Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ku Ingin Bahagia and The Universality of Music

Yes, music is universal. This is one (overused) cliche that I will use as the premise of this entry.

During the 60s and the 70s, or perhaps even in the 80s, we have adopted and adapted foreign song as our very own. It is called lagu saduran.

Some are really foreign to our ears and are really painful to listen to, but there are some songs that are perhaps more Malay than many Malay songs, especially songs from this decade. After the popularity of Fantasy by Earth Wind and Fire in the 70s, it was quickly adapted by BDB and so Khalayan was born.

Picking up English songs for adaptation was harder especially these days since many would have known these songs, and many would mock these adapted songs, especially us teens in the 70s. When Bee Gees released the Spirit Having Flown album, a friend Kamal would come to me day and said BDB has came up with a new song Terjadi.

Nice one Madi.

one were to buy an album in the 70s, you would know immediately if the song is composed locally or somehere else by the notation CC. For some reasons, they would not just revealed the song writer and the composer, instead they just put a note saying that it was copyright controlled.

Obviously the gomen aka RTM didn't like it then (in the late 80s) and banned adapted songs from the airwaves. It was said that adapted songs hinder the creativity of local composers and make it too easy for anyone to come up with an album.

Much like our soccer scene I guess. Just hire any pak hitam to be your striker and hey presto you have a super league team.

Honestly, I do enjoy some of the adapted songs. They were so good that you didn't even know they were adapted. Japan would be one source with it melodious and soft language, that it was ideal to be adopted into Malay song, never mind that culturally we are a constellation apart.

In 1979, Rina Rahman (now Datin) was reasonably popular with this melancholic song Ku Ingin Bahagia. I love this song and have played it to death, to be honest. But only with the advent of You Tube, I would know that it was Japanese song by Momoe Yamaguchi titled Akai Unmei.

Arif, just like me 30 years ago, thought it was a Malay song through and through.

Here is the Japanese version.

Another one was this 70s song by Rafeah Buang - Tangisan di Sisiku. Aaah, again, it was a sad song that I love so much. You can compare the two here.

Here is the original by Mieko Hiruta. I guess the first one was her in the 70s, and the second one when she was older. You can hear it in her voice.

There is another song in the 70s - Hari Ini tak Seindah Semalam by A Rahman Kadir, which I believe, was adapted from a Japanese song, but I could not find even the Malay version anymore. So there is no way for me to find the Japanese version.

Of course not to mention the beautiful songs and voice by Mayumi Itsuwa that we used to listen to in the 80s.

Even if I didn't understand a single word of Japanese then.

This one has no translation but the recording is better. This is Koiibitoyo (My Dear Lover). And a powerful rendition by Mayumi Itsuwa.

No wonder in the 90s, when I was spending months of my time in Japan, I was taken by their songs. I even took the time to spend hours in their CD shop in this small town of Tokuyama and look for the songs that I love so much which I spent time listening to after coming back from my training at the Idemitsu refinery there.

To me, Japanese is such a beautiful language and it shows in their songs.

And people, if I may add.

But then again, we are not the only one guilty of such digression, if you could consider this as a sin. The Americans did it with this Sukiyaki rendition by A Taste of Honey.

It was quite a popular in 1981 in Australia.


  1. Cuba tengok website ni..


  2. Thank you. This is really interesting - to see many Malay song that we took for granted as being Malay song as being foreign in origin.

    Good stuff.