Bollywood songs are neither traditional classical music nor the best folk or Western form. They are not even a pure genre of music with any real tradition or accumulated perfection. Yet, they make one of the most popular musical forms of our time. Here is an explanation to this apparent paradox regarding the popularity of Bollywood music.
The popularity of Bollywood songs as an identifiable genre of music is unmatched in India and spread across the world. The classical music, the Western songs as well as the folk music are the three major varieties of music popular in India. Even though all these genres of music boast rich traditions, a lot of variety and many great and legendary artistes, some of whom have also contributed to Bollywood music, yet none of them comes anywhere close to the popularity drawn by Bollywood music.
Bollywood music adopts from different genres and fuses them to make a cocktail of its own. Of course, there are songs that are based in classical tunes, and there are folk songs, songs based on Western music, ghazals and qawwalis. However, the majority of Bollywood songs are none of these, and cannot be classified into any of these varieties, making such identifiable variety of Bollywood songs an exception rather than the rule.
In spite of an apparent lack of character or richness, Bollywood songs have surpassed all other varieties of music in India and come to acquire a popularity with which it can give a run for money to any other competing music genre in the World. What makes these songs so popular is the rare fusion of four major arts that get combined to create Bollywood songs. These four forms are music, poetry, screenplay and fiction. Such fusion of the best of different arts does not easily takes place anywhere else, giving Bollywood songs an edge over all other forms of music.
The Four Art Forms that Combine to Create Bollywood Songs
The first and the foremost part of Bollywood songs is music. Eventually, it is music that matters. No song can possibly become popular without great music. The musical composition is usually a fusion of instrumental and vocal, and often it is the synergistic effect of their fusion that makes it great.
Then there are the lyrics. It is the words that make the song meaningful. While it is true that music has its own language, and great music can undoubtedly be savored on its own, it is also equally true that great music, when combined with great poetry makes a combination that is irresistible for the connoisseurs of music as well as the lovers of poetry. Together, music and poetry create a piece of audio that is far more appealing than either music or poetry alone.
Most Bollywood songs owe their popularity to their audio. Indeed music and poetry are to be experienced only by the auditory route. Yet, one must not undermine the role of visual aspect of a song. These consist of the screenplay and the fictional characters on which the song is superimposed. The screenplay adds a lot of interest to the song, and can significantly contribute in terms of glamour. Rich choreography, innovative picturisation and well knit videography can be a treat in itself. The characters provide the context to the whole audio-visual piece. The audience is most impressed with a piece of performed art, when it can identify with it. A song on a character, whose story is being told in the movie to which the song belongs, makes it that much easier for the audience to identify with it. After all, each of us is an interesting character, and everyone of us has a story that is also the most interesting story for our own self. The emotions inherent in the music and poetry, thus gets far more appreciation, when they are accompanied by the visual depiction of the contextual human element with which the audience can easily associate and identify.
Such fusion of these four major forms of art, with their synergistic impact, is not seen in any other genre of music in the world. The financial stakes and the large audience of Bollywood movies is what brings the best of these four arts together to create some of the most popular musical gems of our times.
This is the reason why Bollywood songs are so popular !