National Day song well received

Composer Dick Lee can heave a sigh of relief now. The pressure he had said he felt from the task of writing this year's Golden Jubilee National Day song has lifted after the song Our Singapore was unveiled two days ago to a largely positive reception.

On The Straits Times Facebook page, comments from netizens were encouraging, with most saying that the lyrics were heartfelt and nostalgic.

Says finance professional Jimmy Yang, 29: "It's more mellow than the catchy NDP numbers of recent years, but it stays with you. I like that the sentimental lyrics are balanced out with an easy chorus that can be sung along by the crowd."

The chorus is characterised by easy-to-remember lines that go "oh, oh, oh, our home, our heart, our Singapore". The verse, however, is a little wordier.

Student Matilda Leong, 23, says: "At first the words seemed a bit complicated for a National Day number, but after listening to the song a few times, I began to appreciate how forward-looking the lyrics are. It's an apt way to celebrate how we're moving ahead in this SG50 year."

Initial reactions from the local music industry were promising as well, with musicians and songwriters Life! contacted saying their first impressions of the song were positive.

Local indie band The Sam Willows' member Sandra Riley Tang, 24, says: "It's definitely one of those numbers that I can hear the whole stadium singing together." Last year, her band performed a well-received cover of Home, the most popular National Day song till now, which Lee, 58, had also written in the late 1990s when he was based in Hong Kong and feeling sentimental about Singapore.

The song was the reason he had felt even more pressure when writing Our Singapore.

But composer Jeremy Monteiro, 54, who is behind classic national songs such as One People, One Nation, One Singapore and We Are Singapore, says it would be unfair to compare Our Singapore to Home.

"Home was a very personal song whereas Our Singapore has more of a collective sentiment. It's why there's no need to pit one against the other - they're both incredibly rousing in their own right," he says, adding that he was immediately taken by the new song on first listen.

"The lyrics have so much heart in them and really have the potential to galvanise the nation. It's already so moving when sung with just a piano accompaniment, I cannot wait to see the end result once it is properly produced."

Sydney Tan, 55, who produced both Home and Our Singapore, says that they aimed for authenticity with the new song with lyrics that would not only appeal to all Singaporeans, but also honour memories of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister.

"After Mr Lee's passing, the first line of Our Singapore took on a new meaning and really brought things into sharp focus," he said.

Two versions of the song have been recorded - a contemporary version performed by JJ Lin and a reflective version sung by Dick Lee. It is not yet known when the two recordings will be released.

A video of the song, directed by film-maker Eric Khoo, will also be released in the coming weeks.

This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
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