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A more open Indonesian society, well, it could be ...

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Several weeks ago, pop star Nazriel Ilham, better known as “Ariel” was freed in parole from the Kebon Waru penitentiary in Bandung, West Java after serving more than two years in prison. The former vocalist of Peterpan band was imprisoned because he was proven guilty of producing a personal sex tapes, featuring him and two Indonesian actresses. The tape, however, was available to public after an irresponsible person distributed it.

Commenting on his release, some social critics deemed Ariel would find it difficult to go back to society. Ariel, the critics said, had violated one of the most sacred norms in Indonesia. In the country, sex tapes (and therefore free sex attitudes) are still widely perceived as a taboo thing to even talk about. However, the critics might have been wrong because Ariel soon easily rose into stardom after he and his band mates announced their new band name, NOAH, and an upcoming album.

Ariel's fans surrounded a white car, containing their idol,
which would take him  from the Kebon Waru Penitentiary.
Photo by: Rahman/Bisnis Jabar
Ariel’s coming back had been awaited by many. Infotainment, per usual, bought him because he was still deemed as a valuable object to sell. His fans hailed his freedom. Music critics and musicians had predicted that the pop star’s coming back would make Indonesian music, which in the past months have been dominated by local K-Pop music group, become more colorful. Many K-Pop haters even said through social media that Ariel’s coming back would topple the local K-Pop groups from the top charts.

Ariel, overall, has been welcomed by various elements of society despite his scandalous sex tape. Only a small part of hardliners or extremists still deems him lowly.

The warm welcome to Ariel echoed a similar attitude toward another pop star, Sammy Simorangkir, who was freed from prison in 2010. Sammy, former vocalist of a Kerispatih band, served one year in prison for abusing drugs. Sammy, now a soloist, was warmly welcomed by society, musicians and his loyal fans.

Ariel and Sammy were involved in one of “deadliest sins” to be committed in Indonesia. Yet, despite critics’ prediction, they could come back to steal the spotlight. They reclaimed their thrones both in the Indonesian music industry and Indonesians’ heart.

Sammy Simorangkir
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The fact that people welcome both pop starts shows that there is a changing social pattern in Indonesia. Our people can be said as being rationalistic than ever. In some degrees, they have been able to judge the pop stars not from their “collectively perceived” as shameful past. Instead, they are able to see Ariel and Sammy for their artistry and their contribution to the Indonesian musical industry.

People have always awaited Ariel for his new songs. The pop star is not only known for his singing quality but also for his skill in creating number one hits songs. Ariel’s former band, Peterpan, according to an article from online media [1], is the best-selling music artist in Indonesian music industry. Peterpan’s album, Bintang di Surga (Stars in the Heaven) has sold over 2.7 millions in Indonesia and neighboring countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, despite threats of piracy. Ariel co-wrote the majority of songs in his band.

Likewise, Sammy has always been awaited by his fans and music industry. Sammy and his former band, Kerispatih, stole public’s attention with their heartbreaking songs lyrics. Sammy’s vocal character outshines many male vocalists in his era. His strong vocal and musicality make him in a list of few Indonesian best male vocalists.

Ariel and Sammy’s artistry, which cannot be compared to other artists, then, has saved the pop stars. And luckily, Indonesians want the pop stars to give them more works of arts in the Indonesian music. Our people, thus fur, have been smart enough for not digging to Ariel and Sammy’s unpleasant past and instead focus on their craftsmanship in singing and song writing.

Can this mean that our society is more open than before? Well it could be ...

[1] Alunx, October 18, 2009, Band dengan Album Terlaris at


  1. In fact, Malaysia is worse than Indonesia in terms of music.

    Alternately, we should support more music programs like Radio Show :/


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