Music brings people together and nothing does it better than homegrown tunes that help us remember our roots and look forward to the future. That’s why the idea of a shared Malaysian playlist on Spotify isn’t far-fetched at all.
The selections for the #LaguMalaysiaKita playlist prove that the nation is very much in tune with songs that amplify our identity, sense of belonging and hope for the future.
It makes sense that Spotify would be the platform for Malaysians to connect in terms of their musical interests. Since its national launch in 2013, Spotify has been the music streaming website of choice for many Malaysian listeners.
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: In the last five years, Malaysian users have streamed more than 1.4 billion hours of K-pop tracks! However, Spotify is not just about K-pop hits. It’s also where Malaysians go to express themselves.
So to coincide with the National Day celebrations, Spotify went in search of songs for the #LaguMalaysiaKita playlist – local and international – that encapsulate the new bounce that we Malaysians have been feeling.
In response, Malaysians, ever willing to share their dream jukebox, came back with a list of 61 tunes – some familiar, some offbeat and some very thoughtful – to match the mood of the times.
Several social media influencers also weighed in with their favourites. Their names traverse our collective modern cultural experience: Malaysian actor, screenwriter, director and producer Bront Palarae; former journalist and PhD candidate focusing on political communication on the Internet, Niki Cheong; and self-professed adrenaline junkie, TV host, retired rock princess and wildlife educator Rina Omar.
Curious about the list? Here are some of the top picks curated by Spotify.
We all know Negaraku as our national anthem, but much love has also been given to the Joe Flizzow, Altimet, SonaOne and Faizal Tahir collaborative effort bearing the same name. However, their Negaraku – a totally different song – is a pulsing new anthem that you definitely want on your patriotic playlist.
Two of these artistes – Joe and Faizal – are already among the Top 5 local male artistes on Spotify. Faizal, the top-ranking local male, gets the solo limelight with songs like Malaysia and Gemuruh nominated.
Indie rock outfit The Propositions! is also a firm favourite with its tune Bebas, which was the first song the band had written in Malay. “Awak bebas dari saat ini” (which loosely translates to “you are free from this moment on”) is a chorus that many Malaysians have taken to heart.
Zainal Abidin’s Hijau remains a timeless classic, a constant reminder that nationalism is not just about waving the flag, but also about protecting the environment and cherishing our natural resources.
The need to remember our icons is also embodied in Sheila Majid’s Lagenda. A tune that Cheong aptly describes as: “A legend singing about another legend (P Ramlee). Our past and our present. What amazing talent Malaysia had and continues to have.”
Palarae says Prindu by Laila’s Lounge may sound like a love song, “But for me it is also a word of caution for us to be wary of illusions. Its impact is universal and patriotic to me when I think of a new Malaysia, so much so that I included in the OST of One Two Jaga.”
When it comes to making sacrifices and enduring hardship to achieve success, it looks like Ella’s Standing In The Eyes Of The World still resonates as a galvanising tune.
If we’re talking about a name that can draw in the crowds by the thousands, we must certainly mention Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Spotify’s top local female artiste. Malaysians were obviously hard-pressed to name a single favourite, so they nominated with several choices, including Bisikan Hati and Cindai.
While Sheila, Ella and Siti lead the chorus of strong, inspiring female voices, there is no shortage of young women on the list as well. The roll call of Jaclyn Victor’s Gemilang, Zee Avi’s Arena Cahaya and Yuna’s Home look the part to lift entire stadiums across the nation.
Pop classics will never fade and that’s why it is no surprise to have Sudirman’s (Tanggal) 31 Ogos, Man Bai’s Kau Ilhamku and Francissca Peter’s Setia being embraced by all as soon as the familiar choruses kick in.
For a dash of sweet soul and optimism, Al Green’s A Change Is Going To Come and Etta James’s At Last have found a new following in Malaysia, especially after GE14.
The international list, if anything, features a diverse range from Judy Garland’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and Whitney Houston’s One Moment In Time to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and Spice Girls’ Never Give Up On The Good Times.
Apparently, never giving up is the theme of the day.
The non-mainstream essentials have also proven to be lasting favourites, notably with OAG’s Generasiku, Couple’s Mencari Malaysia, Azmyl Yunor’s Tanah Airku and Namewee’s Ali, AhKao Dan Muthu. Each tune has its own meaningful message, packed with a blast of indie rock, folk jangle and novelty fun, respectively.
Then again, we cannot forget the wildcard choice of K-Town Clan’s Give ’Em The Ughh!!! which proves that Malaysians like their party songs and high spirits.
Love letters come in all forms. Best of all, you can always write home about the nation. However, let’s not take anything away from Psytrus’s KL City Lights and Hujan’s Kuala Lumpur Oh Kuala Lumpur, two songs that serve as a tribute to the capital city.
But at the end of the day, we all need to pause and see how far we have come as a nation. We can find meaning in the reflective melody of Tanah Pusaka, one of the most enduring patriotic pieces from the Radio Malaya years.
The sight of Tun Dr Siti Hasmah bringing the song to life on the piano, as can be seen on YouTube, will stir up the deep emotions that unite as Malaysians.
Now that you know the high notes of the #LaguMalaysiaKita playlist, fire up your Spotify app and start listening to these tunes.