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MUSIC: The BEST Indo-American Fusion Pop Songs EVER

American pop culture is near ubiquitous in middle class and wealthy India.  For several decades India’s youth have been watching Hollywood movies and TV and listening to Western pop songs, all the while sporting blue jeans and gulping down pizzas and chasing them with Pepsi.  These trends are more pronounced in urban areas and college towns, but the phenomenon is creeping across the countryside thanks to the dramatic rise in Internet penetration and available programming.

Meanwhile, Indian musical styles have made minor headway Westward too.  For a change, instead of Indians plagiarizing Hollywood and American records, we saw a Bollywood song playing in a major Hollywood film during the opening credits of the 2006 film, Inside Man starring Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Willem Defoe, and Clive Owen.   1990s megahit song, Chaiyya Chaiyya from the Bollywood movie Dil Se made its way across the oceans to be one of the few Indian songs to ever join the soundtracks of both a Bollywood hit and a Hollywood one.  Indian culture has also popped up in things ranging from the interesting (Heineken’s 2011 “the date” TV ad featuring a golden oldie Hindi song, Jaan Pehechaan Ho) to the controversial (bindis for Madonna or Selena Gomez) to the bizarre (the Carmensita music video in 2007 featuring Natalie Portman in Indian garb essentially denigrating Hinduism).

Even rarer, and in my opinion more impressive is when a major and successful American artist decides to enmesh Indian music into a Western style pop song.  The Beatles revolutionized rock and roll in many ways, and one of them was to incorporate the Indian instruments, tabla and sitar into their songs during the flower-power 60’s.  Ravi Shankar was of course an instrumental partner in this.  More recently it was heavy metal bands such as Metallica (sitar) who would mix these unique instruments with the usual guitar, bass, and drum set.  It could be a pop artist like Selena Gomez sampling an Indian singer with Come and Get it in 2013, or hip hop artists sampling Bollywood vocals and instrumentals.  I would coin all of these as Indo-American fusion pop songs, and I like the stuff.  It draws some of the entrancing qualities of Eastern music together with the raw power, creativity, and global appeal of Western.

With that, here is my highly subjective list of the top 5 Indo-American fusion pop songs ever, with links.  I’m saving the best for last! 😉 Read the rest of this entry

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