Should we love dangdut too?

Posted on: October 23, 2008

This article was published by The Jakarta Post on October 27, 2008. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.

Don’t forget to join the “What do you think of dangdut?” poll below.

It may sound funny but I do have a theory that one of the reasons why our young people are losing their national identity is because they hate dangdut.

It’s so obvious, no young and educated Indonesians like dangdut. And I’m not just pointing my finger at my fellow young Indonesians, I have to admit I don’t like it too.

We young Indonesians don’t like it so much that we have been making it as one of the best laughable topics for so many years.

We feel sorry for people who actually dance to the rhythm of dangdut; we feel sorry for people who like Rhoma Irama. We laugh at them so happily knowing that their music is so kampungan and our music is so much cooler.

We can sing any famous American singer’s song perfectly and we know the lyrics by heart.

Modern music concerts are common in this country, and it seems to me that every single one of them can easily attract a large number of young and educated Indonesians.

The Java Jazz Festival, for example, has always been packed with young and educated Indonesians for 4 years although when the festival was first introduced many people thought the ticket prices were unreasonable; but young Indonesians came anyway.

The same organizer just conducted an R&B festival called Soulnation which was successful in drawing a lot of young Indonesians; they paid tickets worth at least Rp 200,000 and didn’t complain. They came in dressing up themselves with the latest R&B outfits copying their idols like Akon and Ashanti.

What’s wrong with not liking dangdut one may ask. Well, it’s not wrong as one of my best friends pointed it out to me that you can’t blame someone for liking one type of music as you can’t blame someone for liking nasi goreng.

But what we don’t realize is that dangdut is our national treasure; It’s part of our national heritage. What we don’t realize is that dangdut is the music of our country; just like Project Pop said through their song “Dangdut is the music of my country” a few years ago.

What we don’t realize is that when we laugh at dangdut thinking that it’s a stupid music, it’s like laughing at keroncong or any other Indonesia’s traditional music genre.

Sometimes I wonder why we can’t fall in love with dangdut while young African Americans can be so proud of their R&B and rap music.

One of the reasons may lie on the fact that we are too arrogant to like the same kind of music that low-income Indonesians like; that we don’t want to put ourselves on the same level with mas-mas and mba-mba.

If that is the kind of mentality that we all share, then I think we should feel sorry for ourselves for thinking that dangdut is so kampungan and that those people who like it just don’t have taste in music. We should feel sorry for ourselves for not realizing how music, like language, could be a very effective medium to unite us all.

Imagine if all young Indonesians, whether poor or rich, could at least agree that dangdut is something we all could enjoy together. We would be more united.

Apparently it’s the responsibility for anyone working in the dangdut industry to find a way to make the music more attractive to young and educated Indonesians, such as my friends and myself.

At the end, I’m not encouraging you to like dangdut. Music is about one’s personal preference, after all. But what I’d like to encourage us all is that instead of mocking those who like dangdut, we all should respect them for being able to express their “Indonesianity” a little bit more than we can.

Picture above taken from here.


10 Responses to "Should we love dangdut too?"

My driver in Indonesia used to be a very big fans of Dangdut, he said to sing a good dangdut required tough learning of its difficult rhythm (this is also my impression after watching Indonesian movie: Mendadak Dangdut :lol:), you had to be able to make people dance. He said he was always enthusiastic to come whenever there was dangdut show nearby his house. He told me how he adored charismatic Rhoma Irama.

He lost his enthusiastic now. He said almost all dangdut artists now could not really make people dance, they did not sing well at all and what they do in the stage are just exposing their body and attempting to make people have wild fantasy with them.

He might be right. I mean, big dangdut lover like him could not even enjoy it anymore, how could we?

for music, I’d rather be westernized by those white and black people :mrgreen:

it’s all about taste and my ears don’t get along well with dangdut genre.

but for money earning, yes dangdut singers are paid more expensive than pop singers. for example, Iis Dahlia had her own Mercedes Benz S Type since long time ago, if i’m not mistaken the number is B 115 DA. for money sake, i prefer to be dangdut singer to pop singer but still listening to R&B, rap, techno, dance, etc for my own glee 😛

As someone who works at a news service, the producers that I work with really want to create TV programs related to Dangdut, and Rhoma Irama was just invited by University of Pittsburg to do a concert there and in DC as well, and surprisingly a lot of Americans danced to the music.We covered the event and surprisingly, the response from the TV stations in Indonesia, local and national, was tremendous. Believe it or not, there is a band based in Pittsburgh that plays dangdut music and the band members are Americans, the band’s called Cowboy Dangdut (do check them out) and If you notice, a lot of Indonesian pop bands also are starting to put a little bit of dangdut in their music like Dewa and I guess Mulan, too, because that’s what’s currently booming right now. I think the longer I live abroad, the more I come to appreciate dangdut, because, believe me dangdut isn’t an easy type of music to play. Good job Tasa 🙂

Job for marketing people ah? Can you change image of dangdut in Indonesia as music for low-income people?

Hiphop & Rap were Ghetto music before, right? Perhaps all those bling-bling used in the music videos help? Haha

@helmet head
about Rhoma Irama has his concert in the USA, I’ve seen it on Facebook. My extended uncle post it so the concert was really nice and those Americans enjoyed it a lot by jiggling….no, i mean shaking their body. Rhoma Irama wore white suits and so do the back dancers. The video was broadcasted by VOA and hosted by Naratama.

it seems everyone tends to love other elses’s culture better than their own culture. they love dangdut, we love R&B 🙂

Now I know why Tasa wrote dangdut, I bet he watched the concert and wouldn’t have missed it, it was held in Washington DC too. Hahaha, already converted volitionaly? 😛

All over the world different social/socio-economic layers in society, try to distinguish themselves from the other ones. Especially new middle classes want to distinguish themselves from lower classes. As do the intellectual and cultural elites from the philistines. It’s a show case: “Look, I’m not like them you know. See, my attributes, my tastes and my preferences are very different.”.

Only when Dangdut has lost it popularity among common people, it may again attract the middle classes and elites I’m afraid.

The “Dangdut” case reminds me very much of the Dutch “Jordaan” songs – simple, emotional music with a touch of blues, which originated in a particular neighborhood of Amsterdam. It was the music of the urban poor. But times have changed – it had almost vanished, but is living through a comeback now. Not among workers this time but well educated people are the performers and audiences now. Though I have to admit performers and audience alike do so while tongue in the cheek.

When I was kid, dangdut music was so interesting & famous. There were only 3 names who publicly known as the prominent dangdut singers, i.e. Rhoma Irama, Elvy Sukaesih and A Rafiq. Basically, dangdut is music that so easy to be listened, either the listeners are able to enjoy or not, dangdut is simple music, and also…cheap. Have we known dangdut concert require so expensive ticket? No, dangdut even performs with free of charge in stadium. That’s why (as Tasa said), dangdut consumers come from low income.

At that time (when I was kid), people loved dangdut because of the music itself, and also by the charismatic singer like Rhoma. But now, I don’t know why dangdut shifted to a bitter stigma – which people connecting dangdut with female singers who like to wear sexy dress and dance erotically.

The radical changes of images of dangdut, I thought, was happenning since Inul Daratista appeared with her gyrating dance. After her, then many other female singers suddenly appears. It’s ok, why not? Even though I don’t like dangdut (since I can’t taste it), but I like Inul as a person. I can’t hate her because of her style when performing dangdut. That’s only style.

Like or dislike dangdut, it’s up to you. No right or wrong thing. It’s just a music.

Having grown up here, I am not familiar with dangdut. I do have one dangdut song that is stuck in my head from my short stay in Indo. An excerpt of the lyrics that is currently playing in my head is: Malam mingguan, yg berduit, pergi ke disko. … mending makan bakso…

Does anyone know the title of that song? I have been searching for it since 1998 lol

I don’t like dangdut, but i don’t hate it too.

I admit that i actually like some of the songs.

Gue cuma benci dangdut yang mengekspos hal2 vulgar, lebih menonjolkan goyangan daripada suara.

I don’t want that kind of art as my national heritage. The vulgar dangdut, i mean. That’s not even an art! Itu mah pornografi.

menurut gue dangdut yang asik dan ga malu2in buat didengerin di tape mobil kenceng2, ya lagu2nya Slank yg agak ngedangdut, like “Orkes Sakit Hati”.

Pernah denger nggak Sa?

I do like dangdut and really appreciate it. However, something that damage the value of dangdut itself due to its own singer. Dangdut will not seem like low-level music if the singer can perform properly. Recently, we can see a lot of kinky, nasty, and bitchy dangdut singers. I find it is so awful and “kampungan”. Dangdut will be more enjoyable if it is sung politely that we can see in Rhoma Irama, Ira Swara, Cintya, and others.

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guebukanmonyet is Tasa Nugraza Barley. He's a free man with unique thoughts and dreams. He sees his life and this world differently from anyone else. That's because he knows what he wants; and for that reason he doesn't want to be the same. Read why he blogs, here.

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