EXPECTATIONS: There aren’t any expectations whatsoever from the music of a film that belongs to the horror genre and has a title which goes as 13 B. From the prospective of background score, there still could be something worthwhile to look forward to in it but again, that makes more sense from the narrative standpoint rather than hearing it over an audio. However, on seeing the names of Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy on the credits, one still wants to give the album a fair hearing. Also, since most of the album actually comprises of songs (barring a theme track), one does get a little hopeful about something interesting to be played audio-wise as well.
MUSIC: There are at least a couple of songs dedicated on ‘Hey, look at us, we are a happy family living a happy life’! These are ‘Sab Khairiyat Hai’ and ‘Bade Se Shehar Mein’. Seemingly a background piece that would be centered on showing the happy days of the lead couple of the film, Madhavan and Neetu Chandra, ‘Sab Khairiyat Hai’ first appears in a short two minutes version followed by a remix track that lasts for four minutes. An okay track which belongs to the kind that Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy could have made in their sleep. Write your own music review of 13B Comparitively, ‘Bade Se Shehar Mein’ is more entertaining and while there is a South feel to the proceedings (also reminding of the kind of compositions that MM Kreem is known for making), overall the song does makes for a decent hear. While the start of the song is fine, it is the melody around the lines ‘Bade Se Shehar Mein’ which lingers on. Also appearing in a ‘remix version’ (which thankfully stays on to be subtle), this one is a feel good song which isn’t quintessential Bollywood in feel but should act as good filler in the background.
The same South flavor is evidenced in ‘Aasma Odh Ka’ as well which begins in a manner similar to that of ‘Chup Chup Ke’ [Bunty Aur Babli]. A love song which could be yet another tune from the stock of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, ‘Aasma Odh Kar’ isn’t a bad hear at all. It’s just that after a point in time, it doesn’t quite engage. With slight classical undertones to it, it makes one feel if the narrative of 13 B, which belongs to the horror-thriller genre, would get hampered if this 4 minutes song plays in entirety! A ‘remix version’ also follows with a slight Middle East touch given to it. However, that’s not good enough to make you acknowledge 13 B as your album of the season. A bona fide item number ‘Oh Sexy Mama’ comes next and is the first (and the only) track to catch your attention. Boasting of an underground feel to it, ‘Oh Sexy Mama’ doesn’t go overboard in arrangements but maintains a dark and edgy touch which makes it stand out from the rest of the album. Though yet again, this number isn’t the kind that would become THE song for the dance floors, it at least manages to give 13B something to look forward to from commercial standpoint. This is one number where the ‘remix version’ is pretty much welcome as well. Last to come is ’13 B Theme’ which is a background piece sans any vocals and is composed and produced by Tubby and Parik. Set in a Western mode, it lasts for close to 5 minutes and goes perfectly well with the horror-thriller mood of the film. There is a chorus that sings in the background and hence adds to the haunting mood of the proceedings. Hearing this track, one can be rest assured that 13 B would be an engaging watch on the big screen.
LYRICS: Neelesh Mishra writes the lyrics of 13 B and conveys the feeling of an all around well being in ‘Sab Khairiyat Hai’ and ‘Bade Se Shehar Mein’. There is a distinct Javed Akhtar hangover in these songs though it could also be attributed to the Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy factor since the trio has worked in a major way with the veteran lyricist. He gets poetic for ‘Aasma Odh Kar’ but there isn’t much that remains with the listener once the song is through. Call it the tune which doesn’t excite a listener much due to which the song doesn’t register and hence the lyrical effect too gets diminished! There was a time around a decade and a half back when the word ‘sexy’ had to be replaced by the word ‘baby’ in ‘Sexy Sexy Sexy Mujhe Log Bole’ [Khuddar]. Today, with movies like Dev D redefining the rules and regulations of the way Censor board operates, a song with a title like ‘Oh Sexy Mama’ is proudly flaunted on the album cover. Nothing wrong with that though because it only opens up avenues for something far spicier and interesting to come in months to come.
VOCALS: Shankar Mahadevan comes behind the mike for ‘Sab Khairiyat Hai’ as well as ‘Aasma Odh Kar’. For the former he seems to be standing up on the stage for a live concert and though he is decent in his rendition, he can’t get above an ordinary tune. Chitra joins Shankar for ‘Aasma Odh Kar’ but is in her trademark self that doesn’t make a listener jump with joy. Kartik sings ‘Bade Se Shehar Mein’ and though his voice comes quite close to that of Shankar Mahadevan himself, there is a distinct clarity in his vocals that makes one expect him to sing a lot more in weeks to come. Baba Sehgal and Anushka Manchanda come together for ‘Oh Sexy Mama’ (with Loy chipping in as well) and while Anushka Manchanda is very good once again in yet another item number of hers, one wonders if Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy even considered getting some other singer on board for the male portion. Not that Baba Sehgal isn’t good; in fact he does bring in a definite attitude to the song but imagine someone like Neeraj Sridhar at the helm of singing and the number would have caught a different dimension altogether!

OVERALL: 13B is a barely okay album, something which also goes as per the expectations that one had from it to begin with. Except for ‘Oh Sexy Mama’ that may provoke some interest in the movie from visibility factor, none of the rest is expected to help people get into the theaters. The music isn’t bad; it’s just not engaging enough to make you look forward to them being played in the film.

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