West Bengal is a state with a rich past. Bengalis have preserved their folk music and traditional dances to celebrate their unique culture, and you can find influences of these traditional art forms in modern Bengali music.
The below famous Bengali songs will give you a better idea of what both traditional and modern Bengali music sounds like.
‘Jhanok Jhanok Kanok’ by Geeta Dutt
Song year: 1958
This classic Bengali song comes from the movie Indrani. This movie tells the story of two young lovers who must overcome obstacles, notably the girl’s family that doesn’t approve of the boy’s background.
This beautiful song features the unique singing voice of Geeta Dutt. She remains one of the most prominent Bengali artists of the 50s and 60s with a number of film and non-film songs. She also contributed to the Bollywood industry with over 1,400 songs recorded for Hindi movies.
‘Bharat Amar Bharat Barsha’ by Manna Dey
Song year: 1986
Manna Dey was an influential Hindi and Bengali singer from the 50s through the 70s. He played an important role in developing a pop-inspired sound that modernized traditional Indian music, and this award-winning singer often gets credit for the commercial success the Bollywood film industry experienced throughout the 70s.
‘Bharat Amar Bharat Barsha’ is a slow-paced song that showcases his singing talent. The Bengali lyrics share a patriotic message.
‘Keu Jaane Naa’ by Arijit Singh
Song year: 2022
Arijit Singh is a successful playback singer who has been dominating the music and film industry for the past 15 years. Singh has a unique talent for conveying emotion in his songs.
‘Key Jaane Naa’ is a successful single with over 19 million views on YouTube. Even though Arijit Singh can sing in many languages, he recorded this romantic song in his native Bengali language and created a music video that shows some beautiful landmarks and sights from West Bengal.
‘Fagun Haway Haway’ by Aritra Banerjee
Song year: 2021
‘Fagun Haway Haway’ is a beautiful tune with a mix of piano and guitar that feels like a modern pop ballad. The melody is the perfect vehicle for Aritra Banerjee’s soft singing voice.
This Bengali song illustrates how Western music is influencing the Indian entertainment industry. Even though Aritra Banerjee sings in Bengali, the tune could appear on a pop album recorded by a US artist.
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ by Shreya Ghoshal
Song year: 2009
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ is a traditional Bengali song. This recording from Shreya Ghoshal fully captures the song’s elegance.
The melody features a mix of traditional instruments, including drums and flutes. The lyrics talk about life’s difficulties and encourage the listeners to undertake difficult things, even though they might not receive support or help.
‘Ekla Chalo Re’ is one of the most famous Bengali songs with a positive message that speaks of courage and hope.
‘Pagol Hawa’ by Subir Sen
Song year: 1981
‘Pagol Hawa’ is a beautiful Bengali love song with poetic lyrics. The song uses imagery that refers to nature, with metaphors comparing the singer’s love to flowers or the cool breeze. The soft melody evokes the soothing feelings the singer experiences when thinking about his love.
This 80s tune blends traditional Bengali music with elements like rhythm played on drums with a twangy guitar that evokes Western rock n roll from the 1950s.
‘Mary Ann’ by Anjan Dutt
Song year: 1995
‘Mary Ann’ is one of the best Bengali songs of the 1990s. The mix of piano and guitar makes the song feel modern and evokes Western influences.
With 17 albums and over 30 film credits, Anjan Dutt remains a highly recognizable entertainer from West Bengal. “Mary Ann’ showcases his remarkable talent for playing the guitar and incorporating a mix of Western and Indian influences in his compositions.
‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ by Kumar Sanu
Song year: 2000
In 2000, Kumar Sanu released an EP dedicated to traditional Bengali folk songs. As the first track on the album, ‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ immediately sets the tone with its use of drums, strings, and flutes.
‘Amay Bhasaili Re’ is a traditional fisherman’s song. The lyrics ask the river why its waves carry the fisherman at times and put him in danger the next day. It’s a deceptively simple song with a deeper meaning about the ups and downs of life.
‘Darun’ by Anupam Roy
Song year: 2022
Anupam Roy has been active since 2015. He rose to fame after composing music for Bollywood movies.
‘Darun’ is a soft rock Bengali song that showcases his sensibility as a composer. The track blends a Western-inspired bass line with traditional elements of Indian music, such as the use of a sitar in the introduction.
The result is a gorgeous love song that creates vivid images to describe the singer’s love for someone who is unattainable.
‘Ae Baar Pujoye Chayee’ by Alka Yagnik
Song year: 1988
Alka Yagnik is one of the most successful Bollywood playback singers of all time. Her work has appeared in over 1,000 movies and she has dominated the industry for 40 years. She is also one of the top streaming artists in the world thanks to her prolific contribution to Bollywood soundtracks.
She is also behind several famous Bengali songs, such as ‘Ae Baar Pujoye Chayee,’ an 80s track that showcases her ability to sing in languages other than Hindi.
‘Neel Rang Bhison Priyo’ by Rupam Islam
Song year: 1998
‘Neel Rang Bhison Priyo’ is a nostalgic Bengali song from the 1990s. It’s also one of the most famous Bengali songs of the decade.
This romantic song features Rupam Islam’s powerful singing voice. The singing style and melody have strong Western influences, and the song has elements that one would expect to find in a classic 80s power ballad, such as a guitar solo.
‘Briddhashram’ by Nachiketa Chakraborty
Song year: 2001
Nachiketa Chakraborty rose to fame in the 90s thanks to his modern approach to Bengali music. This talented singer writes songs with insightful lyrics that also feel relatable.
‘Briddhashram’ is a beautiful composition that uses traditional Bengali rhythms. The lyrics talk about raising children and growing older. The result is a beautiful melody that accompanies philosophical lyrics with a bittersweet message.