No new theme song for this year's NDP

SINGAPORE - The National Day Parade theme song, which has long been one of the hallmarks of Singapore's birthday celebrations on Aug 9, will be scrapped this year.

This will be the first time since 1998 that there will not be an NDP theme song.

Instead, parade spectators will be singing familiar and popular songs such as Home and Count On Me Singapore. They will be among 10 songs to be compiled into an NDP 2014 Songs Album.

This is in line with this year's theme, Our People, Our Home, said the parade's executive committee chairman, Wong Yu Han, who added that such familiar songs "deeply engage" Singaporeans.

"This year, what we want to do is to get our people to bring us back again to those familiar songs that we have grown up with and, importantly, learning to sing together."

Previous NDP theme songs have also hit all the wrong notes.

Last year's theme song, One Singapore, performed by a 68-strong choir that is formed by regular Singaporeans, was slammed by netizens for being "childish and cheesy".

In 2009, the NDP theme song, What Do You See?, was roundly panned by critics, who said the rock tune lacked a broad appeal.

Many people have also questioned the need to have a new theme song every National Day.

But Col Wong said the recent backlash is not the reason for scrapping the idea for Singapore's 49th birthday.

"We just go in thinking what we believe is right and believe is correct to do," he said adding that the classics best reflect Singaporeans as "a people".

"So it's therefore most appropriate to use those songs as part of the celebrations."

Local jazz maestro Jeremy Monteiro, who produced crowd favourites such as Stand Up For Singapore and We Are Singapore, said having a new NDP song every year is "contrived".

"It's good that we look back and see what we have now."

David Tan, frontman of local indie rock band Electrico, who performed the 2009 NDP theme song, added that there are many other means to communicate the message the committee wants to portray during NDP, even though music "has always been a great form of communication because it moves people".

"But recently, people keep comparing new and old theme songs, which I don't think is necessary. So I hope the reason for not doing the song this year is not because of that but just trying to do something new, and we should all be open to that," Tan said.

This year's celebration will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay, and comprises three segments - the pre-parade, parade and ceremony, and show.

The show segment will be directed by singer-songwriter Dick Lee, who was also behind the 2002 and 2010 shows.

There will also be a series of activities to get Singaporeans to join in the celebrations, like forming a team of Junior Red Lions, made up of 18 Primary 4 and 5 pupils.

They will train with seasoned parachuting daredevils from the Singapore Armed Forces for a day at iFly Singapore and welcome the team as they land at the parade.

Amid these festivities, some Singaporeans say the theme song will not be sorely missed. Regulatory executive Jessie Sim, 37, who has been to the NDP three times, said: "I prefer the old songs, those are more catchy.

The new-age songs wax lyrical while the older songs have simple words, but the meaning is there and they get to you much more."

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