If you wish to start a conversation with the standard level Malaysian, just mention how you thought Coldplay's latest album (Coldplay does not appeal only to White People) really resonates with what you're going through right now. This will immediately remind the Malaysian of his or her own situation and how they have their own soundtrack to their lives playing on their iPod while they stare wistfully out the window of their car during a traffic jam, imagining that they are acting out a scene from a movie about their lives.
Mainstream music can also be used to identify and manipulate another type of Malaysian, what we will call the "advanced" level Malaysian (urban teens and yuppies generally). The advanced level Malaysian rejects popular music ("I don't listen to mass manufactured music") and only listens to obscure or independent foreign acts ("I'm really into this French neo-classical outfit now, you wouldn't have heard of it") which have yet to permeate the local music stratosphere. This ties in with their need to feel "unique" and allows them to be "a true individual". Mentioning your adoration of any mainstream music act will cause them to respect you less.
Acceptable acts you can mention to gain "street cred" are Ingrid Michaelson, Sigur Ros, Patrick Park, Sufjan Stevens, etc. Death Cab used to be the default indie band you could reference to show your astute music knowledge but now are considered mainstream (hence not cool). Alternatively, you could pick an unknown band from MySpace which no one likes or has heard of yet, this earns you maximum points with the advanced level Malaysian. Take note that if you harbor mainstream music guilty pleasures, you must suppress all urge to reference them in public. Statements such as "I heart James Blunt!" or "I rock apple bottoms like Fergie, fo shizzle" will destroy all your hard work.If you have no musical knowledge whatsoever but have entered a conversation with a Malaysian regarding such a topic, just say you have a soft spot for Michael Learns To Rock. No Malaysian can resist this Danish soft rock band, all Malaysians at one point in their lives have owned at least one MLTR album and sang their songs at karaoke night. Some still do.