How Nepali music lost its charm over time

The 1980s and 1990s are often referred to as golden years of Nepali music. We witnessed musicians like Narayan Gopal, Bhakta Raj Acharya, Gopal Yonjan, Tara Devi, and many others who are still regarded as the nation's top singers of all time. We continued to see some great musicians even after that golden era, but after the 2000s, we can clearly see the backdrop of our music industry.

Swor Samrat Narayan Gopal (left) and Bhajan Shiromani Bhaktaraj Acharya

The 1990s and the early 2000s brought new musical genres, tastes, and changes. The Edge Band, Nepathya, and 1974 AD were some of the most successful bands we saw. They combined our tastes with those of the West. In fact, some people believe that this era, not the one before it, was in fact the golden era. In summary, the 1980s to the early 2000s can be regarded as some of the best decades for the development of our music. For the years that followed those times, however, we cannot make the same claim. Why, then, did our music not sound right? How did it gradually lose its appeal? Let's investigate the specifics of what went wrong.


We can clearly see poetry, meaning, and ease of connection in the lyrics of songs by artists like Narayan Gopal and Bhakta Raj Acharya. One of the main things that makes them unique is the word choice. We can read the lyrics of those songs as if they were poems, so it is obvious that they were poetry-based. Of course, the initial phrase for every song begins with a poem, but the most current generation of songs clearly contradicts this. In this era, we have developed a preference for straightforward, catchy songs over the one with more complex and meaningful lyrics.


The primary source of sound during those times used to be our indigenous instruments; we would hardly hear any foreign instruments. When the band era came along in the mid- and late-90s, foreign instruments were introduced, and they were very successful in changing the flavor of the music for most people, especially the youngsters of that era. Although the sound source was compromised, the lyrics themselves were not, and they were still powerful. The word choices still had a great deal of significance.

1974 AD (rock band, popular in late 1990s and early 2000s)

Rise of "Folk-based" music:
Folk music has become more popular over the past ten years. Eight of the top ten Nepali songs on YouTube that have received the most views fall into this category. Most of these contemporary folk songs have lyrics that are justified, but the instruments are subpar. Since they obviously aren't true folk, I'm going to refer to them as "new folk-based," since our folk genre isn't just about the lyrics but also about our own native instruments. Despite the fact that they do use some of our own instruments, the mix of other instruments obscures the real charm. Additionally, even though their lyrics in some ways fit the folk genre, they lack the authentic flavor of the actual folk genres of Nepal.

Modern Examples:
Since selling songs in the form of physical media is no longer a common practice, our musicians' popularity today is largely dependent on YouTube. We seem to prefer simple songs over those that are more complex, as evidenced by the following example: Rachana Rimal has performed over a thousand songs. One of her songs, "Harle Nikhar Lyauchha," which was released in 2021 and has fewer than half a million views as of the time of writing this article, is one of her songs with noteworthy lyrics. However, the same singer's catchy song "Paani Chhamkine," which was also released the same year, has received over ten million views. The lyrics in the former are more profound and meaningful, while those in the latter are much simpler.

It is understandable why these changes gradually occurred; this is how things are; changes must be made to accommodate the new generation's tastes. Even so, this does not adequately explain the compromise on lyrics that has occurred. We can clearly see that the lyrics of most of the 1980s and 1990s songs were composed with great thought and consideration. It might be a result of the earlier generation's limited resources compared to those of today, which necessitated them to consider everything very carefully before recording and releasing any song. But it's clear that today's widespread production of meaningless songs with meaningless lyrics has altered many listeners' musical preferences and accustomed them to this style. Genuinely talented musicians and lyricists are being impacted by this, as audience tastes have changed to be more "hook-based" or ‘catchy" as a result of these commercial music productions.

Post a Comment