And this is Bryan Adams

Popular music is cheesy. That’s my hypothesis. My alternative hypothesis would be it is not.  A quick listen to the currently popular music will tell us that this hypothesis cannot be rejected. Popular music, indeed thrives on elements of cheesiness.

A line like “I wouldn’t change a thing” figured in Rod Stewart’s 1970 album long before we were born. It still figures in the Bruno Mars’ , the Best Male Vocal Pop Performance winner’s ‘Just the way you are’. ‘It’s a different melody but the same old song’ as Bryan Adams sings in ‘Room Service’. Likewise, ‘I want your love’ might sound ‘new’ to our ears when Lady Gaga sings it but many other singers/lyricists before her have ‘wanted your love’ too. It is a different issue that Lady Gaga also wants ‘your drama’ plus something called ‘leather studded kiss in the sand’ too. Nonetheless she reigns if record breaking sales, egg shells and Grammies are anything to go by.

And it is popular Western music that the majority of Nepali people have access to. It is what ‘Radio Rastrako’ and ‘Hits you where it matters’ played since they started back in the late 1990s and still do. They might have a few slots for ‘Sweet Soul Music’ , and ‘Rhodeo times’ but that’s from a station which mostly caters to the English speaking urban Nepali audience.

A bunch of people who have lived and studied abroad and seen/done better things should keep their sentiments limited to their privileged class. Let the rest enjoy in peace for once. Let them sing along with man in their own city. The city where they were born, raised and walked humming/ listening/ playing his songs. And never thought once in their wildest dreams that the singer would someday grace their Rangashala with his performance.

The music we get to hear mostly doesn’t go beyond the songs figuring in US/UK Charts, Billboards and those that end up winning Grammies. Music beyond that is not easily accessible. My own collection, if has gone beyond that is because I had friends who either lived outside Nepal for long or are not Nepalis. The little bit of French, African, Irish and English (not American) and one Greek song in my collection is an outcome of knowing them. I believe, I have a decent reason to argue this way. I have lived in Nepal all my life (apart from these few months in Delhi) and been an avid listener of radio programs that play ‘Western Music’ for most part of my life.

No wonder the very first music folder that I copied to my desktop were songs from MLTR, Bryan Adams, Def Leppard, Phil Collins, Boyzone, Backstreet Boys, Wham, George Michael, The Eagles, Scorpions, Lobo, Mariah Carey, Tony Braxton, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Ronan Keating, etc. A friend of my sister’s lend her a CD containing songs of these artists and that’s how I had my first music collection. I wasn’t born when most of these artists were in their heydays or was too small to make sense of their hits. It was in school a when ‘I want it that way’ (Backstreet Boys) was released and I was crazy about A.J (his stylish beard especially). Boys my age must have similar memories about Britney’s ‘Baby One More Time’. We were recent teenagers or on our way to being one and music brought along a different sense of freedom. Songs like ‘It’s my life’ (Bon Jovi) released when I was 14/15 did the trick.

We could only watch TV on Saturdays in hostel (an English movie would be shown) apart from Barbapapa which was telecast in ‘Bal Karyakram’ in NTV. Oh, I almost forgot watching ‘Mahabharat, ‘Ramayan’, ‘Vishwamitra’ and ‘Krishna’. So every holiday was a chance to get updated on music. There was a Nepali channel ‘Shangrila’ or something else I forget that played English songs in the evening. The most frequently played songs were ‘You give love a bad name’ (Bon Jovi) and ‘Everything I do’ ( Bryan Adams) and ‘When love and hate collide’ (Def Leppard). Glued to our seats (me and my sister) would watch those songs everyday as though we were watching it for the first time! Eventually I got sick of ‘Everything I do’ but still watched the video. I don’t know what I liked so much about it. Most likely, the nice dog in the video which reduces the ‘intensity’ of the song.

In my later years after school I would go back to the song whenever I felt lonely or bad. You know those teenage years when you need no reason to feel wretched or elated. The part when Adams sings ‘If your feeling lonely don’t’ cheered me up. It used to feel as though he were singing it just for me. Cheesy songs had a greater effect on me those days.

‘Love, love me do’ by Beatles was the first mainstream ‘English’ song I learnt. It was a Saturday ‘Bal Vikas Class’, a portable blackboard hung in front of us and there was a plant on it. The plant was telling us ‘Love, love me do’. I was 7/8 years old then. We all believed it was a ‘Plant Song’ then.  I remember that plant to this day. We were formally taught a few other English songs e.g ‘Country Roads’ (John Denver), ‘Imagine’ (Lenon), ‘Wind of Change’ (Scorpions) and a few others. ‘Everything I do’ was un-taught as it was a love song. Yah! I know it sounds ridiculous.  I copied ‘November Rain’ in my diary from some guy in the class during the brief phase in school where we went against the odds and interacted with ‘boys’. While at home, my neighbour/friend taught me ‘Always’ by Aerosmith. I can still sing the entire song. ..Some things you never forget.

A few days or weeks of joining college after +2 I wrote ‘Inside Out’ in my beautiful handwriting and gave it to a recently made friend in college.  I first heard that song on a cassette given to my friend by her boyfriend. I dubbed it and listened to it like crazy. I always thought I would have a relationship strictly with a guy who sang it for me and NO ONE else. Reality check: I do not know any guy who can sing or play guitar till date.

Eventually I had my first second real life crush  and I was like an inflated balloon. Flying high up somewhere, my feet never on the ground. Songs like ‘I finally found someone’ , ‘Best of Me’ , ‘Heaven’ would be ringing in my ears even when I wasn’t listening to them. I used to add an exclamation mark to everything I wrote ( you can dig through my older posts and see that ) plus a smiley. Oh God! It is embarrassing when I come to think of it but that’s the way I was. I don’t deny it. Always high on something or the other. Excited about everything. I clearly remember emailing ‘Best of Me’ to the guy in question and smiling at myself for killing two birds with one stone.

I bought ‘Room Service’ sometime in 2006. After the death of my  friend in 2007  ‘I was only dreaming’ made more sense to me. I have spent innumerous nights listening to that song. It is amazing how a man so very far from your own reality, your experience can write things that appeal to you more than any one who know you ‘inside out’.  I believe, we all like the music we do because it does exactly what Roberta Flack sings in  ‘Killing me softly with his words’ .

I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd
I felt he found my letters 
And read each one out loud
I prayed that he would finish
But he just kept right onHe sang as if he knew me
In all my dark despair
And then he looked right through me
As if I wasn't there
And he just kept on singing
Singing clear and strong

I no longer listen to Bryan Adams with that fervour. In fact I did not even have a single song of his in my laptop! I had long stopped discussing my ‘Bryan Adams’ craze. Then news came that he would be in India and Nepal! I downloaded all the Bryan Adams songs that I thrived on in my yesteryears. Every song had a memory associated with it. Every song felt like a blast from the past.

So why did I stop listening to Adams all of a sudden?  Is it because my musical taste has ‘enhanced’ over the years? Is it because I listen to songs that are no longer cheesy? What is it then? Or simply because I can’t carry my first desktop everywhere I go ? What happened?

Nothing really. Times changed. I don’t think my musical tastes have ‘enhanced’ or whatever people think happens to their taste of music over time. My music folders might have expanded to fit in a variety of music but quite a lot of this ‘latest’ and new addition is equally cheesy. Songs still talk about relationships, love, betrayals, frustrations…most still  still talk about people.

I must have outgrown his songs. Just like we expect current Justin Bieber fans to ‘outgrow’ that craze someday. Loving no more means only giving ‘the best of me’. The person you love the most also ends up getting the ‘worst of you’ too.  Making sugar and honey from January to December doesn’t make so much sense. And if logic is to be brought into romance there will no romance in anything at all.

Life is too complicated to  fit into one song or even songs of  one artist alone. It is simply foolish to judge people by the taste of their music. It feels great to know that most Nepali people at the concert enjoyed the Bryan Adams concert in Kathmandu despite a few people whining about it. If you prefer Coldplay to U2 or Bryan Adams or anyone else please do so. But don’t go around preaching Nepali people how they should spend ‘2000’ bucks. Don’t expose your own hypocrisy by proclaiming how the money could have been used to  ‘change’ Nepal.

If I had been in Kathmandu yesterday evening I would have definitely been there. I would be there because I would be freaking tired of reading FB updates of Nepali people in bidesh saying ‘did this’/did that/ went here/ there. I would be there to experience things I was exposed to but had never been within my reach. I am sure these sentiments would resound with some people if not all. So all the hype surrounding the event is but natural.

A bunch of people who have lived and studied abroad and seen/done better things should keep their sentiments limited to their privileged class. Let the rest enjoy in peace for once. Let them sing along with man in their own city. The city where they were born, raised and walked humming/ listening/ playing his songs. And never thought once in their wildest dreams that the singer would someday grace their Rangashala with his performance.

P.S I am fully aware of the huge cultural divide in terms of music within Nepal. More people in Nepal would certainly know of Narayan Gopal than Bryan Adams. This view only subscribes to people who had similar schooling and exposure to the English language like me. I am also well aware of the fact that knowing the English language  itself sets me apart from the most in the country. That fact doesn’t give me nor other people like me the right to preach ‘how Nepali society should perceive’ events like these. We all know what a ‘concert’ can and cannot do.




    1. was looking for a song by BA in my laptop and found this… remembered the effort I had put into writing it (when I should have been studying economics instead) and decided to publish it now. Thanks for reading 🙂

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