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Beginner's guide to Didi Kempot's 'campursari' masterpieces

Gisela Swaragita
Gisela Swaragita

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Thu, May 7, 2020  /  02:16 pm
Beginner's guide to Didi Kempot's 'campursari' masterpieces

An expert in writing lovelorn ballads, Didi was particularly adored by brokenhearted people who find solace in his lyrics, and was therefore dubbed the Godfather of Broken Hearts. (JP/Suherdjoko)

Music enthusiasts across the country are in deep mourning for Indonesian musician Didi Kempot, who passed away on Tuesday morning after a cardiac arrest.

A maestro of campursari, a musical genre originally from Central Java, his songs pull the heartstrings of the Javanese diaspora everywhere.

An expert in writing lovelorn ballads, Didi was particularly adored by brokenhearted people who find solace in his lyrics, and was therefore dubbed the Godfather of Broken Hearts.

For those who have just started listening to his music, below is a list of his most popular songs:

1. Pamer Bojo 

Loosely translated as "Showing off Your Lover", the song tells the story of an ex-lover who had to chew his own tongue upon seeing his ex-girlfriend showing off her new boyfriend.

"Pamer Bojo" has so far been streamed more than 7 million times on music platform Spotify.

2. Banyu Langit

This song from his 2016 album Kasmaran (Romance), has been streamed almost 6 million times on Spotify.

The song tells a typical ghosting story of a man being left by his girlfriend without any goodbye.

The single, which references the Nglanggeran primeval volcano in Gunung Kidul, Yogyakarta, helped increase tourist visits to the site after it became a hit.

3. Cidro

Literally translated as "Injury", this song catapulted Didi to his second wave of fame last year. A viral video tweet depicting the euphoric situation during Didi’s live performance of the song in 2019 triggered his renaissance and introduce him to a wider audience.

Campursari, similar to dangdut and other genres familiar to the working classes, rarely catches the attention of mainstream media. However Didi was catapulted again to fame last year on various media platforms, from TV to YouTube, thanks to the power of young people and their habit of using social media.

4. Stasiun Balapan

One of Didi’s most iconic songs, “Stasiun Balapan” tells the story of two lovers who have to say a tearful goodbye at Surakarta's Balapan Station.

This song is the epitome of how Didi became famous for taking inspiration from places familiar to working classes of the Javanese diaspora.

5. Layang Kangen

This song has become the soundtrack of long-distance lovers yearning for each other’s presence. 

The lyrics, “Umpomo tanganku dadi suwiwi/Iki ugo aku mesti enggal bali”, literally translated as “If only my arms turned into a pair of wings/I would go home immediately”, pull the heartstrings of forlorn couples separated by distance.

Born in 1966 in Surakarta, Central Java, to a family of performance artists, Didi Kempot started his musical career as a busker in the 1980s after dropping out of high school.

Throughout his career, he enjoyed a steady legendary status as a musician who remained true to his Javanese roots. He gained recognition not only in Indonesia but also in the Netherlands and Suriname, where there are significant number of Javanese people. (kes)

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