The passing of Javanese pop songster Didi Kempot has left the Indonesian public stunned and grief-stricken. After losing R&B singer-songwriter Glenn Fredly earlier in April this year, it seems the nation was not ready for the loss of yet another musical legend.
Dionisius Prasetyo, known to fans as Didi Kempot, was a renowned singer of a genre of composition called campursari, a fusion of Javanese and modern music.
Beyond the genre he carried in his music, he was known for the tales of melancholy and sorrow that he often told in his lyrical works. He was hailed as the ‘Godfather of Broken Hearts’ as he touched a deep chord with his lovelorn fans whenever he performed his Javanese ballads.
One of his most popular songs Cidro helped listeners connect with their feelings as they followed the song’s lyrics and melody, and more often than not, shed a tear or two.
The song tells the story of a broken-hearted romantic whose lover has left, breaking a promise made together.
“Kepiye maneh iki pancen nasibku
Kudu nandang lara kaya mangkene
Remuk ati iki yen eling janjine
Ora ngira jebul lamis wae…”
The pre-chorus of Cidro roughly translates to "What can I do? It is my fate to get hurt like this. My heart breaks as I remember her promises, never would I have thought it was all sweet nothings." It tells the story of someone who has been cheated on multiple times by a partner, and who then decides to walk away.
The song got 20 million views on YouTube, making it one of Didi Kempot’s most popular songs, but Banyu Langit got the most views, with 43 million plays on YouTube.
Banyu Langit roughly translates to ‘Water of the Sky’, and tells the story of one’s deep longing for a lover who has left without any explanation, a relationship that has ended without a sense of closure.
Sorrow and anguish are perhaps the most distinct feelings, often felt by those who have had their hearts broken, and the two songs surely spoke to those facing romantic hardships.
In another one of his songs, Layang Kangen, Didi Kempot gave voice to the feelings of those who are still in a relationship with someone, but are separated by distance.
Layang Kangen, which translates to ‘A Letter of Longing’ is a favorite among those in long-distance relationships, as it tells the story of missing a significant other and the urge to soon come home to reunite with the loved one.
Meanwhile, Tangise Ati urges listeners to not force a relationship and let go of what is not meant to be.
“You have gone without a trace and only I can feel the pain in my heart. I never thought this is how it’s going to end, but if this is what is meant to be then I am letting go,” Didi Kempot sang in the last part of Tangise Ati.
Another one of his popular tunes is Suket Teki, which resonates with those who have felt betrayed by a significant other and left heart-broken.
The song’s title refers to the unruly weeds that often grow in between rice plants, an allusion to a saying about planting rice, but getting weeds instead. The song paints a picture of someone putting their all into a relationship, but getting betrayed or cheated in return.
These five songs by Didi Kempot are loved by millions of fans, and they are based on the same theme: broken hearts.
His songs and his performances served as catharsis for lovelorn fans. They would cry, even weep, at his concerts, and afterwards, he would urge them to not get carried away by their sorrow, and divert their energy towards positive activities to overcome their sadness.
Although he was known for deeply melancholic songs that portrayed the anguish of a broken-hearted lover, his legacy beyond his musical creations can perhaps be captured in the comment posted by YouTube user Adi Wirawan, who wrote under Didi Kempot’s Banyu Langit music video:
“His biggest achievement was perhaps not the epic comeback he made in the past year, but the profound message of how men are allowed to cry, even in a public place. The world often judges men and asks them not to show any signs of weakness, but ‘Lord’ Didi, with his songs, successfully broke that (image of) toxic masculinity.”
Sugeng Tindak (‘So Long’ in Javanese), Godfather of Broken Hearts. Your legacy shall live on.
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