Continuing with the other annual listing tradition we kicked off last year (and posting it late, also keeping with last year’s tradition), here is our compilation of top 10 Male and Female singers from Hindi music in 2012. Like last year, the focus has been on the quality of rendition and of the song rather than the number of songs. And based on the singer’s 2012 repertoire alone. For each singer we have also provided a link to the song we consider their best from the year.
Top Male Singers
1. Sukhwinder Singh – The Chaiyya Chaiyya man had a fabulous 2012, bagging top songs in almost every movie he sang for – Shah Ka Rutba (Agneepath), Tore Bina (Kahaani), Karam Ki Talwar (Arjun the Warrior Prince) to name a few. And these songs are reason enough to make him our top singer for 2012. Fav song: Tore Bina (Kahaani)
2. Arijit Singh – To be honest, I did not like Arijit Singh’s singing when he started off last year. But he started converting me song by song as the year progressed, and by the time Barfi happened I had become a fan. Even Saawali Si Raat where I found his singing a bit wheezy, has grown on me immensely on repeat listens. The one that took the cake, however, is his Reprise version of Phir Le Aaya from Barfi. Which is our choice of fav song too. Phir Le Aaya (Reprise)
3. Mohan – The Agnee frontman’s songs may not have made it to the top of the charts last year, but quite a few of you are bound to have heard and loved his Yaariyan from Cocktail. Agnee’s Bollywood debut as composers, Aalaap, also had some lovely songs both sung by him and otherwise. Good enough for No. 3 spot. And one song from Aalaap shall be our fav song: Dil Ye Awaaz De (Aalap)
4. Vishal Dadlani – Last year was brilliant for Vishal both as composer and singer. While he produced some lovely tunes with Shekhar, his best renditions happened for other composers. And across genres too. While songs like Jee Le Zara and Mar Jaiyan had him going his usual way, Chokra Jawaan and Dil Garden Garden explored the wacky side of his voice. While these make him our 4th best singer of the year, the fav song would be Chokra Jawaan from Ishaqzaade.
5. Sonu Nigam – There was a time when Sonu used to be one of my favorite singers. Actually I do still consider him among the best singers around, only his choice of songs have not been the kind that really befit that stature. Even last year his portfolio was made up of mostly the stereotyped kind, a couple worth multiple listens, and Abhi Mujhmein Kahi. While composers Ajay Atul provided a brilliant orchestral arrangement for this one, Sonu was at his soulful best, and we had a winning song. Which is obviously our fav song too. Abhi Mujhmein Kahi (Agneepath)
6. Javed Bashir – The Pakistani powerhouse famous to Indians mostly for his Coke Studio and MHB exploits finally made his foray into Bollywood last year, singing three songs. While the Cocktail one was pretty forgettable, he was utilized well in Rush and was mindblowing in Kahaani. Which makes him our singer no. 5, and Piya Tu our fav song from the man. Piya Tu Kaahe Rootha Re (Kahaani)
7. Divya Kumar – The first time I saw the name in Aafaton Ke Parindey I kept waiting for the female voice. Turned out that like “Aishwarya” in Munni Badnaam this Divya too was a guy. A very talented guy at that. The man sang just another song in movies last year, Alakh Niranjan in Gulraj Singh’s very under-rated debut Bollywood score Tutiya Dil (and a song in the Ehsaan Loy episode of Coke Studio Season 2). I hope to hear much more of this singer in 2013. Fav song: Aalakh Niranjan (Tutiya Dil)
8. Mohit Chauhan – Though the man missed a soundtrack like Rockstar last year, Mohit did get a handful of decent songs – prominent ones being Ala Barfi and Saiyyara (Ek Tha Tiger). Both of which were rendered to super effect. Hence No. 8, and for the way he matched the playfulness of Barfi, our fav song is Ala Barfi.
9. Papon – A singer who is on our list for a single song that he sang last year. My favorite song from the brilliant piece of work called Barfi. The song owes a lot of its charm to the man’s voice. He had an even more fabulous time outside of Bollywood, releasing his debut album Story So Far and working on a song apiece in Coke Studio Season 2 and Dewarists Season 2. Of course those are outside the purview of this listing, so Papon is No. 9 on our list. Fav song: Kyon (Barfi)
10. Hemant Brijwasi – Another singer who is on the list for just one song, Samay from Arjun the Warrior Prince. The 14 year old Saregamapa Li’l Champs winner is one of the most promising debutants I heard all year. I am sure you will agree too, when you hear the poignant rendition. Fav song: Samay (Arjun The Warrior Prince)
Top Female Singers
1. Shreya Ghoshal – The lady continued her form from 2011 into 2012 as well, both in terms of quality of songs and the diversity of genre. While in the lady’s bread-and-butter melodic genre there were Mahek Bhi (Aiyyaa), Ishaqzaade etc, on the other extreme were Chikni Chameli (Agneepath) and Jhalla Wallah (Ishaqzaade). Add to that songs like Aashiyan (Barfi) and the singer was easy choice for No. 1 this year too. Fav song: Jhalla Wallah (Ishaqzaade)
2. Sunidhi Chauhan – Sunidhi too had a variety of songs last year, though the best renditions mostly happened in the faster genres. The lady particularly aced Chokra Jawaan (Ishaqzaade), Sava Dollar (Aiyyaa) and Fann Ban Gayi (Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya) with a killer diction. And proving her versatility were other songs like Yaariyan (Cocktail) and Mar Jaiyan (Vicky Donor). And that is why she is at No. 2 on the 2012 tally as well. Fav song: Fann Ban Gayi (Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya)
3. Nandini Srikar – It took a long long time for the lady to get her due in the industry, but once that happened with Ra.One last year, the lady has been on a roll. If I were to consider all her songs last year she may have ended higher on the list, but in Bollywood there were just two diverse and brilliantly rendered songs – Duaa (Shanghai) and Dil Mera Muft Ka (Agent Vinod). Good enough for No. 3! Fav song: Duaa (Shanghai)
4. Shalmali Kholgade – Pareshaan. There hasn’t been a more popular debut by a singer in recent times. While the song itself was wonderfully crafted by Amit Trivedi, Shalmali was matchingly flawless in her singing. She then followed it up with Daaru Desi in Cocktail and Aga Bai in Aiyyaa. But the reason she ranks so high is that one awesome song. Fav song: Pareshaan (Ishaqzaade)
5. Aditi Singh Sharma – The singer excelled in her rockstar avatar as usual with songs like Main Heroine Hoon, Rokda and I’ll Do The Talking. But the surprise entry was Raabta (Night In a Motel) where Aditi showed a totally different facet of her voice. May 2013 bring her more variety! Fav song: Raabta (Night in a Motel)
6. Shilpa Rao – The lady finally debuted for ARR this year with Ishq Shava, and though the song as such didn’t work much for me, her singing did. Even better was her singing of the title song and Gustakh Dil in English Vinglish. And then there was the support role for Mohan in Yaariyan. Ergo, sixth slot. Fav song: Gustakh Dil (English Vinglish)
7. Harshdeep Kaur – That Harshdeep can nail the sufi genre is not surprise, this year she just cemented the fact pocketing a bunch of more lovelies in that genre. The best song from ARR’s Jab Tak Hai Jaan, a beautiful melody from Amit Trivedi’s Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, even taking up Meesha Shafi’s role in the adapted version of Jugni for Cocktail. Ergo, she is on our top 10 at No. 7. Fav song: Heer (Jab Tak Hai Jaan)
8. Neeti Mohan – Another notable debutant from the year. Her debut song from Bittoo Boss went unnoticed, but she followed it up with two more songs – one the atrociously worded but well-arranged melody Ishq Wala Love from Student of the Year, and the other, ARR’s Jiya Re. Both of which were proof of the immense talent the singer possesses. Fav song: Jiya Re (Jab Tak Hai Jaan)
9. Sona Mohapatra – Sona has been extremely choosy about her songs of late, recording pretty much only for her composer hubby Ram Sampath. This year too the only track she sang happened for Ram Sampath’s Talaash – the best track from the soundtrack. And that is obviously our fav song too: Jiya Laage Na (Talaash)
10. Sneha Khanwalkar – Sneha’s singing, like her composing, has been pretty unconventional right from her first movie. But she has been smart to choose songs that suit her style of rendition, despite its flaws. In the two editions of her humongous soundtrack for GoW too she chose a few such songs, all of which worked really well. She also recorded for the first time for a different composer – Amit Trivedi’s ultra wacky What To Do from Aiyyaa. We therefore had to feature her on our top 10. Fav song: Moora (Gangs of Wasseypur 2)
And thus end all our roundups of 2012. Til’ next year!