Nescafe Basement. Handout image

The television series Nescafé Basement is among Pakistan’s most popular music shows. The show’s fifth season ended recently and enjoyed a positive reception from audiences and critics. The series, which was started in 2012, was created by Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan, popularly known as Xulfi, a musician associated with the Pakistani rock acts Entity Paradigm (EP) and Call.

Auditions for the show’s fifth season began near the end of 2018. Contestants were offered a chance to submit their entries on their social media profiles and use relevant hashtags related to the show and Nescafé.

NESCAFÉ Basement Season 5 is here and auditions are now open! Time to reveal your inner artist, inbox us your auditions before 15th October 2018.#NESCAFÉ #NESCAFEBasement5 #ItAllStartsHere

Posted by NESCAFÉ on Thursday, 27 September 2018

My try for nescafe basement season 5(i tried don’t hate)Nescafe BasementNESCAFÉ BasementZulfiqar Jabbar Khan – Xulfi#jagnatouprrayga#nescafebasement5#Xulfi (sir)

Posted by Syed Ali Tabrez on Monday, 1 October 2018

Hi. I play the ukulele. This is a cover of Riptide by Vance Joy. Hoping I can play my ukulele in #nescafebasement5 #nescafe #itallstartshere

Posted by Iqra Shoukat on Monday, 15 October 2018

Season 5 has been not only the most musically diverse season of Nescafé Basement but diverse as compared with other music shows as well. A sense of unity was highlighted in this season. The most interesting aspects of this season were the introduction of new and young talent whether it was the eight-year-old girl Hadiya Hashmi with a powerful voice or the All Kids Band, an outfit comprising energetic children and the use of rarely seen instruments. Even in terms of genres, Nescafé Basement delivered it all, whether it was Qawwali, pop, rock or EDM (electronic dance music).

The promo song

The promo for this season was released in January and included a lineup of artists from different backgrounds and of all ages. The promo song was titled “Jaagna Toh Parega” and it managed to surpass 3 million views. The positive reception to the promo highlighted a lot of expectations for the season, on which the show not only delivered but exceeded those expectations.

Episode 1

The first episode was released in early February and included two songs, Bol Hu, an original, and Mehbooba, a cover version of a popular Pakistani song.

Bol Hu, which in English means “Just Say Hu” (God), is an original by the Pakistani band Soch. The band is also popular in India and has a lot of popular numbers under its belt, one of which was featured in a Bollywood film. Bol Hu received acclaim upon its release. What caught the attention of many people was Hadiya Hashmi, 8, who performed on vocals. Her voice garnered a lot of praise in Pakistan as well as internationally. The team behind the song was invited to many shows in the country as well. The talented Hadiya Hashmi is surely one of Pakistani music’s most exciting discoveries.

The song also presented two other exciting things. The dambura, a nearly extinct instrument played by Jamil Ayyan from the ethnic Hazara community settled in Quetta, and the Surtaal Music Academy in Lahore run by music teacher Zia Ul Haq, where kids are taught music (some of the students were featured in another song, Pyar Diya Gallan, from Nescafé Basement Season 5 as well).

The song Mehbooba, which means “Beloved” in English, was featured in the first episode too and it received great praise. The song is a cover of a 2002 Pakistani song of the same name by musician, producer and social activist Haroon Rashid, who praised the rendition as well. Another interesting aspect was a 13-year-old playing the drums for the song along with the adults. The young drummer, Sinnan Salman, is the son of popular Pakistani drummer Salman Rafique. Mehbooba is another exciting song to come out of this season.

Check out the amazing live performance of Mehbooba here

Posted by Haroon on Saturday, 2 February 2019

Episode 2

Episode 2 featured two songs, Haiderium, an original Qawwali by a young Qawwal group called Zain and Zohaib, and Ranjha, another original song by Shahzad-E-Ali.

Both debutants displayed such excellent performances that it was hard to believe that they had never been heard of on such a platform. The original songs will pave the way for these new Pakistani musicians to touch great heights.

Episode 3

The third episode of the season saw the introduction of an all-kids band. Everything in the songs released in this episode featured children; from being on vocals to playing the keyboards, guitars and drums.

Nescafe Basement – Pyar Diyaan Gallan

Ladies and Gentlemen, we present to you Pakistan’s youngest musicians giving the message of love and peace to the world with their version of Fakhr-e-Alam, Fringe Benefits and Yasir Akhtar’s 90’s hit “Pyar Diyan Gallaan”.Everything you’re about to hear has been played by these kids. #NescafeBasement5 #PakistanZindabad #PyarDiyaanGallan

Posted by Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan – Xulfi on Friday, 15 February 2019

The song, Pyar Diya Gallan, by the all-kids band in this episode is a cover version of a popular 1990s Pakistani song by Fakhr-E-Alam from the band Yatagan, who is now best known as the host of the Pakistan Super League, Pakistan’s most popular T20 cricket league tournament, Yasir Akhtar from the band Arid Zone and the band Fringe Benefits, which comprised Shehryar Kureshi and Mohammad Ali.

The cover version of Pyar Diya Gallan in Nescafé Basement by the all-kids band was praised by Fakhr-E-Alam, who was one of the singers of the original song. He expressed his praise in a video message.

It’s not just us but the brilliant Fakhr-e-Alam is equally wow-ed by the Nescafé Basement Season 5’s Pyar Diya Gallan cover, performed by the super talented ALL KIDS BAND! A big shoutout to Xulfi and the entire team fo Nescafé Basement!! #jaagnatohparega #itallstartshere #PyarDiyaGallan #FakhreAlam @falamb3#PakistanCelebritiesMagazine

Posted by Pakistan Celebrities Magazine on Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Episode 4

Episode 4 featured popular Pakistani musician Ali Khan on the Nescafé Basement stage where he sang his original Teri Yaad. A rendition of the popular late Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s song Piya Re was featured in the episode as well.

Ali Khan is a popular Pakistani musician who is known for his songs like Saathiya and Koi Aye Na. He has the ability not only to sing but to express beautiful narration, which is conveyed in his vocals, and the melody produced coincides with it. This was displayed in Teri Yaad, an original he did for Nescafé Basement this season.

“Piya Re,” originally sung by the popular late Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, is not an easy song to do. However, the rendition in Nescafé Basement does not only do justice to the original but is an exciting listening experience in its own right. Nescafé Basement delivered an excellent performance of “Piya Re” that featured Jahangir Niazi on vocals.

Episode 5

The fifth episode of the season featured two songs as well; Resistance, an original by 18-year-old Pakistani singer-songwriter Abdullah Siddiqui. and a combination of three songs, Aadat Instrumental/Bhanwaray/Har Jaga Hai Jal, featuring one of the original minds behind the three songs, Goher Mumtaz.

Resistance is a song in the EDM genre and is by 18-year-old singer Abdullah Siddiqui. Resistance was a surprising element to see this season that worked in the show’s favor, and Abdullah Siddiqui has deservingly garnered a larger fan base.

Resistance also features two interesting instruments. The dhulara, which is 90 centimeters in diameter and which Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan (Xulfi) referred to as “Pakistan’s biggest drum yet,” was played by Hasan Zafar and Ali Awan. The laser harp, an electronic version of the harp, was also featured in the song. The laser harp, an invention of Sibel Ahmed and Waqas Naveed, is a one-of-a-kind instrument in Pakistan that was played by Ahmad Butt, the head of Rearts, a Pakistani record label and distribution company.

People, this is the “Dhulara”. A big drum that was specifically designed for it’s introduction in Resistance. Every…

Posted by Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan on Tuesday, 19 March 2019

The Laser Harp AnthologyAn innovation by Sibel Ahmed, the Laser Harp is a one of its kind instrument and the only one…

Posted by rearts on Sunday, 24 March 2019

The other song featured in the episode was Aadat Instrumental/Bhanwaray/Har Jaga Hai Jal. Aadat is one of the most iconic songs in Pakistani music’s history, which was originally by the Pakistani band Jal of which Goher Mumtaz is a member. While Aadat was entirely instrumental, Mumtaz provided vocals to Bhanwaray and Har Jaga Hai Jal, the two other songs in the arrangement. Originally sung by Pakistani singer Atif Aslam, who was previously a member of Jal, the rendition received positive reception as well. The rendition is reminiscent of the 2000s when the original was released and easily captivates the audience.

Episode 6

The sixth and final episode of the season featured one powerful performance. The song in this episode was a rendition of popular Pakistani Sufi singer Abida Parveen’s Gharoli and Ghoom Charakhra that featured Tahseen Sakina and the Baluch Twins, namely Asim Baluch and Adil Baluch. This powerful performance was an excellent way to conclude the season.

What’s next?

The diverse season of Nescafé Basement is a promising sign for the future of Pakistan’s music industry. The season revealed that the country possesses musical gems from different backgrounds and of different ages.

This season has exceeded expectations of not just what’s to come up for the next season of the show but of other music shows in the country. It is hoped that Nescafé Basement will continue to provide a platform for more new Pakistani artists.

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