Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pakistan's "One Pound Fish" Man Gets Record Deal

Street vendors in Pakistan have used their signature songs to entice customers from as far back as I can remember. Recently, a Pakistani fishmonger has brought this old street singing tradition to East London's Queens Market in Upton Park, and his "One Pound Fish" song has become a YouTube sensation with nearly 5 million hits.



The singer is Muhammad Shahid Nazir who left his home town of Pattoki in Pakistan to study business in London. He took a part-time job selling fish to support himself. Bored with the usual prose to sell fish, he resorted to poetry,  made up a song and started singing "Come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish. Very, very good one pound fish, very very cheap one pound fish."

Shoppers liked the song and it was recorded and uploaded by someone on YouTube. The song soon went viral and Warner Music offered Nazir a record deal. Now the record is vying for the top of charts this Christmas season.

International media have begun to focus their attention on "One Pound Fish" in the same way as they have on "Gangnam Style" dance video by a Korean man. Here are some excerpts of the media coverage "One Pound Fish" is getting:

Washington Post Style Blog:

It’s true that there are some common threads between the oddball pop songs. Both have brought forth unlikely stars: Psy, a portly rapper older than your typical Korean pop star, and now Nazir, a fishmonger in London’s Queens Market. They’ve quickly garnered millions of YouTube views —1.5 million since Monday for “One Pound Fish,” and more than 900 million for “Gangnam Style.” They’ve brought international music genres — K-pop and Bollywood-tinged Hindi-pop — to American listeners. And they both have a catchy and similar refrain: Psy’s “Heeeeey Sexy Ladies!” and Nazir’s “Come on ladies, come on ladies! One pound fish!” (it’s slightly reminiscent of another novelty hit, a snippet of Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”). 

Agence France Press (AFP):

A slicker version with Nazir shimmying and strutting Bollywood-style in a natty suit went up on December 10, launching the race to top the Christmas charts in Britain. The original video has had a staggering 4.6 million hits, while the professionally produced one already has more than two million. Nazir has also gained nearly 28,000 followers on Twitter. Back at the family home in Pattoki, a small town 146 miles (234 kilometres) south of Pakistan's capital Islamabad, his delighted 67-year-old mother Kalsoom says she is praying and fasting for Nazir's success.

Global BC TV:

“Come on ladies, come on—one pound fish!”

That’s just a taste of the lyrics sung by a London market trader who first gained local fame with his song “One Pound Fish.” Since then, he’s filmed a major-label music video, reaffirming the power of the Internet to catapult regular citizens to stardom.

Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who moved to London from Pakistan with his wife and four children, used the song to hook customers in his job at a market stall.

Nazir first appeared on YouTube, singing and gesturing, in spring 2012, in a video that went on to earn more than 4 million views. He embraced the attention, and soon after auditioned for the UK music competition show, The X-Factor.

His song was covered by music producer Timbaland as well as English star Alesha Dixon, and the UK’s Evening Standard called him a rival to South Korean rapper Psy (of “Gangnam Style” fame).


Huffington Post: 

 Thanks to the powers of YouTube, he's breaking into America with his music and finding audiences around the globe, with a Timbaland collaboration set to be released stateside in the near future!
Explaining how the phenomenon first sparked to life, Shahid tells us that while working as a fishmonger, he was required to find a way to attract customers to his store. Like everyone else, he tried the shouting method ("Have a look at the one pound fish!"), but that just turned people away.
The very next day, he decided to make up his own song. Thus, the unavoidably catchy, "Come on ladies, come on ladies, one pound fish," melody was born and ended up being completely successful in drawing positive attention to his store. Shahid says that shoppers would tell him, "You should go to 'X Factor.' You should go to 'Britain's Got Talent' and should be a pop star."

Summary:

A range of videos from the extremely hateful to highly entertaining  are a confirmation of  the immense new power of the burgeoning social media-- the kind of power that can be used to bring people together or to pull them apart. With such power in the hands of individuals comes a great deal of responsibility to exercise it with extreme care.

Here's a video clip of "One Pound Fish" song:



Related Links:






15 comments:

HopeWins Junior said...

^^^"Washington Post Style Blog:
It’s true that there are.."
--

ACTUAL message of the Washington Post Style Blog:

Why ‘One Pound Fish’ is no ‘Gangnam Style’

A) It doesn’t have as distinctive a look
B) The video doesn’t take itself seriously enough
C) It’s too easy

Anonymous said...

The guys a star in UK right now: Below him in UK X Factor (watch from 02:50)

http://youtu.be/_uynr5vhCA4

Riaz Haq said...

Obama does One Pound Fish

http://youtu.be/nZADPHKZhpQ

Noor said...

Would someone please teach Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) to just block offending videos instead of the entire Youtube site!?

Riaz Haq said...

Noor: "Would someone please teach Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) to just block offending videos instead of the entire Youtube site!?"

It's so absurd that the entire Youtube site which carries a lot of online educational videos like the Khan Academy tutorials is being blocked for just one offending video. PTA is doing a great disservice to the people of Pakistan by its stupidity.

The revolutionary Khan Academy is a brainchild of Bangladeshi-American Salman Khan. Before the ban, it WAS growing in popularity among Pakistanis wishing to take advantage of "Free World Class Education" offered online via short 10-15 minute videos. The subjects range from math, physics, chemistry and biology to astronomy, history, economics, finance, engineering and medicine. Khan counts Microsoft founder Bill Gates among his fans and students. Gates has described Sal Khan as his favorite teacher, and Gates Foundation has provided funding to enable Khan Academy to grow.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/03/khan-academy-draws-pakistani-visitors.html

Noor said...

You are absolutely right about Khan Academy. There are various undergrad and grad level online courses offered through Youtube by premier universities, including Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Berekeley, Cambridge, Oxford, Duke, Chicago to name a few.

HopeWins Junior said...

RH: "The revolutionary Khan Academy is a brainchild of Bangladeshi-American Salman Khan."
http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/03/khan-academy-draws-pakistani-visitors.html
---

What does your hero "Sal" Khan have to say about all this?

http://alturl.com/9vhwy
http://alturl.com/f4bpj
http://alturl.com/viakf

Does he agree with your view?

Taj said...

I saw the video. Why it needs to be blocked ? What is so offending about it ?

Riaz Haq said...

Taj: "I saw the video. Why it needs to be blocked ? What is so offending about it ?"

Here we're talking about a Youtube video "Innocence of Muslims" which mocked Prophet Muhammad. Instead of selectively blocking this one video to pacify angry rioters in Pakistan, PTA decided to block the entire top domain of Youtube.

You can read more about it at http://www.riazhaq.com/2012/09/globalization-of-wests-hate-speech.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on Pakistan unblocking YouTube:

Pakistan’s interior minister announced on Friday that the country plans to lift a ban on YouTube that was imposed in September, following violent protests over a crude anti-Islam film uploaded to the site by an Egyptian-American. The government acted to rescind the ban just hours after the star of one of the year’s most popular YouTube videos, a singing Pakistani fishmonger, was given a hero’s welcome upon his return to the city of Lahore from Britain.

The minister, Rehman Malik, revealed the news in a series of updates to his Twitter feed, in which he said that Pakistanis should be able to access the site within 24 hours and congratulated the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority on finding ways to “block anti-Islamic material.”

Mr. Malik’s comments were published one day after the Pakistani star of the viral video was given an elaborate welcome in Lahore. According to a report in Friday’s edition of the Pakistani newspaper The Nation:

Hundreds showed up at Lahore airport to honor Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who scaled the British music charts with “One Pound Fish,” which he originally composed to entice shoppers at the East London market where he worked. The song became a YouTube hit after someone filmed Nazir singing it at the market and Warner Music signed him up for a record deal in the hope of getting the coveted Christmas-number-one spot in the charts.

Mr. Nazir owes his stardom to a freelance Web designer’s YouTube clip of the fishmonger singing his “One Pound Fish” tune at a market in London’s Upton Park in March. The video of that performance has been viewed more than seven million times.

Mr. Malik’s comments were published one day after the Pakistani star of the viral video was given an elaborate welcome in Lahore. According to a report in Friday’s edition of the Pakistani newspaper The Nation:

Hundreds showed up at Lahore airport to honor Muhammad Shahid Nazir, who scaled the British music charts with “One Pound Fish,” which he originally composed to entice shoppers at the East London market where he worked. The song became a YouTube hit after someone filmed Nazir singing it at the market and Warner Music signed him up for a record deal in the hope of getting the coveted Christmas-number-one spot in the charts.

Mr. Nazir owes his stardom to a freelance Web designer’s YouTube clip of the fishmonger singing his “One Pound Fish” tune at a market in London’s Upton Park in March. The video of that performance has been viewed more than seven million times.


http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/28/pakistan-to-lift-youtube-ban-as-a-viral-video-star-is-welcomed-home/

Usman Shakil said...

One Pound Fish Music Video Hits 10 Million Youtube Views

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Newseeek Pakistan story on Shazia Sikandar:

Her works are part of the permanent collections of some of the world’s most famous museums—the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the Guggenheim. In 2005, The New York Times called her an “an artist on the verge of shaking things up.” The year before that, Newsweek counted her among the clutch of overachieving South Asians “transforming America’s cultural landscape.” Shahzia Sikander, arguably Pakistan’s most famous living modern artist, has been wowing the international art world with her multidisciplinary works inspired from Mughal-era miniature painting techniques and tropes. She’s been scoring accolades since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995. Last year, the U.S. secretary of State awarded her the Inaugural Medal of Art. She’s previously won a MacArthur “Genius Grant.” While Pakistan hasn’t entirely ignored Sikander—she won the President’s National Pride of Honor award in 2005—she’s hardly a household name in her home country, and viewed by Pakistani critics as an outlier. We spoke with Sikander recently about her art and life. Excerpts:

From the National College of Arts in Lahore to the pinnacle of the global art scene, what’s the journey been like for you?

Complex, the way life is. It’s hard to summarize more than two decades in a single answer—besides, the journey is still unfolding. In retrospect I would have, perhaps, made some different decisions, but I’m appreciative of all the opportunities and detours I experienced that helped me develop my ability to think and express.

You’ve rarely held any shows in Pakistan, why?

Not being invited in any serious manner to exhibit works in Pakistan is an issue. Compounding the situation is also the fact that almost all of my work got collected rapidly by international museums in the late 1990s and early 2000s. To show the work, it has to be loaned directly from the [collecting] institutions. It was never as simple as putting the work in a suitcase to be brought over to Pakistan to exhibit.

Do you think your work has helped change how women artists from the Muslim world are viewed abroad, judged on the basis of the work rather than the baggage of biography?

Our actions speak for ourselves. If anything my choices in life do not fit into any stereotypes. I am a strong advocate for women’s education. The support I received from my family and mentors in Pakistan was instrumental in allowing me to think for myself, take responsibility for my actions, and develop a healthy sense of independence and self-worth. Unfortunately, stereotypes get resurrected often around the world for all sorts of people. Muslim women are subjected to this much more frequently. Over the years there have been numerous opportunities to debunk or challenge these stereotypes, and I have been there many times through my work and through my life.

How much of your work is informed by your heritage, your Pakistani identity?

My identity is very much about my being from the subcontinent. It is not as if I left my roots and have to find ways to engage with them. I came of age in Pakistan. My engagement with Indo-Persian miniature painting started in the mid to late-’80s when I was studying at the NCA........


http://newsweekpakistan.com/the-forgotten-daughter/

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a WSJ blog post on Izzat Majeed, a British-Pakistani music philanthropist:

The millionaire-investor-turned-philanthropist and music mogul will mark a milestone when his Sachal Studios Orchestra of Lahore releases its second jazz album later this year. The first, Sachal Jazz: Interpretations of Jazz Standards and Bossa Nova, went on sale in 2011. It shot to the top of iTunes rankings in both the U.S. and U.K. and drew comparisons to Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club album, done with Cuban’s biggest traditional musical legends, some of whom had been out of the limelight for decades.

The first Sachal album featured a version of “Take Five” that even Brubeck is said to have liked. Brubeck died late last year. The tribute to his quartet was played on both Western stringed instruments and traditional Eastern instruments, like the sitar, and was also done as a slickly cut, but somehow still-quaint music video.

The orchestra’s second album, Jazz and All That, has a decidedly different feel, Majeed said.

“For the second album, I’ve done two things. The entire structure of rhythm has changed. Also, I have brought in Western instruments that would create enthusiasm, rather than in the previous album, when the contribution of Western instruments was minimal,” he said. “That gels well with the sitar, the sarangi (a fiddle-like instrument)…It gives it a sound I really like.”

Sachal Studios, which also has produced several dozen albums from individual artists since opening, released a teaser video of the orchestra playing an East-West fusion version of R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts.”

Majeed, by the way, hesitates to call the sound of the orchestra he built “fusion,” though it blends elements and instruments of both.

“I shy away from Western or Eastern,” Majeed said. “I don’t understand ‘fusion.’ For example, I made two or three new tracks totally on our classical music, on the ragas. When you hear them, the raga is not disturbed at all…Whenever I make a composition and bring in an instrument from the West and our own instrument, ultimately, the impact, the sound that you hear, is your own music. It’s not fusion. It’s the world coming into musical harmony.”

Majeed, who is 63 and considers himself retired, splits time between London and Lahore, and does some of his album-tracking with musicians in Europe. He said he just likes the sound of the instruments coming together, and that part of his mission is to bring music back to Pakistan, even if it’s a different kind than what many of his countrymen expect.

“Everyone tells us, ‘you rock the boat all the time when you’re in Lahore, because I don’t know the music.’ We all just get together and say, ‘here is the sound. Do you like it?’ We bypass the classical structures,” he said.

Playing music that’s pleasant and interesting, as he discovered with the orchestra’s first album, attracts listeners from all over, like Japan and Brazil, as well as in Pakistan. Majeed said he started to compose the outlines of the second album as the first album began resonating with listeners around the world. It has come together at a comfortable pace and in a way where the whole orchestra is now onboard with the sound.

----

The new album features 13 tracks, including Henry Mancini’s “The PInk Panther,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Morning has Broken” by Cat Stevens, “the Maquis Tepat,” and a jazz-based classical interpretation of a Monsoon raga.

Beyond the orchestra’s music, the tale of how and why Majeed built the studio and founded Sachal is worth telling for music aficionados.

After his initial exposure to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s so-called “Jambassadors,” in 1958, Majeed, kept music close, despite a winding career.


http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/09/11/philanthropist-bringing-jazz-back-to-pakistan/

Riaz Haq said...

“Management of Google/YouTube has shown its willingness to localise YouTube in Pakistan provided they will not be held responsible if blasphemous content is placed and uploaded on its website,” the minister said.

“The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is finalising a draft ordinance which will be processed by the ministry for enactment as law,” said the minister.

Breaking the news to members of the Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunications, Anusha Rehman explained that once YouTube was localised, blocking objectionable content would be easier.

“Instead of installing costly filtration mechanisms, Google will easily be able to block blasphemous content on the request of the Pakistan government.

“Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have also reached a similar arrangement with Google,” Anusha Rehman said.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1061799

Riaz Haq said...

#Islamabad #ChaiWala (tea-seller) is instant #socialmedia sensation in #India, #Pakistan. Signs modeling contract

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/19/blue-eyed-tea-seller-arshad-khan-becomes-social-media-sensation-in-india-and-pakistan

A blue-eyed tea-seller from Islamabad has scored a modelling contract after featuring in an Instagram post that went viral.

Even more unlikely, the 18-year-old’s picture topped trending lists across Indian social media, warming an icy patch between the neighbours that has included calls for Pakistani actors to be banned from the Indian film industry.

Photographer Jiah Ali snapped the chai-wallah at a bazaar in the Pakistani capital on Sunday. Her Instagram post spread to Twitter and Facebook and kicked off a search for the name of the vendor.

He was identified on Tuesday as Arshad Khan, a teenager from Kohat district, who had been making tea at the Itwar Bazaar for three months.

Khan told the Dawn newspaper his first inkling of the scale of his fame was when he spotted local boys with flyers depicting his face. He was also mobbed by media outlets clamouring for an interview.

He told local media he was flattered by the attention but, ever the professional, said he preferred people not to shoot his picture while he worked.

On Wednesday a savvy online retailer, Fitin.Pk, seized on Khan’s sudden fame to sign him up to model a range of its clothes.

His picture – and posts swooning over it – were shared worldwide across social media, including in India, where ire towards the Pakistani government is running high after militants in Kashmir killed 19 Indian troops last month.