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The wrong mix

With a sudden drop in sales of remixes, music mixers are trying their luck at going original, writes Soumik Sen.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2006 15:42 IST

Puritans may finally have a reason to smile. The remix is dying out all by itself, as listeners turn their backs on the biggest 'musical' phenomenon in the last five years.

But how did it get all mixed up in the first place?

Blame it on the dance floor. Or should the honour for remixing (and ruining, as the puritans may claim) songs be reserved for those who drove the first nail in the coffin with the 'jhankaar beats'?

Back in the early nineties, T-Series pioneered the trend of introducing a rhythm loop into a track and selling 'jhankaar beats' versions of substandard songs.

And it was not long before the loop quotient developed into a full-fledged industry.

Singers like Anamika and Harry Anand mastered the art of making erstwhile masterpieces their own, courtesy umpteen replays of tastelessly done music videos, while DJ Nikhil Chinappa goes on record saying he used to live with the radio set, thanks to which he learnt the 'fine art' of mixing music.

But with sales graphs heading south, several DJs have crossed over to the other side. Take Harry for instance. Harry, who came to Mumbai to become a singer (his brother, by the way, is music director Anand Raj Anand) has moved over from doing sleazy cover versions of Mohd Rafi songs, and will be wearing the composer's hat in the upcoming Sunny Deol flick Teesri Aankh.

"In the last five years I have done 25 remix albums," he says, "but now remixes aren't selling anymore because music directors are remixing their own songs." In fact, remix album sales have plummeted to as much as a tenth of what they used to be.

"The sale of remix albums is plummeting every day. It used to be four to five lakhs per release even a year ago, and now it has come down to as less as 60,000," says Shivaji Gupta, vice president, Universal Music.

Though the story is similar in other music labels, CEOs aren't brave enough to admit it. But Ajit Kohli, general manager, artists and repertoire at T-Series, admits that "like any other thing remixes also had an expiry date. And now it is upon us to promote original talent."

So what becomes of neversay-die remake gurus like Neeraj Shridhar of Bombay Vikings?

He made Celina Jaitley cavort in a mini while peppering Hemant Kumar's eternal strains from Bees Saal Baad with inane words.

His writing and musical arrangement come straight from his advertising days in Sweden where he used to compose jingles for brands like Wrigleys. And his current crop tastes like the chewing gum, except of course that the flavour in it isn't his.

"I think upholding traditional music is a noble concept," he proclaims. Sure. But since he isn't giving the proceeds away to Hemant Kumar's family, it would be better to ask him about his original compositions.

"I have done original songs like Angel Eyes and Chambola but music companies never chose to promote my songs," he sighs. Damn! We wonder why.

"And anyway I think composing original music is a lot easier than remixing old stuff," he passes the final verdict.

Before you pass out, Universal Music's Gupta throws in a challenge. "Why don't they try remixing flop melodies and show us if they can try and make hits out of them. Will any of the remake wonders ever be able to deliver an ingenious hit of their own?" he questions.

First Published: Jan 10, 2006 15:42 IST