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#RSEssentials – KK – Gone Too Soon

The late singer left behind a string of hits in different languages

Amit Vaidya Jun 02, 2022

Singer and composer KK aka Krishnakumar Kunnath. Photo: Endeshow1/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

As the world mourns the untimely death of renowned singer KK (Krishnakumar Kunnath), he leaves behind an incredible musical legacy that audiences will carry with them for generations. One of the most versatile recording artists of the last two decades, KK didn’t just serenade us but also shared our pain, and across numerous languages including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Gujarati and more.

Rolling Stone India celebrates the man who will go down in music history as yet another one of the greats gone too soon. Here are some of his must-listen songs.

“Pyaar Ke Pal (Pal – 1999)

KK’s debut solo studio album Pal broke through in part because of the iconic song, “Pyaar Ke Pal.” Another track from the album, “Yaaron,” ended up being used by filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor for his film Rockford. This song served as the perfect prelude for the singer’s remarkable run of commercial and critical hits performed for film soundtracks. The sad irony is that the last song he’d sing on what would be his final performance ever was “Pyaar Ke Pal,” which has the line, “Hum rahe ya na rahe kal.”

“Tadap Tadap” (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam – 1999)

To stand out on a soundtrack that included so many massive hits such as “Nimbooda,” “Aankhon Ki Ghustakiyaan,” and “Dholi Taro Dhol” is no mean feat. KK brought pain to the front and center with “Tadap Tadap.” This composition by Ismail Darbar would go on to become the staple go-to track for the heartbroken. The performance would land KK the first of five Filmfare Award nominations.

“Uyirin Uyire” (Kaakha Kaakha – 2003)

Gautham Menon’s Tamil film Kaakha Kaakha starred Suriya and Jyotika, but it is likely most remembered for this track. It is one of the first times we got to hear the romantic side of KK, this time paired with the amazing KS Chithra. “Uyirin Uyire” was a massive blockbuster proving that KK’s voice resonated regardless of what language he sang in.

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“Appadi Podu” (Ghilli – 2004)

KK’s winning streak continued a year later with “Appadi Podu” from the Tamil film Ghilli. The album was composed by Vidyasagar, and the song paired KK with Anuradha Sriram. This track also became immensely popular, perhaps catapulting KK back to the hits he was deserving of having but had thus far failed to score in Hindi films.

“Dus Bahane” (Dus – 2005/Baaghi 3 – 2020)

In the mid 2000s, there was no team cooler than KK and Shaan. So when they came together for Vishal-Shekhar’s wickedly fun “Dus Bahane,” it was guaranteed to be a blockbuster. The song became a rage, propelling the otherwise lame film to moderate success, and was brought to life once again in the 2020 flick, Baaghi 3. Thankfully, this version kept KK’s iconic part.

“Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai” (Gangster – 2006)

Emraan Hashmi veered from Himesh Reshammiya to KK thanks to “Dilnashin Dilnashin” in 2005’s Aashiq Banaya Apne but that relationship was truly cemented with 2006’s Gangster, the first of many romantic blockbusters the two would crank out over the next few years. “Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai” was a monster hit and much like most mid-aughts albums, benefitted from the remix craze where both versions became equally popular.

“Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai” (Woh Lamhe – 2006)

Later in the same year, Mahesh Bhatt, music director Pritam and KK came together again. This time it was for “Kya Mujhe Pyaar Hai” from the controversial film Woh Lamhe. While the movie was a critical success and scored moderately at the box office, the song was another massive romantic chartbuster for the singer.

“Aankhon Mein Teri” (Om Shanti Om – 2007)

Until 2007, KK seemed to have been relegated to providing playback vocals for younger actors and not the big names. But that changed in 2007, when he became the voice of Shah Rukh Khan for the romantic ballad “Aankhon Mein Teri” from Om Shanti Om. The nostalgia-tinged song opened up many to KK’s signature style, now embraced not just by the masses, but the classes too.

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“Alvida” (Life In A Metro – 2007)

Life In A Metro continued KK’s solid relationship with Pritam and “Alvida” proved to be another milestone for the pair. The album itself has developed a cult standing and many would say it is the music director’s best work, but arguably this track may stand to be one of KK’s finest vocal performances as well. 

“Khuda Jaane” (Bachna Ae Haseeno – 2008)

Bachna Ae Haseeno was a musical blockbuster and much of that credit goes to “Khuda Jaane,” the romantic duet that paired KK with the underrated Shilpa Rao. Together, they created a romantic track for the ages. It’s unusual in that the majority of KK’s biggest hits were solo numbers, so the success and appreciation this Vishal-Shekhar composition received proved that his ability to morph according to each track was unparalleled.

“Tu Jo Mila” (Bajrangi Bhaijaan – 2015)

“Tu Jo Mila” was a classic Pritam composition that managed to exude both the pain and love that KK’s strongest vocals brought forward. It was a rare occurrence that this got to happen simultaneously during the same track. In the past few years, we didn’t get to hear KK as often, and it’s a shame that music directors failed to utilize him the way they once had.

There’s no doubt that KK has left behind an amazing catalog of work. While his physical presence will be missed, and we doubt that other singer will be able to fill the void, there is solace that his melodies will continue to bring us joy for generations to come. Thank you for the music, KK.

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