DJ Chris Ho calling for ‘fckn’ Singaporeans to be killed

From ‘Radio DJ apologises for Facebook post’, 5 April 2014, article by Walter Sim, ST

A MEDIACORP Lush 99.5FM DJ apologised yesterday for a controversial Facebook post in which he called for Singaporeans to be killed. Mr Chris Ho commented on an army recruitment advertisement on the social media platform on Thursday.

The campaign, launched last December, bears the slogan: “How far would you go to protect our home?” The Singaporean wrote in response: “How far…? Let’s see… I’m with you foreigners! Kill the **** Singaporeans but not my friends, can?”

His comment caused fury among netizens and was reposted on citizen journalism portal Stomp. Contributor Tee Seng said: “What kind of joke is this? If he hates Singaporeans so much, why is he still here? I used to be a fan of his but he has gone too far.”

Mr Ho told The Straits Times yesterday he was surprised by the response. “It is such a far-fetched statement that I’m shocked that Singaporeans are taking it so seriously,” he said, adding that the “satirical” message was meant to mock the campaign slogan. “Hello, Singaporeans, you mean you need people to give you a wake-up call to defend the country?” he asked.

“Why should the question be put forth as such? Singaporeans who love the country would know what to do.” He said he wanted to allude to the rising levels of anti-foreigner sentiment here. The ex-Straits Times rock columnist added: “I think Singaporeans are looking for a new Anton Casey… I’m not advocating genocide.”

How far? Too far for some, apparently

How far? Gone too far for some, apparently

It took me a while to ‘get’ the humour behind Chris Ho’s jibe at the SAF ad, and thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks he’s ‘too cheem’ for me. It’s also hard to tell when he’s sarcastic or furious when he and New Nation bickered online over the post where the latter made fun of Chris ‘falling’ for a satire piece about ‘Man dying in a protest against foreigners‘ (which wasn’t even very funny to begin with). I don’t know what experts on wit think of either example of this ‘satire’, but in my book, satire should have universal appeal, is spontaneous, and actually funny to someone other than the creator. Or maybe it’s just me.

As for the ad, I don’t see anything wrong with asking someone ‘how far would you go’ to defend the nation, even if any response other than ‘I’ll fight to the death’ will be deemed unacceptable. It’s like asking ‘Will you die for Singapore?’, or ‘How much would you give to society?’, a pedantic rhetorical device to remind you of your duty, where an actual answer isn’t expected because we don’t want to hear the ugly truth.  But there’s a double meaning here too if you interpret ‘how far’ in terms of literal DISTANCE, which is more likely to be the case here, looking at the mountains in the background. It sounds sensible at first, referring to overseas stints from Brunei to Afghanistan to get you all geared up for military operations, but if you think about it, the further away you are, the SLOWER you are in coming back in the event of a real ATTACK back home. Either way, the slogan is bound to get criticised, and Chris, or X’Ho, is no stranger when it comes to controversy or criticising his home country.

Dj-ing for Lush aside, Chris is a local music icon who in the early 80’s performed as frontman for Zircon Lounge and is today revered as the counter-cultural antithesis to more ‘wholesome’ ambassadors like Dick Lee.  He also dabbles in ‘spoken word’ album territory, and from his 1999 album ‘X’ with an X’ came a track called ‘Singapore is Not My Country‘, his take on Alfian Bin Saat’s ‘ode’ to the nation (the full transcript here). In the 2000’s, Zircon Gov.Pawn Starz was formed. The album ‘Follywood’ features the track ‘Mouthless Fish‘ about people ‘barely breathing to make ends meet’, with BigO magazine rating it as the ‘most fucking punk rock album we have ever’. Check out this ‘punk rock’ album cover!

Majulah SingaPawnStarz

The ‘shock jock’ has even been filmed getting his PENIS tattooed. In THAI. A Today review of 2008’s Baphomet Sacrum describes him as ‘Singapore’s unfavourite son’.  Anyone unfamiliar with ‘dark wave’ or goth would think track titles such as ‘Satan’s Blood’ and ‘Her Soul’s Demise’ off the Lucifugous collaboration album were devotional hymns of the occult.  ‘No Ordinary Country’ has the refrain ‘Majulah Fearless Supremacy’ and its album cover has lightning logos on it. There’s even a song about the Blogfather himself called ‘Excuse Me Mr Brown’, where Chris calls Brown the ‘next Talking Cock big time’. ‘Talking cock’ being, well, the lingua franca of social media most of the time anyway.

So the first question that came to mind was: What did this multi-hyphenate (author, singer, DJ, film director) celebrity, being Singaporean and all, actually DO IN NS? According to a 2006 Interview with Today, he said he ‘has done everything he could think of to get into the Singapore Armed Forces MUSIC AND DRAMA Company’, and eventually spent 2 years as an actor after BMT. Like, who wouldn’t right? How far then would you go, Chris Ho, to protect this country that you love-hate so much? A question that wasn’t addressed in his FB apology, or maybe it was hidden somewhere so deep and lost in ‘satire’ that I couldn’t detect it with my radar for low-brow fart jokes and all.

There was a time when the man actually made seriously good pop music, without the Singapore-bashing and ‘satire’ getting in the way. Unlike his current ‘uneasy listening’ work, ‘Deeper’ (1992) is heartfelt and uncharacteristically melodious, and no surprise that this came before the ‘Punk Monk Hunk’ days, where spiritual awakenings mean getting your genitals pricked and scarred in the name of art. Pubic hair snipping? Amateur!

Which suggests that Chris is capable for much more than just ranting against the Government or NS, or participating in the Berlin Porn Festival. It would be nice to see that good ol’ innocent side of him once more.

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68 ordinary Singaporeans can’t save the NDP song

From ‘Netizens slam NDP 2013 song’, 18 July 2013, article by Lok Jiawen, TNP

It’s a birthday song that’s supposed to bring a nation together. But this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) theme song, One Singapore, has become the target of criticism, even before it is officially released.

“On par or even ‘better’ than Rebecca Black’s Friday”, “horrid” and “jialat (terrible in Hokkien)” are some of the online comments on the song, released online by The Straits Times on Tuesday.

Written by NDP creative director Selena Tan with music composed by local music director Elaine Tan, it is sung by a choir of 68 everyday Singaporeans.

Ms Tan has shrugged off the criticism, saying that music is subjective and that even she has songs she likes and dislikes. Local music icon Dick Lee, 56, who penned the NDP theme songs in 1998 (Home) and 2002 (We Will Get There), questioned the need for a new song each year.

Getting theatre people to write NDP songs is probably a bad idea. Selina Tan of the acclaimed Dim Sum Dollies may have written the decent ‘Love Your Ride’ jingle, but put her creative talents under the cloak of patriotism and you have a disaster waiting to happen. The same NDP curse befell playwright Haresh Kumar, who conceptualised the ‘Fun Pack Song’. There’s something about the crescent moon and stars that regresses artistic people into children, because that is exactly who the annoying cheerleader vibe of ‘One Singapore’ appeals to. Some have commented on the ST page that it belongs on the Kids Central channel, or should be celebrated as a Children’s Day song. The rest talk about comas and bleeding ears.

There’s even a rap thrown in the mix, which goes:

Yo, I may look like I’m a tiny thing, here I am I can bravely sing!
For sure I’m gonna give you my everything, that’s how I play when the recess bell rings
I’m gonna give it my all, cos this is my home, I love (x4) my Singapore

To my knowledge this is the only ever rap composed for an official NDP song, though there have been rap ‘remixes’ of NDP classics. The ‘recess bell’ line doesn’t even make sense, because how kids ‘play’ during recess has nothing to do with nation-building. When kids that age ‘give their all’, it’s almost always for PSLE, not for the nation. Furthermore it’s 2013, not 1993 folks, nobody starts a rap with ‘YO’ anymore. I forsee inverted baseball caps if there’s ever a video for this ( I was wrong. There were caps in the MV, but not inverted).

But to me the biggest culprit of this track is not the recycled lyrics (even the song title is recycled, see below), the forgettable tune or the sheer waste of 68 voices, but the ‘stuck in the 90’s’ production. It sounds like they’re reusing the same TV theme instrumentation from the days of ‘Under One Roof’. There’s nothing resounding or sweeping about ‘One Singapore’ like an anthem should be, it just sounds like a 90’s opening theme for Moulmein High. The ‘Woah-oh’ chorus is something our grandparents may relate to, though.

Dull and uninspiring without the cheesy bombast of the songs of the past, some patriotic soul ought to save this mess with a simpler acoustic version (my prayer answered below), because the current orchestration belongs more on a direct shopping channel or The Pyramid Game ending credits than on a grand stage with millions watching, or ANYWHERE from the 21st century.

It’s not the first time we’ve used an anonymous choir for NDP songs. Some of the most memorable songs were not sung by local celebrities, like Stand Up For Singapore and We Are Singapore. In fact, there’s a far superior NDP song with the same ‘One Singapore’ theme sung by a bunch of nobodies, with more rousing melodies, better production and an emotional climax that will put the whimper of an end of the 2013 song to total shame. It’s the underrated  ‘One People, One Nation, One Singapore’ from 1990. And that’s, believe it or not, from TWENTY-THREE YEARS AGO.

With so many years of experience in NDP songwriting you’d expect these songs to get better with time. Sadly, the reverse is happening. For once, this is one NDP song that is in desperate need for a REMIX. Any takers? (There’s a acoustic version already as we speak courtesy of local boy/girl indie crooners The Animal Parade. Now this is what I call music. Selina Tan, your salvation is here and she wears a Minnie Mouse hat.)

Singapore flag mis-Used at rock concert

From ‘American rock band vandalises Singapore flag as part of on-stage decor’, 23 May 2013, Stomp

STOMPer Djent was concerned after learning that a Singapore flag vandalised with the words ‘The Used Nation’ across it was used as an on-stage decoration for a recent concert by American rock band The Used. In his report, STOMPer Djent wrote:

“This pop-punk bank from the USA, The Used, had a concert in Singapore at the Hard Rock Cafe Coliseum in Sentosa on May 18.

“Apparently, a Singapore flag was used as stage deco and it was vandalised with the words ‘THE USED NATION‘.”

..pledge ourselves as one Used people

..pledge ourselves as one Used people

The ‘Used Nation’ is what the fan club of the Utah band ‘The Used’ calls itself, and I suspect the flag was purchased, painted over and presented by Singapore fans rather than the band itself, following the trend of displaying defaced host flags at international performance venues. In the band’s Facebook page, you’d see images of ‘The Used Nation’ being written on flags all over the world including Brazil, Sweden, Russia and even Japan, which the band apparently loves to bits. I wasn’t sure if the Used were a post-hardcore/screamo/pop-punk band who sang about politics which may explain the flags, so I checked out the lyrics to a song titled ‘Now That You’re Dead’, taken off the latest album ‘Vulnerable’.

‘Die! Die! Die! Die!
‘Breathing! Not Breathing! Breathing! Not Breathing!’

Nope, doesn’t sound like a call to anarchy to me. But just to be sure, this is from ‘Disaster’

Making love to her cadaver.
Like I said, I had to stab her.

Again, just your usual necrophilia and murderous violence. Nothing to get riled over. All part of the band’s repertoire of ‘making positive music‘, I suppose.

I doubt any of these nations have taken the Used to task for disrespecting their national flags, and it’s unlikely that Singapore will be the first. The authorities may, however, decide to shut down their concerts like what happened to metal band Cradle of Filth, or impose a requirement to take down your particulars whenever you decide to buy the National Flag outside of National Day and run a background check to see if you ‘follow’ the Used on Facebook. And then deploy some plainsclothes cops with black eyeliner as fake Used fans to seize your paraphernalia at the concert.

Land of the Rising Used

Which sets us up not just as a ‘Used Nation’, but a DOUBLE-STANDARD one as well. Local artists have been slammed and their work clamped down for using the National flag as a motif, while we allow sore loser Malaysian football fans and American rock bands to get away scot-free. The law doesn’t stipulate any exemption for foreigners showing contempt for the flag, but if I zip around town with wearing a CLEAN flag around myself like a cape, I’m likely to get arrested under Section 9, Sub-Section 4 of the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act (Chapter 296). Hell, I may even get a warning letter if I write ‘I LOVE Singapore’ on our beloved Red and White or perform an acoustic version of Majulah Singapura at a pub with a ukelele decorated with five stars and a moon stickers. I can’t imagine what would happen if I starting rapping the Pledge.

Kurt Tay getting C-cup breast implants

From ‘Singaporean man goes to Thailand for surgery to get C cup chest’, 23 May 2013, article by Foo Jie Ying, Naqiyah Shapudin, TNP

…Security guard Kurt Tay, 27, has money and wanted something to boost his confidence – breasts. Not a fake chest to bypass the exercise route, but breasts as in mammary glands. C cup, about the size of a grapefruit, no less.

…He said he chose to go to Bangkok instead of doing the operation here as it is much cheaper to do it overseas. He said that a breast implant surgery in a local Government-run hospital would cost him about $10,000, while doing it at a private hospital would set him back a whopping $16,000.

In contrast, breast implant surgery in Thailand costs an average of $4,000 to $5,000, he said. The silicone breast implants, which were used on him, brought him from a flat chest to a C cup.

…The plastic surgeon who runs JJ Chua Rejuvenative Cosmetic and Laser Surgery added: “A sex change would comprise the chest area as well as the private parts. I only want to assist patients when I know it will help them.

“If you have a female upper body, then you must have a female lower body too, right?

“In my opinion, his assessment of himself is wrong, there’s no halfway with this kind of thing.”

h7880FF72

If it’s one thing that both sexes are not happy about when it comes to the upper body, it’s having flat chests. Men no longer obsess about penis size like they do about having a glorious torso built like Captain America.

Moobs. Me like.

Whether it’s brands like Abercrombie and Fitch or James Bond, the archetype of a rippin’, upper body sculpted to warrior perfection has pervaded the male perception of the ideal body. Pectoral implants are no longer scoffed at, nor reserved only for males with a congenital condition known as ‘pectus excavatum’ which gives one a sunken chest appearance. It also sounds like a naughty spell Harry Potter would cast on Ron Weasly in the shower as an April Fool’s joke.

When it comes to breasts, men may be even more fussy than women about size. Too flat, and you worry about getting beaten up at the playground. Too round and saggy, and you can’t go for a swim without parents urging you to cover up with a bikini because you’re scaring the children. ‘Moobs’ are no laughing matter when you have gynecomastia though. Most fat guys are game to display their bellies, but would hesitate to showcase a wobby pair of man-tits. After all, a rotund stomach is traditionally a sign of prosperity, while moobs are impropriety which in the past would have landed you a contract with a travelling freakshow circus with the bearded lady or the Siamese twin. The difference between Kurt and the rest of us is that he longs for a pair big and bouncy enough to fit a bra with, while we would be happy just to have one sturdy enough to stop a speeding bullet. You’re free to Youtube Kurt showing off his newly found assets, though you’re likely to stop watching a minute into the video not because of his bizarre before-and-after shots, but because of his broken English. He sure has a lot to ‘get off his chest’, this Kurt fella.

Some years back, a ‘less dashing’ Kurt ‘Nong Nong Ago’ Tay Foo Wei broke into the scene as comic relief in Singapore Idol (Ironically he may have had bigger breasts then compared to just before the op). Just look what you’ve done to contestant self-esteem, Idol judges. Thank God we’ve stopped this Idol nonsense, otherwise we’d have superstar wannabes checking into either psychiatric wards post-rejection, or flying off to Thailand to turn themselves into Pamela Anderson. Kurt still considers himself a Handsome, Charming, Dashing, BUSTY superstar till this day, and has even launched a Mandarin single and music video. I won’t be surprised that he had tried for the Final 1 auditions but got booted out, either because he’s not good enough, or NOT weird enough to qualify.

Both Kurt and men with meek chests want the same thing: Confidence. And this is one man who has ample cupfuls of it, though it may have crossed over into some narcissistic, body dysmorphic, boob-fetish disorder. If our local doctors don’t accept clients who do things ‘halfway’ in fear of psychological damage, there’s nothing stopping people from pursuing their body modification dreams elsewhere, at a cheaper rate too, whether it’s having gigantic breasts, buttocks or an extra one of each. Boobs on a man are not so extreme as compared to having vampire fangs, split tongues or inserting protruding objects in your face or limbs to make you look like a horned lizard. I would think most women would rather make out with a man with boobs than a guy with a bagel jutting out of his head.

Kurt may well be an unwitting crusader against gender stereotypes with his breast augmentation, like “If a man wants to feel sexy by having big boobs like a woman,  WHY NOT?”. Women who strap their breasts down or play with strap-on dildos can probably relate. He may also be sending a message to all fat men to EMBRACE the gift of moobs, to love their bodies and the ‘woman’ in them instead of wasting their money on ‘body sculpting’. After all, macho men like Robert De Niro breastfed a baby in the film Meet the Fockers, Arnie got pregnant in ‘Junior’ and our local actors cross-dress even on National Day. Some men tape grapefruit to their chests to feel good, Kurt Tay had silicone pumped into his. I wonder if the Noose team, in light of the declining quality of their skits, are watching Kurt keenly as we speak.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.05.10 AM

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10

Final 1 voting system is a big joke

From ‘The Final 1 a big joke’, 18 May 2013, Mailbag, ST Life!

(Daniel Dam): As one who handles contests and promotions regularly, I can say that voting for reality talent show contestants via SMS and social media is a big joke these days (Viewers Blast The Final 1 Voting System, Life!, May 10).

There are techies who are able to auto-pump votes in the thousands with some applications or devices. Thanks to this, the most popular contestant may not win, let alone the most talented. Surely MediaCorp should know this by now.

(Jimmy Wee): I think The Final 1 Contest is a big joke and it is not just the judging. As a television show, it is a disgrace, with very bad presentation and poor production value. The talents are weak and comments from the judges are stupid. One or two of them are trying to copy the American Idol judges. I do not understand why MediaCorp and the Media Development Authority would support such a show.

If Ken Lim wants to gain fame by putting his own money into such a show, it is doing more harm than good to his credibility. And someone should be honest with the participants. Tell them not to waste their time – there is no future for them in the music industry. I hope this TV show will be the final one.

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 6

If you’re looking for actual talent, try Youtube. The Final 1 is reality programming, which means it was designed to sell a face more than a voice. You’re not going to get a Susan Boyle out of this; Final 1 is obviously targetted at the teenage set, with fresh faces gracing the screen exuding a larger-than-life personality polished and tweaked to the producers’ liking to suit the intended ‘vibe’ of the show i.e fake. If you’ve a great voice but camera-shy and don’t like to wear Jason Mraz hats nor have a goofball smile to charm an audience, skip the talent show, broadcast on Youtube instead. After all, who watches TV, not to mention Channel 5, these days?

The thing about reality singing contests, especially in the Singaporean context, is that you’re obliged to have as diverse a pool of singers as possible. One of the promos of the Top 40 contestants speaks for itself, the usual multiracial mix with cookie-cutter character favourites: The underdog, the nerd, the babe, the diva powerhouse and an Eurasian hipster with ambiguous sexuality. It’s like musical Cluedo, and I use the word ‘musical’ very loosely. I’m not even sure if these people get along though Mediacorp certainly WANTS you to believe so.

What’s sorely missing from the Final 1 is the unintentional humour of the ‘Idol’ series. By taking itself too seriously, the end product is a pale shadow of the contest that launched Taufik Batisah’s career. We used to watch the first few episodes of Idol to laugh at bad performers, who seemed more natural than the confectionery that gets voted into the finals. But at least we DID watch Idol, nevermind if it’s for all the wrong reasons.

The Final 1 isn’t the only competition banking on an ‘unfair’ online platform to garner votes. If you’ve nothing better to do with your life you can campaign for votes via a Facebook page or fan club to vote in contestants for Manhunt International and Star Awards. You may even throw in your life savings to BUY unlimited votes via the Facebook app ($8 = 100 votes), or earn votes by getting a friend to register. The ghost of Huang Wenyong is shaking his head as we speak.

With all this revenue generated through Facebook and SMSes, it’s strange that we still haven’t found that ONE breakthrough mega popstar till this day, the closest we’ve had being, sadly, Sun Ho of China Wine fame, who just needed a generous congregation and some shady investments without going through the hassle of being judged (though she and her ilk will be judged by someone far mightier than Ken Lim).

This would be illegal if votes that actually matter

This would be illegal for votes that actually matter

Incidentally, a public voting system was already implemented during Taufik’s stint in Singapore Idol, which itself generated a ‘shock result’ when the judge’s favourite Jeassea Thyidor dropped out based on viewer ratings, her being a ‘non-Singaporean’ cited as one of the reasons of her departure (Wait, isn’t this SINGAPORE Idol?). A 2004 article summarised the benefits of being popular: A true Singapore Idol only needs to CONNECT. For the Final 1 finalists, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the winner also being the one with the most ‘Likes’ and ‘Friends’ on Facebook, is hyperactive on Instagram, Twitter, Vine,  or a member of City Harvest Church. Hell, if public voting were so critical to success, you could have Yam Ah Mee as the Final 1.

Here’s an idea for Ken Lim, have a ‘reunion’ contest for all the good singers who ‘got away’ because voting viewers are idiots, screw social media, and see what kind of superstar you can groom out of it. Hopefully the winners don’t end up being resident judges of teenybopper reality talent shows because no one wants to buy their album from iTunes.

Kids clapping between movements in Esplanade concert

From ‘Children need better guidance in arts appreciation’, 15 April 2013, Voices, Today

(Liu Yiru): I watched a wonderful performance at the Esplanade last Friday evening by the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) Orchestra and Chorus, in celebration of NAFA’s 75th anniversary. Among the audience were distinguished composers, NAFA alumni, as well as guest performers from London’s Royal College of Music.

Also in the audience was a class of Primary 3 or 4 students accompanied by two teachers. I must commend the school and teachers for exposing their students to classical music and cultivating their interest at such a young age.

However, I believe many in the audience were, like me, shocked when the students clapped between rests that marked an end to significant sections in the fourth movement. It is recognised and accepted that the audience applauds only at the end of a piece and not at the end of every movement or worse, whenever they supposed the piece “seemed to end”.

What does this say about the’ teachers? Do the teachers have an understanding of concert etiquette? Do teachers have musical background or basic musical knowledge to guide their students’ appreciation for music in the right direction? Were there enough teachers to handle the number of students? This incident shows that our teachers’ competence in developing and educating Singapore’s future in the arts has much room for improvement.

If in doubt, always take the cue from others when you’re a concert novice. Untimely clapping can earn you dirty looks as much as sitting cross-legged with your shoes off. These kids were just being polite even though they’re likely to be bored stiff, and you’d be sending conflicting instructions if you told them that there are only certain points in a performance when they’re ‘allowed’ to clap, a mentally strenuous task that gets in the way of one’s enjoyment of the classics. It’s like I’m not allowed to use my hands to tuck into the pincer of chilli crab, and can only do so for the purpose of dipping the buns into the gravy.

I doubt the teachers themselves were aware of such a custom, and most people, myself included, would shift nervously in their seat if any performance appears to end and there would be this nagging, awkward pause or the nervous, muffled cough before hesitant applause. As a consolation, even President Obama himself once joked about the No Applause rule, which itself deserves a topic in musicology and seems to have its origins in cranky maestros and composers who abhorred over-clappers and didn’t care about the fact that their salaries were paid for by their audience. Such restrictions were in place even in the 70’s, when intrusive applause ‘disrupts the pattern’ of the programme and found to be ‘very irritating and distracting’, making otherwise harmless applause sound as disruptive as blowing a trumpet into a surgeon’s face while he’s performing emergency heart bypass surgery.

I’ve never attended an SSO concert, but only because I have no idea where to get a monocle, a shiny cane and can’t clap my hands in the dainty manner or timing befitting of concert etiquette.  I’d have to restrain myself from expressing my joy if I were to find a piece so haunting it moves me to tears, that if I couldn’t bear it and had to give a standing ovation clapping my hands sore and weeping my grateful heart out, my outburst of spontaneity would be rewarded with the harsh shushing and tsk-ing from a couple of concert snobs like some menopausal librarians shutting a genius up when he’s having his ‘Eureka’ moment. If I’m really unlucky, the conductor, furious that my clapping cramped his style, would grab the nearest cymbal and try to decapitate me by throwing it in my direction like a frisbee.

According to the SCO website, it is ‘best not to clap’ between movements of a larger composition, but it’s perfectly acceptable, maybe even recommended, to blare ‘Bravo’ and ‘Encore’ as loud as a soccer hooligan when it’s finally completed. No, you can’t wolf-whistle or yell ‘Awesome!’ too. At least the kids didn’t break out into a spell of ‘annoying, distracting’ coughing for a full 80 mins of SSO concert, or play with their mobile phones, munch crackers or giggle among themselves. Clapping between movements has its supporters who deem it a necessary, reverent inconvenience as there are those who dismiss it as fatuous snobbery. If I were in a band I’d imagine playing to a bunch of disadvantaged orphans or handicapped kids to be a more fulfilling experience even if they clapped every 5 minutes, than to some snooty folks who know everything about my music and etiquette, but might as well be ‘enjoying’ themselves with a mp3 recording of my music in the privacy of a cemetery.

Gwiyomi dance craze is too ‘act cute’

From ‘The next dance fad: Gwiyomi’, 14 April 2013, article by Kezia Toh, Sunday Times

A saccharine-sweet pop tune by a South Korean indie singer has inspired a rash of dance spoofs among K-pop stars. And Singaporeans are getting in on the act. Gwiyomi, a song released earlier this year by Hari, has sparked a popular repertoire of hand gestures.

Performed to the ditty’s lyrics of a girl asking her boyfriend never to leave her, the “gwiyomi” – which means “cutie” – involves index fingers pointing to puffed cheeks, and the miming of bunny ears and heart-shaped signs.

The final flourish? Six light kisses – one for each finger on one hand, and both thumbs.

…Gwiyomi early-adopter (Alvin) Chua says gwiyomi will probably not take off in the way that the “highertempo and more catchy” Gangnam Style did here.

“In countries such as Thailand or Taiwan, it seems to be the norm for girls to ‘act cute’,” he says. “Here in Singapore, they probably view it as being overly vain.”

Somewhere in North Korea a madman is threatening to kickstart nuclear Armageddon and his southern neighbours are not only unfazed by his warmongering, but acting cute with bunny ears and finger smooching, slowly turning the rest of the civilised world into a bunch of giggly pansies. Or maybe that is South Korea’s secret counter to the North’s ballistic aplomb all along; If the North get infected with this craze, you’ll see Pyongyang soldiers saluting their Leader with Nyan Nyat cat poses and too busy gwiyom-ing to start a fight. Either that or the entire nation, bred on austerity and grimness, will barf to death. I wonder if KFC is thinking of using the No. 6 sequence to reboot their ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ campaign. Gwiyomi makes Madonna’s Vogue look like performance art.

Something about acting cute with gestures feels distinctly Japanese, and one can’t help but wonder if K-pop adopted this contagious cute overload from the ‘kawaii’ craze many years back. The Japanese equivalent of gwiyomi was used in 1987 to describe local celebrities with that wide-eyed, deep-dimpled innocence, whose gestures were easily described then as ‘childish’. Today, if you call a Hello Kitty or Gwiyomi hardcore fan ‘childish’, you’ll likely be torn to shreds by the K-pop army with a flurry of cat paws. When I did the Moonwalk in my primary school days, all I got were awe-struck faces. If I do Gwiyomi now, I risk getting a box of lollipops for the remainder of my birthdays.

Similar dance crazes have their roots in Japanese kawaii/anime culture. It has been more than a decade since we were hit by the ‘Para-para’ wave, made popular by Hongkong idol Aaron Kwok. Slighter lower on the ick factor, the para-para at least seems to be a better cardio workout than gwiyomi, though some have complained that it may affect the studies of obsessed teens and isn’t ‘part of our culture’.

Copycat fans like Alvin Chua above suggest that Singaporean girls may find gwiyomi embarrassingly ‘vain’, but I believe there is one group who may take to Gwiyomi as babies would pucker up their lips to the sight of a plump nipple: Mambo Jambo fans. Be warned, this is strangely hypnotic stuff.

You can see the similarities in the range of moves: The number pointing, palms to face, bang-bangs, heart shapes, fake yelling, pick-up-the-phone, sad-face, thumbs-up. All that face touching should prompt HPB to ramp up hand-washing campaigns, though this gwiyomi thing may be more infectious than the H7N9 bird flu. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some of our MPs taking to gwiyomi as how they warmed up to Gangnam style. Tin Pei Ling is probably practising this is secret, without the Kate Spade box this time. Maybe our kindergartens are already using gwiyomi to teach nursery rhymes as we speak, adding an extra dose of cute to classics like Itsy Bitsy Spider or I’m a Little Teapot.

As social animals, we evolved finger-gesturing for the essential purpose of non-verbal communication before we learnt to even speak, whether as an act of aggression (Robert De Niro’s ‘I’m watching you’ in Meet the Parents), tongue-wagging play (Neh-ni-Neh-ni-Boo-Boo!), flirtation, triumph (V for victory), acknowledgment (thumbs up, OK), tribute to the devil (horns), or making pacts (pinkie-locks). It explains why the gwiyomi has universal  appeal; the perfect combination of cute, mimicry, synchronised playfulness and the ability to bring out the gurgling baby in all of us. God help us all.

There is, however, one solution to end this trend for good in Singapore: Steven Lim, you are our only hope.

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