What a way to begin the eagerly-anticipated season 9! The latest instalment of “Coke Studio” opened with a heart-warming rendition of “Aye rah-e-haq ke shaheedo”; a classic wartime national song that stirs national sentiment and brings back the memories of those brave souls who died fighting for this great nation. It comes at an apt time, with the nation in the thick of its war against terrorism and the military fighting to salvage and preserve national peace and security. Previously sung by Naseem Begum, the song pays tribute to our martyrs who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow. All 30 artists marked their appearance in the song, which received a huge response from the audience, with over 8.5 million views and over 370,000 shares on Facebook, 1.2 million views on YouTube and a similar response on other social media platforms. The star-studded musical show “Coke Studio” has now returned with its ninth season and introduced unique and diverse combinations of 30 artists and six music directors, who will be working under Strings as executive producers. Episode 1 broadcasted four songs – “Aaqa” by Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi, “Sasu Mangay” by Naseebo Lal and Umair Jaswal, “Aja Re Moray Saiyaan” by Zeb Bangash and “Jaaney Na Tu” by Ali Khan. “Coke Studio” season 9 has broken the show’s tradition of a single composer creating the music. Also, this time Strings are not composing the music unlike last year, and would instead be handling production of the show. The episode aired on August 13, was successful in terms of experimenting with duos and solos of different genres performed by six singers who are part of the “Coke Studio” 9 team. The song “Aaqa”, composed by Shuja Haider, touched many souls with its immense spirituality, but the very first duo of Abida Parveen and Ali Sethi did not live up to the expectations of the music lovers. Being one of the greatest Sufi singers, Parveen has always been amazing when it comes to singing Sufi kalaams, but Sethi, who is popular for his mastery over classical music, took his time to match the Sufi queen’s singing prowess. Pairing the two was a risky endeavour, but Parveen saved the track from being mediocre with her vocal mastery. Let’s have a look at Shiraz Uppal’s composition of the duo performed by Naseebo Lal and Umair Jaswal, “Sasu Mangay”, which has taken the folk song that originated in the Rajasthan desert to the next level. It narrates the story of a woman longing for her beloved, who is far away, and without whom happiness eludes her. Uppal, who has been composing music for the Pakistani music industry as well as that of India, yet again showed his skills with this masterful composition. Naseebo’s impeccable voice and Jaswal’s aggressive rock touch injected power into the song. The third solo performance will grab your attention quickly because of the song’s tune. Yes, I am talking about “Aja Re Moray Saiyaan” by Zeb Bangash and Ali Hamza. It has been composed by Noori. The song evokes the feeling of a breezy spring, blooming flowers and the melodious and soothing pitter-patter of raindrops. It provokes romantic sentiments unlike “Sasu Mangay”, which speaks of the feeling of distance between two lovers. Solo singing sensation Zeb Bangash, who is known for the use of soft pitch in her songs, has sung on the Coke Studio platform before, but this time the song given to her was entirely of a different genre. Some of her famous heart-touching solos like “Chal Diye “, “Diyaar-e-Dil”, “Bibi Sanam Janem” go in her favour when it comes to performing a successful solo on the platform of “Coke Studio”. The composition of the song and Ali Hamza’s voice worked in favour of Bangash, and she sang it really well, making it beautiful. It has become a hit song of episode 1. “Jaane Na Tu” has been composed by Jaffer Zaidi of Kaavish fame. It has been sung by Ali Khan, who we all know from his debut track “Saathiya”. He has made his debut in Coke Studio and nailed it. The artist has a tinge of sweetness to his voice, which makes him perfectly suitable to sing romantic songs. His vocal style has wowed the listeners. With all its immaculate musical and production elements, Episode 1 provided a good and entertaining start to “Coke Studio” 9.