In the upper echelons of art, music is perhaps the only entity that unites and divides at the same time, based on language and nationality. While phenomenon like South Korea’s mercurial K-Pop scene has attained global popularity by sticking to their own language, there is no denying that English’s accessibility in the current world makes it easier for an international audience to relate to an artiste.
As ‘indie’ band Dads in the Park release their latest single, “Remembrance”, more Bangladeshi musicians gravitate towards making music in English. All of the band’s four singles are in English, and have exceptional reach for a band that has been operating for just a couple of years.
“The reason I write songs in English is simply because I want a bigger audience,” says Ishmam Salim, the vocalist of Dads in the Park. “Language plays a vital part in music. If you listen to a song, it’s only natural that you’d want to understand the lyrics. As a musician, I want more global connections”.
The band’s debut single, “Lullaby”, made waves when it released and has crossed 450,000 views on YouTube, which is a lot for an English song created by a Bangladeshi artiste.
International streaming platform Spotify moving to the Bangladeshi market only accelerated the movement that had been brewing for a few years.
“For me, it’s the fact that I studied in English and grew up consuming a lot of English content,” says Dameer, who is a bilingual artiste. Even though his latest release, “Amar Jaan”, is in Bangla, his English songs “Michelle”, “Sun”, “Easier” and “Believe” are the ones that put him on the map.
“You don’t really need to speak Bangla to feel in Bangla. I want to convey that feeling to that international audience.”
For years, an entire demographic among the Bangladeshi youth was underrepresented in the mainstream media- ones who grew up with western music and content. People from “English Medium” backgrounds were stereotyped into being a ‘privileged’ minority, hence when even when ones among them became musicians, they had to pander to the more general crowd.
“Many mainstream Bangladeshi artistes have released English songs in the past, and they are great as well,” says Hasan Munhamanna, the vocalist of EIDA. “However, I just don’t think that the audience were ready at that time.” Hasan attributes the increasing influence of English music to the integration of that audience to the more general crowd. “Our music is more accepted now, partly because we as a demographic are accepted.”
EIDA are among the first Bangladeshi artistes to get their English songs to mainstream popularity, with songs like “Nightdriver,” “Aurora Dreams” and “What it Means”.
Sound engineer and musician Rakat Zami is the frontman for the band Embers in Snow, which operates solely in English. “For me, it’s all about comfort,” says Rakat. “I’ve been writing songs in this language for more than a decade now. I will say that one should write or sing in whichever language that they feel comfortable in. I did not even think of reach or audience when I started out songwriting. However, I will say that people are seeing the possibilities of going global now, which can never be a bad thing.”
If Indian artistes like Prateek Kuhad, Ritviz, Indus Creed and Armaan Malik can make waves in the global scene, there is no reason to believe that our musicians cannot. Ultimately, it is only a matter of time and consistency.