tail out of it, still ‘Pistah’ the song from Neram, composed by debutant Rajesh Murugesan went viral. While Jayachandran composed the fun track ‘Dosa nalla’ from Proprietors Kammath and Kammath, Dulquer Salmaan and Jayasurya debuted as singers with their quirky numbers ‘Johnny Mone Johnny’ in ABCD and ‘Aasichavanu’ from Punyalan Agarbathis, respectively.

* According to the music portal www.malayalasangeetham.info, nearly 120 new composers announced or recorded their songs this year of which over 60 have got their movies released. A whopping 230 plus new singers have entered the industry, of which 90 plus have got their songs released. And Rafeeq Ahamed continues to be the sought-after lyricist.

Star singers

Before they were written off as one-film wonders, G. Sreeram and Vaikom Vijayalakshmy who shot to fame with the song ‘Katte katte’ in Celluloid had more movies coming their way. While Vijayalakshmi stole the hearts with her rendition of ‘Ottakku padunna poonkuyile’ in Nadan composed by Ousepachan, Sreeram had songs in Nadan and Oru Indian Pranaya Katha. Mridula Varier, who got the soulful ‘Lalee, lalee’, and Najeem Arshad had a good run, compared to the veterans and seniors. Then there was Chandralekha, who was made a star by YouTube and has recorded her first film song.

Celebrity brigade

Remya Nambeeshan, Lal, Murali Gopy, Andrea Jeremiah, Dulquer Salmaan, Dileep, Jayasurya, Meera Nandan…