Taher Shah and the Rise of Cringe-Pop


Taher Shah and the Rise of Cringe-Pop

Illustration: Namaah/Arré


ow exactly do angels have sex?”

If you didn’t spend at least an hour last weekend pondering this question, it’s a safe bet you haven’t watched the music video for “Angel”, a song by Pakistani businessman-turned-musician-turned-internet-meme Taher Shah. For those of you living under a rock, or using Vodafone 3G, Shah became something of an online sensation in 2013 when he released his debut track “Eye To Eye”. The song was a fantastic specimen of what I call “cringe-pop”; music that goes viral on social media by virtue of being so godawful and inept that people are compelled to share it, if only to ensure that others will share in their misery. Lyrics ranging from confusing (“Make your love with eye to eye”) to creepy (“Your precious eyes belong to me because I love you”) are all sung in badly accented English with the familiar vocal mannerisms of drunk uncles who insist on singing the entire song during family antakshari sessions. Accompanied by a video that was part American Idol, part Rendezvous with Simi Garewal, “Eye To Eye” predictably went viral, spawning thousands of memes and millions of YouTube views.