When Atif Aslam sighs, a thousand lovelorn hearts break. When he sings, well, you do the math.
In a region where Bollywood stars dominate both music and idolatry, the young Pakistani singer has managed the near impossible – a superstar career as an independent rock musician. His soaring ballads, soft-lipped good looks, and warm, emotionally resonant voice ignite audiences into a sobbing, keening frenzy. It’s tempting to compare him to Justin Beiber, purely in terms of fan devotion, but at very un-tweener 28, Aslam’s following is not likely to outgrow him nor is it predominantly female. And his music, drawing generously from Western pop and steeped in Pakistani ghazal and sufi rock traditions, layers the soul-stirring beauty of Urdu poetry over the urgent energy of his guitar work.
Atif Aslam’s musical career almost collapsed as soon as it started. Jal, the band he started with a college friend, dissolved amid recriminations mere months before the first album dropped. Aslam promptly embarked on a solo career, releasing Jalpari (the title a nod to the former band) in 2004. Songs like “Aadat” were immediately embraced by kids in both Pakistan and India, and the album catapulted the singer into the spotlight as the voice of young South Asia.
With 3 albums, several Bollywood songs, and his first starring role in a Lollywood film under his belt, Atif Aslam is now poised to break through to a global platform. A fourth album and collaborations with Slash and ex-Guns N’ Roses members are in works. Rumors of projects with Chris Martin and John Mayer persistently float, and who knows if Hollywood might come calling? Let’s not forget that Aslam’s degree is in Computer Science — we wouldn’t be surprised if he launched the next Facebook, cause from him, nothing is impossible.