The 90s was perhaps the most eclectic period of pop music in India. Mainstream Hindi film songs were boring all through the 80s and the early 90s. The shelf life of Hindi film OSTs was the lowest in several decades. MTV debuted in India in the mid 90s and the audience, hunting for an alternative sound, quickly lapped up the impressive music videos that were played on the DD Metro channel. Composers and singers, largely ignored by the Hindi film industry, grabbed the opportunity and came up with some of the best Indipop songs we ever heard.
Here’s taking a trip down memory lane.
1. Made in India—Alisha Chinai
The song that almost single-handedly established the Indipop genre and made Alisha Chinai its postergirl. The album, having the same name, sold more than three million copies. It was the highest selling album of its time. The song’s music video, directed by Ken Ghosh and featuring Alisha herself along with supermodel Milind Soman, was equally popular. Made in India is still one of the best Indipop songs ever produced.
2. O Sanam—Lucky Ali
It was the rustic untrained voice of Ali that made the song a smash hit. The first track in his debut album Sunoh, O Sanam introduced listeners to a welcome blend of Indian and Western sound arrangement. The album stayed on the MTV Asia charts for 60 weeks.
3. Sa Ni Dha Pa—Colonial Cousins
Perhaps the best known fusion of Indian and Western musical genres, Sa Ni Dha Pa was the first track in the debut album of Colonial Cousins, formed by Hariharan and Leslie Lewis. The album notched platinum sales, and was lapped up by the young and old alike. The duo went on to win several awards and the song is a hit even today.
4. Purani Jeans—Ali Haider
The song by this popular Pakistani singer was first released in 1993 and was part of the album Sandesa. But the song went to become a major hit only after its music video was released in the mid-90s. It was one of the most popular college farewell songs of the decade.
5. Gud Nalo Ishq Mitha—Bally Sagoo
Well, who can forget this one? It’s been nearly two decades since the rakish Jas Arora and a lithe Malaika Arora danced into our hearts with this breezy Bally Sagoo song. Girls swooned over the dimpled Jas, and the track itself was among the best Indipop songs ever.
6. Aankhon Mein Tera Hi Chehra—Aryans
More than 12 years after the song was released, Aryans is still best recognised for this one track. The music video had a teenaged Shahid Kapoor playing a one-sided lover to Hrishita Bhatt, with his neighbour’s dog as the villain. Our heart went out to Kapoor, and the song was the biggest hit of the year.
7. Boom Boom—Nazia Hassan/Biddu
Having worked extensively with the Nazia-Zoheb pair, Biddu, the Indian born London-based singer and songwriter had produced Made in India with Alisha. Boom Boom was a reworked version of the original Nazia Hassan song released in 1982. Talk of the best Indipop songs, and you can’t miss this one.
8. Deewane To Deewane Hain—Shweta Shetty
Released in 1998, this one smashed all records and was played endless times on all popular countdown shows. Shetty’s nonconventional husky voice added to the appeal of this song. She herself appears in the video as a girl spoilt for suitors. The singer, however, couldn’t repeat her success in subsequent albums.
9. Dooba Dooba—Silk Route
Part of the hugely popular debut album Boodein, Dooba Dooba is widely considered as one of the best Indipop songs ever. Though the band doesn’t exist anymore, and its frontman Mohit Chauhan has since pursued a solo career, the song has attained a cult status over time.
10. Dhum Pichuk Dhoom—Euphoria
The New Delhi-based band became the pioneers of Hindi rock. Released in 1998, Dhum Pichuk Dhoom was their first single and became a huge hit on TV screens. The video was shot by filmmaker Pradeep Sarkar in the very photogenic Varanasi. It became a benchmark for non-film music videos in India.