Singapore musicians mark National Day with original songs

Singapore musicians mark National Day with original songs

What better way to celebrate the nation's big day than creating a musical medley that showcases a dozen home-grown talents at one shot?

Mandopop singer Kelly Poon released A Singapore Medley, an eight-minute cover of 12 Mandarin songs by 12 artists (including herself) on her YouTube channel and Facebook page last week.

The tracks featured include Stefanie Sun's Encounter, Kit Chan's Heartache, JJ Lin's Twilight, Tanya Chua's Bottomless Pit and Poon's own No More Tears.

At the height of the hype surrounding Korean drama Descendants Of The Sun in May, the 33-year-old had released a Mandarin cover of its theme song Always, originally sung by Yoon Mi Rae, which also became an online hit.

On how the final 12 songs for A Singapore Medley were selected, Poon, who came up with the idea with her companies Warner Music Singapore and Mode Entertainment, told The New Paper in a phone interview: "We listed around 100 songs, from the old to new.

"There was a poll done, where we asked a lot of media for their opinion and collated everyone's ideas...

"If I could have included more songs, I would have wanted to.

"I actually felt quite bad because I didn't include (Huang) Jinglun.

"He's cool about it, he understands that musically, there are a lot of things to factor in."

The music video, which took half a day to shoot, shows her sitting in the back of a London cab as it takes her around Singapore sights.

It has garnered more than 380,000 views and 9,000 shares on Facebook and about 27,000 views on YouTube.

The filming of the MV and music arrangement and recording of A Singapore Medley took two weeks.

She said: "I think it was a nice touch to show the audience that all these songs are sang by Singaporeans.

"I knew that my video outreach will go regional so besides showcasing local music, I wanted everyone to see places like Chinatown, Geylang East and Marina Bay Sands and to know that Singapore is very small but pretty."

As Poon said she does not receive monetary returns for A Singapore Medley, she did not need to seek copyright permission.

"I didn't tell any of the selected artists that I was going to use their songs because it was meant to be a surprise.

"Even Derrick (Hoh) and (Kelvin Tan) Weilian didn't know, even though we are from the same company," she said.

Poon has not done any National Day-related projects in previous years because she was in Taiwan, where she was based for five years.

She now shuttles between Singapore and Taiwan.

"All I could do was watch the live feed of the National Day Parade from Taiwan, wear red, and gather together with whoever is Singaporean and in Taiwan," she said.

Ever since she became an artist in 2005, after being the first runner-up in the first season of local reality TV singing competition Project SuperStar, Poon's dream has been to perform a National Day Parade theme song.

"I asked my boss, 'When is it my turn?'

"I think that it's a wish for every Singapore artist because it's (something) very close to the heart... I think it's a big thing," she said.

Olinda's family, friends in her new MV

Singapore Idol alumnus Olinda Cho has been known to wear her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her love for Singapore, but she is finally officially putting her patriotism into music.

She was approached by StarHub in June to help with the musical arrangement for the company's Majulah Moms music video after seeing her rendition of national anthem Majulah Singapura, which she posted on YouTube two years ago.

The 36-year-old was tasked to record her part and sing the original Majulah Singapura, as well as her own rendition.

These recordings were used as a guide for the 51 mums in the MV.

Cho, who is single, joked to TNP: "I wasn't in the video because I'm not a mum.

"I asked (StarHub) to put me in it, but they said, 'Oli, do you have a kid? If you have, then we can definitely put you in'."


Last week, she released her own original song titled My Singapore, for Singapore's 51st birthday.

It was written and composed by Cho and her younger brother Yu Wang, 31, and it has had more than 2,000 views on YouTube.

Cho said: "We originally wrote it for Singapore's 50th birthday, but I didn't want it to get lost among the 50,000 songs that everybody would be writing, so I waited and decided to keep it for this year.

"I wanted to make this present better by getting all my friends whom I've met along my musical journey, from (local reality TV singing competitions) Singapore Idol to Sing! China."

Featured vocals in the MV include Singapore Idol alumni Sylvester Sim and Daphne Khoo, former actress and host Jaime Teo, host Rebecca Tan and contestants from the Sing! China Singapore auditions Zhang Zhi Ling, Low Meiqi and Chang Wen.

Cho also invited her parents and relatives to chip in vocally, as she wanted them to represent the pioneer generation.

She gathered everyone to record the MV and vocals in the studio last Tuesday.

Cho said: "I don't know how else to thank my country. I am very proud to be a Singaporean."

Call them happy

Riding on the popularity of their latest hit, Mandopop duo The Freshman, made up of Project SuperStar 2 alumni Chen Diya and Carrie Yeo, released a "Singlish" version titled Call Me (Not Maybe) last week.

The Mandarin original, Remember To Ask Me Out When You're Free, was penned for local director Royston Tan's latest telemovie The Provision Shop, which premiered on Channel 8 last month.

The theme song was so well-received that even Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared and praised it on Facebook.

In a joint phone interview from Kuala Lumpur, where they were promoting their latest album Growing Up, Chen, 30, told TNP: "It was a very spontaneous decision to record a Singlish version.

"We were actually at Carrie's house signing autographs for our albums when we wrote the lyrics.

"A lot of people commented that they wanted an English version, so we decided to do it for fun."

It took the pair 1½ hours to complete the lyrics, and four takes of the live recording session and music video.


Chen said: "We took this opportunity to express our love for Singapore and we really did it out of love. We wanted to use this song to connect to people as well."

Yeo, 34, said: "It makes us very happy when people share the video and caption it with our lyrics."

And, yes, the title Call Me (Not Maybe) was inspired by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen's 2011 monster hit Call Me Maybe.

Chen said: "It's meant to be a punny thing, we hope that young people will understand the reference."

The Freshman have felt overwhelmed, flattered, blessed and proud of the song, a "fun and casual" project that has ended up attracting more than 480,000 views and close to 10,000 shares on Facebook.

It has more than 14,000 views on YouTube.

Chen said: "It was crazy to see it go viral. We felt connected with the masses for the first time and the feeling is indescribable."

Yeo said: "We noticed a pretty significant climb (in likes) on our Facebook page after we posted the video."

It is also their first attempt at writing a patriotic song.

Chen joked: "We are not very opportunistic in the sense that we are not savvy enough to use social media for our own benefit.

"It has to be a natural thing, we must have the 'feel' to do it."

They're ready for tomorrow

The stage is set for what is likely to be the biggest, most high-profile gig of their 13-year career, but live music cover band 53A are not feeling the nerves.

They will be performing this year's National Day Parade (NDP) theme song Tomorrow's Here Today at the National Stadium tomorrow.

The sextet, who regularly perform sets at Timbre@The Substation and Hive by Wala Wala, have already gone for six full show rehearsals at the venue in preparation for the big day.

Lead guitarist Alvin Khoo, 37, told TNP: "We are resting our voices now before the actual parade. Apart from that, we have been (attending) rehearsals every weekend for the parade itself."

Also in 53A are vocalist Sara Wee, 30, bassist and vocalist Bani Hidir, 29, drummer Helman Kamal, 29, keyboardist Nazaruddin Mashruddin, 27, and percussionist Serena Chen, 34.

As the group meet up every day, those jamming sessions also count as rehearsal time.

On performing in front of a 55,000-strong crowd, Khoo said: "Because we have been performing for so long, we are not actually nervous or anything, but we are very honoured.

"The feeling is great, so I get goosebumps hearing a whole stadium of people sing along with us."

This article was first published on August 8, 2016.
Get The New Paper for more stories.

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.