Monday, April 25, 2022

Just about an hour ago, Abang jumped out of Abang’s chair and was hoping around in ecstasy because… Aina Abdul came out with a new Hari Raya song! Abang wants to talk about the video, because Abang feels that the video has a lot of significance to both what this year Hari Raya means to us and what it means to Aina. If you had gone through the whole deal with the pandemic, and the #PKP restrictions, this video will definitely resonate with you. 


For those of you who have no idea what Abang is talking about, with regards to the pandemic and the #PKP restrictions, allow Abang to just keep you up to date on what has happened so far. End of 2019, there were reports that there is a new virus that is sweeping up the whole of Asia. While everyone remained hopeful that the virus would somehow not reach the shores of their countries, the virus did. Every other country, small and big, was affected and Malaysians were not spared. Many of us were still hoping that we would still be able to celebrate Hari Raya in 2020. Then, the news came in. The country went into a mini lockdown, restricting Malaysians from inter-state travelling. On top of that, Malaysians who were working in Singapore, would now have to consider the costs of returning back to Malaysia, should they still want to continue to be employed in Singapore. Hard decisions needed to be made. And many decided not to return to their homeland and stayed in Singapore, while those in Malaysia had to remain in the states that they were in, and they were not able to return to their kampung to visit their relatives and parents. In the beginning of 2021, everyone was feeling hopeful as things were starting to go back to normal. However, for some reason, the cases of infections spiked, hampering any hopes for things to ever go back to normal. In March 2022, the governments from the different countries finally declared a shift of status for Covid-19 – it is now to be considered as endemic. As such, many countries ramped up efforts to move the economy back to normalcy, whatever normal now means to us. This means that… finally after 2 years, the Malays can celebrate their Hari Raya. This also means that families, for the first time in two years, get to be reunited. 


And this is exactly the feel and mood that Aina Abdul’s Gema Raya video is trying to capture. The triumph and jubilation. The joy. And most importantly, the chance to, what we Malays say, “Lepaskan rindu”. Abang tried to google the translation for this and Google translated it as “letting go of that longing feeling”. If Abang may illustrate this with an imagery – the whole situation with the PKP restriction is like a dam that is man-made. And you hold back your tears and your love for your families, like the water being held back by the dam in the past two years. Then there is this longing feeling, of wanting to go back to your beloved families, but because you are not able to, that longing feeling build up like the water behind the dam. So this year, when the news of the interstate restrictions have been lifted, it is like the dam is finally destroyed and the whole feelings just poured out and you are now able to pour out your feelings to your families that you have not met for the past two years, just like the water behind the dam finally being let out... Abang would imagine the intensity to be similar.


Now going back to the song, Abang feels melody-wise, it did bring that nostalgic feeling. Very uplifting yet not over-bearing. Inspiring and sincere. The last time Abang heard such a song, was during the 80s, with Sudirman’s Balik Kampung. A song that really invigorates the listeners to want to pack up and celebrate Hari Raya in kampung. One thing Abang was really grateful for, was that Aina Abdul did not create a sappy Hari Raya song. We were already wallowing in our own misery for the past two years, so the last thing we would need is a sappy song that would remind us of the dark years. So, hooray for positive, uplifting song! Lyric wise, Abang really love how Aina is paying homage to the different Raya songs in the past. If you were to analyse the lyrics, Aina actually had done some intertextual works and quoted some past popular songs, again to bring up the nostalgia. But she didn’t stop there; she combined these texts with a more contemporary, fresh sounding melody, placing them in a more modern context that will resonate with the younger listeners.


Video wise—the COSTUME! Without saying much, Aina has picked on three things that one will associate Hari Raya.

The Ketupat


The Lampu Lap-Lip


The Duit Raya! 
(the money that the old will give to the young in an envelope as part of the tradition and culture). 


Also, if you expected Aina Abdul Hari Raya video to just be a normal video, you are definitely in for a surprise. It is actually a short film and a music video combined into one. Very much like Lady Gaga, but set in Hari Raya context. Actually, speaking of Lady Gaga, it really felt like Aina is very much influenced by Lady Gaga. Who could ever forget the white dress drenched in blood in AJL 2020, which is a homage to Lady Gaga’s bloody (like literally bloody) performance of Paparazzi in VMA, 2011? Okay, Abang was just digressing. Going back to the Gema Raya video. It starts with Aina having a video call with her sister, and then reminiscing of her days in her kampung with her mother, supposedly before all this craziness with the pandemic started. Then the video progresses to show her making her way back to her kampung and finally meeting her mother for the first time in probably two years. If you are not crying by now, you need to go for a medical check-up. Then the intro of the Raya song starts and that was the only sappy part there is to the video. Everything that changed, and we were taken on this psychedelic tour of how Aina would celebrate Hari Raya in her own kampung, complete with multiple change of costumes. Then the video ends with her spending some intimate moments with her family, and her late-father. It was an emotional roller-coaster of hopeful, sadness, longing, joy, triumph, thankful and blessed. Here is one more thing that Abang likes about Aina Abdul. She is so personable. The video is personable. It is just her and her family and how she celebrates Hari Raya. Nothing of it felt forced and made up and showy. Even with the showy costumes, her sincerity shines through the whole video. 


Marketing-wise, it was so smart! As an Aina Abdul’s fan, Abang immediately identified all the songs that were used in the short-film segments, and they were used meaningfully! Abang thought it was a smart marketing strategy, because for the newer listeners who heard the background music being sampled, they would surely be intrigued to find out more about the songs. And that is how, ladies and gentlemen, you market your own songs, without having to worry about copyright or royalty issues for using other people’s songs in your videos! *Cues audience cheering and clapping here*


All in all, Abang really loves the video and song, Gema Raya. Congratulations Aina Abdul!

p.s: The video in question can be played below... Enjoy!