SINGAPORE - You wouldn't normally associate Manchester United - one of the world's most popular football teams - with Indonesian pop music. But last November, Jakarta-based pop rockers Nidji triumphantly put their home country on the international map when one of their songs was chosen to be an official Asian anthem for the English Premier League (EPL) giants.
Liberty and Victory, a sweeping, fist-pumping U2-esque stadium rock tune, was commissioned by Manchester United's main sponsor, Malaysian snack brand Mister Potato, to celebrate the club lifting the EPL title a record 20 times.
For the members of Nidji, who have proclaimed their "absolute love" for football, the project was a dream come true.
The icing on the cake that greeted them?
Gaga over heroes
They were flown to England to shoot the music video, which featured guest appearances by Manchester United superstars Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Shinji Kagawa and David De Gea.
"We are so, so, so proud to be part of that campaign," said Nidji frontman Giring Ganesha, 30, in an e-mail interview with M, ahead of the band's performance at music extravaganza Sundown Festival this Saturday.
Other regional acts slated to take the stage at Marina Promenade include Taiwan's Yoga Lin, Hong Kong singer-actor Bosco Wong and K-pop girl group AOA.
"According to Mister Potato and of course, Manchester United, who approved the anthem, they felt that Liberty and Victory came across as really strong and suitable at representing Manchester United's spirit."
Getting to spend a day with their football heroes was a totally "amazing" experience.
"No words can describe our feelings then. We flew to the UK, couldn't believe what was happening... It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Giring.
"And the best part was the fact that the Manchester United players were so nice and very friendly to us. That was even more shocking."
Nidji, whose line-up includes guitarists Andi Ariel Harsy, 30, Muhammad Ramadista Akbar, 29, keyboardist Randy Danistha, bassist Muhammad Andro Regantoro, both 29, and drummer Muhammad Adri Prakarsa, 30, are best known for their English hits Heaven and Shadows, which were used in the South-east Asian trailers for the sci-fi TV series Heroes.
Bahasa Indonesian might be their mother tongue, but at the moment, English is their preferred language to sing in.
The sextet, who count The Beatles, The Stone Roses, Coldplay, and Muse among their influences, have two English albums under their belt - 2007's Breakthru and last year's Victory, which was also released in Australia.
Said Giring: "Each language has its own uniqueness, but technically, it is easier writing songs in English than Indonesian. "It is actually more difficult to put Indonesian words into certain notes."
Nov 16, 3pm
Marina Promenade (F1 Pit Area behind The Singapore Flyer)
$98 and $138 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg and 6348 5555)
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