• Guy Hornsey

Celebrating the career of Anggun for Indonesian Independence Day



A lot of Eurovision fans would know Indonesian singer Anggun from her iconic performance representing France in the 2012 contest in Baku. She's the most internationally successful Indonesian artist of all time, with a career that spans the last five decades.


Anguun became a household name in Indonesia in her early teenage years and went on to sell million of records around the world and became one of the highest selling Asian artists outside of Asia. She's performed at Eurovision, the Asian Games, the Vatican, toured Europe, Asia and the US, and is now a popular television personality in Europe and Asia.


To celebrate Indonesian Independence Day, we're taking a look at 5 big moments in the legendary star’s career so far.


Anggun performing 'Pemuda' at the Opening Ceremony of the Asian Games (2018)


Teenage stardom


Anggun was born into an artistic family. Her father was a writer and she recalls being surrounded by writers, musicians and poets as she grew up. At the age of 7 her father started teaching her to sing and by the age of 11 she recorded a children's album, which she wrote herself.


At the age of 14 her first official album ‘Dunia Aku Punya’ was released. It was a few years later when she came to full prominence with the break through single ‘Mimpi’, which has since been named by Rolling Stone as one of Indonesia’s 150 best songs (coming in at number 47).


A few years later she had an even bigger Indonesian hit ‘Tua Tua Keladi’. By the time she was 20 she had released five albums (selling over 4 million copies) and started her own record company.


Cassette covers of Anggun's early releases


Snow on the Sahara


In 1994 Anggun relocated to Europe, spending a year in London and eventually settling in France. It was there that she met producer Erick Benzi, who wrote an album for her, which lead to a record deal with Columbia France and Sony Music. The French language album was first released in 1997 under the name ‘Anguun’ and was later rereleased under the title ‘Au nom de la lune’. An English version was also released as ‘Snow on the Sahara’.


The various versions of the album were released in 35 countries and sold over 2 million copies. The lead single ‘La Neige au Sahara’ / ‘Snow on the Sahara’ became a hit in Europe and Asia, becoming the most played song on French radio that year and reaching number 16 on the French Singles Chart, number 1 on the Italian and Indonesian charts, number 5 in Japan and reaching solid results across the rest of Europe and Asia.


The style left behind her previous rock influences and leaned toward a style she described as “more grown up”, with the production drawing comparisons to acts like Massive Attack and Enigma, who were also huge at the time.


'Snow on the Sahara' (1997)


Eurovision


By 2011 Anggun had released another three successful albums and achieved further hit singles in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. She again set up her own record label and self-produced her next album ‘Echoes’. The album went to Number 1 on the albums chart in Indonesia and was certified Platinum in the first week.


Later that year the title track from the album ‘Echo (You and I)’, which she co-wrote with William Rousseau and Jean-Pierre Pilot, was internally selected by the French broadcasters France Télévisions and France 3 to represent France in the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku.


She performed a version of the song in French and English, wearing a gold dress designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. She was accompanied on stage by two backing vocalists and three dancers. Although the entry placed 22nd in the Grand Final, the performance remains popular in the fandom.


The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final (2012)


Talent show panelist


Angun made her first appearance as a judge on a talent show in 2013, when she joined the panel for the first season of X Factor Indonesia. The season was a success and she went on to join the panel for X Factor Around the World, with Paula Abdul, Louis Walsh, Daniel Bedingfield, and Ahmad Dhani.


She quickly became a fixture on the talent shows, continuing the following year on Indonesia’s Got Talent, followed by Asia’s Got Talent in 2015. In 2019 and 2020 she joined the panel for two seasons of The Masked Singer France.


Anggun performs her first hit 'Mimpi' and 'In Your Mind' on The X Factor Around the World Television Special (2013)



Taking a stand


On top of her busy career as a musician and television personality, Anggun has also put in considerable work for a number of charities and causes over the years.


She’s been appointed as a global ambassador of the United Nations twice, as well as being an ambassador for charities including La Voix De l'Enfant (The Voice of the Children) and Aviation Sans Frontières (Aviation Without Borders).


Anggun has also been a vocal supporter of human rights, including speaking out against the use of the death penalty, despite it being a controversial subject in Indonesia. She also joined a project called 'Les Pensées de Paul' (The Pansy Project), a documentary denouncing homophobic violence.


Anggun delivering an address as a Global Ambassador of the United Nations

(Photo credit: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations)



These are just a handful of highlights from a stellar career – so far spawning 11 studio albums and 38 singles, seeing her top the charts across Europe and Asia, selling millions of albums and picking up a swag of awards.


With a steady stream of singles and TV appearances over the last few years, the only question is what lies ahead. Hopefully plenty of new music, and… could we even see a return to the Eurovision stage one day?


'Still Reminds Me' (2000)