Powered by internet sensations like Shraddharockin, Orkutcore is a telling commentary on the things we try to forget about music in India.
The interwebz is now officially the chief incubator of niche scenes worldwide. We’ve seen genres emerge out of mist, bedroom artists collectively make major publications (read p4k) swoon, but we’ve never seen anything like this new, post-Dr. K. Chaudhry, cover-centric movement that seems to have erupted across the nation via YouTube.
Being a platform for self-expression above anything else, we’ve had more people make an ass out of themselves on the site than the combined participants on every MTV reality show ever (consider the shadowy ‘She Left Me Alone’ guy). Not-so-faithful reinterpretations of popular music and dance moves, hugely unfunny stand-up routines and the like recorded over webcam have been going viral for their uncanny ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ charm from before I remember. What we seem to be in the midst of however, is the transformation of these webcam-bred artists from sneer-worthy viral hits to something of a more serious nature.
Meet Shraddha Sharma (you don’t know Shraddharockin? Shame on you). The self-described ‘normal girl residing in Dheradhun (sic)’ began recording her renditions of popular Bollywood numbers over a webcam and posted them under the confusing-at-best ‘Shraddharockin’ moniker. She sings as she strums those four generic chords. She’s an earnest musician. With seven videos, she’s managed to gather more than three million views and around 27,000 ardent fans (on YouTube, and another 95,000 on Facebook). All things considered, hers is what could be called a natural evolution of Dr. K. Chaudhry’s overall aesthetic.
Sharma’s immediate contemporaries include infant-rock prodigies Noidarockstar among scores of talented but ultimately uninspired cover-mongers. But while Sharma is perhaps the most efficient proponent of this scene, there are too many commonalities between her and her less impressive peers. The most apparent among these include the choice of songs and the freakishly similar backdrops. But these artists are prominently bound by a more powerful force – a fanbase and swagger best associated with the social networking equivalent of that wedding farmaish best left unattended – Orkut.
To further elucidate my point, let me bring into consideration what Sharma writes about herself on her channel
Um..jst trying a bit..to make meh…n uh people hppie…wid mah sngs…frm d bottom of mah heart..coz..rather dan practice…criticism makes meh mre perfect..luv uh all..keep
Tempted as I am to translate the above paragraph, I shall leave readers to draw their own conclusions. This, I shall do for a multitude of reasons, the most prominent of which is my interpretation of the above text would be severely conflicting with another’s. Regardless, it’s plain to see that that distinctive Orkut stench spreads beyond the music. Shraddharockin and her peers not only represent a new genre, but a theoretically obsolete yet widely popular lifestyle in general. We shall call this combined package ‘Orkutcore’.
This rise of Orkutcore teaches us many things we try to forget about music in India. It sheds light on why bands still choose to cover ‘classic rock’, why bars still play Deep Purple and that at heart, we’re still a population thriving on conformity. Mostly.