Time and originality are what its takes for any ad jingle to become a classic: Usha Uthup

Usha Uthup, referred to as the queen of Indian Pop, spoke about the way the Indian music industry has evolved at Ad:Tech 2022

Apr 27, 2022 02:51:00 AM | Article | Eularie Saldanha

Many believe consistency is the key when it comes to branding. And that's the mantra singer Usha Uthup followed when it came to her appearance. 
 
Flowers in her hair and a huge bindi on her forehead are only some of the things that made the queen of Indian Pop, Usha Uthup, an icon. However, she admits that she never planned for it to be that way. 
 
The singer, who began her career as a nightclub singer, shared how the profession came with its set of stereotypes, but never stopped her from doing what she did. “Even if it’s a drop in the ocean, it’s a definite contribution to ending the stigma associated with nightclubs.” 
 
Advantages of today's music industry 
 
When asked about how she managed to stay relevant even with today’s youth, she shared that although people now listen to music that is scooped up in different sounds and discos, it’s still the old music which is repurposed. 
 
Speaking about the opportunities that people have today, Uthup marvelled at the youth’s poise and the way they present themselves. “The sky is the limit for the younger generation. They have all the social media that they need, for things to work in their favour. Even reality shows have helped in exposing the talent that India has.”
 
Acknowledging the role of technology and the kind of options it helps singers of today, she said, "In my world, there was only me doing what I do, in a saree. Even for recordings, I had to be well-rehearsed, because if even one made a mistake, the whole thing had to be redone. Today, even the passionate love songs don’t require any two singers to meet each other and are still put together with great consoles and sound engineering.” 
 
Patience and originality as a virtue 
 
Although we live in a time of abundance, the pop queen believes that the excess is the reason why people go back to retro. 
 
“Everything needs a certain amount of time to become a classic. To make a niche for yourself, you’ve got to be original, no matter how good or bad a singer you are,” she said. 
 
Uthup has been the voice of many popular jingles in adland. She is in awe of how a 10 or 20-seconder campaign turns out to be so creative. Naming her work in jingles for brands like Nescafe, Cadbury, Close up and the much-heard ‘Vicks ki goli lo, khich khich door karo’ (take a Vicks tablet and let go of the irritation), she explained that time and originality are what its takes for anything to become a classic.
 
Though Uthup considered herself a compulsive optimist, she firmly believed that the visual medium kills the real song and its meaning. Speaking about the same, she said, “Those days have gone but will never go because I’m a radio freak. With everything given on visual all the time, people forget to imagine or even have their views about something. Some have gotten so used to the good things, that I’m not sure they’d be able to handle the difficult things.” 
 
However, she does admit that all the access to excess makes the audience even more discerning. 
 
When asked about the flip side of today’s music world, she reminisced about her time, when there was no stereo. “I’m the unplugged singer, the original bandwaali (band girl) who sang with bands. If you really go to see it, the warmth of previous analogue recordings is missing for the digital perfection of today. Today, everything is so perfect that the humane aspect of life is missing a little.”