Director Mani Ratnam's usual associate music composer, A. R. Rahman was signed to compose the songs as well as the background score for the film. Rahman visited Mani Ratnam at one of the filming locations near coastal areas of Thiruchendur where they had a boat ride into the sea to discuss about the songs. In an interview, Rahman stated that the music of Kadal is a blend of Christian gospel, blues and Carnatic music as the film plot portrays Christian fishermen. Rahman claimed the sea to be a huge inspiration and hence the song "Chithirai Nila" was born out of this inspiration. As Mani Ratnam insisted on romantic numbers, Rahman composed "Nenjukulley" and "Moongil Thottam" in the same tempo. The songs were alternate choices for Ratnam but he retained both. On composition of song "Adiye", according to the composer, most Christian gospel songs have a blues feel to them. However, he clubbed the folk genre with jazz vocal backing into it as picturisation was to be done on a village boy. Initially, Ratnam wanted the composer to croon the track but the latter had already finalised "Elay Keechan" and hence "Adiye" was sung by Sid Sriram. The operatic Italian version of song "Anbin Vaasale", sung by Natalie Di Luccio was used in the background score of the film. A gibberish song sung by A.R. Rahman, used only in the film was featured on the character Celina (played by Lakshmi Manchu).
The soundtrack features seven songs and two of the songs penned by Vairamuthu are taken from "A Compilation of Vairamuthu's Poems" and third one from his work about sea odyssey, Thanner Thesam. The song "Magudi Magudi" features vocals and lyrics by Sri Lankan rapper Aaryan Dinesh Kanagaratnam.
User Album Review
The soundtrack album opened up with mixed to positive reviews. Music Aloud stated, "A R Rahman does it again for Mani Ratnam with an exquisite mix of genres not often heard in Tamil." Indiaglitz on a positive note stated, "Rahman delivers of Mani Ratnam once again." Behindwoods quoted, "Kadal is salt of the earth stuff from A.R. Rahman that is rewarding of your time spent on it." Sri Krishna of Musicperk summarized, "There’s an unwritten rule in Indian Cinema that goes something like this: “Rahman reserves his God Mode for Mani Ratnam“. The validity of that statement has once again been established beyond ambiguity, Kadal is one for the ages, if you are a fan of deep, enduring music." Pavithra Srinivasan of Rediff stated in her review, "It's been said that A R Rahman always delivers his very best for Mani Ratnam. It looks like it with Kadal, where the composer experiments and runs riot with different styles with some success." In an interview with CNN-IBN, senior film journalist Sreedhar Pillai said, "I definitely think it [Kadal] is ARR's best in recent times, the magic is very much there!" and he added that the album "has taken Tamil music to the next level." In contrast, India Today stated that the album "falls short to be called Rahman's best", but called it "enjoyable".
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