Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asiaby Craig A. Lockard
“The rock era is over,” according to one pop music expert. Another one once lamented that rock music had, “metamorphosed into the musical wallpaper of the ten thousand lifts, hotel foyers, shopping centres, airport lounges, and television advertisements that await us in the 1990s.” Whatever its current role and significance in Anglo-American society, popular music has been and remains a tremendous social and cultural force in many parts of the world. This book explores the connections between popular music genres and politics in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Over the past several decades the countries of Southeast Asia have reverberated to the music of superstars like Indonesia's Rhoma Irama and Iwan Fals, the Filipino singer-songwriters Freddie Aguilar and Joey Ayala, Thai groups Caravan and Carabao, and the Malaysian rock group Kembara. Along with many lesser-known artists, they articulated the views of powerless citizens and provided a critical discourse on national and international affairs. Some were even identified with mass-based sociopolitical movements seeking change. Popular musicians were at the forefront of the Thai democracy movement of the mid-1970s, the agitation leading to the abdication of the Marcos dictatorship in the mid-1980s, and the debate over inequality, corruption, and the role of Islam in Indonesia. Craig Lockard, both an accomplished social historian and an astute and avid fan of pop music, provides a broad cultural and historical framework for his study of the role and impact of popular musicians and their music on contemporary Southeast Asian politics. He draws on an exhaustive range of sources (academic, trade, professional, and popular) and knowledgeably compares Southeast Asia's musical styles with those in countries such as India, China, Nigeria, and Chile.
Dance of Life is a singularly original piece of scholarship, unmatched in both breadth and detail. It will be enthusiastically received by ethnomusicologists and those with an interest in popular culture, Asian studies, mass communications, modern history, and politics, as well as fans and scholars of pop music worldwide.
CRAIG A. LOCKARD is Ben and Joyce Rosenberg Professor in the Department of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.