“Suffering” and “Surrender”: Dangdut and the Spectacle of Excess

Andrew N. Weintraub

in Dangdut Stories

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780195395662
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199863549 | DOI:
“Suffering” and “Surrender”: Dangdut and the Spectacle of Excess

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Chapter 5 describes the development of new musical forms, the emergence of new stars, and the expansion of the dangdut industry in the 1980s. The discussion focuses on the most dominant groups and artists of this period: two prominent production teams (Tarantula and Radesa) and three celebrated singers (Camelia Malik, Elvy Sukaesih, and Mansyur S.). In addition to its appeal among “the people,” analyzed in chapter 4, dangdut became the music of dance and pleasure in nightclubs, bars, and discos. Performers used a heightened sense of theatricality, costumes, and movements to express gut-wrenching stories about “suffering” and “surrender” in songs. The combination of emotional lyrics, upbeat dancing, and a camp performance style captivated audiences and baffled critics. It seemed contradictory to commentators that the songs of this period would memorialize people's emotional and material suffering. An analysis of songs reveals strategies of polysemy, ambiguity, and camp that encouraged creative and playful interpretations of song lyrics, images, and sound. This explosion of new styles, seemingly contradictory texts and music, and polysemy, characterized in this chapter as the “spectacle of excess,” generated its pleasure and its commercial popularity.

Keywords: spectacle of excess; dance; camp; Tarantula; Radesa; Camelia Malik; Elvy Sukaesih; Mansyur S

Chapter.  10682 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ethnomusicology

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