Long overdue: Here’s what you need to know about Tajik pop music. I listened to this stuff on buses, at weddings, pumping out of shop doors on the way to work, basically everywhere. So eventually I developed a taste for it. Tajik pop music is a mishmash of pop beats and electronified traditional instruments. It’s crazy stuff sometimes but I love it.
Current Tajik pop begins and ends with Shabnami Soraya. She’s the Madonna of Tajikistan, the reigning pop diva. This song is a great party-starter. The chorus means, “everybody clap!”
Next on the list has to be the up-and-comer Nozia Karamatullo. If Shabnam is Madonna, Nozia is Britney Spears, just before she lost the nice girl image. She’s taking the country by storm, while slowly shedding the unibrow-sporting, traditionalist image she started with. This song never fails to make me happy.
Daler Nazarov is a Tajik singer-songwriter with more high-art pretensions. He’s kind of the Bob Dylan figure of the Tajik scene, in that everyone pays lip-service to his songwriting, but the kids don’t listen to him anymore. Nevertheless he continues to do cool things. He composed the soundtrack to the excellent film Luna Papa, which was directed by his cousin Bakhtior Xudonazarov. This song is from the album he released in the wake of that film:
I’ll finish this Tajik pop overview with one of my personal favorites. This song by Suhrob Otaev is one long love letter to oshi palav, the Tajik national dish. It’s a good example of the over-the-top techno-borrowing that is taken to an extreme in a lot of tracks. But I like this one. The chorus goes, “Everybody knows it! Everybody eats it! This delicious thing, oshi palav!”
So that’s a taste of Tajik pop. Hope you enjoy it. I know I do.