Total Pageviews

Translate

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Band That Learns To Rock

I played 25: The Complete Singles by Michael Learns to Rock (MLTR) quite often lately. Getting old and feeling nostalgic, perhaps, but they did bring back a lot of memories from 20 years ago (yes, that was how old some of the songs were). Good songs, good moments, good band.

25: The Complete Singles.

Growing up in Pontianak, I first heard of MLTR at, of all places, an English tuition centre called Longman. The song was Sleeping Child and we were expected to listen to the lyrics and fill in the blanks. I wasn't very into music back then and I thought the song title was rather odd, but I also remember enjoying the song as it was catchy. 

As I grew older, the band was getting more popular as well. Their biggest hit then was, of course, That's Why (You Go Away). Everybody knew that song. Even a friend of mine, who was tone deaf and barely able to sing, resorted to this song when he had to perform something during the art exam. It didn't help, though. It was more like a poem recital than a proper singing, causing the whole class to burst into laughter, haha.

That unfortunate event aside, by now, MLTR was so big that they were virtually everywhere in our lives. Even the usual suspect that I often went to Orbit Wonderland with said that 25 Minutes was his favorite song. He disliked English lesson, but even he couldn't resist the charm of MLTR! As for me, I remember riding my bike to a cassette shop nearby the traffic light to buy my first ever MLTR's album: Paint My Love - Greatest Hits.

I just learnt recently that the album was exclusively released in Asia (and South Africa) only. Looking back, it was quite amazing that they actually had so many hits in Asia within the span of three albums. Back in the 90s, there were either rock bands or boy bands, but MLTR was like the amalgamation of both. They had a rock band setup but performed pop songs that were normally done by boy bands. A friend of mine who was into Green Day told me that MLTR was almost non-existent in the USA. I couldn't believe him then, but in retrospect, he was right. MLTR's songs were often slow, with nice music and simple lyrics about love. This could be the reason why we, the Pontianak people with poor command of English, could relate with them.

Paint My Love - Greatest Hits was, in a way, the highlight of MLTR's career. It was like the coolest thing ever at that time. Not only we owned the album, but in my case, I also learnt English from singing the songs. Few years after Sleeping Child, I switched to a tuition centre that focused more on English conversation skill. It had a karaoke session, too, which we liked, and the songs from that greatest hits album were always featured. The teacher would play the Laser Disc version of it, where the songs would come together the MTV and lyrics for us to sing them to our hearts' content.

I'm Gonna Be Around, another favorite, was released afterwards. Few years later, I remember watching the music video of Strange Foreign Beauty. A fellow college student that I knew since high school suggested to me that I should try listening to Blue Night, another hit song. Then Take Me to Your Heart, a cover version of a Chinese song, came along. That was the last MLTR's song that I ever heard and I stopped following their music anymore since then.

But the good times lingered. When MLTR came to Singapore as part of their Eternity tour in 2009, I attended the concert with my friend, expecting a good time there. True enough, it was very entertaining. I mean, since we knew almost all the songs, we could actually sing along. MLTR wasted no time by opening the show with Sleeping Child, which was impressive, because that was one of their biggest hits. Jascha Richter was a brilliant performer, very humble and communicative, he told us stories behind the songs. I also remember the encore, as the concert wouldn't be complete without That’s Why (You Go Away). Overall, it was a fantastic experience.

Fast forward to present day, on one occasion, as the song was playing, I told my five years old daughter about a man that was 25 minutes too late in finding his girlfriend. Since then, I noticed that she also made an effort to sing along, especially during 25 Minutes or Out of the Blue. What made it more interesting was, she also did the same for Complicated Heart, my personal favorite. Coincidence? I don't know, really. But I do know that I like the moments when we, the father and his daughter, sang those old songs from my time together.  I mean, how often in life you actually get a chance to do exactly that? Pretty rare, I reckon, and it's priceless..


Grup Yang Belajar Bermain Musik

Saya sering memutar album 25: The Complete Singles dari Michael Learns to Rock belakangan ini, mungkin saja karena kian berumur dan jadinya ingin bernostalgia. Lagu-lagu ini membuat saya teringat lagi dengan kenangan yang terjadi dua dekade yang lalu (oh ya, lagu MLTR rata-rata sudah berumur 20 tahun). Lagu bagus, kenangan yang indah dan grup yang tak bisa disangkal bakatnya.

Sebagai remaja di Pontianak, dari berbagai tempat yang memungkinkan, saya justru pertama kali mendengarkan lagu MLTR di tempat kursus bahasa Inggris bernama Longman. Kala itu gurunya memutar Sleeping Child dan kita harus mendengarkan liriknya dan mengisi bagian yang kosong. Ketika itu, musik bukan bagian yang penting dari hidup saya dan saya juga tidak mengerti kenapa judul lagunya agak aneh, tapi saya menikmati lagunya.

Seiring dengan bertambahnya usia penggemarnya, MLTR juga bertambah populer. Lagu yang paling terkenal saat itu adalah That's Why (You Go Away). Semua orang tahu lagu tersebut. Bahkan teman saya yang tidak berbakat musik pun nekat menyanyikan lagu ini saat ujian seni. Hasilnya terdengar lebih seperti membaca puisi daripada menyanyi, sehingga satu kelas pun tertawa, haha.

Meski gagal dalam menyelamatkan teman saya, MLTR semakin terkenal. Bahkan satu teman saya yang biasanya tidak menyukai pelajaran bahasa Inggris pun menggemari MLTR dan lagu favoritnya adalah 25 Minutes. Bagi saya sendiri, saya ingat betul saat dimana saya mengayuh sepeda ke toko kaset di dekat persimpangan lampu merah di Jalan Gajah Mada untuk membeli album MLTR pertama saya: Paint My Love - Greatest Hits.

Saya baru mengetahui bahwa album ini ternyata dirilis secara eksklusif hanya di Asia (dan Afrika Selatan). Kalau dilihat kembali, rasanya sangat mengagumkan bahwa MLTR bisa memiliki begitu banyak lagu hits dalam rentang tiga album. Di blantika musik tahun 90an, yang namanya grup itu, kalau bukan rock band, berarti termasuk kategori boy band. Ini yang membuat MLTR berbeda, sebab mereka memiliki formasi rock band, namun membawakan lagu-lagu pop yang biasanya dinyanyikan boy band. Saat seorang teman bercerita kepada saya bahwa MLTR nyaris tidak terdengar di Amerika, saya merasa sulit untuk percaya, tapi pendapatnya itu benar adanya. Lagu-lagu MLTR biasanya memiliki irama musik yang mendayu-dayu dan lirik yang sederhana tentang cinta. Ini mungkin salah satu alasan kenapa kebanyakan orang Pontianak, yang cenderung pas-pasan bahasa Inggrisnya, menyukai MLTR.

Konser di Singapura, 2009.
Sumber: offshore-productn.com

Boleh dikatakan bahwa adalah Paint My Love - Greatest Hits adalah puncak dari karir MLTR, setidaknya di Pontianak. Bagi saya pribadi, album tersebut bukan saja sekedar kompilasi dari lagu-lagu terbaik mereka, tapi juga merupakan bagian dari proses pembelajaran saya dalam menguasai bahasa Inggris. Beberapa tahun setelah Sleeping Child, saya pindah ke kursus bahasa Inggris Gajah Mada yang lebih fokus dalam percakapan. Sebagai bagian dari latihan, kita terkadang memiliki sesi karaoke dan lagu-lagu yang ada di album ini seringkali dinyanyikan.

Paint My Love digantikan oleh lagu hit berikutnya, I'm Gonna Be Around. Selang beberapa tahun kemudian, saya menonton Strange Foreign Beauty di MTV. Setelah itu, lagu Blue Night direkomendasikan oleh seorang teman kuliah yang saya kenal sejak SMA. Take Me to Your Heart menjadi lagu MLTR yang terakhir saya dengar dan semenjak itu, saya berhenti mengikuti karir mereka.

Kendati begitu, lagu-lagu mereka tetap terngiang di benak saya. Ketika MLTR datang ke Singapura dalam rangka tur Eternity di tahun 2009, saya menghadiri konsernya bersama seorang teman. Konser ini sangat menghibur, persis seperti yang saya harapkan. Karena kita tahu hampir semua lagu MLTR, kita bisa bernyanyi sepanjang konser. Sebagai grup, MLTR juga tampil memukau. Mereka membuka konser langsung dengan Sleeping Child yang merupakan salah satu lagu terbaik mereka. Jascha Richter juga pintar berinteraksi dengan penonton melalui berbagai cerita tentang lagu dan pengalamannya selama tur keliling Asia. Dan tentu saja konser MLTR tidak akan lengkap tanpa lagu That’s Why (You Go Away), jadi mereka kembali ke panggung untuk encore. Secara keseluruhan, sungguh pengalaman konser yang luar biasa.

Kembali ke masa kini, pada suatu kesempatan, sewaktu lagunya sedang melantun, saya bercerita kepada putri saya yang berumur lima tahun bahwa lagu ini bercerita tentang seorang pria yang terlambat 25 menit dalam menghampiri kekasihnya. Sejak saat itu, saya perhatikan bahwa dia juga terkadang turut serta menyanyikan lagu 25 Minutes atau Out of the Blue. Yang lebih menarik lagi, dia juga suka menyanyikan lagu Complicated Heart yang merupakan lagu favorit saya. Hanya kebetulan? Saya tidak tahu, tapi yang penting adalah saya tahu bahwa saya menyukai saat-saat kami, ayah dan anak, bersama-sama menyanyikan lagu-lagu dari zaman saya. Seberapa sering kiranya itu terjadi dalam hidup? Cukup jarang, saya kira, dan saya merasa beruntung karena mengalaminya...


Hari ketika kita menghadiri konser MLTR!
Sumber: Facebook, Jimmy Lim

No comments:

Post a Comment