Indonesia's president releases third pop album

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, suffering from falling domestic popularity despite winning plaudits from investors, has found time to release his third album of pop songs in Jakarta.

The president’s album, entitled “I’m Certain I’ll Make It,” comes as his government’s popularity has declined over the expensive bailout of a local bank in 2008.

“In my struggle to serve the country, sometimes during my leisure time, I express my feelings in the form of arts,” the Monday edition of an English-language newspaper, the Jakarta Post, quoted Yudhoyono as saying.

Andi Mallarangeng, the Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs and a former presidential spokesman, told Reuters on Monday that the president found singing and composing songs meditative.

“He has been doing this since high school, and while he was in the military,” Mallarangeng said.

He said the President composed the nine songs on the album over the past 18 months.

“He gets inspiration anytime anywhere, including on plane trips abroad and also at the Presidential Palace,” Mallarangeng said.

The president, who in the past has crooned onstage during election rallies, chose not to sing on the latest album but collaborated with popular local artists, including a former winner of Indonesian Idol and the 2009 winner of favorite male artist at MTV Indonesia Music Awards.

Mallarangeng said the songs traversed various genres from R&B to country music, while the newspaper reported track titles include “My Soul was Enlightened that Night,” “For You Sweet Child” and “Save Our Planet.”

Proceeds from the sale of the latest album will be donated to educational and other charities, he said.

Not all Indonesians were pleased with the album’s release.

“This came as a surprise for us, that he had a chance to sing while the people are crying,” Rijalul Imam, the head of the Indonesian United Students Action group, was quoted as saying by Indonesian online news portal

“(This comes) at a moment when prospects for prosperity are unclear and our legal system is still a mess.”

However, Fitch Ratings upgraded the country’s sovereign rating on Monday, giving it a vote of confidence.

A poll released on Sunday by survey firm Indobarometer found 75 percent of respondents supported Yudhoyono, down from 90 percent when he was re-elected midway through last year, although still a number most political leaders would envy.

Editing by Sunanda Creagh and Jerry Norton