AFTER working through several drafts over four months, singer- songwriter Dick Lee thinks he may have hit the right note with this year's much-anticipated National Day Parade (NDP) theme song to celebrate SG50.
The 57-year-old has not only penned Our Singapore, but will also sing it with home-grown Mandopop star JJ Lin at the parade. The song was released online last night on the NDP website.
Among those in the Padang stands on Aug 9 will be regional heads of state - the first foreign leaders to attend an NDP since 1969.
Lee, who wrote four other songs before settling on the ballad last December, said: "It just felt right. I was looking at all the SG50 plans and realised there is a lot of focus on the past and not really enough on the future. I thought, why not write a song about the next step? So the lyric came."
The heat has been on Lee to write an NDP song to surpass his 1998 anthem Home - one of the best-loved NDP songs that is sung at every parade.
"I didn't want people to compare whatever I will write to Home," he said. "There was a lot of pressure... the more that was put on me, the more stressed and more hesitant I was."
The new tune has attracted compliments in early reactions.
Communications manager Joyce Peh, 27, said: "The lyrics are simple and meaningful, and the song has a musical-like feel to it. It is quite refreshing."
However, when asked for their favourite National Day song, many picked Home, which was first sung by local singer Kit Chan.
Engineer Chua Qiru, 26, said: "Home is a simple song that many Singaporeans can relate to. It brings people together."
Last year, NDP organisers broke tradition and did not have a new song after criticisms of past efforts. Noting that NDP theme songs have been "hit-and-miss", Brigadier-General Melvyn Ong, who is in charge of this year's show, said: "We thought there must be a song for Singapore at 50."
He also gave more details of the parade, which he described as "inclusive" and "epic".
It will be themed Majulah Singapura - "Onward Singapore" - after the national anthem.
There will be 7,000 participants, about 2,000 more than previous years, who will take part in a parade over six chapters, tracing the progress of Singapore over the past 50 years and looking to a better future.
Kicking off the show will be a segment paying tribute to Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23, aged 91.
Besides keeping a seat empty in his honour, there will be a video clip remembering his life and achievements. The Republic of Singapore Air Force's aerobatics display team the Black Knights will fly in a "five-star" formation in an aerial salute to him.
In a Facebook post yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the five stars represent "the ideals that Mr Lee spent his life pushing for - democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality."
Other highlights include:
An aerial display by 50 RSAF warplanes forming the figure 50;
Two fireworks shows, at the Padang and Marina Reservoir; and
A vintage segment showcasing participants in the army's old Temasek green uniforms and the now-defunct Singapore Fire Brigade's helmets.
The main show will be at the Padang, with 26,000 seats, while a bayside show at The Float @ Marina Bay has a capacity of 25,000.
Together, they offer double the number of seats up for grabs this year.
BG Ong said that many people volunteered to take part, adding: "They don't just want to watch. They want to be a part of it."
Retired army officer Swee Boon Chai, 68, rounded up more than 50 other military veterans to take part in the vintage parade.
"We may be old soldiers but we want our drills to look sharp and smart."
This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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