This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #402: Brimful of Asha by Cornershop.
I am going to make an assumptive leap and guess that most of you, like me, upon reading the title of today’s song said, “What song is this? I’ve never heard this before in my life!” Fair enough. Back in the Fall, when I first scrolled through this entire list of 500 songs, I stopped at #402. It struck me as interesting that someone who likes music as much as I do could possibly not know a song that was, purportedly, one of the best of all time nor, the group who sings it. So, I listened to the song. It is from the UK and is a rather peppy, catchy pop tune. I think most of you will like it when you listen to it. Then, I did some research. I am glad I did. What my research revealed serves as a reminder to me that I am not the master of all I survey. Sometimes, my worldview is coloured by the cultural experiences that shape my life. There is nothing inherently wrong with that except when one falls into the trap of thinking that your worldview is the only worldview. When you stop taking the time to realize that life on our planet is unfolding in myriad ways; some of which are completely different than yours. That’s when trouble begins or, in this case, you miss a special song like a “Brimful of Asha”. Let me tell you what I found out about it.
A “Brimful of Asha” is a song dedicated to a woman named Asha Bhosle. Asha Bhosle is affectionately referred to as “Sadi rani” or “our Queen” in India. She came to be known by that name because of her contributions to the culture of India through her work on Bollywood films. As you may be aware, singing and dancing are trademarks of many films originating in India. As people from India emigrate around the world, they bring aspects of their culture with them to their new homes. Bollywood films are a part of that culture and are, increasingly, becoming well known around the globe. Asha Bhosle is known in India as a “playback singer” which means that she is the actual singer of the songs that appear in Bollywood movies and that the on-screen actors merely lip-sync. Asha Bhosle has sung over 12,000 songs in Bollywood movies. She is revered as being a “queen” or “mother” of Indian culture, as a result.
The song, “A Brimful of Asha” was released in the UK by Cornershop in 1997. It did not do very well upon its release so, a few years later, it was re-mixed (and made faster) by a man named Norman Cook. The Norman Cook Re-mix is the version that became popular and went to #1 on the Pop charts. In the song, there are references to “bosoms for a pillow”. When asked about this, Cornershop claimed that there was nothing sexual being implied. Instead, they said that it referred to motherhood and to Asha Bhosle’s role as “mother of Indian culture”. The video for “A Brimful of Asha” is a mash-up of dancers dancing in the UK. It is not a direct take on Bollywood dancing per se but, instead, it is showing how the dance-centric cultural traditions of India are manifesting themselves in Britain. It is a fun song and a fun video. If you like those Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” mashup videos then, I believe that you will like “A Brimful of Asha”, too.
Sometimes, our eyes don’t allow us to see what is clearly there. Dance is a universal expression of happiness. This song reminds me (and, maybe you, too) that beauty and culture and skill appear in many forms and in many places. The trick is remembering to not always look where you’ve always been or else, you’ll only see what you’ve already seen. There is no growth in that approach. So, thanks, Cornershop, for creating such a boppy song and reminding me to expand my worldview. Because of you and your song, I have grown. Enjoy the video, folks! It is a good one!
The link to the music video for Brimful of Asha by Cornershop can be found here.
Cornershop have a website that can be accessed by clicking on the link here.
Thanks to KEXP for your role in the creation of this post and, as well, for helping to expand my own horizons via your support of beautiful music from the four corners of the world. A link to their website can be found here.