You’re listening to a song for the first time; you’re starting to enjoy it, and then just like that, it’s over.

Happened to you too?

Well, Arooj Aftab would never tease you like that.

You probably know that Aftab won the Best Global Music Performance Grammy earlier this year for her track ‘Mohabbat’, making her the first Pakistani woman to be awarded by the academy. Maybe you’ve heard the 30 seconds of this song your friend used for that reel she made.

But this track is so much more. Arooj’s Mohabbat is more than just her own. And it’s indisputably grander and more decadent than reels made you believe. 

Arooj takes her lyrics from the classic ‘Mohabbat Karne Wale’ by poet Hafeez Hoshiarpuri. Mehdi Hasan has sung this ghazal in the past. So has Farida Khanum. Even Papon has made a cover. 

Arooj’s take on Mohabbat defies the boundaries of genre. It surprises by introducing (or taking away) an instrument unexpectedly. Arooj’s Mohabbat is slow, her voice is deep, and the number of lines are few, but each line is stretched out like it’s the stretchiest chewing gum in the world.

So if, like me, you’re sick of songs designed to further enable our tiny attention spans, give the whole track a listen. Better yet, go to this Song Exploder episode, where Aftab takes the song apart and puts it all back together again. 

This type of music not your jam? Listen to this guy, this gal, or this band break things down for you. You’re sure to find something you like!


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