Nidji – YouTube highlights

Nidji – YouTube highlights

Liberty and Victory

The official music video for Liberty and Victory is certainly a suitably inspiring anthem for any football club. Manchester United have a massive fan base, not just in England and other parts of the UK, but right across the globe. Nowhere is this support more fanatical than in the Far East, which is why a dynamic band like Nidji are perfect to perform this rousing slice of pop rock.

Singing in English, there are clips of the band playing their instruments inside the players' tunnel leading to the hallowed pitch of Old Trafford in Manchester. The action is interspersed with shots of United footballers showing off their silky skills at ‘keepy up', and at one point vocalist Giring Ganesha performs as an airline pilot! The band also clearly relish donning the famous ‘red devil' football shirts as they sing along, while stars of the United first team like England internationalist Wayne Rooney look on, grinning enthusiastically.

‘Take me down to your victory, I don't know what you did to me tonight, I'll be happy to fight for love', goes the adamant chorus, coupled with impassioned verse lyrics along the lines of ‘ride the ocean's tide of life'. Amongst the other footage on the video are the band performing the tarck, surrounded by adoring fans, on the top of an open-deck bus. At the song's conclusion the band members stride out of the tunnel into the vast arena of Old Trafford stadium, fists clenched high in the air. The legend superimposed on the film states: ‘No room for average. No settling for second best. No compromise'. As this fades out, there is a clip of the fanatical fans inside the ground chanting ‘Glory glory Man United'.

Bila Aku Jatuh Cinta

The video for this melodic pop song showcases the band's more sensitive side. A simple verse is strummed on acoustic guitar, floating along, occasionally dipping into minor chords that provide the perfect counterbalance. The video itself consists of a collage of shots featuring heartfelt vocals, set against a backdrop of a mysterious attractive girl.

At 2:36 the track suddenly hits a climax, as the guitar spirals off into a punchy solo, while the rest of the instrumentation provides a series of harmonies. At this point the film shows, variously, kids playing with fireworks, then a couple on a bus who are clearly going through some sort of emotional issues – which are resolved, as the girl's sombre expression dissolves into a smile while she accepts her boyfriend's hand.

This YouTube video has already amassed 835,000 hits.

Birlah

Taken from their phenomenally successful ‘Top Up' album, Birlah clearly demonstrates the band's debt to English alt rockers Coldplay. Driven by piano chords, the vocals surge towards impassioned peaks. The band footage is filmed with spotlights soaring behind, creating silhouettes. The effective storyline of the accompanying video shows a young couple, and when the boy dons headphones, the backing track dips accordingly, cementing the music to the narrative of the video. This persists as he lifts up then puts his headphones back on. Obviously the song has some deeper significance for him. This is an emotion that has also struck a chord with Nidji's audience, as over one million viewers have latched onto this video.

Padi - taking Indonesia by storm

Padi - taking Indonesia by storm

Rice forms the staple diet of millions of Asians; in fact it is enjoyed right across the planet. But this is why one particular Indonesian alternative rock band have dreamt up such a simple but appropriate name for themselves: Padi.

Padi is Indonesian for rice. You might not immediately see the connection between the foodstuff and a group of young men renowned for playing loud guitar music. But the philosophy behind it is actually very straightforward. Everyone enjoys rice, from peasants and children, to bankers and senior record executives. So, all you have to do is substitute rice for rock band, and you get a band that is universally appealing. Simple, but effective, just like all the best rock n' roll names.

Padi are deliberately understated. Not for them the bombastic but extremely tired rock n' roll clichés. You won't find individual band members throwing television sets out of hotel windows, or driving cars into swimming pools. They prefer to make their passionate music do the talking.

Their origins go back to 1997, and Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java. Five students got together to jam some tunes: Fadly on lead vocals, Ari on rhythm guitar, Piyu on lead guitar and backing vocals, Yoyo on drums and Rindra on bass.

Their debut album, Lain Dunia (Other World) was released by Sony Music Indonesia in 1999. Containing ten tracks, it sold an impressive 800,000 copies. Their second offering, Sesuata yang Tertunda (Something Delayed) was released in 2001. This flew off the shelves; in fact, it was one of Indonesia's highest-grossing records ever, notching up 1.8 million sales.

Padi are well-respected by critics, as well as adored by audiences. Rolling Stone Indonesia listed two of their albums on their chart of ‘150 Greatest Indonesian Albums of All Time': Sesuata yang Tertunda and their third studio album, Save My Soul. Additionally, two of their songs were included in the ‘150 Greatest Indonesian Songs of All Time' listing: Mahadewi and Sobat (both tracks actually appear on their debut album, Lain Dunia).

Part of the phenomenal success story of Padi can undoubtedly be put down to their humble origins. Never under any allusions about the hard work required forging a career as rock musicians, they have grafted away, enduring frustrating dead-ends and knock-back while they were hawking their original demos. Rather than simply shove the discs inside an envelope and sending them off in the post, Padi thought of the origins of their name. Record executives liked rice, so why not offer them a sample delivered straight to their offices? So the musicians in Padi set off on a campaign to hand-deliver demos to anyone who would listen. All that paid off when they were eventually rewarded a contract with Sony Music Indonesia.

Reading about their meteoric rise is one thing. Actually hearing them perform is something else. YouTube has plenty clips to whet the appetites of rock fans who don't always find themselves in the vicinity of the South China Sea when it comes to catching their favourite band. They can do hard rock; but like all the great bands, from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to Nirvana or Coldplay, they can also take the tempo down a notch. Their softer ballads really showcase Fadly's heartfelt range, and Piyu's superb fretboard skills.

Progressive Indonesian music

Progressive Indonesian music

One of the most ubiquitous and instantly-recognizable types of indigenous sounds anywhere in world music is Indonesia's gamelan. The term specifically refers to a set of instruments, rather than the musicians who are playing them. These instruments typically include xylophones, metallophones, drums known as kendang, gongs, fluted made from bamboo, and string instruments.

Originating in Java and Bali, gamelan has been hugely influential, not just in the Far East, but across the globe. Gamelan has found its way into music as varied as American alternative rock legends Sonic Youth, and other experimental Western musicians such as The Residents and Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame).

What makes gamelan so popular with artists seeking to explore different musical agendas is the way it can fuse separate genres. Throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s, Indonesian music blended local styles with distinctly western touches. Those influences from Europe or America were not only chart-friendly pop and rock, but also elements of progressive music. As well as fusing together music from different continents, gamelan is able to create a musical cocktail with localized ingredients, incorporating Malaysian elements.

Over the decades, Indonesian music has been clearly defined by bands like Gang Pegangsaan, Gypsy, Giant Step, Super Kid, Terncem, Bentoel and God Bless. These groups were markedly different from what could be termed ‘mainstream rock' because of the variety of sonic undercurrents that could be picked up in their tunes. The influences of the beautifully percussive gamelan instruments drove unique rhythms through much of the music. This became the solid basement in the structuring of the songs. Together with fluid baselines, an exciting genre sprung up, also typified by wildly experimental lead guitar playing, and loose vocal techniques.

Many of the progressive bands that originated in Indonesia became more widely known elsewhere in the Pacific region. For instance, the Abbhama Band, who only ever released one album, 1978's Alam Raya, gained something of a cult following amongst Japanese ‘prog rock' audience. Although there were certainly elements of their music that reached out beyond their immediate Indonesian horizons, they were also accused of being somewhat introspective. They were seen as a keyboard-heavy progressive band, rather than one that took on board a lot of more traditional local influences. As such, the obvious reference points were European or British prog acts, especially the likes of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

All of the songs produced by Abbhama Band were principally the handiwork of vocalist and keyboard-wizard Iwan. After the band capitulated, he went on to form a band called Wow. They released three albums between 1983 and 1990.

Another Indonesian band that made waves in the prog rock scene was Aka. Rather than the occasionally overblown and pompous sound associated with many prog aficionados, Aka played a much more stripped-back type of psychedelic rock, merging this with elements of hard rock. Add a slice of funk with dirty rhythms, and healthy lashings of black souls spirit, and you have the makings of a very interesting listen.

While Indonesian progressive rock may not be everyone's cup of musical tea, it is well worth doing some research to track down its main exponents.

Punk music – Indonesian style

Punk music – Indonesian style

For a style of music that prides itself on its youthful exuberance, punk rock has actually been around for a long time. Its original protagonists in the UK and America certainly gained a degree of notoriety for their anti-establishment antics. One its most vocal spokespeople, John Lydon, lead vocalist with the Sex Pistols, was the spiky-haired face glaring from all the British tabloids back in the 1970s. His band released singles that were deliberately provocative, including one ditty named ‘God Save the Queen' which poked fun at the UK's obsession with its monarchy. This reached the top of the charts in the same week as the Silver Jubilee (25 years) celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II.

The levels of hysteria that greeted the original wave of punk rock all those years ago seem rather quaint by today's standards. But there were certain aspects of the music and the lifestyles of its devotees that struck a chord, not only with subsequent generations, but with rock music fans right across the planet.

Many of the aspects of punk – driving guitars, heartfelt singing, thunderous rhythms – are appreciated by young rock fans 40 years after it was so denigrated in Britain and America. John Lydon and the other remaining Sex Pistols may well be heading inexorably toward their 60th birthdays, but punk rock is still being played by eager teenage bands somewhere in the world as we speak. And Indonesia is no exception.

The Far East cottoned onto punk much later than their Western counterparts. It didn't really reach Indonesia to any extent until the 1990s. There was a first wave of punk appreciation here that lasted for the first part of that decade. Bands begin to spring up with names such as Submission and Antiseptic, who were inspired by those incendiary records by the Sex Pistols, as well as other exponents of the artform, such as the Scottish band known as The Exploited. The latter proved to be so inspirational because their debut album was entitled ‘Punk's Not Dead', itself a clarion call to fans of the music to keep on going for the next 40 years!

A second wave of Indonesian punk rock got going around about 1996. This gained its inspiration from a punk ‘fanzine', or magazine for fans, originating in the USA. This went under the fetching title ‘Profane Existence'. At the same time, Indonesian youngsters latched onto a British anarchist punk band called Crass. Crass records were open challenges to the political status quo in the UK. This wave of punk appreciation coincided with a seachange in Indonesian public opinion that was opposed to the Suharto regime (which fell in 1998). Those Scottish punks The Exploited actually visited Indonesia on one famous occasion, playing their rabble-rousing music in Jakarta in 2006.

Certain members of the older generation still find it rather intimidating when young rock fans choose to wear outlandish clothes and dye their hair every colour under the Pacific sun. But most of the punk fans are content to listen to their favourite bands in relatively small, private venues, expending all their energies on jumping up and down on the spot (a ‘dance' craze imported from the original British punk scene, where it was known as ‘pogoing'). Thousands of these punk bands are springing up all over Indonesia. As one member of Indonesian band Cryptical Death said: “You can find punks all over the country. They're in Sumatra, Jakarta, Bali … everywhere. It's simply an expression of freedom. That's why people love it'.

Recommended Kotak videos

Recommended Kotak videos

Kotak started out in life as a ‘Dream Band', first spotted on a national talent competition back in 2004. For that reason many purist music fans have been dismissive of the group's place in the Indonesian rock scene. Because they're perceived as being ‘not authentic enough', they were not treated with the same respect as those musicians who found fame the hard way – working their way up through relentless gigging in small clubs. However, Kotak have gone on to prove their detractors wrong with a series of excellent albums.

A terrific place to really get to know the band, if you don't already, is to check out their videos on YouTube. Tendangan Dari Langit, viewed by well over half a million viewers so far, is one of their most popular music video moments.

The film uses the technique of melding the band's driving rock music with the equally powerful world of sport. Both activities have much in common. They attract legions of devotees and the best of the action often takes place inside large arenas, in front of thousands of passionate fans. In this case, as the band launch into their song with a melodic but powerful guitar riff, they are surrounded by enthusiastic cheerleaders gyrating in time to the music.

All the other Kotka trademarks are present and correct. Tantri leads the vocal assault in her inimitable style, her beautiful voice strong enough to shine through the power chords. Cella's guitar is played hard and slung-low, allowing him to brandish the instrument with a swagger reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards (a long, long time ago!) As Kotak weave their catchy choruses, they bop around in the middle of a grassy pitch as if they are limbering up for a crucial athletics or football event. There is even a smoke machine behind the drummer coughing out great orange clouds!

At 2:15 Cella works a mesmerizing solo into the song. Reflecting the drama of the moment, a young footballer is depicted going to great lengths to improve his game. At one point he appears to be playing football on a rocky landscape, kicking the ball towards crevasses. When the action switches back to the band we see them surrounded by various coloured balls, as if they themselves have been involved in some form of rigorous training.

At 2:30 Cella's name flares on the back of his top, as if he has morphed into a football star. Arms aloft, he takes the crowd's acclaim, while holding a flare that spews out coloured smoke dramatically. The other band members follow suit, lifting their flares victoriously, while a multitude of cameras flash in the arena's tiered stands. By this point all the instruments have dropped out of the mix, except for a relentless martial drumbeat that is urging the band to victory.

As the song builds towards its climax, young footballers are shown practicing on desert landscapes; later, red-bedecked crowds swell the stadium to shout on their approval.

This is a perfect blend of strident, powerful rock music, and a video that enhances the band's performance by linking it with the struggles and triumphs of soccer. By the end of the song you'll be punching the air yourself!

Slank - Indonesian rock with attitude

Slank - Indonesian rock with attitude

Back in 1983 while still pupils at a Jakarta high school, a bunch of mates got together to jam their favourite Rolling Stones songs. Like the Stones in their heyday, they relished a devil-may-care attitude, sometimes verging on the reckless, as they reinvented the English band's riffs in their own inimitable style. Above all, they focused on the delivery of the rock n' roll rather than the niceties of a polished performance. This, essentially, is where they got their name from, as Slank (or Slengian in Indonesian), means ‘recklessly ignorant'.

In some musical circles, these attributes might well be seen as a hindrance rather than positive qualities. But with Slank, the opposite is the case. Indeed, they have bottled up this impudence and used it to terrific effect, wowing audiences way beyond their native Indonesia, and releasing 20 popular albums in the process.

Hardcore rock fans: Slankers

If anything, Slank have managed to gain something of a cult status in Indonesia. They have an army of eager followers who delight in the generic term ‘Slankers'. At concerts, many of these fans produce hand-crafted flags consisting of the band name ‘Slank' shaped into a graffitied butterfly. It is also obvious from looking around these audiences that Slankers are not necessarily all young fans. Some have obviously been devotees since Slank's debut album was released in 1990. Others have cottoned onto them more recently, perhaps from rifling through their parents' record or CD collections.

Origins

To look into the band's meteoric rise you have to go back to the early 80s, and that school band that started life as a Rolling Stones tribute act. Known as Cikini Stone Complex. They swiftly became bored with playing songs which had already been done to death by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the gang, and promptly split. Drummer Bimbim recruited a guitarist, Bongky, and along with his colleagues Denny and Erwan. They formed a band named Red Devil. At the end of 1983 they decided to change their name to Slank for all the reasons already mentioned.

Their initial line-up was now Kaka (lead vocals), Bongky (bass guitar), Pay (lead guitar), Indra Qadarsih (drums) and Bimbim. As is the way with many young rock n' roll bands, they spent a lot of their formative years plying their trade in small clubs around Indonesia, steadily building a loyal following, and mastering their instruments.

They secured their first record deal in 1990 and this was soon followed by their debut album, Suit suit … hehehe. Throughout this decade they released albums that were always well-received by the rock appreciating public, although continued to be plagued by that familiar bugbear of rock bands seeking fame and fortune: internal disagreements. Nevertheless, their first three albums became best sellers, with an award being granted by BASF Indonesia. Album number four, Generasi Biru, became a multi-platinum seller, storming Indonesia's music charts. By 2005 they were being recognized by a global audience of Slankers, becoming Indonesia's first stars of MTV.

As well a touring around the Pacific Rim and becoming familiar to audiences from Japan to Korea, Slank have toured Europe and America to widespread acclaim. Their first English-spoken album was entitled Anthem for the Broken-Hearted. This was recorded and mixed in America in the space of three weeks, testament to Slank's seemingly never-ending enthusiasm for their riotous blend of rock n' roll.

The best Netral videos on YouTube

The best Netral videos on YouTube

One of Indonesia's premier bands, a great way to get to know Netral's dark but mesmerizing blend of modern rock is to check out their YouTube videos. Garuda Di Dadaku 2 is one of the best you can tap into on the search engine of the world's most popular music video site.

With over 100,00 hits, Director Angga Dwimas Sasongko's short film of this track is proving a consistent target for Netral's legion of followers. The central theme of the video is football, and this proves to be a strong allegory for music itself. Just as a soccer contest involves skill, athletic flair, passion and speed, the driving rock soundtrack is itself a pulsating force. The dexterous fretboard skills perfectly complement the young athletes performing wonders on the football arena.

The video opens with a ‘group huddle', the moment that precedes many football matches when the team gather in a circle, heads bowed, in order to strengthen their common bonds and shared ambition. This is definitely apt for the music to follow. The track itself commences with its own version of a communal ‘huddle' – the bass, guitar and drums kicking off in perfect synchronization, united by a common goal to entertain.

As Netral get into the groove, the camera pulls back to reveal banks of television screens behind the drummer. This is interwoven with a big soccer encounter. Again, we can see where the director is making the connection between the two events. Both activities have the potential to bring together eager hordes of fans. If a camera were to pan a gathering of young people baying enthusiastically, unless you were party to what they were actually looking at you would never be able to tell the difference. The passion of the rock fan and the passion of the football devotee are simply two sides of the same coin.

At 1:10 the action takes an interesting twist as we see the video's young protagonist getting into his training regime, his face the picture of determination. Whether he's rushing through back alleys en route to his lift to the training ground, or he's struggling along with all his teammates to keep up with the intensive coaching sessions, his spirit shines through. What makes us truly appreciate the intensity of what he's putting himself through is when the director cuts back to the band. The lead guitar is relentless, the notes from a beautiful-looking Gibson Les Paul singing from the amp stacks. The rhythm section is particularly good at what they do, with the drums and solid bass-lines driving the track; just as the young soccer star's laced-up boots propel him along the pitch towards the goal line.

At 1:52 the music breaks down from the main riff to a shifting instrumental. The tension builds in the video as various dramas occur. The central character's team is losing a crucial game; he falls out with various people, including the coach, then tears off his captain's arm band. Reflecting this turn of events, the televisions behind the band shatter metaphorically. But a martial drumbeat accompanies the boy as he leads his team onto the arena, the bass player pounding his own chest with his fist to symbolize the power of the moment. Young fans congregate around the stadium, proudly brandishing the national Indonesian red and white flags, urging their team to victory.

Three of the best Dewa 19 videos

Three of the best Dewa 19 videos

Over the years, Dewa 19 have been one of the most consistently popular rock outfits to have emerged from Indonesia. Here is our run-down of some of the band's YouTube highlights.

Terbaik-Terbaik

If you don't already have this superb album in your collection, then here is the next best thing. By going to YouTube you can click on a link that contains the entire album. Already watched by nearly 200,000 site users, the 1995 release was both critically and audience-acclaimed. Lasting for 47 minutes and 34 seconds, set your YouTube channel to play in the background, perhaps through connected speakers, and you can enjoy listening to one of Indonesia's most talented rock exponents. There are no slideshows or movies showing in the background, but that's because the full album is there to be listened to. If you want to make a montage of separate Dewa 19 videos, that's up to you.

Kamulah Satu Satunya

With 210,000 YouTube hits, this video epitomizes the ‘good times' vibe of the band. The track itself is seriously upbeat, with catchy hooks and harmonies that are guaranteed to bring a smile anyone's lips. The upbeat rock track definitely has a hint of US alt country to it, from the jangly rhythm guitars to the ‘oohs' and ‘aahs' in the backing vocals. There's even a checked shirt in evidence as Dewa 19 jam their song from a stage, inspiring various couples to get up and dance. A delicious guitar riff sweeps the song along to its climax just short of four minutes. In many ways, a perfect slice of Indonesian pop.

Pandawa Lima

Here the band's 1995 album is available to be listened to in its entirety. Lasting for 50 effortlessly cool minutes, the opening track, Kirana, is a delicious slice of laid-back middle-of-the-road rock, where a steady rhythm is attacking by jarring power chords and tremolo-effects on the guitars. The melody itself floats along on this sold base, working towards choruses that are augmented by keyboards. This is definitely the sound of a band firing on all cylinders, with catchy music that would fit so many different scenarios – film soundtracks, commercials, open-air festivals. A special mention must go to the lead vocals, which really carry the song with a strident melody.

Track two, Aku Disini Untukmu, starts off with an insistent acoustic guitar riff, punctuated with keyboard notes, and augmented by a slightly off-key melody. By the time the chorus comes along, the band have settled into a more conventional rocky outlook. Other highlights include the ultra-groovy Suara Alam, which even has some ‘jungle sound effects' going on in the background! The music is a power ballad that is absolutely perfect for summer music festivals. Crashing chords with a touch of wah-wah on the guitar help to create the perfect feel-good vibe. This track demonstrates exactly why Dewa 19 have been so phenomenally successful in their home country of Indonesia, and far beyond.

With so many good tunes it is nigh on impossible to select a stand-out track – this will be down to personal taste. The album closes as it began, with a gently uplifting country rock piece, entitled Kamulah Satu-Satunya. You'll be left with a warm glow long after you've finished listening to this remarkable album on YouTube.