February 6, 2022 was one of the darkest days in the history of modern India. The country lost its greatest voice in Lata Mangeshkar who moved the entire nation and beyond through her delicate and soulful harmonies.
Lata Mangeshkar was arguably the only artist who is the conjunction between India’s past, present and future. “Queen of Melody”, “Nightingale of India”, and “Voice of the Millennium” were some of the numerous superlatives that were used to refer to the maestro and her voice.
Such was her musical prowess that she reduced the Former Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to tears when she sang ‘Ye Mere Watan Ke Logon‘ as a soulful tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the 1962 Indo-China war.
With a back catalogue that spanned over 7 decades, she was the most sought-after voice for the biggest female stars of Bollywood. Lata Mangeshkar sang over 30,000 songs spanning multiple genres and 36 languages. For a legacy as invincible as hers, it was without any shadow of doubt that her cultural footprint was never going to be limited to India.
Lata Mangeshkar’s music has weaved its magic across a multitude of global genres like Pop, Hip-Hop, House, Trance, Dubstep, Drum & Bass. We are going to look at some of the biggest songs that stamped her influence beyond Indian music.
BRITNEY SPEARS – TOXIC[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOZuxwVk7TU]
We start with one of the most widely known pop songs of our time. Britney Spears had gone 5 years without delivering a hit song, and just when people thought her career is on the decline, she came up with this timeless Pop classic. What made the song so big? Of course, her sensuous voice, but it was the pitched up strings from Lata Mangeshkar’s 1981 song ‘Tere Mere Beech Mein’. The sample worked well, considering track’s iconic status to this day!
THE GAME – PUT YOU ON THE GAME[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OYojGxshoI]
Next up is a monumental tune in hip-hop from The Game, who is one of the genre’s most influential acts. Part of his 2005 album ‘The Documentary’, the song ‘Put You On The Game’ made use of Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals from the 1969 song ‘Baghon Mein Bahar Hai’ from the movie ‘Aradhana’.
TRUTH HURTS FEAT. RAKIM – ADDICTIVE[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cryLYx5H_U]
‘Addictive’ is another hit tune with yet another sample that originated from Lata Mangeshkar’s voice. American R&B singer, songwriter and actress, Shari Watson aka Truth Hurts’ 2002 song ‘Addictive’ opened with a vocal sample from Lata Mangeshkar’s 1981 song ‘Thoda Resham Lagta Hai’ from the movie ‘Jyoti’.
The original was already a massive hit in India and it still continues to be, with a multitude of artists making their own versions of the tune. However, Shari Watson’s track which had Dr. Dre as the producer entered the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 charts and comfortably stayed there for a significant amount of time.
FLYING LOTUS – ELEPHANT RIDE[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAAapz3IikE]
Lata Mangeshkar’s influence on the most prominent acts in music goes on, and this time it’s American producer and rapper Flying Lotus, who is known for his indisputable legacy in the world of instrumental hip-hop. For ‘Elephant Ride’, Flying Lotus used Lata Mangeshkar’s vocals from her 1969 track ‘Aa Jaane Jaan’ and chopped them up to amplify the tune’s hypnotic mood.
FOUR TET – MORNING SIDE[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWJV83LyBz8]
‘Morning Side’ is probably the most prominent use of Lata Mangeshkar’s music that you will come across in this list. English electronic music producer Four Tet, who is known for his folk adventures, used Lata Mangeshkar’s 1982 track ‘Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon’ for 20 mins! Yes, 20 mins of Lata Mangeshkar’s soulful vocals that are placed over a trance-y beat structure. It’s a proper journey!
KLUTE – ASHRAM[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgCZlcAXIOM]
Who would have thought Lata Mangeshkar’s voice would reach one of the most underground genres of electronic music? But here we are! Her 1965 song ‘Piya Tose Naina Laage Re’ which is one of her biggest hits was used by English Drum & Bass producer Klute in his 2009 tune ‘Ashram’ which was released on one of the most influential record labels in the genre, Commercial Suicide.
BICEP – RAIN[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdIYsQI0SFE]
And here is influential act number 7 who made use of Lata Mangeshkar’s music! English Electronic duo, Bicep, who have risen to prominence as one of the finest acts in the game, made use of not one but two songs from Lata Mangeshkar in the same album.
Their 2017 album ‘Isles’, which is considered as one of the best electronic albums made in recent times, had the legendary singer’s vocals from her 1976 song ‘Husn Hazir Hai’ on a hypnotic banger called ‘Rain’. The next one was ‘Chalte Chalte Yun Hi Koi’ from the famous 1972 movie ‘Pakeezah’.
BENNY ILL & DJ HATCHA – HIGHLAND SPRING[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th1rDR0jgh4]
Hear this out. Dubstep, which at its core remains to be a fairly underground genre, was invented in the early 2000s. This tune is from 2003 and was released by one of the originators of the genre, DJ Hatcha. That’s how big her influence is on music as a whole.
The sample used in ‘Highland Spring’ which forms the hook of the track, comes from Lata Mangeshkar’s 1978 tune ‘Yashomati Maiya Se Bole Nandlala’, giving the rolling sub in the Dubstep classic an engaging narrative.
Mind you, these are just a handful of tracks that we’ve talked about from an ocean of artists who have been influenced by her music. A timeless musician and a timeless woman, Lata Mangeshkar’s legacy will take light years to be matched.