SG50 song As One written by a non-Singaporean

From ‘Lawrence Wong clarifies issue of song supposedly rejected by SG50’, 7 March 2015, article in asiaone

Ministers Lawrence Wong and Tan Chuan-Jin have praised an original song written for the SG50 celebrations and uploaded onto YouTube. Titled ‘As One‘, the song was uploaded by Sophie’s World Productions in January. B oth Ministers praised the song in separate Facebook posts. Mr Wong said the song was “was very well-done and inspiring”, while Mr Tan said that it was ” a very nice song”.

The Ministers also said they had received feedback that the song had been rejected as an official SG50 song because it was not written by a Singaporean. Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said that he was initially puzzled by this and asked ministry staff to check on what happened. In his post, Mr Wong clarified that the song was submitted to MediaCorp, which held its own song competition with its own rules. “But competition aside, there’s really no limitation on who can contribute songs or other materials for SG50,” he said.

If asked to name one all-time classic National Day song, most Singaporeans are likely to say ‘Stand Up for Singapore’, ‘Count On Me Singapore, ‘Home’ or  ‘We Are Singapore’. Of the 4, 3 were actually written by Canadian Hugh Harrison. And those are the ones with ‘Singapore’ in their titles. The most forgettable one in the history of NDP songs, in my opinion, was performed by Singapore Idol himself Hady Mirza, called ‘Shine for Singapore’. Hady Who? Some, like ‘One Singapore‘ are memorable for all the wrong reasons.

‘As One’ definitely belongs in the top 3 for the Gift of Song competition. It surpasses most of the recent NDP efforts, including ‘In a Heartbeat’ and ‘Love at first Light’, if you even recall what those are. But let’s look at the official finalists of the competition:

1) We Are Stars

This is a slow, soppy ballad with the self-congratulatory chorus:

We are stars
We are golden
We are comets in our skies.

This is probably the first time I’ve heard someone use ‘comet’ in any patriotic song. Like comets, a great song comes our way once every few hundred years. It also has the lyric ‘We are diamonds in the sky’. So which is it, are we gold or are we diamonds in the sky? Hady’s effort, if there’s any consolation, sounds like Hey Jude compared to this far-from-stellar snooze-fest. If this were a ‘gift’, it’d be the equivalent of an ugly Christmas sweater. Knit with love, but received with a painful grimace. Next.

2) These Are the Days

The chorus: These are the days, to breathe and feel.

Is there ANY day that we DON’T breathe and feel? This has an annoying, repetitive weepy riff and a whiny crescendo. Am I the only one who finds this entry, awash with pandering strings, grating and trying too hard to sound like a national anthem? Despite the arrangement, it doesn’t make me feel things, and I lost all interest when Farisha sang ‘Spread my wings and fly’. Better Midler’s Wing Beneath My Wings was clearly an inspiration. Incidentally, for this SG50 contest, 9 submissions were from prison inmates.  Maybe they didn’t make the cut because of one too many ‘spread my wings and fly’.

3) Being Here

One word: Coldplay. The lyrics are safe, it’s upbeat, no cringe-worthy metaphors and the writers, Ciao Turtle, have the greatest band name in the history of local bands. This wins my vote, though it’s still far from the cheesy infectiousness of Harrison’s greatest hits. I’d like to see them do normal pop songs, though. Or consider forming a supergroup called Ciao Turtle and Ah Boys to Men.

Despite the common theme among all these songs being how happy and proud we all are to stay in this country, it’s obvious that no matter how catchy they are, they fail miserably as propaganda tools, given that the number of Singaporeans moving abroad has been increasing over the years, 212,000 to be precise. This excluding of course, those banished from the country for ‘political crimes’. Indeed, quite a number of us are ‘stars’. In the sense that they’re so very far away.

4 Responses

  1. Gift of Song is JUST a Mediacorp contest – nothing to do with NDP. 🙂 It’s OK for Mediacorp to choose a song that no Singaporean will sing (and reject who they want to reject)… but we want a GOOD OFFICIAL SG50 NDP song 🙂

  2. Also, for “We Are Stars”, I can’t bear to listen to the whole song. Just need to stop it before it ends. It’s not good.

  3. I believe Mediacorp was trying to keep it local, with all the recent xenophobia. Sadly, good local artists are either really rare or fell through the net in this competition

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