Serious Deja View: Cornetto Music Icons

Pakistan’s next big music-based television offering after the amazing Coke Studio is the Cornetto Music Icons. It doesn’t have big red swivelling chairs and hyperactive celebrity judges manning buzzers, but the format it follows looks suspiciously like The Voice. Is it just as credible as the show it apparently ripped off?

The Voice UK's panel includes (left-to-right) Sir Tom Jones, Danny O'Donoghue, Jessie J and Will.I.Am.
The Voice UK’s panel includes (left-to-right) Sir Tom Jones, Danny O’Donoghue, Jessie J and Will.I.Am. Cornetto Music Icons follows pretty much the same format with their “mentorships” minus the big red swivelling chairs and buzzers.

The celebrity judges

Much like The Voice, the Cornetto Music Icons is judged by a handful of celebrities who offer to serve as “mentors” for the participants. However, that’s not the only thing that feels rather ripped off from the original format for The Voice. In order to try to level the testosterone-induced judging panel, the show had selected two relatively new Pakistani female singers amidst singing legends. We start with these two and take you through the panel one-by-one.

Zoe Viccaji

You might think she’s a nobody, but in the past few years she’s taken off from behind the curtains on the Coke Studio to front-line vocals on her debut album. She has also collaborated with String on an a cappella cover of their song “Bichra Yaar”. But does this even justify her being on the show that’s touted as the next best thing since Coke Studio? We think she’s an excellent choice.

Zoe Vicajji sings "Ik Din Jana Hai" on Cornetto Music Icons
Zoe Viccaji sings “Ik Din Jana Hai” on Cornetto Music Icons. She may have just been a backup vocalist on the Coke Studio jamming sessions but her sudden climb onto the mainstream music scene should not come as a surprise at all. We were disappointed she didn’t sing live on the show.

Zoe doesn’t disappoint with her soft soulful voice, however by choosing not to sing live on stage she did let her fans down. With an acoustic guitar strapped to herself, she walked up to the microphone to render her “Ik Din Jana Hai” with graceful ease and wide-eyed expressions (see video below; we love her expressions when she sings the bit with “Yeh tum bhi sumujh jao…” at 01:50). Nevertheless, she’s a welcome addition to the handful of female pop icons that the country has to offer. Hadiqa Kiyani and the rest are just moot at this point in time. Zoe’s fresh and here to stay.

Zoe is accompanied on the show by fellow celebrity singer Meesha Shafi of the “Alif Allah” fame.

Meesha Shafi

Shot to fame with her shortlived stint with the band Overload. What made her truly famous was her rendition of “Alif Allah” with Arif Lohar. She might ooze hotness but lipsyncing to her own song is seriously uncool. Why do celebrities whose only purpose on the show is to judge the singers that participate in it not sing their own songs live on stage.

Meesha Shafi sings “Badlon Pe” to kick off the show and disappoints by lipsyncing her song unlike her Coke Studio hit “Alif Allah”.
Meesha Shafi sings “Badlon Pe” to kick off the show and disappoints by lipsyncing her song unlike her Coke Studio hit “Alif Allah”. Nevertheless, we can’t overlook the fact that she does bring some sex appeal to the show, what with all the testosterone-induced sausage fest in the judging panel.

Meesha is no stranger to strong vocals and a mellow rhythm on the “Badlon Pe” track made the song really hit the mark. However, the repetitive, redundant and almost mundane lyrics makes the song (and performance) especially forgettable. By the way, this is the first time she’s actually let a glimpse of her tattooed right arm on national television.

It was rather important for the show to have some sex appeal because suddenly you’re taken into a weird place with a 58-year old man strutting his moves to a song. We talk about Alamgir here.


He’s been singing in Pakistan for the past 43 years. I remember his song “Hawa Hawa” from my school days. I seriously thought that old Pakistan singers either just die out somewhere or grow beards and start preaching (ala Junaid Jamshed of Vital Signs). Alamgir sang “Keh Deina” and managed to not fall with his outlandish dance moves.

Throughout his performance, I prayed hard he doesn’t sprain his ankle or slip a disc or injure his hips. He may be a national treasure but strutting to a song one can hardly dance to just makes him skip a few steps to the top of my awesome celebrity list. His performance, weirdly, made the show tolerable for me.

Ali Azmat

Here was one person that knows how to work the crowd. I have been to countless Junoon concerts and loved Ali’s performances. The song he chose to sing was “Deewana” and it was pretty clear by this time through the show that none of the performances were actually live. Anyway, he did manage to work the crowd without doing anything. It’s probably etched in our psyches to cheer and dance to his performances.

With time though, Azmat has dumbed down his act a bit and appeared to have lost the energy and zeal he once had. The former rockstar looked more debilitated that Alamgir, a decade older than him. He also displayed a strange affinity to the camera as he butted his head into the lens a few times.


The final entrants to the celebrity judging panel were the dynamic singing duo, Strings. While Bilal Maqsood played the guitar to the tunes, an invisible drummer played the beats in the background. Okay, I am being a bit sarcastic here but I would have loved some live performances on the show. It just hearts me so bad to see these Pakistani idols not sing live on a show where voices are to be judged. Faisal Kapadia looked strangely like Himesh Reshamiya with his baseball cap – I would’ve been fooled had he managed to sing nasally.

Shahzad “Shahi” Hasan

The panel is led by the boss-dawg Shahi Hasan of the Vital Signs fame. The old school band gave Pakistan, “Dil Dil Pakistan”, an pseudo-Islamic repentant cleric in Junaid Jamshed, a true genius in Rohail who gave us Coke Studio and now Shahi with Cornetto Music Icons. If Pakistani music is still alive and well today, it’s because of these guys. Shahi isn’t as stuck up as the show portrays him but his cold, coloured and piercing eyes make his will known nonetheless. I would love for him to turn out to be a Pakistani version of Simon Cowell.

If only looks could kill: Shahi Hasan of Vital Signs fame leads the celebrity judges panel on Cornetto Music Icons.
If only looks could kill: Shahi Hasan of Vital Signs fame leads the celebrity judges panel on Cornetto Music Icons.

He doesn’t sing on the show but had already done his bid by roaming around towns in search of six participants for the show. Suffering through the auditions for the show is his duty enough. Sitting in the middle of the judging panel, he makes it known that he’s the boss.


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