A Carnatic club number anyone?

This pop song with a classical twist has garnered over 7 million views on YouTube. Wondering why?

Shape of You with a Carnatic twist

Aditya Rao, Vinod Krishnan and Mahesh Raghvan. Not exactly the kind of names you associate with a viral clubbing number like Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’.

But these boys who can easily pass off as your neighbourhood “book-wormish South-Indian good
lads” have given a whole new Carnatic dimension to Ed Sheeran’s sensational pop bop. Incidentally, ‘Shape of You’ was the first ever song to hit two billion streams on the music app Spotify and ruled the charts for weeks. Sheeran also won the Best Pop Solo Performance Award for the song at the 2018 Grammys, ensuring many disgruntled fans forgave him for his meh cameo in the Game of Thrones television series.

The pop song’s ‘shuddh’ south-Indian version has the boys throwing in pitch-perfect sargam interventions while walking around jauntily in sun-dappled New York, lounging on stone benches and casually producing music magic from an iPad Pro. Despite the fact that the song is entirely digitally produced, it has happily side-stepped the dreaded cold formality technology infuses into music. There’s a tanginess to it that’s completely removed from the original’s club feel and it is this flavour that gives the number a shape of its own. The boys apparently decided to experiment with the earworm because, well, it was such an earworm! The video is part of IndianRaga, a music education and awareness startup originally founded at MIT by Sriram Emani, an alumni himself.

Put up on YouTube around two years ago, it has now gathered over 7.6 million views with many in the comments gushing about how they listen to this version now more than Sheeran’s original.

One cheeky listener has commented that this Carnatic version feels like Ed Sheeran took a bath in the Ganga while others are arguing whether the song is based on Raag Abheri or Raag Bhimpalasi. That’s for the purists to debate.

For the rest of us, this is ‘legit ear candy’ as the millennial tweeter would put it. 

Play By Ear is a new column which will showcase a potential earworm every week for you, the discerning listener, who is on the hunt for some musical serendipity and is keen to explore genres beyond pop and Bollywood. Write to us about your favourites at sundayherald@deccanherald.co.in. If we like’em, we might feature them. 

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