金曜日, 2月 04, 2005

To sing in Malay or nyanyi cakap omputeh?

taraf lu cuma
pencuci pentas
...kuli upahan!

wings, bazooka penaka (1993)

Mari lah tentang.for my birthday, i received a copy of butterfingers' selamat tinggal dunia. this all-malay opus of theirs was well worth the wait, as i was totally gobsmacked. sure, i've listened to the live renditions of tentang tentang and merpati sejoli, but finally listening to ten of their finest tunes to date revealed how far these guys have come. after four studio albums, mature they did: both in their skills as tunesmiths and as musicians. the guitars were raw with a loose feeling to it, reminiscent of those heard on any of pearl jam's recent live bootlegs. you can hear the radiohead nuances of siaran tergendala (not on the album) and the beatle-esque ending of cuai. the most important thing of all, finally another malaysian band of the alternative genre (if you like pigeon-holing music) was singing in bahasa malaysia. the way the used the language is simply first rate. grittier than the other alt-rock acts i've heard.
apa benda yang merdeka
jilat bontot depa
apa benda yang merdeka

flop poppy and OAG have done it. in fact, just look at the last few albums by post-mamat exists, like mutan and ada, to name two. these guys have sung in bahasa yonks ago (i'll get to the 80's malay rock explosion at another time, as they are really another phenomenon).Tipu barat timur dihimpit. i've to say apart from the lame efforts the likes of jesnita (*shudder*), as far as the other tunes they write/perform, the exists guys in many ways with stuff like kapal terbang kertas could possibly give the musicians across the water a run for their money. what gets my goat is the need for record companies to have killer power ballads (killer and power are both misnomers in the case of any local act). in the days of rock tangkap lentok, a newbie band would usually be ever so proud to have a song penned by m. nasir. nothing against m. nasir, but i think what you have there ain't his magnum opus. can you imagine him letting you and your band sing mentera semerah padi? the reality is that at the end of the day, they need the makciks and kakaks in the kampungs to buy their music. even neneks were quoted to know the words to fantasia bulan madu. before anyone shouts "elitist!", don't get me wrong. why is it mags like bloomin' urtv are doing so well? like an actor friend of mine once admitted, "kena lah, bro'. karang makcik-makcik kat kampung kata apa pulak. kena bagi dia suka". want to change a well-established mindset? demographics. go figure.
bukalah pintu hati mu untuk cinta ini
biar berkurun lama dikau ku nantikan

back to the singing in bahasa business. i remembered years ago reading reviews of demos sent in to r.o.t.t.w. where all of them were singing in english. butterfingers, the pilgrims, naked butterfly, infectious maggots and carburettor dung (to name a few) were then starting to make it big. the alternative bandwagon was bursting at the seams with cobain imitators and cavalera wannabes. when asked why they were singing in english, the answer, as if said in unison, was: lagu kami {insert genre here}, tak sesuai dinyanyikan dalam bahasa malaysia. now, the choice of singing in english or otherwise is pretty much personal. the same as, say, whether or not i want to blog in malay or not.
si manis di belakang kowloon
rupanya sang khunsa

i suppose i was just disappointed to see no one taking that first step and make bahasa the medium for songs of this generation, especially with the competition from across the water (although most of their current crop are excellent, not all of them are). singing in bahasa does not mean having words like kecundang, mahligai, baiduri and the ubiquitous cinta in a song. nor do you need to have the song in the key of A minor.Astronomikal cirimu, universal wajahmu. artistes from other asian nations could pull it off. you've listened to koreans rap in their native tongue or indonesian prog-rock on MTV. if you think the new butterfingers ditties have the bahasa sung in a drawl that's unmistakeably english to make their songs work, well no one said anything of the sort when awie did the infamous midnight blues on wings' teori domino. or radhi on any of the tracks in opera radhi-o friendly or satelit ink. on the non-malay front, a good example is poetic ammo where yogi B and co. did a great debut album which had songs incorporating the tamil and chinese language. there are tamil metal bands nowadays and the canto-rock scene are doing very well in the malaysian music scene.

now we have the chance to menembak garuda dengan senapang. kita kena ada pelurunya dahulu.
BAZOOKA PENAKA words/music by m. nasir, wings and nasir jani. ©1993 luncai emas sdn bhd
TENTANG TENTANG words/music by loque. ©2004 buttertrade music, EMI publishing
JESNITA words/music by harun ahmad and fauziah hashim. ©2001 BMG music publishing (M) sdn bhd, ada exists sdn bhd
MIDNIGHT BLUES words/music by m. nasir. ©1990 dunia muzik WEA sdn bhd