Netizens slam NDP 2013 song

Life! Theatre Awards 2011: Best Original Score nominee - Cinderel-lah!. Selena Tan (foreground) and Elaine Chan co-wrote the music and lyrics.

SINGAPORE - 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. It will be officially released on Thursday night.

Among the critics is Singaporean undergraduate Canaan Phoneko, 24, who said: "I think it caters to a young age group. It's quite childish and I don't see how adults can get on board with it."

The theme is sung by Sing A Nation, a choir made up of 68 everyday Singaporeans who won their places through two rounds of auditions.

The song was composed by local music director Elaine Chan, 42, while actress and Dream Academy owner Selena Tan, 42, provided the lyrics.

Ms Tan said: "(The song) is centred on the One Singapore chorus, which reflects the diversity of Singaporeans."

Ms Tan also shrugged off the online criticism: "Music is so subjective. Everyone has opinions. I like and don't like some songs." 

She also showed her support for the Sing A Nation choir.

"The journey was definitely made more meaningful by the choir, who are all patriotic Singaporeans and just wanted to celebrate and show their love for the country," said Ms Tan.

Mr Dave Tan, 38, of local band Electrico sympathises with them. Electrico wrote What Do You See? for the 2009 NDP, with some Singaporeans saying it was hard to sing along to or "didn't mention Singapore enough".

He said: "The public needs to realise that the final representation of the song can be nowhere near what the artist produced due to a lot of red tape and many rounds of fine-tuning.

Sophistication

"The authorities also have to recognise that people have the necessary sophistication and maturity to appreciate music so the songs don't get dumbed down to the lowest common denominator," said Mr Tan, giving some insight into the inner workings of the system.

Local musician Kevin Lester, 29, agreed with Mr Tan's sentiment.

He added:"I think the composer (of One Singapore) would have got it spot on if it was for a National Day theatre show.

"But for a National Day theme song to be judged on its own, I think they need to cater to what the public wants."

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.

He said: "It's like Christmas carols. Every year people only sing it once and all they want to sing are the old songs.

"Do we need a new one every year?"


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