Post D: Dangdut

There are many interesting cultures in Indonesia but one particularly captures my attention, the Dangdut, due to the impact they have and their evolvement over the years. Dangdut is one of the most popular Indonesian music genres and is originally linked to Malay and Indian music in the 1970s before evolving slowly to become “ethnic” and “regional” (Weintraub 2013). The evolvement is due to circumstances such politics, better Internet accessibility, censorship issue etc (Weintraub 2013). Dangdut was often associated with the under-class. However in recent years, TV programmes such as ‘Dangdut Mania’ has attempted to make Dangdut more popular and increase their commercial appeal to the middle and upper class by integrating Dangdut visuals and music into their households (Weintraub 2010). Dangdut is now an important marker that helps in shaping and reflecting the “cultural and aesthetic standards based on social class” (Weintraub 2010).

A young Rhoma Irama changed the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s
A young Rhoma Irama changes the outlook for Dangdut during 1970s

Due to the surfacing of the national music industry, a lot of traditional religious music is being fused with well-liked music genre and Dangdut is one of them. In 1970s, Dangdut musicians’ integrated western instruments such as electric guitar with traditional instruments such as the gendang, to convey lslamic message to their audience. One of the pioneer musicians is Rhoma Irama, “The King of Dangdut”. He is one of the reasons why Dangdut evolved so quickly – thru integrating “everyday life, love, social criticism against class inequality and Islamic message” (Weintraub 2006) into his music. Some of his songs such as “Haram” (Forbidden) and “Judi” (Gambling) carry a strong Islamic message whereby he acts as a missionary to promote Islamic values to people through the use of Dangdut music.

With the influx of western cultures and pop music in recent years, Dangdut has also evolved to become more pop-like in order to appeal to a mass audience. With pop artistes such as Nicky Minaj promoting sex appeal, Dandut has also taken a similar approach in order to appeal to a younger audience. Such directions contrast drastically with the traditional Islamic values, and have angered many Dandut music lovers and Islam believers alike. (Vaswani, 2012) Despite this, the sexy, modern Dangdut is here to stay, as there are more lovers than haters of this derivation of Dangdut.

-Dehong Tay, 11620717

  1. Vaswani K 2012, Raunchy Dangdut Music Stirs Debate in Indonesia, viewed 24 April 2015<;
  2. Weintraub A 2006, ‘Dangdut Soul: Who are the People in Indonesian Popular Music?’, Asian Journal of Communication, Vol 16, No 4, pp 411-431
  3. Weintraub A 2013, The Sound and Spectacle of Dangdut Koplo: Genre and Counter-Genre in East Java, Indonesia, Asian Music, Vol 44, No 2, pp 160-194
  4. Weintraub A 2010, Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia’s most Popular Music, Oxford University Press, USA
  5. LipstikTV 2013, Rhoma Irama Haram, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  6. Berita Kalimantan n.d, Musik Rhoma Irama, viewed 28 April 2015<;
  7. GP Records 2014, Julia Perez- Merana, viewed 28 APril 2015<;

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