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Best Indian Singles of 2018

Top-notch songwriting and music that stood out head and shoulders above the rest

(Clockwise from top left) Hanita Bhambri, Bloodywood, Seedhe Maut x Prabh Deep and Parekh & Singh produced some of the country's best songs this year. Photos: Pornsoup (Bhambri); Prabal Deep (Bloodywood); Courtesy of the artists (Parekh & Singh, Class-Sikh Maut)

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Parekh & Singh, “Summer Skin”

In pondering the big picture, Kolkata dream pop duo Parekh & Singh arrive at a heartbreaking profundity, “Time’s a waste of life” on their latest single “Summer Skin.” The song, along with a handful of others, have been part of the intelligent pop act’s repertoire for at least a couple of years now, but its effect remains the same every time. A contemplative track about changing of seasons interjected with references to the Beatles and Woody Allen, “Summer Skin” proves that even if you strip away the dextrous drumming and trippy production, Parekh is still the voice of conviction over a simple strummed guitar. –Anurag Tagat

Calico, “Garnet Eye”

On their debut single, the sparkling “Garnet Eye,” Mumbai alternative band Calico showcase polished soft rock. Vocalist-guitarist Ivan Imkong sings with an intended air of mystique, “We turned ourselves to rust/Saw flowers turn to dust.” The song slowly builds with slick guitar parts, a smooth bass line and a solid groove courtesy of drummer Shashwat Karkare. –David Britto

Droolfox, “Descent”

Bengaluru-based electronica/synthwave duo Droolfox’s effervescent “Descent” opens with a sample of chatter recorded on a local train in Bangkok. The track then kicks into a disco style synth part and drum groove followed by a percussive guitar riff. Singer Jitesh Jadwani’s glossy vocals ties all the elements on the track together expertly. –D.B.

 

Bloodywood, “Jee Veerey”

Love ”˜em or hate ”˜em, they can’t hear your snarky comments over the sound of millions of views. But “Jee Veerey” was important for New Delhi-based metal group Bloodywood for more than viral fame. Their first original composition, delivering a rousing call to help those with mental health issues, was also released with coupon codes that could be redeemed at an online counselling platform. Joined by their now-trusty collaborator — rapper Raoul Kerr — Bloodywood infuse a poignant flute hook over djenty riffs for a powerful message about finding the will to survive.

Hanita Bhambri, “Let Me Go”

Even before she won music competition Project Aloft Star Asia Pacific and bagged a deal with Universal Music, Bhambri had been pouring her heart into her long-awaited new set, which included “Let Me Go.” Produced by veteran Kolkata engineer Miti Adhikari (whose credits go from Menwhopause and Nischay Parekh to Radiohead and Foo Fighters), Bhambri channels the likes of Adele and Florence Welch, for Brit folk flavored angst, bellowing about the trapdoors in love and loss. –A.T.

Prabh Deep and Seedhe Maut, “Class-Sikh Maut Vol. II”

“Class-Sikh Maut Vol. II” takes just three verses to showcase the skills of some of the best rappers in the country. Featuring New Delhi’s Prabh Deep and bi-lingual hip-hop duo Seedhe Maut, the transition from artist to artist per verse is seamless, thrilling with wordplay galore. The key to “Class-Sikh Maut Vol II”’s appeal however, is the track’s viciously unapologetic bass-meets-tabla beat courtesy New Delhi-based producer Sez On The Beat. –Riddhi Chakraborty

The Tekina Collab, “Claiming Me”

Certainly a high choice on singles of the year is Mumbai outfit The Tekina Collab’s shimmery, subline track “Claiming Me.” Vocalist Gowri Jayakumar’s vocals over an impeccably groovy rhythm section are a perfect blend and create a beautiful amalgamation of sounds. The hooky synth part during the track’s chorus by keyboardist Aniket Mangrulkar will definitely get you humming along to it after listening to the song. –D.B.

Azamaan Hoyvoy, “Everybody Looking For Love”

There’s a general vibe of ”˜feel-good’ that seems to linger around Mumbai-based singer Azamaan Hoyvoy and it’s only natural that it seeps into most of his artistry. “Everybody Looking For Love” (or “ELFL”) blends jazz, electronic and soul with Hoyvoy’s warm vocals to console all the lovelorn hopefuls around the world. At certain points it’s of like listening to a mashup of John Legend and Anderson .Paak. –R.C.

Takar Nabam, “Receding”

A melancholic track born out of lost love, the lead single off Arunachal-bred New Delhi singer-songwriter Takar Nabam”˜s album This Home, That Home, released earlier this year offers wiry, introspective alt rock on “Receding.” The song takes a robust, groovy turn mid-way, signaling a light at the end of the romantic tunnel. –D.B.

Yungsta and Frappe Ash, “NaNa”

This New Delhi-based up-and-coming duo could be India’s answer to Rae Sremmurd. Yungsta and Frappe Ash strode into the scene earlier this year with a truckload of confidence and a hard-hitting debut album packed with substance and heavy trap. “Nana” keeps it simple with haunting Oriental instrumentals and a deep bass that rolls steady to compliment the duo’s verses about growing pains, hip-hop and coming of age. –R.C.

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