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History of Dangdut : Indonesian Most Popular Music

Dangdut is a genre of Indonesian popular music that is partly derived from Malay, Arabic and Hindustani music. It developed in the 1970s among working class youth, but beginning in the late 1990s reached a broader following in Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines.

A dangdut band typically consists of a lead singer, male or female, backed by four to eight musicians. Instruments usually include a tabla, mandolin, guitars, bamboo flute and synthesizers. The term has been expanded from the desert-style music, to embrace other musical styles. Modern dangdut incorporates influences from Middle Eastern pop music, Western rock, house music, hip-hop music, contemporary R&B, and reggae.
Rhoma Irama
As Bob Dylan is often touted as the grandfather of folk-rock and Dizzie Gillespie always considered as the brains behind bebop jazz, Rhoma Irama, the self proclaimed Raja Dangdut (King of Dangdut) and his band Soneta Group, arguably single-handedly created the dangdut genre we know today. He married reinterpretations of Hindustani music with western rock guitars, Arabic and Malay harmonies & melodies to an instant success. And while many of Indonesia’s popular rock bands at the time expressed antagonism towards the perceived ‘crass’ style of dangdut, many of the Indonesian psychedelic or even pop bands, such as the Ariesta Birawa Group, Murray and Panbers, at times would also inject Indian sitars, drum beats and old Malay melodies into their music. Rhoma Irama’s music and film success would go on throughout the 70s and 80s. He is still seen as a hero amongst a significant proportion of Indonesia’s population. Other notable dangdut performers from the 1970s – 1990s are Elvy Sukaesih, Meggy Z, Iis Dahlia, Ikke Nurjanah and  Evie Tamala.

Inul Daratista
As with any self-respecting superstar, Rhoma Irama entered the movie industry, then politics and caused a stir with the New Order government as he rejected to join the ruling Golkar party and supported the pro-Islamic Partai Persatuan Pembangun (PPP) instead. His increasing role as a religious leader has also had an interesting twist on 21st century dangdut. Since the early 2000s, Rhoma Irama has constantly attacked Inul Daratista (who burst into the scene at the time), a raunchy dangdut performer famous for her controversial ngebor (drilling) style of dancing featuring lots of suggestive gyrating hip motions for her ‘pornographic’ performances. The genre itself has seen a surge of local ‘sexy’ dangdut performers in the wake of Inul’s fame (widely available on Youtube), who have also been attacked for their ‘morally decadent’ shows.

Whatever negative views dangdut receives, it still holds an important role in the everyday lives of Indonesians. As recited by popular comedy-pop outfit Project Pop, “Dangdut is the music of my country”.

And now Rhoma Irama preparing his son, Ridho Rhoma with Sonet2Band, as his successor with a brand new concept of dangdut music that he named as the second dangdut revolution. [source : Dangdut]

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