With the typical swagger of the rap idols of this age, Arjun Kumaraswamy or just Arjun comes into the R&B scene with bling, tune and some killer moves. Sri Lankan Tamil by birth, Indian by music taste, his claim to fame was with his remix of the Anirudh Ravichander hit “Why This Kolaveri Di?”. His debut, however, was an original composition called “remember tonight”, which picked up steam once his popularity shot through the roof. The successful remix of “Why This Kolaveri Di?” garnered around 200,000 views in the upload week and gained him over ten thousand new loyal subscribers.
Truly a star of the YouTube generation, Arjun is fresh, creative and ticks all the right R&B boxes. The highlight of his original videos captures with them the essence of the London scene, with panorama shots of big ben and fast cars and bikes littering the background and more so the absolutely gorgeous eye candy that floats around on screen, Arjun pulled of what a number of artists try to do but end up either being crass or just downright tacky.
His sign up with T-Series was a major highlight to his career with over 12 video tracks which have views of over 2 million within the first few weeks. That itself was just a teaser to what success he would have as an artist with concerts across the world with concerts ranging far east to absolute west in locations like Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, India, Sri Lanka, UAE, UK, France, Holland, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland.
What Worked For Arjun?
So what worked? An understanding of the current trend of things – Arjun always went for the tracks that had an already catchy tune to begin with and have success as they stand alone. To take that and globalize that for a wider audience who’s tastes don’t coincide with the Indian audience in terms of style, but have something about them that the world wants. Whether it’s in terms of translations and an R&B infusion in case of “Kolaveri” to “Ambarsariya” where it has a similar pattern to the original and a few bars of the chorus but is mainly an English song with an Indian twist.
The second would be to collaborate with a lot of artists from the Indian-British London scene where the influence of more Punjabi sounding beats and Rap styles make their influence. The market for that itself is quite large and so to get a foot hold into the listener base required a bit of an insider track. With a song collaboration with Guru Randhawa “Suit” which had everything the Punjabi British population has come to love. The song now has over 13 Million hits on You Tube.
His style of music is keeping in mind his audience, isn’t about loud and fast. Rap and Blues is a genre that is oozing cool and offers a tempo that allows for great dancing. The lyrics are usually about a new lady love who he is desperately after. The cat and mouse that ensues and so far it’s a formula that’s worked and he sticks to it.
With the “Gulshan Kumar Presents” headline that flashes before each song as is the new fad, it almost guarantees extravagance and opulence. Be it the vista’s shots from planes to the exotics that Arjun drives or quite simply the phenomenal costume and visual designs. The product endorsement of Hungama as an app for his music has given him a further cushier role with T-Series.
Dues to both the picturisation and the lyrics themselves, almost all his songs have the production look and feel of most full scale movies. A story is built by the song and is shot as such. This style adds to the already appealing mix Arjun puts out.
A voice that uses autotune but doesn’t really need it is the best description of Arjun that does him justice. With his penchant for collaboration with other artists, Arjun is on a similar path that mimics another extremely popular Rap and Blues artist, T-Pain. With their songs having similar themes and visual effects and the ability to pull out hits that reach a global audience.
His foray into the Indian music scene has also brought him immense local success. His remix of “Kolaveri di” got him to know Anirudh Ravichander who is the composer of the original. Anirudh roped in Arjun for “oh penne” in the movie “Vanakkam Chennai”, which gained him Tamil fans who see him as their own anyways due to his ethnicity.
With a self professed love for cricket and a strong sense of his Sri Lankan roots, Arjun was the star and singer for the ICC 2012 T20 World Cup. A chance to sing at a global event is something that stayed with him both as an artist and as an individual. Going further, he was once again involved for the theme song for the Sri Lankan Premier League. The song was on every Lankan radio channel, playing on every mobile from the day it released.
Awards & Recognitions
Awards and acclaim is something that followed Arjun’s success like a loyal companion. He was voted the Best Urban Act in the UK in 2012. This award at an international level served as a catalyst for more movie work with Creature 3D, a Bollywood horror flick with Bipasha Basu with the song “Mohhabat Barsa De”.
His latest song with T-Series, ‘Sanam Ho Ja’ has over 5 Million views since its release on the 2nd of September 2016. The song was one of Arjun’s original compositions after a while doing Bollywood and Remix projects. Within 5 days of its release worldwide, the song reached the 3rd spot on the Indian Pop Chart.
With Arjun singing his way into success internationally and locally, it boils down to two things that propel him – A great understanding of music and a better understanding of the listener. The music industry sees new talent both with an expectant eye and at the same time a dismissive wave. To make it as big as Arjun is now, is no easy task and it requires its fair share of equanimity in taking success and failure together.
On a winning streak with concerts lined up, Arjun has his hands full to keep him on top for a long time now. With a show in Brisbane, Australia happening as recently as the 2nd of october 2016, he had concerts in the United States on the 8th of October 2016 at KARISMA.