Most people, if they have to make a list of their favorite Tamil songs from the decade, one song for each year, will end up with multiple possibilities. Here’s one of such, a nostalgia trip, a collection of good and average songs, with some anecdotes.
I was working in a mobile retail shop then. We had a surround sound system built into the false ceiling. I was the only one who was foolish enough to confidently operate the card swiping machine there, so I also had the privilege of accessing the shop’s computer at my will. That is how I became the DJ of everyday and burnt Aadukalam in the memory of others who worked there. They complained, but I couldn’t understand, what was there to complain? Isn’t this the best thing! I even threw in Masakali now and then.
I remember Yaathe Yaathe specially from the album as I remember hearing it as riding my cycle through our small town. To go stand on the bridge above our railway line. As I feel the ascent, There is GVP’s voice asking Ennaacho and Eathaacho, not really asking, it was just flying. And we always remember the moments we fly right!
We remember some peppy numbers always, they are played somewhere everyday, some we remember even in sadness. When I heard this album first, I was occupied with every other song. I discovered the magic of Sayanora Philip for the first time with Uyir Arunthathe, and sent fan mails through Facebook. But I remember Govinda more as it was what I felt every time I arrived at CMBT, the love and fear of Chennai, the excitement, the anxiety. And I kept running away from Chennai, just to come back equal number of times. Wandering through the streets of that city, looking with wide eyes, hearing stories of a wide mount road that existed before all the Metro construction started, I was a Chennaiyila Pudhu Ponnu. Though I clearly was not one, I like imagining myself as that uncorrupted by the metropolitan, innocent girl the song portrays.
2012 — Raathiriyai (Arath Version) — Pizza
It was an age of pretentiousness. It wasn’t enough to like the new deal, you have to like the new deal that everyone else is not paying attention to. Pizza was indeed a movie that everyone watched and felt like they are introduced into a world of world movies that was till then occupied by names like Quentin Tantantino. Mogathirai was the obvious favorite. But it didn’t feel novel, I had enough of Aasai oru pulveli by then. So when the album came, It was Rathiriyai (Arath version, not the rap version, and ofcourse not the decent version, though the differences are minimal) that I listened in repeat mode. Or we listened, as we rode through the streets of OMR during night, just for the feels.
2013 — Tu Mun Shudi — Raanjhana
It was a tough choice. I wanted to say Paarkathey oru Maathiri from Raanjhana, but a decade is long and love will definitely peak in somewhere along the way. It anyway is from Raanjhana, and I love the movie. And then, me and my then best friend were truly madly deeply Dhanush fans. So I am going for the comedy. I used to sing, No, I used to think I sing. And I often sang loudly when I was just in the company of friends. In school I even went for singing competitions. Somebody told me this fact then. But it hit me home when my then best friend asked why are you singing every song in the tune of Tu Mun Shudi. I stopped singing around friends then.
2014 — What a Karavaad — Velaiyilla Pattadhari
In Sillu Karuppatti the movie, when her kid refuses to go to school, the mother played by Sunaina convinces by saying they will play What a Karuvaad in the van. 2014 was a year of Dhanush and Anirudh, it was my last year with the then best friend as well. We then had many reasons to feel a lot about a lot of things, DnA were perfect for us then. We ate at Amma canteen after counting our coins. Sometimes we didn’t. We needed reasons to feel special and look ahead to the times. Little did we know, that the friendship won’t last. It was times I learnt the streets of Ambattur and Avadi. We didn’t dance. I never did, But it felt good to imagine it with this song.
2015 — Unakkenna Venum Sollu — Yennai Arinthaal
Probably only song from a movie that I haven’t seen it. Truly there are other things to bring up from that year. But what other chance will I have to bring up Harris Jeyaraj in this. Harris still remains a musician I fall back to when I need something soothing. I love the clarity in his tracks, the absolute sound quality. And Thamarai ofcourse is as lovely as always. Unfortunately I don’t really have any single memory to tie this with, that is worth telling, except random bits of bus journeys, sleepy nights, tired and walking to office. I remember noticing flowers, people, trees and many other songs while this song was playing in the background.
2016 — Mei Nigaraa — 24
Surprisingly many of my friends didn’t like this, and didn’t like my sharing it repeatedly in social media, or making them listen to it in different ways. One was convinced I like this song, as my lover’s name features in the lyrics, which I didn’t realize until then. But this was a song that was somehow representation of the exhilaration I felt with the love. Life was joyous, even with hiccups. A journey was easy to visualize, with this as a perfect track for it.
2017 — Ivan Thupparivaalan — Thupparivaalan
Mysskin is a fantastic singer and song writer. I definitely listened to this song many times when it came out, but always in denial. I wanted to hate it, and I probably did. It was surprising to watch the movie again last year and find myself loving it a bit. It is hard to love some movies and directors, as I hate most of the cult built around them. But with Myskkin I have managed to do it, a little. Ever since, I am hearing this song more and trying to tell myself I didn’t really hate it that much. It is curious in a way how the distant past of the decade is clear, but the recent is not.
2018 — Oru Kuchi Oru Kulfi — Kalakalappu
In the beginning of the decade, I would have bet against loving a Hiphop Tamizha song and openly admitting it. But I am adult now I guess, or not? Either way, I love this song, I love the video, I love everything about it. It is one of those songs that cheers me up when I am down. The video is as bad as, or as good as, most of the n number of songs set in a bar in Tamil cinema. But something about Catherine Tresa in this song is so captivating, I would say effortlessness, but I will just fail to articulate it well.
2019 — Nee Vekkam Kori — Kaber Vasuki
The only non-cinema song in the list. I didn’t hear it for the first time in 2019. But I met it unexpectedly in 2019. Whenever I did hear that song first, I didn’t think much of it.
Rewinding a little and I can clearly remember that time when a friend messaged excited, there was this new band called Kurangan in the Justice rocks concert, you missed a lot. I heard some rusty recordings of the show, there was no love at first sight. Then, we loved Kurangan. Then there was a time when I would attend every Kurangan concert in the chennai city. Much later, I met Kaber Vasuki in a tea shop outside a concert, and said he was so happy to see me once in another smaller concert singing along and knowing his lyrics. I did knew the lyrics of most his songs. I had by then spent hours talking to friends about how lively Kurangan is. But my friends knew how it goes and as expected the love fell.
Later, as usual lazing around on YouTube, I watched a short film which I put off watching after seeing it shared on Facebook… I didn’t like the film. It was a pathetic woke queer tragedy! But the film ended with Nee Vekkam Kori, and I hadn’t heard Kaber in a while. I heard the song again and again. It felt like a small revelation.
I felt this song was intimate, consoling, calling for small revolutions. Much more than the exciting, star eyed, fun drunk music that I found a few years ago. Then came Anbe Nalama, A simple song on long distance love. Asking across oceans if your beloved is well. From an acoustic guitar aided, indie rock setup Kaber has moved to electronic music. It all felt just in place. Now, I am no-more the woman I was a few years ago, nor the fan I was few years ago, But still a fan, a fan who is content with not loving everything her favorite artists put up.
To end with, here are a few disclaimers: My memory isn’t reliable, so these are just as true as fiction. These are not the songs that defined the decade, not even my life, or not even my favorites, more like a track for a bus journey, presented as personal accounts. I don’t agree with the 2010–2019 decade calculations and I am not willing to read up on them, There is a year left in my decade.