Tamil Features

Best Tamil Songs Of 2016: Rahman, Raja & Santhosh Top The List, The Rest Play Catch Up

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The soundtrack of 2016 was a curious mix of the folk and the fusion. Years from now, we will all remember this as the year AR Rahman remixed a keerthanai for Silambarasan and the year Santhosh Narayanan wrote a ballad for mature romance. For now though, here’s a list of the best Tamil songs of 2016.

*****

“Aatakaari Maman Ponnu” – Tharai Thappattai

Music Composer – Ilaiyaraaja

Singer – MM Manasi, Prasanna

Lyricist – Ilaiyaraaja 

The song that made us doff our collective hats to the King. The album of Tharai Thappattai signalled Ilaiyaraaja’s return in the greatest way possible. And this song in particular gave all Ilaiyaraaja fans the feels. 

Ilaiyaraaja imagines the song as a conversation between the feisty Sooravali and the object of her attention, Sannasi.

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MM Manasi’s voice throbbed with the kind of deep, sensual love that the film’s Sooravali felt for Sannasi. And in direct contrast, Prasanna’s good-boy voice was used for Sannasi (Sasikumar), who spent half the film fending off Sooravali’s attention. And the other half, repenting for it.

***

“Chellamma” – Joker

Music Composer – Sean Roldan

Singers – Sean Roldan, Anthony Daasan, M Lalitha Sudha

Lyricist – Ramesh Vaidhya

A thread of melancholy runs throughout this song. Sean Roldan, Anthony Daasan, and Lalitha Sudha together beautifully bring out Ramesh Vaidya’s lyrics about love and a future lost.

The brilliant Guru Somasundaram hitchhikes his way across India to get to his bed-ridden wife. The song is interspersed with visuals of the happy times Mannar Mannan spent with his wife, before tragedy struck. Rich and evocative, “Chellamma” brims with bitter-sweet longing. A feeling that is hard to shake off, long after the song is over.

***

“Ei Suzhali” – Kodi

Music Composer – Santhosh Narayanan

Singer – Vijaynarain

Lyrics – Vivek

Quirky, unusual, catchy – “Ei Suzhali” is infused with Santhosh Narayanan’s trademark synth sound, and a catchy tabla beat to speed things along. This song is a ballad, a love letter from Anbu (good twin Dhanush) to his girlfriend Malathi, who sells eggs. Wasted opportunity, of course, for the tepid romance that this turned out to be.

The lyrics, though, are a disappointment. Vivek’s fascination with themes and metaphors continue with this song, and it seems more like an affectation than anything substantial. The words seem fancy (Suzhali, Kuzhali), but the underlying meaning remains the same. 

However, Vijaynarrain’s energetic rendition and the overall vibe of the song make it a winner. 

***

“Adiyae Azhage” – Oru Naal Koothu

Music Composer – Justin Prabhakaran

Singers – Sean Roldan, Padmalatha

Lyricist – Vivek

“Adiya Azhagae” is the sort of song one wants to slow dance to in a burning room. Sean Roldan and Padmalatha’s vocals provide a fascinating contrast. The former is breathy, the latter – clear and concise. The opening guitar segment is eerily similar to that of Hero, but the tune that follows is distinctly Justin Prabhakaran. There’s the slow beat, the juxtaposition of two different vocal ranges, and minimal orchestration that allows the singers’ voice to shine best.

***

“Hey Maama” – Sethupathi

Music Composer – Nivas Prasanna

Singers – Anirudh Ravichander

Lyricist – Na Muthukumar

Nivas Prasanna brings the garage band ethos to this song about an aggressive cop and his nemesis. Anirudh, as always, is at his best and most soulful while singing for someone else’s composition. There’s confidence in this number; aggression and pure menace. Blaaze’s rap verse is nothing to write home about, but it’s nice to hear his voice again. Much of this song’s popularity is owed to Keba Jeremiah’s guitar skills, Anirudh’s mastery over the song and of course, Nivas who fuses it with rock to give this pulpy number a new-age twist.

***

“Nee” – Yaakkai

Music Composer – Yuvan Shankar Raja

Singer – Yuvan Shankar Raja

Lyricist – Na Muthukumar

A trip down memory lane for all Yuvan Shankar Raja fans, “Nee” was marketed as Yuvan’s comeback song. The song has a superb melody that lends itself well to the EDM sounds that follow. Nee begins on a soft note, and ends on a trippy EDM sequence that shows us that Yuvan needs no comeback.

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He’s been here all along.

***

“Kaalam Yen Kadhali” – 24

Music Composer – AR Rahman

Singer – Benny Dayal

Lyricist – Vairamuthu 

“Kaalam Yen Kadhali” like all AR Rahman these days, takes a while to get used to. There’s so much going on in the song that it takes while to process it all. Eventually, this Benny Dayal song becomes an ear worm. It’s not energetic, definitely not your typical hero-introduction song. It’s something new from the composer, for a film that had something new in it. 

***

“Rasaali” – Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada

Music Composer – AR Rahman

Singers – Sathya Prakash, Shasha Tirupati

Lyricist – Thamarai

Sathyaprakash and Shasha Tirupati sing their heart out in this road song. Where one expects hard rock, AR Rahman surprises with a refreshing take on the Ninnukori varnam that seamlessly transitions into Sathyaprakash’s near-perfect rendition of Saint Arunagiri Nathar’s Muthai Thiru Paththi Thirunagai. The violin solo is reminiscent of the Valachi Vachi varnam. In an otherwise EDM-influenced album, Rasaali is Rahman’s effort at re-imagining classical music for a new generation. And in that, he has definitely succeeded.

***

“Mayanadhi” – Kabali

Music Composer – Santhosh Narayanan

Singers – Ananthu, Pradeep Kumar, Shweta Mohan

Lyricist – Umadevi

This soulful ode to mature love was exactly what Kabali needed. In an other unimpressive album punctuated by loud noise and unnecessary rap, Mayanadhi (along with the broody Vaanam Paarthen) flew the flag for Santhosh Narayanan’s brand of music. The song seems effortless, almost light; and yet, it is musically rich in content. The lyrics by Umadevi are a treat, especially the line “Thooya Naraiyilum Kadhal Malarudhe”.

However, Pa Ranjith disappointed when it came to the visualisation of the song.

***

“Maalai Nerathu Mayakkama” – Maalai Nerathu Mayakkam

Music Composer – Amrit

Singer – Amrit

Lyricist – Amrit

Amrit made a solid debut with the Maalai Nerathu Mayakkama album. In this guitar-laden song, Amrit sings a desperate song of love so obsessive and passionate, it eventually consumes the hero. 

Amrit’s vocals are just raw enough to give the song that bittersweet edge. 

***

“Kaantha” – Uriyadi

Music Composer – Masala Coffee

Singer – Sooraj Santhosh, Varun Sunil

Lyricist – GKB

A wry take on hostel life, “Kaantha” powered its way to the top of the charts with its winning music. Masala Coffee, the YouTube hit band, made their Tamil film debut with “Uriyadi” and remade their already popular song of the same name (albeit in Malayalam) with the help of lyricist GKB.

The Tamil lyrics sound a bit off, and the lead singers seem a little uncomfortable singing in the language. The original was much better, and seemed more authentic.

But, what we get, we must live with. And the Tamil version is quite good. 

*****

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