LAHORE-We are a nation that likes to reminisce over golden eras of the past, and lovingly muse over times of yore. And can we be blamed? A very few positives in Pakistan remain constant over a long period of time. Apart from some brilliant but sporadicsuccesses in sports, cinema, fashion, or art that almost take us by surprise, Pakistan’s genius has mostly remained stagnant especially post 2001. This, of course, results from the ongoing struggle with attaining a minimum level of stability that any society needs for the arts and culture to flourish. 

This year’s Coke Studio launch will mark the 10th year of the show that has been infusing positivity using the power of music into the country. Creating a mighty legacy, Coke Studio has managed to single-handedly bring back to life a dying industry and given it a newsoul.

Where once our music industry was thriving, and Pakistan was producingwidely-acclaimed luminaries, when multiple music channels propped up,innumerous bands and solo artists released record labels and performed live at concerts, the early 2000s saw a decline in our industry with almost no new music being released. This dearth soon ushered in foreign music, mostly Bollywood, which was played everywhere from starved-for-contentTV and radio channels to people’s personal music players.

It was in this scenario that Coke Studio was launched in Pakistan in 2008 and soon took over our hearts and the modern day boom boxes alike. Producing some of the biggest hits locally and globally - not to mention some misses as well - the show, season after season has recharged the musical foundation of Pakistan.

Coke Studio celebrated the Pakistani spirit when the nation, with its youth floundering for coherence, needed it the most. Coke Studio has, in the past decade, has bound us together, underpinning our individuality as Pakistani, and helping us take pride in our heritage, roots and customs that separate us from the world. Rejoicing in these differences, have strangely enough, brought us closer to the world. Coke Studio Pakistan has been a revelation to the world. It’s as if the music we produce is telling the world, loudly, albeit tunefully, ‘Let us show you who we are; let us show you our land; there’s so much more to us that you still don’t know’.

“I’m part of the film music industry. Coke studio is a big platform for music in Pakistan. The music is well recognized not only in the country but also all over the world. Coke studio has become intertwined with Pakistan’s identity and it really is the sound of the nation. I always admired the platform, and it was a dream to be part of the team. I’m very excited to be part of Coke Studio, especially in the milestone season 10.”– Sahir Ali Bagga

What Coke Studio has done, and beautifully so, is to create content that catapulted the country’s fast wilting musical landscape into ablooming, thriving and evolving kaleidoscope. That isn’t to say that Coke Studio hasn’t had its share of misses. There have been some songs and collaborations that have disappeared into the realm of the forgotten. But that’s ok. That is the nature of art and music. All in all, Coke Studio has resonated with the audiences for the beautiful melodies and powerful compositions it has created.

“I’ve worked with Coke Studio before. I feel like this is the only institution that is working for music and its progress in the country. I can’t say there’s anything bigger than this. As you know, industry has suffered and not much is happening and there is a lot of meaningless chatter on TV channels. I pray to God that Coke Studio keeps this going, the service they have done music is huge and I wish them all the good luck moving forward” – Atahullah Esa khelvi.

Coke Studio has had a staggering decade of creating music; from reviving old musical hits, to renewing interest in genres like qawaali and folk. The show has rejuvenated many old gems either renewing love for old favorites or introducing these to unacquainted audiences. Treasures like Atif Aslam’s beautiful rendition of the devout qawaali ‘Tajdar-e-Haram’, Zeb and Haniya’s surreal ‘Paimona Bideh’ originally penned by Persian poet and mystic Omar Khayyam, Meesha Shafi and Nayeem Abbas Rufi’sfun-filled ‘Aaya Lariye’ infusing the traditional Punjabi wedding song with fusion of funk and rock, Ali Zafar and Sara Haider’s wistful ‘Ae DilKissi Ki Yaad’ evoking nostalgia for Lollywood’s golden period and so many more, will forever be cherished.

Coke Studio, inadvertently perhaps, has turned out to be a forerunner setting the stage for other, similar shows and platforms that showcases and promotes the local talent. With corporations competing for attention and airtime, the artists and the audiences end up being the ultimate winners.

There are a lot of varying opinions about Coke Studio and its continuation, but love it or hate it, Coke Studio has become a national event that the entire country anticipates and fixates over year after year. It is the only place where the powerhouses of musical landscape of Pakistan come together to rejoice in the spirit of music. The countless musical milestones are the true legacy of the marvel that is Coke Studio. And we hope to see bigger, better seasons for the years to come.