Grading the Top 10 in … TAMIL FILM SOUNDTRACKS!

1. Vijay/Andrea Jeremiah/Joe/Krishna Iyer, “Google Google”

The big song from the hit action thriller Thuppakki (The Gun), written and directed by A.R. Murugadoss. Thuppakki was shot digitally on an Arri Alexa by cinematographer Santhosh Sivan. Single-named superstar Vijay stars as Army captain Jagdish, who combats terrorist sleeper cells in Mumbai. This song concerns the romantic subplot, where Jagdish finds that the girl his parents have arranged for him to marry is actually a lovely, quick-witted boxer. The video for the “Google Google” sequence was shot in a Bangkok nightclub lit like a Michael Mann fantasia. Except for the parts that take place in a cyberpunk netherworld, on a country road by the water, and at what seems like a fun barbecue. A club banger about being “Facebook friends,” with a chorus that invokes Google and Yahoo over “White Horse”-style squelchy bass. What if this had been Justin Timberlake’s new song?

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Superb song” — vigneshv19961

2. Muresh & Priyadarshini, “Onnam Class”

“Onnam Class” is from the movie Alex Pandian, which critics bashed as a mediocre effort that tries to stun the audience into submission with musical numbers and stunts. It depends on how you feel about masala films, which mix genre tropes and classical influences into post-modern fireworks. Naturally, Baz Luhrmann and Quentin Tarantino have professed their love for the genre. Much of “Onnam Class” takes place in front of a technicolor cathedral window stage, and there are also cars exploding on palm trees. I was pretty immersed in the visuals. The song is not great.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “<3 <3 <3 i luv this song" — kumarimathi

3. Yasin & Vandana Srinivasan, “Avatha Paiyya”

From the soundtrack to the upcoming Paradesi, directed by new-wave Tamil film legend Bala. Based on the novel Red Tea, it’s a historical epic about slavery on South Indian tea plantations. It’s probably less zany than Django Unchained.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “nice” — jaganprem

4. Nandini Srikar, “Aaha Kaadhal Konji Pesudhe”

The theme song to the upcoming romance Moondru Per Moondru Kaadhal (Three People Three Love). It’s not about love triangles (perennial art-house fare), but rather three love stories in separate locations: “by the seaside, in the mountains, and on the plains.” Moondru-rise Kingdom? The music was written by Yuvan Shankar Raja, sometimes credited with bringing hip-hop and remixes into the Tamil film industry. There’s no rap in “Aaha Kaadhal Konji Pesudhe,” which fuses Carnatic music with British folk and ends up sounding like The Incredible String Band.

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Great song. Grows on you. Good fusion of western and carnatic. Well orchestrated and melodious tune.” — KannanPalanisamy

5. Karthik & Priya Himesh, “Yetho Yetho Uyirile”

This is a fan video for Dharmayudham, a Tamil television courtroom drama that you can watch in its entirety on YouTube, set to “Yetho Yetho Uyirile,” a tune from the Malayalam film Nandanam. I like it when songs are SUSPENSEFUL!

Grade: A

Best YouTube Comment: “Thanks for watching this serial!!!” — aishpookal

6. Velmurugan, “Machango Mamango”

There’s no video of playback singer Velmurugan’s “Machango Mamango,” but you can listen to it on Raaga, a site specializing in Indian musical genres. They have streaming versions of every song on this chart, and an amazing database of user-generated playlists that I strongly recommend getting lost in. This live video shows off Velmurugan’s impressive vocal talent to better effect.

Grade: B

Best YouTube Comment: “nice song and lyrics :D” — kuttyn24

7. Haricharan, “Sydney Nagaram”

25-year-old Haricharan sings playback for the Telugu movie Ramcharan. “Sydney Nagaram” is about Sydney, Australia. Is it just me or does star Ram Charan Teja look like Brian Austin Green? Anyone for “One Stop Carnival”? I’m serious.

Grade: C+

Best YouTube Comment: “i love this song but the rap was unnecessary” — jontyarsenal

8. Manasi Scott & Rahul Nambiar, “Eisalaamey Eisalaam”

From Ameer Sultan’s crime movie Aadhi Bhagavan (Ancient God) a.k.a. Tamil Gangster Squad, which came out yesterday on Pongal.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “looks very Generic…But the cinematography’s cool.” — rbhavan

9. Gopi Sunder & Anna Katharina Valayil, “Yaaruda Antha Mahesh”

Acid-Hop.

Grade: B+

Best YouTube Comment: “female voice is so sweet.” — RameshBhaskaruni

10. Yuvan Shankar Raja, “Mella Sirithal”

I would really like this were it not for all the Auto-Tune. I like Auto-Tune best when it’s a garnish and not the whole meal. It’s too bad because the production is cool. Yuvan Shankar Raja is the son of Indian film composer Ilaiyaraaja. While his son brought rap to Tamil music, Ilaiyaraaja is famous for his experiments combining Carnatic musical traditions with Western ones.

Grade: B-

Best YouTube Comment: “nice 1 bro” — danyboi637

Filed Under: Charts, Grading the Charts

Photo on 2014-01-10 at 12.58 #3

Molly Lambert is a staff writer for Grantland.

Archive @ mollylambert