Melly Goeslaw

Melly Goeslaw
Birth name Meliana Cessy Goeslaw
Born 7 January 1974 (1974-01-07) (age 37)
Origin Bandung, West Java, Indonesia
Genres Pop
Occupations Singer, songwriter
Years active 1988–present
Labels Aquarius Musikindo
Associated acts Potret

Mellyana Goeslaw Hoed ([məliˈana ˈgʊslau ˈhʊd]; born 7 January 1974), better known by her stage name Melly Goeslaw, is an Indonesian singer and songwriter. She began singing while in the fifth grade, then began writing songs and took work as a backing vocalist for Elfa Secioria in high school. This led to her family and her moving to Jakarta to further her career. While providing backing vocals for a promotional tour by Katon Bagaskara, she met Anto Hoed and Andi Ayunir. After marrying Hoed, the three formed the band Potret in 1993. Their 1995 debut album was well received, bringing Goeslaw and her bandmates to fame. After releasing several albums with Potret, Goeslaw attempted to begin a solo career, releasing her self-titled debut album Melly in 1999. Although Melly sold well, she became more popular as a solo artist after providing the soundtrack for the 2002 hit film Ada Apa dengan Cinta? together with her husband. Her later releases include solo albums and soundtracks. In 2005, she released a collection of short stories to celebrate her tenth year anniversary as a popular musician; four years later, she directed a concert to celebrate Bandung's 200th birthday. As of 2011, she has written over 500 songs.

Goeslaw's onstage persona has been compared to Björk, with "eccentric" costumes, heavy make-up, and "wild" hair colours. Her early songs have been described by The Jakarta Post as being "deliberately antagonistic", with controversial themes including materialism, sadomasochism, and violence against women. Two of her songs with Potret, "Salah" and "Bunda", were selected by Rolling Stone Indonesia as some of the best Indonesian songs of all time, while her work with Ada Apa dengan Cinta? garnered her and her husband a Citra Award at the 2004 Indonesian Film Festival. However, Rolling Stone notes a decline in song quality after Ada Apa dengan Cinta?. According to The Jakarta Post, Goeslaw is one of the most sought after movie songwriters in Indonesia.



Goeslaw was born in Bandung on 7 January 1974.[1] She is the daughter of Melky Goeslaw, a singer and songwriter, and his wife Ersi Sukaesih.[2][1] After her parents' divorce, Goeslaw was raised by mother;[3] her sister Yuli, who now serves as her manager, was born from a second marriage.[4] While in elementary school, she enjoyed writing poetry, later recalling that she "was happiest when doodling on paper, writing [her] poetry".[3] While she was in the fifth grade, she began singing after being convinced by her mother, who was convinced that Goeslaw could sing like her father;[4] originally she did not want to be a singer.[3]

She later switched to songwriting while in high school, writing the lyrics on napkins and schoolbooks and recording her humming on a Walkman because she could not play any instruments. During high school, she worked as a backing vocalist for Elfa Secioria.[3] Her family eventually moved to Jakarta to further her singing career, and she was requested as a backing vocalist for three different pop singers. At one point, she was recording at three different studios every day. The money earned convinced her to continue singing.[4]

After replacing a backing vocalist for Katon Bagaskara's promotional tour of the album Dinda, Goeslaw met Anto Hoed and his friend Andi Ayunir. Marrying Anto later that year, they went on to form the band Potret.[4] The band's first album was released in 1995,[4] with the song "Terbujuk" ("Seduced"), dealing with "the ultimate material girl", becoming instantly popular.[3] The band was very popular between 1995 and 1998.[2] While with Potret, Goeslaw wrote numerous songs. Some were written conservatively as they were ordered by singers such as Krisdayanti and Ruth Sahanaya; other songs, generally the more "biting" ones, were used for Potret's albums.[3]

One of the her songs on Potret's third album, "Diam" ("Silent"), which dealt with the abuse of women, raised controversy due to the perceived amount of violence in the music video. Despite the controversy, "Diam" won Video Musik Indonesia's award for best interpretation of a song.[3]

Also in 1999, Goeslaw started her solo career with her self-titled debut album, which sold well. Her second album, the soundtrack for the 2002 teen movie Ada Apa dengan Cinta? (What's Up with Love), in which most songs were sung by her and written by her and her husband, led to her being more popular as a solo artist than with Potret; she was also given the nickname the Queen of Movie Music.[2] Ada Apa Dengan Cinta's soundtrack later won Best Soundtrack at the Indonesian Film Festival.[5]

Goeslaw later provided the soundtracks for 2003's Eiffel I'm in Love, 2005's Apa Artinya Cinta (What does Love Mean), 2007's The Butterfly, and 2009's Ketika Cinta Bertasbih (When Love Prays).[2] She considered the songwriting for Ketika Cinta Bertasbih to be more difficult than her previous work in teen romances, as it was a religious film. As such, she felt that she had to be extra careful.[6]

In 2005 Goeslaw released a collection of short stories that she had written to celebrate her tenth year as a singer. One of the stories, "Tentang Dia" ("About Him/Her"), was later filmed by Rudy Soedjarwo, the director of Ada Apa dengan Cinta?.[4] In 2008 Goeslaw wrote and sang "Dibius Cinta" ("Drugged by Love") for the soundtrack of Cicakman 2 – Planet Hitam (Cicakman 2 – Black Planet) with Malaysian singer and director of the film Yusri, from the band KRU. Melly requested permission to help with the scoring after watching the original Cicak Man.[7]

After refusing to hold a solo concert numerous times because of creative difference, in 2009, Goeslaw held her first concert, "Glow, Melly Live in Concert", at Senayan Stadium in Jakarta. The concert, directed by John Fair Kaune and presented by Krisdayanti's KD Productions, featured a "virtual duet" with Goeslaw's deceased father and was divided into two portions, one featuring songs from when she was with Potret and one with songs from her solo career. It also featured new songs written by Hoed especially for the concert.[2] The following year she was head of Kampung GASS, an organizing committee for a concert celebrating Bandung's 200th year since its founding.[8]

Goeslaw is also active in scouting for new singers and assisting others, having supported the careers of pop singers Irwansyah and Acha Septriasa.[4] In 2011 she invited aspiring singers to post videos of them singing her songs to YouTube or her Facebook profile, later noting that she had already discovered several new talents in that manner.[9] As of 2011, she has written over 500 songs.[10]


Goeslaw has noted that her most popular songs are generally those which are written quickly, citing the award-winning "Menghitung Hari" ("Counting the Days"), which was written in four days, as an example. She has noted that she abandons songs which leave her in a writer's block, as even when they are finished they are not well received.[9] Her husband does the arrangement, sometimes leading to the songs being put on hold because he is busy.[4]

The Jakarta Post has described her lyrics as being "deliberately antagonistic", to which Goeslaw has agreed. Her songs written while with Potret include themes of materialism, sexual deviation, "misbehaving women",[3] flatulence, and sadomasochism;[4] she has said that she tries to avoid writing about "issues of ethnicity, religion, race and intergroup relations, especially political matters". The Jakarta Post also calls her a "deft satirist".[9] She does not consider herself a feminist, with her songs being written about women in reality and not female empowerment; she has said that her lyrics are not of the "'hear me roar' type".[4]


Goeslaw is known for wearing "eccentric" costumes when performing, leading to her being compared to Icelandic singer Björk,[2] whom she admires.[4] She also dyed her hair in "wild colors" and applied heavy stage make up in the late 1990s, when contemporary Indonesian singers were focusing on "conventional" beauty.[2] In 2008, Goeslaw said that her make up and hairstyles used to hide her insecurity when she was first starting. She has continued to use it because it is "part of the package", although she now discusses it with her creative team.[4]

Awards and recognition

Goeslaw's songs have won awards. In the first Indonesian Film Festival after a twelve year hiatus, which covered Indonesian movies from 2000 to 2004, Goeslaw and her husband won Best Soundtrack for their work in Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?; it was one of three awards won by the movie.[5] The Jakarta Post calls her Indonesia's most sought after movie songwriter,[6] and notes that her songs have been successfully song by other singers.[11] Her songwriting work has led to her being recognized as an intellectual property rights figure.[10]

In 2009, Rolling Stone Indonesia listed two of Goeslaw's songs while with Potret in its list of the 150 Best Indonesian Songs of All Time, both of which were from the album Potret II. "Salah" ("Wrong") was ranked 74th, being noted as the best example of Goeslaw's "fresh, direct, and often provocative nuances"A[›] when writing songs and writing that her "sweet"B[›] vocals challenged the paradigm that a singer singing about an affair should be either a victim or full of revenge. The other song, "Bunda" ("Mother") was ranked at 110; it was noted being capable of making anyone, "even the most cruel man"C[›], pause for a moment to think of their mother. Rolling Stone Indonesia noted a decrease in the quality of Goeslaw's songs since Ada Apa Dengan Cinta?.[12]

Personal life

Goeslaw is married to guitarist Anto Hoed. Together they have two children, Anakku Lelaki Hoed and Lelaki Bernama Hoed (literally My Son Hoed and Boy Named Hoed). In her spare time she enjoys shopping, playing with her children, and browsing the internet; she has stated that she finds it increasingly difficult to enjoy shopping due to being constantly recognized.[4] She has stated that she prefers being backstage over giving concerts, as she does not have to wear make-up or rehearse.[11]


  • Pilihanku Deritaku (1988) – listed as Meliana Cessy
  • Melly (1999)
  • Ada Apa dengan Cinta? (2002)
  • Lagu Tema: Eiffel I'm in Love (2003)
  • Intuisi (2005)
  • Lagu Tema: Apa Artinya Cinta? (2005)
  • Mindsoul (2007)
  • Lagu Tema: The Butterfly (2008)
  • Lagu Tema:Ketika Cinta Bertasbih (2009)
  • Glow (2009)
  • Dancing In The Silence (2011)


  • Kabayan Jadi Milyuner (2010)


  1. ^ Original: "... nuansa segar, lugas, dan kerapkali provokatif ..."
  2. ^ Original: "... manis ..."
  3. ^ Original: "... bahkan seorang pria paling bengis pun ..."



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