Let's directly get to the point. Mid-way through Rock On!!, you end up rubbing your eyes (and also your ears) in disbelief. And by the time one is through the 9 song ordeal of Rock On!!, you start wondering whether it indeed had Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy at their spirited best when they were composing for this film which marks the debut of Farhan Akhtar as an actor.
Rock On also marks the debut of Farhan Akhtar as a singer who is heard in as many as 5 tracks. First to come is 'Socha Hai' which is about questioning the basic facts about life and nature around mankind. As required by the setting of the film, 'Socha Hai' gives a rock beginning to the album. However, it is a strong sense of deja vu that one gets to hear since there have been innumerous examples of tunes and arrangements like these that one has heard in Pakistani rock albums in the last few years. Farhan does a fine job behind the mike as one looks forward to what else does he have in store in songs to come.
Yet again, it's the sound of electronic guitar which opens 'Pichle Saat Dinon Mein'. Though the rhythm of 'Na Na Na Na Na' does aid in giving a rhythm to the track, it's unconventional lyrics (though going by the mood of the rock genre and the concert setting) are the kind that would only work for a very restricted set of audience. Farhan is heard solo yet again in this track that is repeated towards the end of the album as a LIVE performance. Seemingly a track that should make for a climax setting, it has its chances if only the visuals are well directed to create a euphoric atmosphere.
It's the sound of the background music which ran behind Hrithik Roshan in Lakshya that forms the basic rhythm of the title song 'Rock On!!'. The number tries to amalgamate the 'Dil Chahta Hai' feel with the rock mood of the film but sadly the end result doesn't really make you jump with joy. Though 'Rock On!!' has been the chosen one for the initial round of the film's promotion, it surprisingly doesn't come with the kind of zing that one expected from the flagship number of the album.
Surprisingly, respite comes in a number which goes soft instead of blazing hard on the ears, something which was the case in the songs preceding this one. Dominique Carejo has been around for last few years and the lady has delivered whenever given an opportunity, whether for English or a Hindi song. 'Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein' is an out and out Hindi number and it's soft rock feel with minimal arrangements in the background make you long for a candle light dinner with the song being performed live in the background. Of course, this number too has a restricted market for itself due to an urban feel and setting but one doesn't mind giving it a few more hearings.
Now this one is really one of the biggest disappointments of Rock On!!. A number with lyrics like 'Yahan Pe Saanp Baste Hai, Sabko Saanp Daste Hai' can't really be taken seriously for making inroads into popular segments. Well, believe it or not but there is a song like this that has been titled 'Zehreeley' and it is such an assault on your ears that you want to move on to the next number (or rather even end of the album) without spending any more seconds into it. A full on rock track, it surprisingly sees full-throated rendition by Suraj Jagan who was quite a find when heard last in the title song of Johnny Gaddaar.
Farhan Akhtar returns to the scene with 'Tum Ho Toh' which perhaps has been placed at just the right juncture in the album. After a noisy 'Zehreeley', 'Tum Ho Toh' is a soft outing, though still sticking to the film's setting. Yes, the number is easy going with Farhan doing well again but still it warrants a restricted audience for itself. What follows next is an inspirational number that takes its reference point from 'Sindbad The Sailor' who fought all odds to reach his destination. Farhan Akhtar comes behind the mike with Raman Mahadevan and together they jam up the show to create something unconventional yet again. Well, one would rather wait to see how visuals take this number forward which can't be expected to come on the lips of one and all!
Finally comes 'Phir Dekhiye' which has another good singer, Caralisa Monteiro, going solo with her rendition. With just a guitar in the background, this number about being positive in life has Caralisa holding the center stage throughout the 3 minute outing. Thankfully, this one acts as a respite for ears, just like Dominique's 'Ye Tumhari Meri Baatein' which was heard a while back. But are the two numbers good enough reasons to go for Rock On!!? Not really!
The soundtrack here just doesn't work and that's quite a shocker since SEL and Javed Akhtar have collaborated so very well for all the earlier productions (Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Don) of Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani. Surprisingly, the team misses the bus here. Yes, it is indeed quite an attempt to create an album which is designed to be truly 'rock on' - pun intended - but then the final outcome is the kind which, let aside attracting your attention, only ends up pushing you further away. Sad!