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Brimful of Asha

Asian pop joins indie rock for this classic

Fact titleFact data
Release date: 1997
Written by: Tjinder Singh
First recorded by: Cornershop


To this day there are probably thousands who bought the delightfully infectious ‘Brimful of Asha’ without really comprehending what it was about or what the lyrics alluded to. And, of course, to enjoy most pop you don’t need to know what the hell it’s about. How else can you explain hits like 2-Unlimited’s ‘No Limit’?

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillowBrimful of Asha

But the reason this hit by British Asian band Cornershop is significant to The People’s Songs is that it marks a point where two types of popular culture were finally brought together in the UK charts: namely, Indie rock and Bollywood film. Hindi film is a massive multi-million rupee industry easily on a par with its distant cousin in California. But what most non-Asian people don’t realise is that its musicals are driven by invisible background singers who may never appear on screen, but are equally famous to film fans.

And ‘Brimful… ‘ namechecks the three greatest of these background singers: Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar (her older sibling) and Mohammad Rafi. Writer Tjinder Singh is not only praising the glory days of Indian cinema, but cataloguing all the good things that greet his ears, from Bollywood to Marc Bolan. And contained in the song’s title is an apposite pun, as ‘Asha’ doesn’t just refer to the legendary singer, but also is Hindi for ‘hope’.

Brimful of Asha

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