Indonesia Banget #30: Dangdut – a Music Genre Heard by Many

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I didn’t do Indonesian Banget last month because of many things, one of them was being extremely busy. This month, I wanted to share about one of Indonesian Music, as Project Pop (Indonesian Comic Band) said “Dangdut is The Music of My Country”

Dangdut is one of Indonesian music genres. I wouldn’t call it as traditional music. It’s more like a modern music, a bit like country music to USA. It’s a mix of classic Indian (Hindustan), Melayu and Arabian music. Dangdut has changed A LOT from its origin.

Dangdut was rooted from Qasidah and Gambus, both are Islamic music. Then Melayu music came in and mixed with Qasidah and Gambus. In 50s, Bollywood music made another change into the sound of Dangdut. Nowadays, house music also influenced Dangdut.

Prop._TablaThe word Dangdut originated from onomatope of Tabla’s sound (see the image). In Tempo (a magazine in Indonesia), Putu Wijaya stated that a song called Boneka Dari India (a doll from India) was a mix of Melayu, Arabian and the sound of dang-ding-dut from India. The name later was shorten into Dangdut.

Here’s Boneka Dari India sang by Ellya Khadam.

I honestly don’t know much about Dangdut, what I have written above is translated from Wikipedia.

I never listen to Dangdut because it’s just not my kind of music, BUT since it is what I like to call as mass music because many Indonesian listen to this song, whether I like it or not I can’t escape from hearing it and realizing how it changes so much over the years.

When I was little, Dangdut is still something I considered as enjoyable music. It’s still had melody and some even have Islamic message, especially the songs by Rhoma Irama. Pop Music has Michael Jackson as the king, and Dangdut has Rhoma Irama as the king 😉

Dangdut before year 2000 was a music that has good message and nice tune and even though people were dancing to the songs, they were still in good eastern norm. The dancing in dangdut is often called joget.

This is a video of a song called Bergadang (Sleeping very late) by Rhoma Irama. This song is very famous and timeless.

Unfortunately, nowadays Dandut is what I considered as EROTIC Music. The singers, mostly women, are trying hard to look as sexy as possible and dance in the most erotic move as possible.

Although I don’t listen to Dangdut but I have respect toward the music…BACK THEN. Now, I sort despise the music because it’s no longer become a good music, it’s just a way to show how low women can be.

It’s a shame that when Lady Gaga planned to have a concert here, many Indonesian (so call Islamic organizations) protested because of the way she dress. When I saw the news, I was like “Hello?? what do you call those new Dangduters?? Do they dress properly?” I am a Muslim by heart and mind, but I often don’t understand what those organizations think.

Anyway I think I drift to far here…everything I have said above (except for the wikipedia translation) is entirely my opinion. Other Indonesian might think differently…but I stand for what I have said, I respect the old Dangdut and no respect at all to the new ones.

See you next month, I will share another Indonesian folklore 🙂


  1. I like some of Rhoma Irama’s songs, they have nice melody and arrangements. The latest trend in dangdut to include house/acid/ or even rap into the song is actually quite interesting to observe. But, yeah, most dangdut songs are not my cup of tea.

    1. I wouldn’t say I like his songs…I safely said his songs are better than nowadays dangdut.
      Just like you…it’s just not my cup of tea, but I still respect it as Indonesian pop Music

  2. I see that both the ladies and men were enjoying the singing and dancing in this video, I have not heard this music before but I can see how it would be entertaining for everyone concerned. Thank you for adding a little piece of your culture Miss. Novia 🙂 🙂 Have a lovely rest of Monday my great friend 🙂

    Andro xxxx

    1. Thank you for reading Andro 🙂
      People who enjoy Dangdut always enjoy it with a dancing we called Joget. Too bad it’s not my kind of music so I can’t say much about it.

  3. My first thought was, “Is it even the same music?” But then I can kind of hear some strains of similarity. As to the butt wiggling, I’ve never been that big on it, even when done by Michael Jackson. It’s a kind of pop performance that just doesn’t do it for me.

    I got all excited when I saw the tablas. I can’t play them myself as they are finger oriented, and my fingers just can’t keep up in strength or dexterity. But I enjoy listening to them.

    1. Same here Audrey!
      The same thing apply to Beyonce and Shakira for me ( I love Shakira’s music but her dance is not enjoyable anymore for me). I always like Women who sing and be famous because of their voice instead of their butt wiggling.

      I have tried it once but it was more on me hitting on it without making any music, just noise 😉

      1. It takes a sense of rhythm to make drums sing. I do all right, but there are a lot of people out there who are a lot better than me.

        Thinking of Beyonce and Shakira – I much prefer listening to watching them. But then I’m that way with most singers.

  4. OMG, you brought back such painful memories, ahahaha. Just kidding, but I’m really not fond of Dangdut music, but Roma Irama makes me laugh 😀

    Btw, I’ll be flying home for my brother’s funeral this week, but only for a brief time. I don’t think I can do a meet up, but we’ll see. I think I have your number.

    1. Hahahaha… *high five* I am also not fond of it, but we can’t deny that this music fits Indonesia Banget very much 😉

      Your brother funeral? so sorry to hear that.
      I do hope we can meet 🙂 but I understand if you are here only for short time.

  5. The first one definitely seems to have an Indian influence. I guess you would call that music Pop (popular) music now. I’ve never really liked pop music too much, and tend to like things that have a little more depth.

    1. Thank you Peter 🙂 I was a bit confused of how to categorize the music. Pop always refers to pop music here, as in the opposite of Rock music. Dangdut is indeed a popular music that spread acroos all the island in Indonesia.

      Me too! I guess that’s why I’m never into Dangdut. My music might be popular in their country but not in my country (like Larc en Ciel). I like good lyric and tune or rhythm that are different to others.

      1. Pop could be considered the opposite to rock, here too. Pop tends to be the fluffy, light music that is so popular one week, and then forgotten about the next week. Good music is something that sounds good 10 or 20 years later. Though some rock music also crosses over into pop music. If you like it, you like it, and if you don’t, you don’t. It doesn’t really matter what category they put it in.

  6. It was interesting to read this, Novia. Along with movies, I like to listen to foreign music too. (Hehehe… at least they are foreign to me… 😉 )
    I have heard some Indonesian music, but never heard of Dangdut. Mostly I like ballads and these aren’t like the Indonesian pop I have heard before like Ungu or Prisa.

    The earliest one by Ellya Khadam reminds me of old Hindi music I hear in old Indian movies. (But with different language… the voice tone is very similar to them though.)

    1. Ungu and Prisa are DEFINITELY NOT Dangdut 😉 they are what we consider as Pop music.

      Dangdut is something more to people from lower class. Dangdut at that time was so similar to Hindi music, it grew so much over the years.

      Thank you for reading, Miyuki 🙂

  7. Thanks for the examples. I do like the sound. Not sure I would listen to it all the time, but it is fun. And what a shame about how women are portrayed lately. Reminds me of what’s happened to the music industry in the states, especially rap videos.

  8. That was interesting. What a development. That last video actually made me laugh out loud. At the beginning it looks as if the heads were going to fly off and then later all that sleazy hip shacking… It’s just plain silly.

    1. Indeed!! Plain silly!! I wish the music can get back to the old style…tho I am still not going to listen to it but at least not silly anymore.

  9. Indonesia is a big country with thousands of islands, thousands of communities on the Islands, thousands different people, thousands of different traditions and of course different spoken languages, different music, different dances, different songs. So based on that, Java island has its own language, its own traditional music, its own songs and dance, Bali island has it’s own language, its own music its own dance, and so on for Sunda, Sumatra and all the other Indonesian Islands, but all of them love Dangdut, play Dangdut, sing Dangdut and listen to Dangdut!

  10. Hi, I’m Indonesian. Most people in Indonesia love dangdut, so do I. I’m a teenager and I’m 15 years old. As what you said that new dangdut before year 2000 was a music that hasgood message and nice tune, but nowdays, dangdut is known as erotic music. I can understand because you’re not Indonesian and you just watch it from youtube. And now I just wanna say that dangdut is a great music. You have to know Indonesian singer like Lesti, Fildan, or Putri. They came from Dangdut Academy. You have to watch it from Youtube. They have really beautiful voice And maybe it will change your first opinion about dangdut. Thank you.

    1. Hi Azzah,

      Thank you for the positive feedback. It can help people to find good nowadays dangdut.
      By the way, I am Indonesian, otherwise I won’t be able to write Indonesia Banget 😉

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