Dangdut! Dian Ratih


Watching this clip I couldn’t understand why Dian Ratih is such a popular performer.  That is, she’s popular in East Java, which by headcount is incredibly popular.

To be fair, production quality is poor, there’s one close up where she’s out of focus and the director hasn’t even excluded passers-by.  It’s like they just turned up to a beach and started shooting without permission.  I’ve always found these music clips, where the performer mimes the words while outdoors, to be strange.  But she seems to make little effort to pretend to be actually singing.

She takes a few rythmic steps in one random direction then a few more back where she came from.  Well, she can’t really dance with that tight skirt she’s wearing.  Thankfully the whole embarassing affair ends abruptly after five and a half long minutes as she freezes and the camera pans away into the foliage.

That clip is dated 2007, so I thought I’d try to find see how she developed from there.  After a bit of searching, I came across this video, but for a while I thought it was a different girl:

Well, it is a different girl, but she’s the same Dian Ratih, changed so much after only a year.  Still awful, but in a different way.  What’s she done to her lovely hair?  What was wrong with her natural black hair?  And what a mess it is.  She wears three costumes, only one of them looks good and maybe thats because the water distracts your attention from it.  Definitely a lot more movement, but meaningless.  Maybe it’s supposed to look sexy?  The way her eyebrows are plucked makes her look like one of those middle aged Chinese ladies you see at the malls.  Perhaps she goes to the same beautician they do.  The kind of beautician that makes you age 20 years?  She still can’t mime to save herself.

If you thought those outfits were terrible, take a look at this:

She couldn’t decide whether the yellow or the blue, so why not both?  Equally horrid.  At least her hair is a bit better this time.  How about the back-up dancers?  She and they never meet.  What were the director’s instructions to them?  ‘Just wear whatever you’ve got.  As long as it’s a skirt.  Oh, and put on some big clunky sneakers, you’ll be dancing on grass’.  Skirt and huge sneakers, how elegant.  At least we get to see some of the attractions of Banyuwangi: a big rock in the middle of the road at 2:40 and a power line at 4:30, really makes you want to go there.

In a similarly awful vein is this clip:

It looks like something from the 1980’s.  The dancers have a nice sand patch to bounce around in their crazy jumpsuits.  At least Dian’s costumes are a bit more tasteful.  Except the one where she’s sitting on the window sill.  She’s lost one of her long glove things and wearing a beret.  For some reason smoke rises outside the house.  Is there a fire?  Are there people smoking outside?  Still a wooden miming performance, not much better than any of the previous clips.

So if Dian Ratih is so awful, why is she so popular?   Finally I discovered the answer is – LIVE!:

She’s a true performer.  On stage she actually connects with the audience and has a presence and energy.  She strangles the high notes and her costume is not very flattering, but it’s a world of difference from her pre-recorded clips.

I’ve saved the best for last:

She really sells this song.  The hair’s back to being a terrible mess and the costume does nothing for her as usual, but her onstage personality more than compensates for that.   There’s a world of difference between the performance in this clip and the one at the beginning of this post, don’t you agree?

With all that going on on stage, I love the way the camera cuts away to those sedate Javanese bapaks (dads) puffing on their kreteks.  They don’t want to go up to the stage for a better view because it would somehow be a sign of weakness to show that they are interested in the performance.

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One Response to “Dangdut! Dian Ratih”

  1. jakartanna Says:

    the song title at the live performance:
    bokong = buttock
    semok = fleshy, full (rounded)

    the song title at the first clip
    isun = I
    pasrah = surrender

    Dian Ratih is a true singer, she dance according to the song’s lyric he..he..he..
    For me, every parts or her is disturbing for me to see 😛

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