Indonesia's 10 Best Dangdut Music Artists

Music performance stage | © Free-Photos / Pixabay
Music performance stage | © Free-Photos / Pixabay
Like many other Indonesian cultural objects, the dangdut genre is eclectic, fresh, and rather diverse. Influenced by Hindustani, Malay, Arabic, even rock and blues music, the range of creativity in dangdut is seemingly limitless. While the genre itself is often underrated and undermined for distastefulness and cheap performances, these 10 dangdut music artists are highly respected across Indonesia.

Via Vallen

Not many dangdut songs are as popular as Via Vallen’s single ‘Sayang’, which ranked as the second-most viewed Indonesian music video of 2017. Via’s youthful and modern take on the traditional genre puts her songs in the spotlight of mainstream Indonesian music, making them widely popular in a larger demographic than the typical dangdut songs. For that feat, the award-winning singer has earned the nickname ‘Pop Queen Koplo’, despite her relatively new success.

Iis Dahlia

Iis’ journey to stardom was a long and challenging one. But when she finally released her second dangdut album in 1990, it was phenomenal. Adored by many for more than just her songs, Iis Dahlia is widely respected for representing dangdut in an elegant way in a time when the genre was considered cheap and too sensual. Iis’ Cherished personality also earned her numerous appearances in films and TV shows. Her latest album The Best of Iis Dahlia was released in 2017, 30 years after her debut, and it’s still widely sought across the country.

Rhoma Irama

Dubbed the ‘King of Dangdut’, Rhoma Irama is still considered one of the most significant artists that helped shape and present modern dangdut to a wide Indonesian audience. With original, unique musical arrangements that neatly combines dangdut with a bit of rock, Rhoma Irama brings fresh new songs that keep him popular and relevant beyond the height of his stardom in the 1990s. His albums are widespread throughout Indonesia, along with the many films he starred in. Also known for his religious and political charisma, Rhoma Irama often conveys religious messages through his works.

Ikke Nurjanah

More than an acclaimed singer, Ikke Nurjanah is a dangdut icon loved for her elegance and modesty that was rarely displayed by fellow artists in the 1990s dangdut genre. Her unique personality and impressive productivity in creating new songs led Ikke to international stardom; she is often invited to perform outside Indonesia, bringing the traditional genre to events like the Europalia Arts Festival and to foreign TV studios.

Evie Tamala

Evie Tamala is one of the most widely-acclaimed dangdut divas of the 1990s. She sets herself apart with a uniquely sweet and melancholic take on the genre, often with a touch of blues or swing in the musical arrangement. Other than her 19 albums and many other singles, Evia also successfully popularized regional dangdut variances such as Sunda and Javanese pop-dangdut. Her singles, ‘Dokter Cinta’, ‘Ketok Magic’, and ‘Selamat Malam’ are still popular and played widely.

Inul Daratista

Inul Daratista has become so legendary that her name, songs, and especially her iconic dance move Goyang Ngebor were considered pop culture as they became known beyond the demographic of dangdut listeners. Starting out as a humble local performer in Pasuruan, East Java, her stage act became widely popular in the early 2000s, which later paved the way to national stardom. The award-winning singer has also starred in films, TV shows, prestigious performances, and is now a successful businesswoman as well.

Elvy Sukaesih

Elvy Sukaesih’s nickname as the ‘Queen of Dangdut’ is certainly well-deserved, considering her dazzling career both as Rhoma Irama’s singing partner and as a solo performer since the 1960s. Widely respected by fellow musicians and musicians and adored by a wide fanbase, Elvy is considered one of the most talented dangdut singers with impressive singing techniques, a sweet voice, and real substance. Her charms also extend to the film industry, having starred in more than a dozen films.

Cici Paramida

Experienced in qasidah performances since childhood, Cici Paramida chose to make a name for herself as a dangdut artist, which is also influenced by qasidah in its long history. Throughout her career, Cici has released more than a dozen albums, four of which are religious. She has also collaborated with some of the nation’s best musicians, including Erwin Gutawa. Active since the early 1990s, Cici is still producing religious and secular dangdut music as well as performing on and off air.

Cita Citata

Many of Cita’s songs are widely popular among a large audience, including the singles ‘Sakitnya Tuh Di Sini’ and ‘Goyang Dumang’, which topped various music charts in Indonesia. Especially popular with the younger generation, Cita is phenomenal in social media as well; her video was one of YouTube’s most viewed in 2015, and soon after she was listed as the number one most requested artist in various stations.

Ayu Ting Ting

First becoming a national sensation after her 2011 song ‘Alamat Palsu’, Ayu Ting Ting keeps rising in popularity with more songs, TV appearances, and performances. Ayu has been singing since she was only 14, experience that is evident in her graciousness and professionalism on stage. Believed to be one of the most expensive singers to book in Indonesia, Ayu is now more comfortable being herself on and off duty, showing her love for K-Pop and Korean fashion in shows and performances.