Semiotics of performing in Najwa Latif’s music videos
Jyh Wee Sew
National University of Singapore
Attaining more than 34.5 million hits for her videos in YouTube, Najwa Latif is a figure of contemporary Malay popular culture. Two of her music videos, Cinta Muka Buku (Facebook Love), and AdaMu (Your Existence) have received more than 10.2 million hits and counting. The former also earned a nomination in the best Malay song category for the coveted Champion Songs Award in 2011. Themes such as romantic relationship, and the appreciation of the environment in the songs might be striking a chord with the Malay audience. Equally relevant, however, is the semiotics of performing in the music videos that captures the hearts and minds of Generation Y in cyberspace. This discussion schematizes the visual configurations in Cinta Muka Buku and AdaMu, not least visual content is often neglected in the study of Malay popular culture that prioritizes linguistic content. Atomization is the framework used in this discussion for analyzing the rich and rapid visual content in the Malay music videos. By atomizing the musical content into visual frames, we derive base units for examining the semiotic hybridity that underscores the positive identification with a thriving fan base online. The segmented visual frames provide the locus for studying the interplay of semiotic elements in the visual symbolization, i.e. symbolic attributes and carriers. Based on the symbolic operative underlining the positive identification, we outline the semiotics of performing underpinning the consumption of Najwa Latif’s Malay music videos in cyberspace.
Keywords: Malay fandom online, Malay popular culture, Malay music video, Najwa Latif, semiotics of performing, visual symbolization