Five Video Clips from Indonesia

by Jeremy Wallach

Warning: This list is very political – and very loud. Jeremy Wallach, associate professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (US), compiled five video clips from Indonesia. It's about greed, honesty, corruption and – what else could it be - love. We see a country which is likely home to the most massive hard rock, metal, and punk scenes in Asia.


Artist: Burgerkill
Track: House of Greed

Indonesia elected a proud metalhead and man-of-the-people this past July in an election that has been called the largest single election day in human history. In honor of Jokowi’s (Joko Widodo) hard-won victory, here’s a song by one of Indonesia’s biggest metal bands about the political corruption the president-elect faces when he takes over in October. This is «House of Greed», by Bandung’s Burgerkill, one of my favorite band names of all time. The twin-domed building depicted at the end is the Indonesian parliament building.


Artist: Kill the DJ & Balance
Track: Bersatu Padu Memilih No 2

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This rap tune is actually an eloquent campaign song for Jokowi with Javanese suling and zither accompaniment. The chorus means, «What is it that Indonesia needs? Honesty, Simplicity, Effort.»


Artist: Navicula
Track: Mafia Hukum

This instantly catchy tune is by Balinese grunge stalwarts Navicula. It’s in Indonesian, but you don’t need to understand the words to know that it, too, is about political corruption, in this case of the judicial system. You just need to watch the video. Though be warned: it’s not for the squeamish.


Artist: Ice Cream Attack
Track: Pemberi Harapan Palsu

Indonesia is likely home to the most massive hard rock, metal, and punk scenes in Asia, but other styles of music flourish there as well. Ice Cream Attack (speaking of great names) is a pop rock/EDM group from Bali. In the song «Pemberi Harapan Palsu» (False Hope Giver), the band tells the story (actually quite common in Indonesian pop music) of boy meets girl, boy breaks girl’s heart, boy begs for forgiveness, girl tells boy to go to hell – she’s got her band. Again, the video is easy to follow even if you don’t understand the lyrics.


Artist: Evie Tamala
Track: Kasih Terindah

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Finally, no sampler of Indonesian popular music would be complete without some dangdut. Here’s a song by Evie Tamala, possessor of perhaps the genre’s most haunting, melancholy voice. She is one of dangdut’s undisputed superstars, and this track, «Kasih Terindah» (Love Most Beautiful) is from a recent 30th anniversary retrospective.

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